January 15, 2014 + St. Paul of Thebes
From The Prologue from Ohrid by St. Nikolaj Velimirovic
Paul was born of wealthy parents in Lower Thebes in Egypt during the reign of Emperor Decius. Paul, along with his sister, inherited all the property of their parents. But his brother-in-law, an idolater, wanted to confiscate Paul's share of the property and threatened to betray Paul before the judge as a Christian if he did not cede his property to him. On one hand, that misfortune and on the other hand those heroic examples of selfsacrifices of Christian martyrs which Paul saw with his own eyes motivated him to give his share of the property to his sister and he, as a pauper, withdrew into the desert where he lived an ascetical life until his death. To what spiritual heights this ascetical giant reached is witnessed by no less a person than St. Anthony the Great who, at one time, visited Paul and saw how the wild beasts and birds of heaven ministered to him. Returning from this visit, Anthony said to his monks, "Woe is me, my children! A sinful and false monk that I am, a monk only in name. I saw Elijah, I saw John in the wilderness and, in truth, I saw Paul in Paradise!" St. Paul lived one-hundred thirteen years and peacefully died in the Lord in the year 342 A.D.
The Venerable Paul of Thebes, First Ascetic of the Desert
With the rivers of thy tears, thou hast made the barren desert fertile. Through sighs of sorrow from deep within thee, thy labors have borne fruit a hundred-fold. By thy miracles thou hast become a light, shining upon the world. O Paul, our Holy Father, pray to Christ our God, to save our souls.
Kontakion, Tone 4
O ye faithful, let us all laud the divine Paul, the bright luminary that shone at the virtues' lofty height; and let us joyously cry aloud: O Christ, Thou art the rejoicing of all the Saints.