He was one of the desert fathers in the fourth century; he lived as a pilgrim who had no place to stay at. He did not have any property at all. With his love, high wisdom, impartiality and kindness he proved to have a great effect on the lives of many monks.
At his youth, he learned at the hands of St. Beemen, and was his disciple. The Saint honored him so that while he was talking with some of the autistic and his name was mentioned he called him "Abba Agathon" Therefore, when father Joseph asked him about that, he replied that his mouth has earned him this title, as he was known for his wisdom. He went to the wilderness and lived for some time with his two disciples, Alexander and Zewail, who continued to learn under the guidance of St. Arsany, after his departure.
He left the wilderness perhaps after the first attack of the (Badw) tribes. and lived with his student Abraham near the Nile bank at Torah. He was acquainted with the holy fathers Amoun, Macarius , Joseph, and Peter during the early days of his living in the wilderness.
Spot lights on some features of his life:
1.His loving charachter:
The Saint had a loving character that was typical of the Saint’s ascetic harsh pure life. His obsession was on focusing on his internal life, especially on the purity of his heart, his relationship with God and people, and was keen that nothing tainted his heart. One of his famous sayings was “Without keeping the commandments of God, no one can make any progress in the virtues, not even in one! I had never laid down while having a feeling of hatred for anyone and as far as I can I did not leave one lying down while having any hatred for me. The irascible will not be acceptable to God even if he rose one of the dead. If it was possible to meet one with leprosy I would be willing to give him my body and take his body, I would be very happy, because this is the perfect love".It was written about him that he came down one day to the city to sell the work of his hands. He met with a crippled man on the road who asked him to do him a favor and carry him to the city. After carrying him he asked him to buy a cake by the price of the baskets he sold. Then he requested other kinds of foods. So the Saint sold again more baskets and so on until he sold all the baskets. Then he asked the Saint to carry him and return him to the place where he found him first. As he brought him to his position; the man disappeared and the Saint heard a voice saying "Blessed you are in heaven and on earth". He realized that God sent an angel to test and recommend him.
2.His care for the internal life ( Care about what is inside the heart):
Father Agathon gave us a true understanding of the religious life as well as the Christian life,
That it is not a strictly ascetic struggle, but it is associated with an inner life of the sacred monastic life without separation. It was said that someone asked Abba Agathon: “Which is better: rituals to ensure the physical asceticism or the procedure of spiritual alertness?. The elder replied: "Humans are like trees, the leaves are the rituals to ensure the physical asceticism and the fruits are the procedure of spiritual alertness as the scripture states: "Every tree that does not bear fruits are cut down and thrown into the fire" (Matthew 3: 10), it is clear that we need attention to the fruits of the soul, but they need to be protected by the leaves and decorated with the rituals of physical asceticism"
3. His impartiality:
Anba Agathon lived detached from everything. He had nothing except a knife to cut the palm leaves wherever found. So easily changed his place without any need or trouble. There was no need to take with him any supplies.
It was said that as he was walking between the fields with his disciples on the road. One of his disciples found one pack of green chick peas. He asked for permission to take it. The father amazingly looked at him and said: "Are you who set it by here? So why do you want to take what you had not put in that place". Some one gave him money. He apologized for not accepting and declared that the work of his hands provide him with what was enough for living. The man insisted that he should accept the donation and handle it to others who were in need. He replied “It is shameful to accept what I do not need, and to offer myself to the experience of wrong glory of donating the others money that is not mine".
4. His wisdom:
St Agathon was characterized by wisdom. Father Peter a disciple of father Loot visited him asking for a word of benefit, because he wanted to stay with the brethren. St Agathon replied:" Keep in mind that you are strange all the days of your life such as the first day with them, do not expect a favor from them, or engage with them in matters that do not concern you . By this you'll spend the days of your sovereign in the comfort. As Father Macarius was present, he asked:" What does a favor do?”. St Agathon replied:" It is like a strong wind the Holocaust, wherever it is every thing flees from it, and it spoils the fruits of the trees ". Then father Macarius said :" Does the freedom of speech has such a bad influence?”.He replied:" There is no passion that is as bad as an uncontrolled tongue, as it is the father of all the passions”.
As one of the brethren heard about the talent of distinguishing that characterized him , they wanted to try him to see if he would be angry. They said to him: "Are you Agathon we hear about that you are pride?" He said:"Yes, it is as you say". They said to him: "Are you Agathon the deceiver, the fraudster?". He said to them: "Yes I am". They said to him: "Are you Agathon the heretic?". He replied: Certainly not, and surely I am not a heretic ". When asked why he endured all the insults, except the charge of heresy, he replied: I think all the other charges are aimed to myself, and their acceptance is for my benefit, but to be heretic, this means that I am separated from God, and I do not want by any means to leave HIM". When they had heard, they were amazed by the Grace he had. It had been said about him that at the start of his monastic life, he put in his mouth a small stone to apprentice himself to silence for a period of three years. But what was the greatest, is that it was not only a silent tongue, but in his heart, he did not allow himself to condemn anyone. He knew how to build himself as well as the others by his silence and the same by his words. He remained keen on the salvation of his soul to the last breath. In his last lying on his death bed the brethren asked him what he is waiting for He said that he is looking at God's Judgment. And urging him to speak, he said: "Make charity and do not talk now as I am busy ". And then he laid joyfully, and they saw him departing away from them as one who was saying farewell to the ones whom he loved.
Some of his sayings: The recognition of the Will of God:
“So it must be understood of the saints to know God's Will, and that the hearer with his whole listening to the Truth, following and obeying the Truth because we are in God's image and likeness”.
The effectiveness of prayers:
The brethren asked him about how to overcome the fighting of adultery. He said: “Go present your weaknesses in front of God and you will find rest”.
About the narrow road:
He said “ the one who finds the way of the Saints and walking though is pleased with sorrows, because the path to salvation is filled with sorrow”.
Humility and the ego (love of self):
“The crown of the monk is humility. You can not live satisfactory life in the face of God as long as you are loving yourself”.
the love of acquisition:
“If you are longing to the Heavenly kingdom, just leave wealth of the world”.
Bendicta Ward: The Saying of the Desert Fathers; pp 17 -22
May the Blessings of his prayers Be with all of us AMEN>.
|Arabic biography source of: Agathon Saint|
|Translated by: Maged (servant of the LORD)||
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