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Saint George the Chozebite: Sowing with Tears and Reaping Cheerfulness

Saint George the Chozebite, a Partaker in the Glory of Christ

Saint George the Chozebite

Saint George the Chozebite is a 7th-century monk saint who became for the forthcoming generations an example of meekness, humility and love of one's neighbour. As a church hymn says of him, he sowed with tears, at the proper time he reaped cheerfulness. For his ascetic feats, the Lord bestowed on him the gift of powerful prayer, far-sightedness and the power to oppose demons.

Born in Cyprys, he became an orphan at an early age and made up his mind to dedicate himself to God. Fleeing a marriage that his uncle had arranged for him, he found refuge at Calamon Monastery where his brother had been ascetising for many years. His brother, however, judged him too young for the order of his monastery, so he placed him in the Monastery of the Mother of God at Chozeba, where he took his tonsure and became a disciple of an elder. The elder treated him harshly and unjustly, but the saint obeyed him with humility and gentleness, acquiring the grace of the spirit to perform his first miracles.

One night, Saint George was late bringing the water from the river for supper, and the elder struck him violently in front of all the other brethren. That very moment, his hand hung motionless and withered away. Seeing that, the saint went to the tomb of the saints where he stood on his knees for many hours asking God to heal his spiritual father's arm. The Lord heard his prayers, to the admiration of the whole community. Soon, his prayers became so powerful that he could make a dry tree blossom and give fruit and calm down the most furious lion.

Yet, rather than bathing in the light of fame, Saint George preferred to retreat to Calamon to ascetise with his brother. He shared his cell, engaged in ceaseless prayer and lived on scanty food. When his brother departed to the Lord in peace, he continued to live in a hermitage in his cell. Still, he never refused his spiritual guidance to any monastic brother who asked for it.

The Monastery of St George

As a spiritual guide and mentor, he dedicated himself to the hard work of perfecting the life of the monasteries of his time. He struggled with such ills as the lack of fear of God, indiscipline during the services, and the sense of pride and disdain that some of the more senior brothers had towards their less experienced brethren. He taught all monastics to free themselves from their passions by engaging in prayer, hard work and fasting, and by refraining from the criticism of others. He was leading this transformation by the force of his example.

Thanks to his great ascetic feats, he acquired the gift of prophecy and foresight, predicting the bloody invasion of the Holy Land by Persia in 614 and enabling large numbers of Christians to flee and save their lives. For his part, he continued to live in a hermitage, adhering to a strict prayer rule and resisting fierce attacks from the demons who attempted to derail his effort. His steadfastness earned him the ability to have the inspiration of God in his every word. When the Persian armies came, the invaders spared him and his monastery out of respect for his faith. He continued to live in Chozeba monastery until he departed in peace. Thanks to his prayers, the Monastery never lacked bread and oil for its guests, despite the famine that followed the demise of the Holy City.

January 22, 2022
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