September 15, 2013 - What does it mean to be crucified for your brother and to hold his burden?

September 15, 2013

Sunday after the Elevation of the Holy Cross

What does it mean to be crucified for your brother and to hold his burden?

To remain dedicated to your brother to the extent that the relationship you have is not dissolved and to forbear his sufferings in silence and in prayer.

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Abbas John the Recluse, who was called Pyrros, said:

           “In the monastic community of St. Theodosios the Great Cenobite lived two brothers who had given an oath that they would never leave each other, neither in life nor in death. While they were living and working in the monastic community for everyone’s spiritual development, one brother was attacked by the thought of fornication. Not being able to contain this battle, he told his brother:

           “Brother, let me leave because I am being attacked by the thought of fornication and I want to go into the world”.

His brother started to plead with him and to tell him:

            “Do not lose the efforts you have accomplished oh brother.”

 He though responded:

           “Either come with me so I can perform the act or else, let me leave.”  

Being that his brother did not want to separate himself from him, he went with him into the city. The one being attacked entered the abode of prostitution while the other brother remained outside, putting soil from the ground on his head, feeling deep contrition. After his act, when he came out of the house of prostitution, the other brother told him:

           “What did you gain my brother from this sin? In what did you

not suffer harm? Let us return to our place of dwelling.”

And he responded:

           “I cannot return to the desert, so you go. I am going to remain in the world.”

Being that he was insistent and was not able to convince him to follow him to the desert, he stayed with him in the world, the two of them working for their living.

At that time, Abbas Avramios, who first founded the monastery in Constantinople called the Monastery of the Avramites and later became the Archbishop of Ephesus, this good and meek pastor was building his monastery known to the Byzantines. The two brothers went there to work in the construction of the monastery so as to receive a salary. Each day the one that fell into fornication took both of their pay and went into the city where he spent it on debauchery while the other fasted and performed his work in complete silence. Seeing that he was not eating or talking, but that he was always thoughtful, the other craftsmen reported all that the brothers were doing and their behavior to the saintly Abba Avramios. Then, the great Avramios sent an invitation to the worker to come to his cell and he asked him saying:

            “Where are you from, brother, and what is your work?”

He confessed everything saying:

           “I am forbearing all this for my brother so that God perhaps will see my sadness and He will save my brother.”

 When the divine Avramios heard these things, he told the brother:

            “The Lord has granted your brother his soul!”

Indeed, as soon as Abbas Avramios dismissed the brother and he left his cell, his fallen brother came shouting:

            “Brother, take me to the desert so that I can be saved!”

Immediately, he took him and they went to a cave near the holy Jordan, remaining closed therein. After a little while, and having progressed spiritually according to God, he died. The other brother, remaining faithful to his oath not to abandon his brother, remained in the cave so that he could die there as well.”  

John Moschos,

Leimonarion (The Spiritual Meadow), Chapter 97