The Commemoration of the Departure of Abba Isaac, the Priest of El-Qalali (Cells)
On this day, the church commemorates the holy father Abba Isaac, the priest of El-Qalali (Cells). He was born in an Egyptian village from poor parents, but he was rich in his righteous works. He took the opportunity of the presence of the elders of the monks in the village to sell the works of their hands, and followed them to the wilderness. He served them under the yoke of obedience. When he became a monk, he excelled in asceticism and worship to the point that he never possessed two garments at the same time. They asked him once: "Why don't you possess two garments?" He answered: "Because when I was in the world before being a monk, I did not have two garments at the same time."
He wept very often during his prayers, and he mixed his bread with the ashes of the censer and ate it. Once he became sick of a grievous sickness, and some of the brethren brought him food, but he did not eat it. One of the brethren described to him the benefits of food and urged him again to eat some of it. He insisted on not eating anything of it, and said to him: "Believe me my brother that I desire to remain sick for thirty years."
When he became seasoned and everyone heard about his virtues, the fathers by consensus decided to ordain him a priest. He fled and disappeared among the fields. When they were looking for him, they passed by the field, where he was hiding in and sat to rest. They had with them a donkey, which went into the field and stood where the father was. When they went after the donkey to catch it, they found him, and they wanted to bind him so that he could not escape again. He said to them: "I will not escape now, for I know that this is the will of God." He went with them, and they ordained him a priest, and he increased in obedience to the elders and in teaching the beginners the virtues. When the time of his departure drew near, they asked him: "What can we do after you leave us?" He told them: "Do exactly as you have seen me do, if you wish to steadfast in the wilderness", then he departed in peace.
May his prayer be with us. Amen.
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