Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Saint Savvas the Sanctified in Demon Haunted Kastellion

There was a mountain called Kastellion about twenty stadia from the Lavra of Saint Savvas. No one dared set foot in that rugged and remote territory, for it was the haunt of countless demons. Nevertheless, Saint Savvas placed his hope in the Lord and sprinkled the entire area with oil from the lamp of the Holy Cross, and there he dwelt for the Great and Holy Fast.

Now from the outset, he encountered fierce warfare from the demons, to the point that he wished to leave, not being able to bear the fearful disturbances that they caused. But the all-good Lord, Who of old strengthened the Great Abba Anthony of Egypt, also encouraged Savvas to be patient and to persevere to the end. In fact, Savvas did pursue his struggles there, greatly strengthened by the aid of the Lord, wherein he became so terrifying to the demons that he overcame, that they fled at the very sight of him. Wherefore, the righteous one was glad and continued his sojourn there in prayer until the end of the Fast.

But again the demons marshaled their forces to test Savvas for a final assault, to see if it were possible to frighten him away. They transformed themselves into reptiles, beasts and ravens that thrashed about and producing a tremendous commotion. The Saint was in no way disturbed by all this, but dauntless and firm, he prayed. Wherefore, they were unable to endure even the mere sight of him, and, of their own volition, conceded they were conquered. Moaning in an almost human voice, they wailed: “Savvas, was it not enough for you - the cave, the rocks, and the wadi and wherever else you dwell in the wilderness? Did you have to cross our borders, to dispute with us and cast us out of our habitation? We are departing and leaving you as Master, since we see you have God as an ally!” This and other things they lamented, as if weeping over their calamity, and making a thrashing sound, they departed in the midst of the night, taking on the guise of ravens, which were seen by several shepherds who were watching their sheep in the neighboring parts.

On account of this, they came together the following morning, terror-stricken, and went to the Saint, declaring to him what they had seen and heard. The blessed one, on beholding their extreme agitation and fear, made a prayer in their behalf, and further counseled, encouraged and blessed them; whereupon, they departed in peace. Since the end of Lent was drawing nigh, the Saint returned to the lavra and sublimely concluded the celebration of the Holy Resurrection.

Afterwards, he took certain of the brethren with him and set off for Kastellion, where they meticulously cleared the area to erect cells and a hostel. At the site, the monks discovered a building, that was sufficiently large, well-lit, and symmetrical. It was high and decorated with handsome stones, and they were glad for this. Savvas reasoned that it was God’s will for a monastery to be built in this place. Therefore, immediately he began to build. First, they converted the spacious structure into a holy church consecrated to the Lord. They proceeded with whatever was required in accordance with their funds. When they exhausted their resources, the work was halted for a short period. But the merciful God has commanded us not to be anxious for what we will eat and drink, because He provides and is solicitous for us, inasmuch as His guardianship towards us with far more exceeding love than our own father and mother can show. Thus, He kept watch over the concerns of His servant Savvas, since it was His will and economy that this place, become a habitation of virtuous men.