Augustine Sokolovski

On May 28 the Church celebrates the memory of Pachomius the Great. Like the two poles of the earth. Anthony (251-356) and Pachomius (292-348), both called the Great, shone with their exploits in lower and upper Egypt. Anthony, whom history considers the founder of monasticism, founded his monastery in the north, towards Alexandria. Pachomius laid the foundation for monasticism in the South of Egypt, not far from modern Luxor. It is believed that his monasteries may have been in Sudan.

Alexandria was the city of sin and the capital of paganism at that time, Thebes, the ancient capital, was filled with the ghosts of ancient deities. The appearance of monks in the centers of new and old paganism was an undoubted act of divine predestination. It was Athanasius of Alexandria (295-373), Augustine of Hippo (354-430) and other great witnesses of that revolutionary time in Christ who perceived what was happening.

Anthony and Pachomius were not the same age, but the period of their active work approximately coincided in time. Their elder contemporary was Paul of Thebes (227–341). Thebes was the place of his birth.

He is considered the first Egyptian desert hermit, while Anthony and Pachomius became the founders of communal monasticism. At the same time, there was a fundamental difference between the types of cenobitic monasticism proposed by them, the will of divine grace, and the types of cenobitic monasticism.

The biography of Anthony the Great was compiled by the Bishop of Alexandria Athanasius. According to his life, Anthony heard the Gospel reading in the Church. These were the words of Christ: "If you want to be perfect, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and follow me" (Matthew 19:21).

Of course, Anthony had no intention of founding monasteries or being a teacher. However, over time, disciples began to gather to him, and a community was formed. The monastery became a kind of "Church within the Church", a place where the Christian ideal sought its embodiment in mutual prayerful and labor communication. According to this plan, the family is a small church, while the monastery is the ideal church within the Church.

The life of the monastery was built around the personal charisma of the founder, elder and leader, which was Anthony, and later his disciples and successors. Those or other obedience in the monastery, in our time they are perceived as positions, were secondary. The role of a specific confessor and mentor was fundamental. The monastery was not only an ideal small church, but, in the image of Samuel in the Bible (1 Samuel 19:19-20), a school of prophets. The notorious story about Harry Potter became a reflection of this archetype in postmodern thinking.

In turn, Pachomius came to Christ in a different way. Being recruited, he lagged the main detachment, perhaps even became a deserter in the Roman army. Then he was sheltered and shown mercy by the Christians. As a sign of his conversion, gratitude, and repentance, he became the founder of many monasteries, the rules of life of which were designed in the likeness of the army.

Anthony followed the call of the Savior in the Gospel, Pachomius was inspired by the ideal of the Book of Acts. The call of Christ “Sell your property and give it to the poor” (Matt. 19:21) in the biography of Antonius, corresponded, in the appeal of Pachomius, to the image of the Book of Acts, where it was written that “believers had one heart and one soul” (Acts 4:32). Thus, an amazing, creative, beneficial opposition was created between the two Books of Scripture (cf. 1 Cor. 11:19). How once Jacob wrestled with God (Gen. 32:24), without knowing it himself, two monastic ideals opposed each other.