Arsenios the Great

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Saint Arsenios was a deacon of the Church of Rome, born of an illustrious family, and wondrous in virtue. In the days of Saint Theodosius the Great, he was chosen to be the tutor of the Emperor's young sons, Arcadius and Honorius. While living at the imperial palace in Constantinople, compassed with all luxury and innumerable temptations to sin, Arsenios often besought God with tears to guide him to salvation. This prayer was answered one day when a voice came to him saying, "Arsenios, flee from men, and thou shalt be saved." He sailed secretly to Alexandria, and from there went to Scete, where he became a monk. Yet after he had withdrawn from the world, and was come among the most illustrious monks of his day, he heard, 'Arsenios, flee, be silent, pray always, for these are the causes of sinning not." Following this call, he separated himself even from his fellow monks, practicing extreme silence. On Saturday evenings, he would turn his back on the setting sun, and would stretch out his hands in prayer to Heaven, till the sun shone upon his face the following morning, and only then would he sit down. Once a monk came to visit him, and looking into his cell saw Arsenios entirely like a flame of fire. After living some fifty-five years as a monk, and attaining to heights reached by few, he reposed in peace about the year 449, at the age of ninety-five.

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