Monday, January 4, 2021

Saint Timothy of Kakhushta and the Delusional Apocalyptic Preacher

The following events took place in early-ninth century Syria, and are recorded in the biography of Saint Timothy of Kakhushta the Stylite, who is commemorated on January 4th.

There was once a wandering solitary whom the devil envied. Since he was untried and knew not the devil's attacks, the enemy came to him in the form of Christ, accompanied by hosts of angels and magnificent light. To him he said: "Know that you have won my favor in this world and have pleased me much. You have comforted me with your manner of living and have thus merited that I reveal to you now my secrets and that I come down from the heights of my holiness to inform you that in eighty days the whole world will pass away and be brought to an end. As for you, enter the city, the towns, and the villages. Proclaim among the people, preach, and inform them what you have been commanded."

He arose immediately and went forth. He wandered among the towns, proclaiming and preaching in them everything that the devil had said to him. When Timothy the recluse heard of him, he was greatly saddened. Recognizing that this was the devil's deception, and that he had overcome that brother, he asked God to guide that brother, the wandering solitary, to him. After three days, he looked down from his enclosure and saw that that wandering solitary had come to him. To him Saint Timothy said: "If you would, father, come into the monastery, receive the Eucharist, and support your heart with some bread and water. Do this, for I can see that you're tired. He replied: "Forgive me, our father, but for fifty years I haven't entered under a roof." The Saint then said to him: "And who are you?" He replied: "Haven't you heard of so-and-so, the wandering solitary to whom God has revealed everything? It is I, for God has revealed everything to me and has not hidden from me what will happen. He said to me that from this day, after eighty days the world will pass away and be dissolved. God sent me to proclaim and preach among the people, to warn them of this." The Saint answered: "So you're so-and-so?" He replied: "Yes, I am."

The righteous one called his disciples and said to them: "The living God has told you to do to him everything that I command you. Go out and bring in with you that wandering solitary outside the monastery. If he does not agree to come in, drag him along and bring him." The brethren went out to him. He began to shout: "I will not enter under a roof!" They thus brought the wandering solitary in against his will and brought him to the Saint. To them the Saint said: "Shackle him and fasten his shackle to the pillar." They did to him as the blessed one bade.

The Saint then began to rebuke him, saying: "Have you read the Holy Gospel and the Divine Scriptures?" He replied: "Yes." He then said to him: "Based on your words, it is thus necessary that you be punished, for if you had not read them, you would have an excuse and there would be mercy for your misdeed. When the enemy came to you and suggested to you that you say these words, you should have questioned him and said: Our Lord has said in His Holy Gospel, 'As for that day and that hour, no one will know, not even the angels.' He also said: 'Like the lightning that flashes from heaven, from the east and is seen in the west, so also will be the coming of the Son of Man.' Christ will not come except with the sign of the cross. When the accursed one came to you and stood in front of you, you should have made the sign of the cross against him, for he would have disappeared from you and vanished like smoke or wax when it has melted."

The Saint fell silent and then said: "Behold, I shall now punish you, treating you like a disciple who disobeys his teacher by not receiving his knowledge. To God be the glory! Now then, let each of you two [Michael and Daniel] take a rod in his hand and beat him with it with all his might and strength - forty times from each of you two - until he receives knowledge in a becoming and proper fashion and comes to understand what he reads in an upright manner." The monks began to beat him without mercy. As for the blessed recluse, he locked the window of his enclosure and lifted his hands to heaven, saying: "My Lord and God, have mercy on this poor brother, for behold, he is being punished for his misdeed. [Have mercy] in that he bears the name of the monastic order and so that the enemy not say he conquered him. And yet, I ask you, my Lord and my God: turn the power of the enemy from him, and rescue him from him and remove the enemy from him."

When the Saint had prayed and the two disciples, the monks, had completed beating the wandering solitary according to the blessed one's command, the Saint saw the spirit of error come forth from him, like smoke. At this he ordered them to release him. He then prostrated himself to the Saint and said: "My father, in truth I have been like one drunk on wine; I've been drunk on the error of the enemy in the worst of ways. But now I sensed in myself that the wine has gone forth from me, the wine by which the accursed one made me drunk with his oppression. I now give thanks to the grace of God, which did not cast me aside. I was guided to you until I was freed from the devil of pride."

He stayed with the blessed one for three days, and the Saint taught and instructed him in the attacks of the devil and how they take place. After three days, he declared himself a liar in the presence of all the people, saying: "Know that the devil oppressed and led me astray. The consummation of the world is something that no mind knows. I went to holy Timothy and he freed me from the enemy who had oppressed me, that is, Iblis and the devil of pride and self-importance. This is something hidden from the knowledge of all people."

After this, he returned to al-Ukkam and continuously offered God repentance with vigils and fasting. And he would come to Timothy, reveal to him the attacks of the enemy, and be cured. Thus did he complete his life in the way of virtue. Everyone who heard or saw this marveled and gave thanks and praise to God.