“There is a man in the south of Egypt called Shenoute. Whatever he says truly comes to pass.”
– St Wissa
When contemplating on the lives of the saints, we soon come to realise the love of God and His saving grace which is constantly perfecting His image in us. The great St Shenouda the archimandrite is an excellent example of one who lived as a true son of God bearing the image and likeness of his Creator. Let us take a few moments to contemplate on his life and draw from it lessons to apply in our own lives, as St Paul says, “Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.” (Hebrews 13:7).
The name Shenouda or Shenoute means ‘son of God’ and is derived from two Coptic words ‘shiri’ meaning son and ‘noute’ meaning God. Truly St Shenoute was a son of God in the love and forbearance he had for all, for example when “Abba Martyrius visited St Shenouda one day and brought with him a certain Cantor. They went into the church to receive a blessing and the Cantor stood up to sing, and continued to sing for all he was worth but not understanding why he was doing this Abba Martyrius said to Saint Shenouda, ‘Should I tell him to sit down?’ St Shenouda answered him saying, ‘Why are you concerned about him? Let him sing! Behold, there is a choir of angels around him responding to him. Look, there is the prophet David standing at his side and giving him the words which need to be said.’”
“In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another” (1 John 3:10-11).
From this we can learn the importance of showing love to all; though we may be in a position of authority, our actions and words must be seasoned with sincere love and we too will become imitators of the Son of God.
St Shenoute was renowned for his prophetic insight and spiritual vision; on many occasions he would sit and talk with various prophets, as in the example of the young monk who was reciting the book of the prophet Ezekiel.
“Another time St Shenouda was walking with the prophet Ezekiel, and one of the brothers was sitting by himself reciting the prophet. The prophet Ezekiel went and stood over the brother but the brother was not aware of this. St Shenouda said to the prophet Ezekiel, ‘Come and be seated; do not weary yourself with standing.’ The prophet said to him, ‘Leave me for a while. I will not pass by this brother, for his recitation of my words truly strikes home.’”
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14). As St Shenouda was led by the Spirit of God and so was given such a glorious gift so as to see the prophets and speak to them, even so let us also be led by the Holy Spirit in all that we do. Though we may not see the prophets or be able to speak to them we can certainly remember that they are present with us. Let us learn from the example of the monk to concentrate and meditate on the scriptures and to be aware that as we read and meditate, the prophets and saints accompany us and the Holy Spirit Himself enlightens us.
There is much more to say about the great saint Abba Shenoute the archimandrite but let us first strive to apply these lessons we have learnt from his life. Let us have sincere love for all and be led by the Spirit of God in all that we do.
May the blessings of St Shenouda and his prayers accompany us throughout our lives that we too, in following his faith, may become sons of God.