Many of us would dream of seeing and speaking with Christ in person. Indeed those people such as the apostles, who lived during His time were truly blessed to receive His teachings in His presence. There are some who claim to experience the presence of God in visions or dreams also, but there is one person who met and spoke with Christ hundreds of years after His life on earth. This great saint who was born in a humble village called Senalolet near Akhmim was seen worthy by God to meet and speak with Him on several occasions. This is none other than the great Abba Shenouda, the righteous and holy father.
Pure and honest as a boy, Abba Shenouda’s righteous life did not begin overnight, rather from a young age he dedicated his days to spiritual and ascetic practices. From the time his parents cared for him, he would pray for many hours on his own before returning home on a daily basis. His fingers would illuminate and radiate light when he prayed and when his parents heard, his father thought to take him to get the blessing of the holy father, Abba Pigol who was Shenounda’s uncle. Upon arrival to receive Abba Pigol’s blessing, instead of blessing him he took his hands and put them on his head saying, “bless me oh Shenouda”.
Shenouda did not remain with his parents long but instead went and joined Abba Pigol in the monastery where he was seen as an angel, and a source of comfort and protection to all around him. He strived in the anchoritic life, increasing his prostrations, limiting his food so that his body became feeble and dry like Elijah the Tishbite and keeping awake in vigil, only sleeping enough to sustain his body to be able to continue in prayer not just 7 times a day as David the prophet says, but 12 times with sweat, tears and great intensity.
It is easy to see why he was worthy to see and speak with Christ, for his heart was wholly dedicated to Him as he guided the monastery and less experienced monks out of his love for Christ. The relationship Abba Shenouda held with Christ in person was comparable to that of every day close friends who could see each other and chat for hours about anything and everything. We see the relaxed natured of his encounters with Christ on many accounts, one being while they were talking out in the desert Abba Shenouda spoke of his desire to see a ship sail by, so Christ vanished and filled the place with water, took the form of the captain with angels taking the form of the assisting sailors.
Abba Shenouda joined Him on-board and asked the Saint to tie the rope to hold the ship in place. According to the Lord’s instructions, he pierced a rock with the rope to tie the ship and that rock remained a monument to that miracle. It also showed us the level of love, trust and friendship between the two. On another occasion, Abba Shenouda met with Christ and sat and was speaking with Christ. When his disciple Wissa heard, he ran and wanted to meet Christ too, however He immediately vanished. Only because of Abba Shenouda’s love for his disciple and the friendship he had with Christ he arranged for Wissa to come the next day. However, Christ vanished when Wissa knocked on the door, leaving him disappointed, however, through Abba Shenouda, Wissa was granted the blessing of hearing the Lord’s voice. These are only a couple of accounts of the meetings of Abba Shenouda with Christ in person from which we learn true friendship with our God.
Abba Shenouda had many gifts and talents, understanding theology, prophesying and writing just to name a few. He was also completely reliant on God, that God will provide for him and on every occasion, he did. Due to his knowledge and zeal, Abba Shenouda was requested by Abba Cyril to attend the Council where he is known for defending the faith against Nestorius. Upon conclusion, Abba Cyril boarded a ship to sail back while Abba Shenouda was prevented from boarding, being relatively unknown and simply dressed. God did not leave him without means to return home; through Abba Shenouda’s supplications, the Lord sent a cloud which took him and his disciple back to the monastery, the very same day, which Abba Cyril saw fly over the ship. On another occasion the Lord provided Abba Shenouda a cloud to transport him to the king’s palace where he spoke with and met with the king the very same day he had been summon by the king’s messenger who was unreasonably forceful toward the righteous father. We can see and learn that through a simple and righteous life with the Lord, which can take years to establish, whenever we lean on Him and ask of Him, He will provide for us in ways we may not even imagine.