DEBRE BERHAN SELASSIE
                             A Christian Monastic place of worship and living in the traditional ancient ways serving God
                                 ~ ~ A place to share knowledge of our Faith and Practice of Worship ~ ~ ~
Visit our Face Book Page to chat and see more photos: DBS Ethiopian Orthodox Monks Life

We are in the process of establishing the Church and Monastery, so we have not posted the address.  We will keep you informed as we progress, and pray that you will find the information on these pages helpful.   Please keep us in your prayers and May God Bless You.
                         Besemai Ab. woWold. woMenfes Qidus, Ahadu Amlac, Amen
                  Lord pity us, Lord spare us, Lord have Mercy upon us, and Bless us, Amen.
      Sibhat le'Ab, woWold, woMenfes Qidus, yi'izeenee wezelfenee, wele'aleme alem, Amen. 
             Lord make us worthy to pray with all thanksgiving:  (Then say the Lord's Prayer)  
MONASTIC LIFE ~ The Ethiopian Orthodox Monastic Community (Nefru Gedam)

The birthplace of man.  The Garden of Eden. The Land of Sheba.  Ancient Christians traditions of worship and prayer.

Ethiopians worshiped One God and accepted the Divinity of Christ centuries before those in Europe.  Ethiopia is the home of thousands of churches, it is also a country which has numerous monasteries. The establishment of these monasteries started at the end of the 5th century with the arrival of the Nine Saints from Syria, Egypt and the Greco-Roman territory. These are the Fathers who at present are referred to in Ethiopia as the Nine Saints.  Ethiopia once shared one Patriarch with Egyptian Copts, and therefore Ethiopians going to be ordained by the Coptic Patriarch would often stop at the desert monasteries on their way to Alexandria, and on their return home, built monasteries in the traditions of the Desert Fathers. 
The oldest of these monasteries is Waldebba Monastery, which still today is the home of male and female monastics.  Over the centuries the monks of Ethiopia have zealously guarded these ancient traditions, and even today the monastic communities are identical to those of the early desert fathers.  You can find many men and women who remain unmarried all their lives in the hope of coming closer to God

* Like the first monasteries of Egypt, the monasteries of Ethiopia are built like ordinary villages, using the same materials as the poor people. 
In Eritrea and Tigre it is rough, dry stone, and in the southern provinces mud and eucalyptus.
From one end of Ethiopia to the other the life of the monasteries is essentially the same, varying only in degrees of strictness. 
Male only monasteries and women only monasteries are essentially the same, except that women cannot perform the Qidasse (Holy Prayers/Liturgy) and other priestly duties therefore Monk/Priests visit or may live nearby on the property to perform these duties. 
They will eat and sleep separately from the female monastics. 
+ + + I choose not to use the word "convent" because in the early days of the "Desert Fathers and Desert Mothers" the word monastery was used for the dwelling place of both men and women monastic's.  I also do not use the word "Nun", I prefer the ancient ways, when there were just Monks ~ male and female monks.
(female ascetics in the East are called monks/monastics, Nun is a Western tradition)

Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only a hermit, or in the case of communities anything from a single building housing only one senior and two or three junior monks, to vast complexes and estates housing tens or hundreds.  
The main purpose of a monastery is to be a place of prayer and prayer is simply communion with God.

* The center of the monks’ life is prayer.  Monks rise on most mornings at four O’clock and assemble in the church to chant the morning office (Sa’atat) which last two hours.  On Sundays and Major Holy feast days the Sa'atat starts at midnight and then the Mass (Qiddase), finishes at dawn. 
Unlike the large secular churches monks do not dance as the secular priests do.  Some of the more ascetical monasteries do not even chant the office (Sa’atat) and the Mass (Qiddase), but prefer simply to say them. 
At 6 PM the bell rings calling the monks to gather once again, for evening prayers about 2 hours.  Apart from these common prayers a monk is expected to pray frequently in private.  Each monk is free to choose their own method of private prayer, though certain ways are common.  Some pray in the areas around the church building while others retire to their rooms or huts every one or two hours and say the Lord’s Prayer and the Canticle of St. Mary "Waddasse Mariam".  Others repeat ” Eyesus Kristos, please save me ” or ” Through Blessed Mariam, have mercy on me. etc.   The Jesus Prayer is for Orthodox monks one of the most profound and mystical prayers and it is often repeated continually as a part of personal ascetic practice. Its practice is an integral part of the eremitic tradition of prayer.  " Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner".   Kyrie Eleison (My Lords have Mercy)
is said  41 times after prayer by the congregation but is said hundreds of times throughout the day by monks.  Monks also spend long hours at night in silent contemplation.  "Quiet Time".

~~Prayer Rope /Beads
Prayer ropes /beads are used to help concentrate the mind and keep count of prayers by monks. 
When monks began going into the deserts of Egypt, it was their custom to pray the entire 150 Psalms every day, some of
the monks were unable to read, so they would either have to memorize the psalms or perform other prayers and prostrations
instead.  Thus the tradition of saying 150 (or more) Jesus Prayers every day began. "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God have
Mercy on me a sinner"(Ethiopian Monks still pray the entire 150 psalms daily in addition to their regular prayers.)

Monks would count their prayers by casting pebbles into a bowl, but this was cumbersome, and could not be
easily carried about when outside the cell.

The invention of the prayer rope is attributed to Saint Pachomius in the fourth century as an aid for illiterate monks to
accomplish a consistent number of prayers and prostrations in their cells.   The use of the rope made it possible to pray
unceasingly, whether inside the cell or out, in accordance with Saint Paul's instruction to "Pray without ceasing In
everything give thanks: for this is the Will of God in Iyesus Kristos concerning you."  (I Thessalonians 5:17).

The western Rosary is said to have the same initial origin, however the Rosary did not come into existence until many years later.

When praying, the prayer rope is normally held in the left hand, leaving the right hand free to make the Sign of the Cross.
When not in use, the prayer rope is traditionally wrapped around the left wrist so that it continues to remind one to pray without
ceasing. If this is impractical, it may be placed in the (left) pocket,  hung around the neck or suspended from the belt. 
For humility: one should not be ostentatious or conspicuous in displaying the prayer rope for others to see.

The Father of Orthodox Monasticism, Saint Anthony the Great, originated the method of tying the prayer rope.
He started by tying a leather rope with a simple knot for every time he prayed Kyrie Eleison ("Lord have Mercy"), but the Devil would come and untie the knots to throw off his count.
He then devised a way-inspired by a vision he had of the Mother of God of tying the knots so that the knots themselves would constantly make the sign of the cross. This is why prayer ropes today are still tied using knots that each contain seven little crosses being tied over and over.  The Devil could not untie it because the Devil is vanquished by the Sign of the Cross.

+ Today Prayer ropes may be found in knots of 33, 41, 50, 64, 100, 150, 200, even up to a 500 or more.
In Ethiopia the ropes are in 41 or 64 (knots or beads) instead of 33 and 50.  Larger numbers are also used by monastics.  64 beads are in honour of the Virgin Mariam's age at her assumption, and  41 beads for the 41 lashes Christ received during His Passion.


is designed to be prayed early for the coming of the True Light, the Lord Eyesus Kristos.
It is mainly associated with the eternity of God, His incarnation, His resurrection from the dead.
It is intended to offer thanks to Him for having risen us from the sleep, beseeching Him to shine upon us,
enlighten our lives, and grant us the power of His resurrection.

It is important for all the faithful to pray each day, especially the morning prayers and evening prayers.
If one does not know how to pray, it's important to learn how to pray.       

                                                      ~ The prayers below are said at beginning of every prayer.
                                                                                       ~ In addition Kyrie Eleison is said 41 times at the end of all prayers ~

     I worship before the Cross of our  Lord Eyesus Kristos, which was sanctified by His precious blood.
     I cross my face and all over my body with the sign of the cross.
1.  Besemai Ab. woWold. woMenfes Qidus, Ahadu Amlac, Amen
    (In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen.)

2.  Kyrie Eleison, Lord pity us, Lord spare us, Lord have Mercy upon us, and Bless us, Amen.

3.  Sibhat le'Ab, woWold, woMenfes Qidus, yi'izeenee wezelfenee, wele'aleme alem, Amen.
     (Glory be to the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, now and forever and world without end.  Amen.)

4.  Lord make us worthy to pray with all thanksgiving

5.  We believe and offer our supplications unto Thy Holy Trinity.  We denounce satan in the sight of the Holy Mother
    Orthodox Apostolic Church; and in the presence of the Virgin Mariam whom is Zion for ever and ever.  Amen.


   O Lord, we give You thanks, and we adore and glorify You.
   O Lord, we subject ourselves unto You, we put our trust in You,
   We give thanks unto you, O Lord, and serve your Holy name,
   We worship You, to whom all knees bow in worship and all tongues serve,
   Thou are God of Gods, Lord of Lords, and Kings of Kings.
   Thou are the creator of all who have bodies and souls.
   We call upon you according to the teachings of your Holy Son, who said,

To Him let us give glory, giving thanks to God the Most High, and let us give thanks  to His mother and His Honorable Cross.
  Peace be unto you, while honoring you our mother Mariam, we beseech you.   We trust you to save us from evil beasts.
  For the sake of Hannah, thy mother and father Iyakem.  O Virgin Mariam, today bless our congregation.

  TSELOTE EGZITENA MARIAM ~   (Prayer of Virgin Mariam) ~   Saint Luke Chapter 1 verses 46 ~ 55
  And  the Virgin Mariam said, my soul does magnify  the Lord.
  My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.  For he has regarded the low estate of his  handmaiden; for behold from
  henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.  For he that is mighty has done to me great things; 
  and Holy is His name.  And mercy is on them that fear Him from generation to generation. 
  He has showed strength with His arm;  He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.  He has put down
  the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. 
  He has filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent away empty.  He has helped his servant Israel,
  in remembrance of His mercy.  As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever and ever.    Amen


  Let us give thanks to the beneficent and merciful God, the Father of our Lord, God and Savior, Eyesus Christos, for He has covered us,
  helped us, guarded us, accepted us unto Him, spared us, supported us, and brought us to this hour.
  Let us also ask Him, the Lord our God, the Almighty, to guard us in all peace this holy day and all the days of our life.

  O Master, Lord, God the Almighty, the Father of our Lord, God and Savior, Eyesus Kristos, we thank You for every condition,
  concerning every condition, and in every condition, for You have covered us, helped us, guarded us, accepted us unto You, spared us,
  supported us, and brought us to this hour.

  Therefore, we ask and entreat Your goodness, O Lover of mankind, to grant us to complete this holy day, and all the days of our life,
  in all peace with Your fear. All envy, all temptation, all the work of Satan, the counsel of wicked men, and the rising up of enemies,
  hidden and manifest, take them away from us, and from all Your people, and from this holy place that is Yours.

  But those things which are good and profitable do provide for us; for it is You Who have given us the authority to tread on serpents
  and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy.

  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, by the grace, compassion and love of mankind, of Your Only-Begotten Son, our
  Lord, God and Savior, Eyesus Kristos, through Whom the glory, the honor, the dominion, and the adoration are due unto You, with Him,
  and the Holy Spirit, the Life-Giver, Who is of one essence with You, now and at all times, and world without end.  Amen.

  PSALM 50  ~  (Psalm 51 in the King James  version English Bible)

1. Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your loving kindness;
     According to the multitude of Your tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

2.   Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
3.   For I acknowledge my transgressions; and my sin is ever before me.

4.   Against You and You only I have sinned, and done this evil in Your sight: 
     That You might be justified when You speak, and be blameless when You judge
5.   Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin did my mother conceive me.

6.  Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts:  And in the hidden part You shall make me to know wisdom.
7.  Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
8.  Make me to hear joy and gladness;  That the bones which You has broken may rejoice.

9.   Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
10. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 
11. Do not cast me away from Your presence; and take not Your Holy Spirit from me.
12. Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation: and uphold me with Your generous Spirit.
13. Then I will teach  transgressors Your ways; and Sinners shall be converted unto You.

14. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, You God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
15. O Lord, open my lips; and my mouth shall declare Your praise.
16. For You desire not sacrifice, else I would give it: You do not delight in burnt offerings. 
17. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and humbled heart O God You will not despise.

18. Do good in Your good pleasure unto Zion; You build the walls of Jerusalem.
19. Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,
     with burnt offering  and whole burnt offerings:  then they shall offer bulls upon Your altar.  

  THE CREED (Prayer of Faith Confession)  (The Creed/Prayer of Faith)

  THE LORD'S PRAYER including Holy Virgin  Mariam (Emabeatachin Qidus dingl Mariam Hoy)

  In the name of Mary, Your mother Lord have mercy on us (41 times)

  KYRIE ELEISON (My Lord have Mercy) is said 41 times in honour of the 36 lashes that Christ received during His Passion, plus the
   nails in each hand (2), plus feet (2) and the spear in His side (41).  We concentrate our mind on the suffering He withstood for us.

                           ~  In addition to these, Monastics say many more prayers and Psalms daily.  ~
                                               Throughout the day the prayers below are also repeated.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Return to Top

~  Alador (the piercing on the right hand), ~ 41 times
~  Danat (the piercing on the left hand), ~ 41 times  
~  Adera (the piercing on right foot), ~ 41 times
~  Rodas (the piercing on the left foot) ~ 41 times
~  Sador (the piercing on the ribs by the lancet)  ~ 41 times

~  Oh God ~ 41 times

~  Eyesus Kristos (Jesus Christ) please save me ~ 41 times

~  Save us and deliver us by your mercy  ~  41 times

~  Hear us! Our God and Savior ~ 41 times 

~  Eloi  la'ma Sa-bach'tha-ni ?   OR  My God why has Thou forsaken me?    ~   41 times
                                                    (“Eloi” is the name Christ called His Father in Mt. 27:46)   

~  Yae!  Yae!  Yae!   ( “woe to me”)  My God see me!   ~   41 times

~  OH God according to Your Mercy and not according to my sin  ~  41 times

~  Lord remember us in Your Kingdom  ~  41 times  

~  Ig-zee-'o  tesahalene   ( "Lord have mercy upon us" )  ~  41 times

~  Abba-ta-chin  Hoy  (Oh Our Father)  ~  41 times 

~  Kyrie Eleison ( My Lord have Mercy)  ~ 41 times


  If you would like to add these prayers to your daily life, my advise is to begin slowly, and repeat a few until you can say them as easily as breathing.  Don't be too concerned with being perfect, the idea is to simply concentrate the mind and communicate with God.
~ I find it easier to always keep the Prayer Bead wrapped around my left wrist, with the excess crossed over the thumb with the Cross resting in my palm;  so it's easy to slip on and off to pray silently at anytime and anywhere.  I often even sleep with them on.

The ones I use has round beads divided at every tenth bead by a "Flat Metal Cross", or by a "Flat Red Bead" (Red signifies Christ's Blood that was spilled to save us). This makes it easy to count with the Prayer Beads without looking or while inside the pocket discreetly, or to find the point to interject "Lord Save Me" at certain intervals.

~ ~ ~ I usually say "Lord save me" at each "Flat Bead" , and also at the Cross at the end; or if I am in private I also Prostrate and
        say  "Lord Eeyesus Kristos, Son of God have Mercy on me a sinner".
~~~   It's also a good practice to prostrate at the beginning of and end of each set of 41 or 64;  Still keep in mind that the most
        important thing is to simply speak to God by praying.                                

                                                                 THE GRACE OF GOD BE WITH YOU ALL   

                                                                                  Emahoy Hannah Mariam                         


The Ethiopian Orthodox Monastic Community (Nefru Gedam)
In Orthodoxy a monk's primary task is the life of prayer, and it is through this that he serves others. It is not so much what a monk does that matters, as what he is. The monks by their withdrawal from society into the desert fulfilled a prophetic and eschatological ministry in the life of the Church. They reminded Christians that the kingdom of God is not of this world.

From its very beginnings the monastic life was seen, in both east and west, as a vocation for women as well as men, and throughout the ancient world there were numerous communities of nuns.

Monasticism is an inner and hidden life. It is absolute and the most radical expression of Christianity as a ‘narrow way’ leading to the Kingdom of heaven. Monastic detachment and concentration into oneself, however, does not imply egoism or the absence of love for one’s neighbour. Being outside of worldly vanity, a monk does not forget his fellow humans, but in the silence of his cell prays for them.

~~~ Daily Life
* Apart from the obligations of prayer and work, a monk is free to use their time as they thinks fit.  Monks spend
many of their leisure hours chatting with each other. Each monk has their own room, in which he or she may have a few luxuries such as a metal bed, a small bedside table and lamp, a locker or cupboard/shelf, a drinking gourd, a bowl for food and a prayer book.
The pupils, on the other hand, have no privacy, three or four sharing one room, and are allowed no extra possessions.
(At some stricter monasteries all monks sleep on skins on the ground and owns only a drinking gourd and a plate)

There is a common kitchen where the food is cooked over an open fire, a granary and an assembly hall.  Dominating the whole is the church, and this alone is built in expensive materials, such as cut stone and mortar or, in modern times, brick and concrete. Next to it is the sacristy where the vestments and sacred objects are kept.  Behind the Church is the Bethlehem where the bread and wine for the Holy Eucharist (Lords Supper) is prepared.

~~~ Eating
* In contrast to the Western monastery where the monks always eat in common, in Ethiopia they can eat separately. 
After mid-afternoon prayers in the assembly hall the daily food is brought from the kitchens and distributed. 
The monks can take it to their rooms and eat it as and when they please. 
The food is generally "monks bread", or enjera and Shero or boiled beans, with a cup of tea (chai) or, for sick monks, a cup of milk. 
In stricter monasteries the bread and beans are served on alternate days. A few monasteries, such as Assabot and Zuquala, allow the monks to grow their own vegetables near their huts which they can cook themselves to supplement the diet.

Monks keep all the normal fasts of the Church, and add many private fasts of their own.  On major festivals at some monasteries the monks have stewed meat, while others always observe a vegetarian diet and some even only eat uncooked vegetables and on these occasions they eat together in the assembly hall. The pupils and visitors receive the same food as the monks.

~~~ Livelihood 
* The monasteries all own sufficient land for the monks, needs. Although manual work is not considered essential in the monk’s life, as it is in the contemplative communities of Europe, the stricter monasteries such as Debre Libanos of Ham and Waldebba regard it as important that the members plough the land themselves.  At harvest time all able-bodied monks and pupils are working in the fields, and only the old and lame remain behind.  However in most monasteries a proportion of the land is rented to peasant farmers in return for a share of the crop.

Almost all monasteries trade with the local people, and every week on market-day a group of monks go to the nearest town carrying produce from the monastery lands.  In exchange they buy soap and candles and any other supplies they may need such as building materials etc. Some monasteries purposely grow fruit and vegetables which they never eat themselves to sell at the market. 
Surplus food is also used to feed the poor in the area.

~~~ Clothing
                                  The style of gown worn by the monastics are the same, with very slight difference in
                                  the style worn by female monastics, but for the most part they are the same. 
                                  The hats worm however are different.The design on the top of the hat worn signifies
                                  whether a man is a simply a monk or a monk priest. It also signifies the rank or hierarchy of a monk.
                                  (In a church outside a monastery a married priest wears a very different hat)

                                         A monastery may have their own specific color that is their "uniform" which identifies a
                                         monk as belonging to that particular monastery and is worn for official occasions as well
                                         as anytime. That being said, all colors can be worn by all monastics.
                                         White is always worn on Easter Sunday, and if taking communion and black is always
                                         worn on Holy Friday and is the "uniform" color of monks in Jerusalem.

A High Rank Monk Priest or Abuna wears a special netela over their head or shoulders it  has a dark red stripe. 
People, man or woman, who leave home when they are old, to live as monks and  to labor in monasteries, baking bread or
caring for the household needs of the priests, wear a simple, full-cut kemis of the coarsest material, without ornamentation. 
A croched hat or head-cloth is wrapped about their cropped heads, but thay do not get the Ciof (hat) of someone who have
lived their life as a monk/nun in the monatery.
The older Emahoys / nuns and the hermits carry their prayer sticks all the times for support.
Though it may not be visible, a cross is always worn around their neck.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has a multitude of functionaries and the priest, deacon or nun is a familiar sight,
especially in the city, where there are large churches and religious centers, Priests and deacons dress simply,
in a long cotton gown that is a variation on the kemis, a cloche-style hat, draped with cloth, called a kob.
A higher rank such as an Abuna (Bishop) wears a cloak of heavy material with a stiff stand-up collar, called a kaba. 
A fly-whisk, hand-cross, or prayer stick (used for support during the long church services) may be carried.

                                                                                                                                                                  Return to Top
~~~ Hierarchy of the Monastery

+ Abba Mamhir ~ Teacher or  Head Monk
Each monastery is entirely independent in administration, both of other monasteries and of the local bishop.  The head of the monastery in all temporal matters is the Abba Mamhir. He does not directly order the monks as the abbot in the West does, but he appoints three senior officers to govern each area of the community’s life.
The main job of the Abbe Minet is not in the monastery at all, but is as ambassador to the outside world.
(Female monastics live identical ascetic lives to their male counterparts and are therefore also called monks, and their community is likewise called a monastery;  The Emahoy/ Head Mother has absolute rule within her monastery).
The Mamhir is elected by the monks of his monastery for life or until he desires to leave the post. On the whole he is an untypical monk since he is chosen for his worldly wisdom, and many are quite young, some apparently in their early thirties. There is no special ceremony for the installation of a new Abbe Minet, but prayers for his guidance are added to the morning Sa'atat, and at midday there is a feast in his honour.  Occasionally an Abbe Minet is promoted to the episcopate.

+ The Afa Memhir, (person who transmit order) is the Mamhir’s deputy and he has charge of the monastery when the Abbe Minet is away. The Afe Memhir keeps the general discipline of the community, and he has the authority to judge and to punish.

+ The Magabi, governs the whole livelihood of the community and assigns each person to his task.  He decides when the seed should be sown and the grain harvested, and he ensures that the food is distributed fairly each afternoon. He does not have his own hut, but generally sleeps in the granary to guard against thieves.

+ The Gabaz, maintains the church and sacristy.  The Gabaz has under his direct charge an
  + Ackabeit who guards the sacristy, sleeping there at night, and
  + A Bell-Ringer who calls the monks to prayers.
In large monasteries, such as Debre Bizen and Debre Libanos of Shoa, the Abbe Minet also appoints two or three older monks as advisers. They have no authority of their own, but they often accompany the Abbe Minet to meetings in town.
Most monasteries, however, are small and intimate to make such advisers unnecessary.

+ Qomas ~ The Spiritual Father
The spiritual head of the monastery is the Qomas.  He is appointed by the bishop as his representative, and is often an older monk known for his exceptional sanctity.  He does not guide the individual monk’s inner life, as the Spiritual Director in the West does,
but he gives advice when it is asked for, arbitrating in any conflicts in the community.
As one monk described it: ” While the Afe Memhir punishes by the rod, the Qomas punishes by prayer.” Large monasteries
may have more than one Qomas, and new bishops are appointed from the Qomases.

                                                * Though it has long since disappeared in the West, the hermitical life is still widespread in Ethiopia.
                                               The cenobitical monks and the ordinary people regard the hermitage as Man’s highest abode on earth,
                                               and often monks seem fearful at the possibility of God calling them to it. In almost every monastery
                                               there are a number of monks – perhaps one tenth of the total-who confine themselves to their cells.
                                               They are described as ” the monks who never see the sun.” They have no responsibilities within the
                                               community and do not attend the daily common prayers.  Food is brought to their huts each day by a
                                               single monk permanently designated to the task, and the hermit only emerges for the Mass in church
                                               on Sundays and feast days.
                                               Usually their cells are within the monastery compound, though sometimes they are a short distance
                                               away:at Debre Damo, for instance, hermits can be seen in apparently inaccessible caves in the sheer
                                               cliff beneath the monastery. Other monks or lay people can visit them (if they can reach their cell), and
                                               many of the rulers of Ethiopia, including the Emperor himself, frequently seeked the advice of these
                                               hermits on both spiritual and temporal matters.


There are countless holy men (Ba’atawi) living in remote forests and caves throughout Ethiopia. 
They are vegetarians and live only on the wild fruits and herbs which Nature provides. A few of these holy men are ordained monks who have left their communities, but mostly they are lay people.  As another monk puts it, ” God has called them to holiness from nothing, as Christ called Peter and Paul.”

See also ethiopianorthodoxchurch.info/monasticlife

* Originally by                                                                                          

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MONASTIC LIFE :  Monk Stories ~ Examples to emulate

Anba Bishoi: (One of the early Desert Fathers) A Life of TRUE Submission

As the young Bishoi grew and became a man he was filled with great desire to pray and converse with the Lord. He was known to continually sing hymns to the Lord and to talk with Him while working and at home. Bishoi's thoughts soon became that of God.

St. Bishoi dreamed of living among the monks. He found great joy and happiness in fasting, praying, praising the Lord Eeysus Christos, and seclusion. As a monk we know that Anba Bishoi felt that his life was in the hands of God who loved him and who
was able to rescue him from any difficulty or tribulation. He submitted all his life to the Almighty Lord,
                                       "for of Him and through Him and to Him are all things" (Romans 11:36).

There are many popular stories about the life of this most beloved monk.

This is one of the endearing stories of Anba Bishoi, which tells of the monks in the monastery where he resided, learning of a visit by the Lord Eeysus Christos in the day to come. The gathering with the Lord was to occur on a high mountain near the monastery. Each monk was busily engrossed in preparing for the Holy Event.

Early the following morning, they hurriedly journeyed up the path of the mountain so they could spend as much time as possible with the Lord. Sitting beside the mountain was a frail, elderly man that quietly implored each passing monk to take him with them to see the Lord. Yet each one thought that helping this man who could barely walk was a waste of time as they needed to hastily climb the mountain and had not a second to squander.

The elderly man with his very soft voice asked Anba Bishoi for his help. Anba Bishoi tarried behind without hesitation. He helped the aged man up and carried him on his back for the man could not walk further than a few steps at a time. The mountain was not an easy climb, the aged man grew heavy and Anba Bishoi became fatigued. Yet he was more than happy to help the man. Not one disgruntled thought entered Anba Bishoi's mind regarding being late for the Heavenly Encounter.

Suddenly, the frail man's weight became so very great that Anba Bishoi could no longer carry him. He gently and carefully placed him down and when he turned to speak to him, Anba Bishoi beheld the face of the Lord Jesus Christ.

What great blessings Anba Bishoi once more received. He sat and conversed with the Lord for many hours. When the Lord left, He asked him to tell the other monks to remember the needy. "When they help the needy, they help Me," were the last words the Lord spoke to Anba Bishoi on that great day.

Upon finding the other monks gathered at the top of the mountain, they asked Anba Bishoi, "Why has the Lord not come?"
He replied, "The Holy One has been to this mountain, this great day." Anba Bishoi conveyed to them what had happened and upon hearing this they felt great regret and many monks wept for refusing to help the Lord.
As Anba Bishoi's example certainly shows us, a life of submission encourages one to acquire other spiritual virtues such as obedience, patience, and endurance. Ones' will is the only thing that stands against acquiring these particular virtues.
         A person who does not submit himself to God cannot be obedient, because obedience is submission.

Submitting oneself and accepting certain circumstances even when it does not appear to be the advantage of the goals set for oneself, cultivates the virtues of patience, and patience enriches lives and produces perseverance. It assists us in climbing up the many mountains before us to reach our Heavenly Goal.

Finally joy and peace accompany the life of submission. The source of joy for man and what accompanies it from peace is the fulfillment of the Will of God and the faith, which follows it:

                               "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God,
                                       to those who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

May we all learn from Anba Bishoi's life of submission that it is not life's circumstances, which dictates our daily lives.
Circumstances and events are outside and beyond us. They cannot touch us when we remain submissive to the Lord Jesus Christ. The most important thing in our daily lives is "Abiding in Christ" (John 15:4-10) and staying there.

H.G. Bishop Youssef
Bishop, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States                     
                                                                                                                                                       Return to Top

AMHARIC  (phonetic transcription)

Abba-tachin Hoy, Besem-mai  Yemit-nor,
Simih Ye-kedes,   Mengistih    Timta,
Fi-qadih  Besem-mai,  Inde-Honech
Indihun  Bim-i-der   Ti-Hun,  
Ye'il-let   In-jera-chi-nin,  Sitene  Za-rey 
Bedela-Chin-nim    Yi-qir    Bel-len,
Eng-nam  Yebedel-lu-nin Yi-qir  Ende-minil,
Abetu - Wode   Fe-te-nam   At-tag-baan,
Ke-kif-fu     Adin-nin    Enjee
Mengist   Yan-te   Nat-tin-na
Hail - im  Mis-ganam  Lezel’ alem-mu Amen  
Ime-bea-ta-chin  Qi-dist  Dingil  Maryam Hoy,
bem-mel-aku  be-qidus  Gabri-el Selamta,
Selam  in-ilish-alem, 
Bay-ha-sab-e-shim   dingl   nesh,
Bay-se-ga-shim   dingl  nesh,
Yea-che-na-fee   ye-ig-zi-abhear  inat Hoy,
Selamta  Le-an-chee   yi-ge-bashal,
ke-se-toch  hulu   tele-ytesh, 
anchi  yete-ba-re-kish  nesh, yma-he-tay-nish  fray
yete-bareke new, segan ye-tem-el-ash Hoy,
des yebilish, ig-zi-abhear  keachi gar new-ina
ket-tay-we-da-dew   Li-ji-shi,
kegetachin, ke-mediha-nee-ta-chin, 
ke-Eeyesus Kristos Zend,
Y-kirtan lemig-ni-lin, Hat-tee-a-ta-chin,
yasteseriy-lin zend,  lezel' alem-mu.   Amen
Our Father Who art in heaven; hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. 
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us lest we fall into temptation,
deliver us and rescue us from evil, 
For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory,
forever and ever.  Amen.

~ (Hail Mariam)
O Holy Virgin Mariam in the peace of the angel Gabriel
Peace be unto You. 
You are Virgin in spirit as well as in body. 
Oh You mother of perfect God;
peace be unto You.
Blessed are You among women,
and Blessed is the Fruit of Your Womb.
Rejoice oh You who are full of Grace
the Lord is with You
Ask and Pray for us to Your Beloved Son
Iyesus Kristos our Lord and Saviour
that He may have Mercy upon our souls
and forgive us our sins.  Amen.
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Qomas ~ The Spiritual Father