Saints and Theology of the Heart - St. Anastasius of Sinai

7th Century
St. Anastasius of Sinai
Feast: April 21

Saint Anastasius Sinaíta or Anastasius of Sinai was one of greatest ascetics of the 7th century.  His work flourished on Mount Sinai and had a great impact on the Byzantine environment.  He is one of the last eastern writers who is recognized with the title of Father by the Church, for his apologetic work in witness to and defense of the Christian faith.  He is known in the Orthodox Church, especially among the Greeks, as the New Moses.

It is said that he was born in Syria, although this fact is uncertain.   During his youth he lived a life of great piety. When he reached the age of maturity, Anastasius abandoned the world and entered the monastery of Saint Catherine on Mount Sinai, where St. John of the Ladder (or Saint John Climacus of Sinai) was abbot at that time.  There, he was enriched by the example of many holy monks and was ordained a priest.

Endowed with great humility, Saint Anastasius wrote down the lives of several holy Fathers of the Church, which, along with others of his books are considered spiritually instructive. 

After St. John Climacus and his brother George, Saint Anastasius was elected chosen to be abbot of Sinai. He was enthusiastic in his opposition to the heresy of monotheletism, the denial of the existence of a human will in the person of Jesus Christ, and also of monophysitism and of the teachings of the Eutyches and his followers.

For this reason, he did not hesitate to leave his coenobitic retreat and travel to Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Arabia to unearth this heresy and to strengthen the official doctrine of the Church.  For this purpose, he moved to Alexandria in the year 640, till some forty years later, between the years 678-689, in the times of the monophysite Patriarch John III.  The Third Council of Constantinople, from 680-681, a few years before his death, put an end to this heresy.

After a long life in the service of God, Saint Anastasius died around the year 690.  He and other ascetics of Mount Sinai are commemorated in an Orthodox feast of the Synaxis of the Monastic Fathers of Sinai, also called “Bright Wednesday”.

Saint Anastasius was one of the first to defend the teaching regarding guardian angels.  He explained that God gave each Christian an angel to care for and protect them in every situation of life.  Nevertheless, we can separate ourselves from our guardian angel by our sins, in the same way that bees flee from smoke.  While the demons work to deprive us from the grace of God, the holy angels guide us to do good.

Apart from his dogmatic and apologetic works against the heresies (Hodegos or Guide for the True Way), he wrote a short history of these heresies and ecclesial synods, an exegetical text ( the Hexaemeron), a biblical commentary on the creation, various homilies and a volume of questions and responses to the predominant moral questions (Book of 154 Questions).

Among his most known homilies in found the Sermon Over the Holy Synaxis (or also, On the Christian Synaxis), where he summarizes the doctrine of the Eucharist and exhorts Christians to receive Communion worthily.



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