SAINT KARAS THE ANCHORITE features significantly in the contemplative life of the Egyptian Desert Fathers for his depth of interior silence, his lengthy life of fifty-seven years in solitude, how Christ the Son of God would visit and speak with him every afternoon and how He took Karas alive into heaven on the day of his death, July 15, 465 A.D.
This was the day after the death of the equally famous St. Shenouda the Archimandrite, whose departure St. Karas discerned in spirit from his cave in the Scetis Desert (between Cairo and Alexandria). Icons of St. Karas were painted many centuries after his life however they often depict Christ with him in his cave in preparation for them going to heaven. Near him are St. Shenouda and also King David who sang Psalms while playing his harp—a meeting with whom Karas requested of Christ before his departure from the earth. In the icon below is also portrayed, along with Archangel Michael, St. Bemwa (Pamoa) who recorded the events of the departure of St. Karas that he personally witnessed.
The idea for naming this Guest Cottage in honour of St. Karas emerged from our desire in St. Enoch and St. Elijah Monastery to tell the story of this hermit Desert Father and how Christ honoured his simplicity and purity of heart. We pray for each of our guests in this Guest Cottage that they receive the optimum measure of faith, purity of heart and intimacy with God that comprise the holy interior silence and all its contribution to one’s fusion of will with the Spirit of the Paradise Father within.
By way of telling this story, we have elected to quote from the first Prior’s book titled The Father Fusion Of Jesus—Monastic Life. We pick it up in a conversation in which a close friend of the first Prior, William Karas, is asked to speak about interior silence.
Was the Mount Hermon experience the impartation from a heavenly person that gave you his or her interior silence?” asked Peter.
“Not really as a personal ministry to me, no,” replied William Karas. “Years later, I read an account of a desert father called Karas. He lived the anchorite life in solitude in a wilderness cave. Saint Bemwa met him a few days prior to the anchorite’s death and later told the congregation in his own monastery’s church about the events he witnessed while he was with him.
“It was in this reading that I felt myself spiritually covered and blessed by this now long since departed Karas the supernaturally gifted anchorite. He performed no miracles of healing or the transformation of matter. Nor is there any record of him flying through the air or being transported from one place to another, as apparently happened to many such supernaturally gifted anchorites. However, he did have the Father’s mind working in him. He met regularly with Christ. He saw the departing soul of Saint Anba Shenouda the Archimandrite going into heaven. I wanted that kind of mind more than any of the supernatural gifts of telekinesis.”
“When you say covered, what do you mean by that, William?” asked Peter.
“Covered meant to me that this man’s Father Fusion heart and mind had been made personally available to me to draw from in the course of my own Father Fusion walk. In NLP we call this modelling. It enables us to extract new behaviour patterns from someone’s behaviour and beliefs and adapt them to our own behaviour and beliefs. Let me quote you something about Karas from Bemwa’s written account:
He was of a strong presence and great humbleness. He was a person of great radiance and the grace of God reflected in his face, his eyes were very shiny, and he was of medium stature with a long beard with a few black hairs left in it. Wearing a simple galabia (gown), for he was very skinny with a light voice and a cane in his hand. He said, “You have come to me today and brought me death with you: for a long while I have waited for you my beloved.’’
I said to him “And what is your name my father the saint?’’
He said to me “My name is Karas.’’
So I asked to him, “How many years have you been in this wilderness?’’
He said to me, “In fifty-seven years I have not seen the face of a man, and I waited for you with all joy and eagerness.’’
Then I dwelt with him for a day. At the end of the day our father Karas became sick with a great fever, and he would sigh and cry.
He said, “That which I have feared all my life has come to me today so Lord where do I hide from your face? How do I hide? Truly great is the fear of this hour. . .according to your mercy O Lord and not according to my sins.”
When the sun had risen on the second day and St. Karas was laying in bed unable to move, a great light that surpasses the sun shone at the entrance of the cave, and there entered a man with great radiance wearing white clothing bright as the sun. In his right hand was a glowing cross. I was in that time sitting at the feet of St. Karas and was overcome with fear and awe. This radiant man proceeded towards St. Karas and placed the cross on his face, and spoke with him many words and gave us peace and departed. I proceeded to our father St. Karas to investigate who is this man with all this glory?
So he said to me with all happiness, “That is Christ The Lord, as it is His habit to come to me everyday to bless me, and converse with me and departs.’’
I said to him, “My father the saint, I desire for the Lord of grace to bless me.’’
So he said to me “Before you leave this place you will see Christ The Lord in His glory and He will bless you and talk with you also.’’
“Peter, when I read these words,” continued William Karas, “a deep silence fell upon my heart and mind. My mind was completely ravished away. A great faith arose in me that I too might see Christ the Lord and have him bless me and talk with me like Karas had prophetically promised Bemwa. I was even more impressed when Bemwa told of his own encounter with this same Christ the Lord inside Karas’ wilderness cave. Let me read it to you:
The Lord of glory looked to me and said, “My peace be with you Bemwa, what you have seen and heard you say and write to be made for good use of it, but as for you Karas, my beloved, every man that knows your story and makes remembrance of your name on earth, my peace shall be with him and I shall count him with the commemoration of the holy saints, and every man that offers wine or bread or incense or oil or candle in remembrance of your name I shall reward him multiples in the heavenly kingdom, and whoever feeds him who is hungry or gives drink to him who is thirsty or clothe him who is naked or takes in a stranger in your name I shall reward him multiples in my kingdom. “And he who writes your holy story I will write his name in the book of life, and everyone who has mercy in your memory I will give him what no eye has seen and what no ear has heard and what has not occurred to a man’s heart.’’
“The peace of Christ The Lord is the interior silence, isn’t it, William?” Peter asked.
“It is indeed,” replied William Karas.
“You have the interior silence because you have the peace of Christ The Lord, isn’t it so, William?” confirmed Peter.
“That is true, Peter. There is more, though. It was these next words of Saint Bemwa’s that spoke to me of my experience on Mount Hermon with the Prior and a Finn and an American in the year 2001. As I read Bemwa’s words I saw into the heart of my mentor, the Prior, and how he had been in the presence of Christ The Lord when we four were up on Mount Hermon that day in 2001 and he was speaking with Him in such an everyday and matter of fact manner. Then I realised that if Christ The Lord could be like that with my mentor then He could be like that with me. This is what Saint Bemwa wrote:
“And now my beloved Karas, I want you to ask me a favour to do for you before your passing on.” So Saint Karas said to him, “My Lord, I used the psalms day and night and I desired to see David the Prophet while I’m in the flesh.” And in a blink of an eye, David came holding in his hand a harp and playing the psalm: “This is the day which the Lord has made: let us rejoice and be glad in it.’’
St. Karas said, “I want to hear all ten strings in one tune and the songs and is the sound of those who obey him.’’ While David sang the psalms with the harp and his beautiful voice, Saint Karas in great rejoice let his spirit leave his holy body to the bosom of our good Saviour, who took it, kissed it, and gave it to archangel Michael. Then I, Bemwa, leaped and kissed the body of Saint Karas and anointed it, and the Lord of glory signalled to me to walk out.
So I did. And Christ The Lord walked out and with him the angels with praises and prayers in front of the spirit of Saint Karas and we left his body in the cave. Christ The Lord placed his hands on the cave and it became as it never had an entrance, and all ascended to heaven in joy, and I remained alone in that position until that beautiful sight was gone from me.
Then I closed my eyes from the strength of the light and glorious sight. When I opened them again, I found myself (divinely transported to be) in front of the cave of Saint Abbamod el-Kallah so I dwelt with him three days then I left and went to Saint Simon el-Kallah and dwelt with him three days more. Then I left him and returned to Mount Sheehat where my monastery church is.
There I met all the brothers and told them the story of blessed Saint Karas the great and his words about the passing away of Anba Shenouda the Archimandrite. After five days a letter came to us from rural Egypt saying that the Saint, Anba Shenouda the Archimandrite, had passed away in peace on the same day as St. Karas saw him when I was with him in his cave.
“Peter,” continued William Karas, “the events of this narrative are divinely supernatural and yet I felt that they were given into me and to my life. Since reading them and since taking the Coptic baptism and the name of Karas, I feel certain that the interior silence I have mastered has come to me exclusively from my partnership with Saint Karas. By his austere and holy life he has given me a witness of things possible in Christ The Lord as Bemwa calls the Son of God. Such things belong exclusively to the reality of Christ’s mind and substance. It is that reality that brings me into interior silence. Psalm 62:5 speaks of it well:
‘For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.’
“The Prophet Habakkuk says it too in 2:20: ‘But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.’
“There is a Word in scripture that speaks volumes to me, Peter, because I know what that kind of silence is like as it is experienced in the souls and minds of heaven’s citizens. Let me read it to you from the Revelation of John, Chapter 8:
‘When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.’
“It’s not the silence that comes from the lack of activity, Peter. Heaven’s silence is each person’s anticipation of the will of God about to do a work, remembering that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are the will of God in each of these heavenly citizens. In this passage, not merely mortals of the earth are waiting in silence: these are the perfect ones in heaven who are waiting in silence to see what is about to be done. He goes on:
‘Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to blow them.’
“There is something about interior silence, Peter, that links us to our heavenly citizenship so that we have the same interior silence we would have when we are heavenly citizens who are actually resident in heaven and not just sampling it down here on the earth.
“Additionally, when we have our heavenly citizen’s version of interior silence operating in us, and I have it operating inside of me so I know whereof I speak concerning this matter, we realise with all our heart and soul that this interior silence is the fusion of our own will with the will of the Paradise Father.
“Christ The Lord, as Karas calls him—the Son of God—has made a way for me to come to know the Paradise Father in me so intimately that my Father Fusion is now guaranteed. Because of my measure of fusion with the will of the Father to date, my interior silence is able to penetrate the earth and the heavens in the joint mind I share with the Father. I call it The Father’s Circuit. It is distinct from the Son’s Circuit and from the Circuit of the Holy Spirit.
“Essentially, my interior silence is my being utterly at rest in God plus my alertness to any move on either my part in the Father or the Father’s part in me such that we together would prompt an act of will, or a thought, or a look in any place in the material creation or the heavenly realms.”
“I understand. Well, I think I do,” said Peter.
Then he had another thought: “How best should I pray to receive this interior silence like you have it, William Karas?”
“Heavenly Father,” William immediately prayed, “please show me yourself for your son Peter’s sake.”
Peter felt William slip into a mighty inner stillness. It was as if he wholly vanished for a few moments. Then he re-emerged and said, “Thank you, Father,” and continued on with his prayer: “Father, you and I have given your son Peter a good talk about the nature of inner silence. “I pray with you now that you will bring to him everything he needs by way of a Father Fused person who will impart his or her perfect interior silence to him.
“And further, Father, I pray that you use Peter mightily in the kingdom of heaven so that Christ The Lord can release his peace and silence and blessing into Peter to carry all around the world for the sake of the whole world’s Father Fusion.
“And Father, I know that in asking this of you, my Father and I as a single mind and a single will have spoken the truth; and that we will have what we have asked for of you. I count it as done, Father. From this moment until its perfect completion in Peter, I count the beginning and the end as one whole project that is now at our word complete in him. Let that which is now perfectly fulfilled be worked out in his life to its perfect materialisation in his life.”
“Amen,” said Peter.
“Thank you, Peter, for the opportunity to tell you something about the interior silence that accompanies the Father Fusion of Jesus.”