Friday, August 11, 2006

"Flee women and bishops!", counselled the desert abbas.

"lest one fall into fornication or ordination."

But sometimes there is just no escape.

Today is the memorial of St. Alexander the Charcoal-Maker, bishop of Comana.....

Alexander was a bright upper-class pagan who became a philosopher in the schools. When in due time he became a Christian, in order to get out of philosophy and away from his pagan connections, he quit his teaching position, moved halfway across the known world, and set up shop as a maker of charcoal --- the grungiest, least favored honest work possible. Nobody in Asia Minor knew anything at all about his past life.

In due time, the bishop of that place died, and the metropolitan of Asia Minor, St. Gregory the Wonderworker, came and assembled the synod of the place to elect a new bishop. Gregory preached to the assembly that they were to pay no attention to social station or wealth or outward appearance, but were to choose the most spiritual man. A bit peeved, some members of the synod went and grabbed Alexander, wearing his work rags and covered with soot, and presented him to St. Gregory, apparently as a joke.

But Gregory did not see it as a joke. He started asking pointed questions. Alexander tried to play stupid. It didn't work; eventually Alexander confessed to his respectable and learned past. Gregory got Alexander a bath and a decent robe, then ordained him bishop.

Alexander became well-beloved as bishop, and was martyred under Diocletian in about 275.

No comments: