THE STORY OF SAINT KARAS
St. Bemwa explains, "I will teach you my brothers of what went on during one of these days." I heard a voice saying to me three times "YA BEMWA...YA BEMWA...YA BEMWA...", and it came to my attention that the voice was a heavenly voice from the sky and not familiar to me. Since not too many people called me by my name I raised my eyes towards heaven and said, "Speak O' Lord for your servant is listening", and the voice said to me "get up Bemwa and hurry speedily to the inner wilderness where you will meet St. Karas and take his blessing for he is very honorable to me more than anyone else for many are the times that he has tired himself for Me, and My peace will be with you."
So I left my church and headed out in the wilderness alone in great joy while I did not know the way, assured that the Lord which has commanded me will lead me. Three days passed, and I still traveled alone. On the fourth day I arrived at one of the caves and the entrance was closed with a great rock. I proceeded to the entrance and knocked as it is a habit of the brothers and said AGHABY (AGAPE) meaning LOVE and said bless me o saintly father. Instantly I heard a voice from the inside saying to me "it is good that you be here today Bemwa, priest of the church of the mountain of sheebhat that is worthy of the burial of the blessed St. Elarya, daughter of the great king Zenon." The door was opened for me and I entered and he kissed me and I kissed him, and we sat discussing God’s greatness and His glory. I said to him "My saintly father, is there another in this mountain that resembles you?". He stared at my face and sighed then said, "My beloved son there is in the inner wilderness a great saint that the world is not deserving of a single step of his feet, and he is St. Karas." Then I stood and asked, "then my father who are you?" He said to me, "I am Simon El Kallah, and it is to me this day sixty years without seeing the face of a man, and was blessed every Saturday with a loaf of bread placed on that stone which you see outside the cave."
After I was blessed by him I walked on in the wilderness three more days in prayer and praises until I reached another cave with it’s entrance closed. I knocked and said bless me my saintly father. He answered me saying, "It is well your arrival to us saint of God, St. Bemwa, who was deserving of anointing the body of St. Elarya daughter of king Zenon enter in peace." I entered and we sat speaking and I said to him "I was told that there is in the wilderness another saint that resembles you?" He stood, sighed and said to me "great is my... I inform you my father that in this wilderness is a great saint that his prayers stops the anger that descends from heaven, he is him that truly a partner of the angels." I asked him "And what is your name my father the saint?" He said " My name is Abbamoud El Kallah, and it has been to me in this wilderness seventy nine years living on these palms that yields dates, thanking Christ."
After he blessed me I left his dwelling with joy and peace and proceeded at night finding myself unable to see the road and unable to walk. After a while had passed I opened my eyes and found myself in front of a cave in a stone of a mountain, I proceeded to the entrance and knocked and said "AGHABY" and instantly a voice spoke to me from the inside saying, "It is well that you came today St. Bemwa, saint of god, who was worthy of anointing the body of St. Elarya daughter of king Zenon." So I entered the cave and stared at him for a long while, for 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 came to me today and brought me with you death, for today 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 rose the second day and St. Karas was laying in bed unable to move, a great light that surpasses the sun shined at the entrance of the cave, and entered a man with great radiance wearing white clothing bright as the sun. In his right hand 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. Karasto 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, andconverse 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 LORDin His glory and He will bless you and talk with you also." When we had come to the seventh day of the month abib I found that St. Karas had raised his eyes to heaven while gushingwith tears and sighing deeply and said to me "Today a great pillar has fallen in rural Egypt, and the whole earth has lost a great saint that the whole world is not worthy of being his footstool. He is Anba Shenouda the Archimandrite and I have seen his blessed spirit ascending to the highest of the heaven in the praising of the angels, and I hear crying and wailing allover the land of rural Egypt, and the monks have gathered around the blessed body, being blessed by it as it radiates with light." When I heard that I kept in mind the remembrance of the passing away of Anba Shenouda the Archimandrite as the seventh of abib. On the following day or the eighth of abib the illness of our St. Karas grew stronger, and in the middle of that day a strong light appeared at the door of the cave and entered the Savior of the world and preceding Him the archangels Michael and Gabriel with a fleet of angels with six wings and the sounds of praises here and there with the smell of incense. I was seated at the feet of St. Karas, so the Lord whereof glory proceeded sat at thehead of St. Karas, who held our Savior’s right hand and said to him "For my sake O' my Lord and my God, bless him for he has come to me from a far place for the sake of this day." The Lord of glory looked to me and said, "My peace be with you bemwa, what you have seen andheard 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 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 ocuured to a man’s heart. and now my beloved karas i want you to ask me a favor to do for you before your passing on" So St. Karas said to him "my Lord I used the psalms day and night and I desired to seeDavid 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 praises together." So David moved his harp and said "precious before the lord is the soundof those who obey him." While David sang the psalms with the harp and his beautiful voice, the saint in great rejoice let his spirit leave his holy body to the bosom of our good Savior, Who took it, kissed it, and gave it to archangel Michael. Then I, Bemwa, leaped and kissed the bodyof St. Karas and anointed it, and the Lord of glory signaled to me to walk out. So I did and He walked out and with Him the angels with praises and prayers in front of the spirit of the saint and we left his body in the cave. 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 in front of the cave of St. Abbamod El Kallah so I dwelt with him three days then I left and went to saint SimonEl Kallah and dwelt with him three days more. Then I left him and returned to mount sheehat where my church is. There I met all the brothers and told them the story of blessed St. Karasthe 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 St. Anba Shenoudathe Archimandrite had passed away in peace on the same day as St. Karas saw him. The blessings of St. Mary, the mother of the true light, and the St. Anba Shenouda the Archimandrite and St. Karas be with us, and to our Lord, all glory forever amen.