In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. One God, Amen.
The reposed monk, Hegumen Mettaos el-Syriani, was a great pillar of monasticism both at the level of the Syrian monastery in particular and on that of general Coptic monasticism. He arrived at the monastery as a young youth not exceeding twenty-two years of age and lived in the monastery for approximately sixty years of continuous ascetic worship.
He lived in a modest cell inside the monastery and when the opportunity arose, the monastery built him an individual cell next to the eastern wall of the monastery’s garden, from the early sixties he lived there until the remaining years of his monasticism as a “shut-in” (motwa7ed). Hegumen Mettaos read books of the monastic fathers like “Paradise of the Fathers”, John Climacus, John of Dalyatha “the Spiritual Elder”, Mar Isaac the Syrian and others. And he struggled diligently to follow their example and footsteps. He tried to live monasticism in its essence as taught to us by our fathers and not merely in appearance and on the surface. His approach was very moderate and he used to say, “The middle way saved many without exhaustion.” Not only did he focus on the physical aspects of the ascetic life such as fasting, prostrations, and his personal quite time with his Creator; he was also occupied with spiritual virtues as well.
We mourned greatly his departure, for he left a great void in the monastery. For he was our spiritual father and the confessor for almost half of the monks of the monastery. He was comforting in his words and wise in his guidance. He loved everyone and so everyone loved him, so that he won the respect of all. He lived in the wilderness during most of his monastic period, and was a disciple of the elder fathers and learned from the books of the great monastic fathers. All his words, advice and guidance to his sons were from the books and sayings of the fathers that are full of grace and life.
Fr. Mettaos was a source of consolation to any monk in the monastery who was upset for any reason. If a monk was in a spiritual warfare of any type, he would go to him exhausted and joyless, leaving rested and cheerful due to the graceful and beneficial words that come from his (Fr. Mettaos) blessed lips, and the peace that fills his heart, mind and his angelic face that is abundant with peace.
The words, “Thanks be to God” never ever ceased from coming out of his lips despite how hard and severe his efforts and illnesses were. And his face was that of an angel radiating peace and acceptance despite his pain and diseases, especially near the end of his life where God tested him with a great number of difficult diseases. His eyesight and health were gone but God gave him spiritual insight and the wisdom of Didymus, who lost his physical sight and God gave him spiritual sight so that he became a great teacher and head of the School of Alexandria at the height of its glory and greatness for many years (Didymus the Blind).
We rightly call Fr. Mettaos the ideal monk and the lover of wilderness, and the spiritual father that is moderate in his guidance, the possessor of spiritual insight, unmatched. Who thanked God concerning every condition, for every condition and in every condition. He was a good example and we learned a lot from him. We ask for his intercessions on our behalf and for the Syrian monastery (Der-el-Suryan) and that he may remember us before the throne of grace and that we may meet in Heaven.
We present to your our dear reader this book on the life and sayings of this virtuous father, hoping that it becomes a source of blessing to you and to all readers. And we thank all those who laboured in the process of bringing this aromatic story and the deep monastic contemplations into light.
Through the intercessions of our pure mother St. Mary and through the prayers of our beloved father H.H. Pope Shenouda III, father of monks of this generation.
H.H. Bishop Mettaos
Bishop of the Syrian Monastery