Παρασκευή, 24 Ιουνίου 2016

Which One Should I Deny? / "Leave, you who loves him more..."


A True Story from the Years of the Missionary Fr. Cosmas Grigoriatis of Blessed Memory

Orthodox Holy Monastery of the Lord of the Univerce, Melissochori (Land of Bees), Greece

We find ourselves in one of the graphic villages of Zaire (today's Congo). The tropical vegetation around is bountiful. The banana trees further down are filled with fruit, their branches are tilted and the palm tree next to the grass hut proudly boasts its strength!
In contemplation and bitterness an old man from Zaire sits outside his manor (a hut), chewing on some sugarcane.  
Which One Should I Deny?“Why doesn't Christ want me?” he mumbled in grievance. “So what if I do have two wives and twenty children between them? I want to become a Christian! To be baptized Orthodox! But the missionary, Father Cosmas, said 'no'. 'No! Christ does not want that.'”
At night time, around the fire, he gathered together his two wives and all his children for a family meeting. He talked to them about his thoughts, his sacred desire, his wish to be baptized a Orthodox Christian and the formidable hindrance which was stopping him from reaching this goal. He certainly wanted to embrace Christianity, Orthodoxy. His desire was sincere. Tears were flowing down his dark, wrinkled face.
There was a great struggle and fight inside of him―a most terrible dilemma―after all that he had seen and heard of this true religion. On the other hand, he loved both his wives very much, and it was impossible for him to choose which of the two he should deny.
He said trying to fight his tears: “Which one should I deny? It is impossible for me to decide.” The children gathered up in their corner without saying a word and lay down to sleep, not only not having eaten as usual but embittered as well.
Indeed, what was going to happen?

Photo from here

The old man tossed and turned all night on his grass bedding. Suddenly, his heart felt as ease, as if the storm had seized and the tornado started to abate. He was turning over the outright refusal of the missionary in his mind, which composes also an inflexible law of Orthodoxy. And now he was crying and sobbing inconsolably. For the first time his lips unconsciously whispered a prayer to our sweet Jesus, Who―as will become apparent―bowed next to him, listened to his wishes and rushed to help him. His spouses were awake outside the hut, under the moonlight, not having made the big decision of which one would leave. The younger one was leaning on the palm tree, desperate and in tears. She fell into a light sleep, and in between a dream and a vision she saw the shining form of the Crucified One, Jesus, Who was unknown to her up to that moment. And He told her sweetly and decisively:             
“Learn in your life that love means sacrifice. This is why you see Me on the Cross. The Christian and Orthodoxy ask us to crucify our passions, our flawed desires. 'I' and 'I want' need to conform to 'must'. Leave, you who loves him more, leave. I will be next to you. I will bless your footsteps. I will protect you. Your reward for this sacrifice will be great, even if you do not know me. You, too, will also be next to me one day… in Paradise…”
Zermen (the younger wife) woke up startled. She sprung up resolute. Dawn was approaching. She entered the hut, quickly wiped her tears away and with her calloused palms gently nudged the man who had been her husband up till then, who was half asleep.
“I am leaving,” she said, “because I must. I cannot resist the almighty power, that Christ transmits, Whom you love and want to follow… I am leaving for good! His will be done,” whispered her pure soul.

Women from Democratic Republic of Congo, former Zaire (from here)

Tears of joy and sadness accompanied the separation. She took her children and set off in the midst of the forests and disappeared. What a strong decision! What greatness! What a most expensive gift she submitted before Christ's feet at that moment, without her comprehending it, restraining her heart and running off into the unknown, denying her quiet home!
Joyful, the old man, with his heart lighter, ran to our missionary and announced what had happened. After repenting and confessing, he accepted Holy Baptism, and after that he received Holy Communion. His great desire had come true. Spiritually reborn, he decided to live according to God's Laws.
The day after the baptism they also performed an Orthodox wedding. Happiness and delight overfilled the people in that small village of Zaire!
However, the Lord's ways are unknown to us. Three days after his baptism, our Christ suddenly called the man to be near Him in the heavens. He fell asleep in the Lord. “Blessed are the ones who sleep in the Lord…”!
 
The news exploded like a bomb throughout the village. He left so suddenly… completely unexpectedly… unbelievable! The sweet, calm, smiling countenance of the dead newly-enlightened* man made an impression on everybody. The angels took in their hands, to the disgrace of the demons, that beautiful soul and drove it to God's throne, to live eternally in the Kingdom of Heaven.  
Hearing about what had happened, his second wife returned together with her children. And so, all together now, they were baptized and lived happily, following the path that our Christ showed them. The Holy Light, that during the night of the decision, lit over their hut, never went out. It became the lighthouse of their hope and salvation.

*newly-baptized
 
MAGAZINE: ORTHODOX MISSIONARY PATH OF LOVE
JULY-AUGUST-SEPTEMBER 2011, LARISA

See also
 

The Orthodox Church in Congo & Gabon & the Orthodox University "St. Athanasius the Athonite"

We are Going to Live in Paradise: Orthodoxy in Congo
The Life and Legacy of Blessed Father Cosmas of Grigoriou - Introduction to Apostle to Zaire
«African needs to be helped, to find his divine roots, for his soul to be at peace, to become united with God...»
 
News & articles from the Orthodox Church in Republic of Congo & Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Way - An introduction to the Orthodox Faith  
Orthodox Mission in Tropical Africa (& the Decolonization of Africa)
Theosis (deification): The True Purpose of Human Life
 

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