Αναζήτηση αυτού του ιστολογίου

Φόρτωση...

Τετάρτη, 20 Αυγούστου 2014

Μικρό ταξίδι στη μεθόριο Εκεί που η γη συναντά τον ουρανό: Το προσκύνημα Scott Cairns





Μικρό ταξίδι στη μεθόριο
Εκεί που η γη συναντά τον ουρανό: Το προσκύνημα
Scott Cairns
μετάφραση: Ιωάννα Π. Κούτρη, Θάνος Β. Κιοσόγλου
Παρρησία, 2014

Η ΛΕΙΤΟΥΡΓΙΑ ΤΟΥ ΛΟΓΟΥ - ΨΑΛΜΙΚΑ ΑΝΤΙΦΩΝΑ « Ου κατά τας ανομίας ημών εποίησεν ημίν, ουδέ κατά τας άμαρτίας ημών άνταπέδωκεν ημίν,"





Ου κατά τας ανομίας ημών εποίησεν ημίν, ουδέ κατά τας άμαρτίας ημών άνταπέδωκεν ημίν,

Συνεχίζει να θυμίζει στην ψυχή του ό ποιητής, ότι μέσα στην ιστορία ό Θεός δεν έκανε αυτά πού θα περίμενε κανείς να κάνει για τις ανομίες μας, δηλαδή να μάς τιμωρήσει, δεν μας ανταπέδωσε για τις αμαρτίες μας κακά. Και αυτό τον κάνει να διαπιστώσει ότι το έλεος του Θεού είναι τεράστιο, με μία εικόνα, εικόνα της εποχής εκείνης:
         

Ότι  κατά το ύψος του ουρανού από της γης κραταίωσε Κύριος το έλεος αυτοί επί τους φοβουμένους αυτόν


Όσο απέχει ή γη από τον ουρανό είναι το έλεός του. Και μάλιστα, αυτό το κραταιό έλεος δείχνει να προσφέρεται στους ευσεβείς, όχι γιατί μόνον σ’ αυτούς ενεργείται, αλλά γιατί αυτοί το αντιλαμβάνονται.
Καμία αμαρτία, κατά την ορθόδοξη παράδοση, δεν είναι θανάσιμη, απολύτως καμία, εν αντιθέσει προς άλλες χριστιανικές παραδόσεις πού αξιολογούν τά αμαρτήματα σε θανάσιμα, μή θανάσιμα, μεγάλα και μικρά. 

Καμία αμαρτία δεν είναι θανάσιμη, έκτος από μία: την αμετανοησία. Δηλαδή το να μή θέλεις να συγχωρεθείς από τον Θεό.


Φόβος είναι ή επιθυμία μου να άποδεχθώ το έλεος του Θεού, ή τον ελεήμονα Κύριο. Και κάθε φοβούμενος θα ξέρει ότι υπάρχει ένα έλεος του Θεού μεγάλο, όσο ή απόσταση της γης από τον ουρανό ή όσο ή Ανατολή από τη Δύση:


ΒΙΒΛΙΟΓΡΑΦΙΑ. ΔΗΜΗΤΡΗΣ ΜΑΥΡΟΠΟΥΛΟΣ. ΕΙΣ ΠΝΕΥΜΑΤΟΣ ΑΓΙΟΥ ΚΟΙΝΩΝΙΑΝ . ΕΚΔΟΣΕΙΣ ΔΟΜΟΣ

Coffee with Sr. Vassa Ep.33 (Interview)


ΠΟΛΥΠΟΛΙΤΙΣΜΙΚΟΤΗΤΑ ΚΑΙ ΙΣΛΑΜ ΣΤΗΝ ΕΥΡΩΠΗ.


Δευτέρα, 18 Αυγούστου 2014

Γέροντας Αναστάσιος Κουδουμιανός.








Γέροντας Αναστάσιος Κουδουμιανός


Ο μακαριστός Αρχιμανδρίτης Αναστάσιος, κατά  κόσμο Γεώργιος Λεονταρίδης, γεννήθηκε στον  Πανασό Κρήτης, στις 20/7/1927. 'Ο πατέρας του ονομαζόταν Νικόλαος, καταγόμενος από τη Σελεύκεια της Μικράς Ασίας, με πολλούς συγγενείς στο χωριό Δαμάνια Μονοφατσίου Κρήτης, τόπο εγκατάστασης προσφύγων από τη Σελεύκεια, μετά τη μικρασιατική καταστροφή.


Ή αγράμματη μητέρα του Ελένη καταγόταν από το χωριό Πανασός Καινουργίου Κρήτης, αγαπούσε τον Θεό και την Εκκλησία και αργότερα έγινε Μοναχή με το όνομα Ευγενία. Οι γονείς του Γέροντα είχαν τρία παιδιά, τον Γεώργιο, τη Μαρία και την Κυριακή, ή οποία κοιμήθηκε σέ ηλικία 7 ετών. Τά τρία αυτά παιδιά χάσανε νωρίς τον πατέρα τους, σέ δύσκολη εποχή και μεγάλωσαν μέσα σέ δυστυχίες, πείνες, αρρώστιες και ταλαιπωρίες.


Τον Γέροντα, ώς μικρό Γεώργιο, τον ώθησε στα στοιχειώδη γράμματα του δημοτικού σχολείου ή μητέρα του. Όπως ό ίδιος έλεγε τά πράγματα τότε ήταν πολύ στενά, αγόραζαν ακόμα και τά βιβλία τού σχολείου. Ό μαθητής Γεώργιος όμως είχε φιλομάθεια και έλαβε, τότε, πέντε ενδεικτικά με βαθμό εννέα και το απολυτήριο με άριστα δέκα. Ή δύσκολη εκείνη εποχή διέκοψε τις άριστες μαθητικές επιδόσεις του. Ή ευλαβέστατη μητέρα τους από νωρίς τούς μετάγγισε τη δύναμη της πίστεως και της προσευχής. Ό Γέροντας έμαθε να νηστεύει αυστηρά, να μελετά και να προσεύχεται με όλη τη δύναμη της καρδιάς του. Ώς μικρό παιδί, μελέτησε τον βίο τού Άγ. Αντωνίου, εμπνεύστηκε από τούς άθλους της ένθεης βιωτής του και άρχισε να εξασκεί την ευχή «Κύριε Ιησού Χριστέ Υιέ και Λόγε τού Θεού τού ζώντος, διά της Θεοτόκου, ελέησόν με τον άμαρτωλόν». Όπως αφηγείτο ό ίδιος, αυτή ήταν ή μόνιμη προσευχητική του ενασχόληση. Δημιουργήθηκαν έτσι οι προϋποθέσεις από τά παιδικά χρόνια του ώστε να αναπτυχθεί αργότερα ή έσωκάρδια νοερά προσευχή, όταν ένεδύθη το μοναχικό σχήμα.
Ή προσευχή του όμως προσήλκυσε τη χάρη της Θεοτόκου, ή οποία τού χορήγησε στην πρώτη τάξη τού δημοτικού το χάρισμα της χωρητικότητας του νου. Ή ευλογία της Θεοτόκου τον συνόδευε πάντοτε.


Αργότερα ό Γέροντας με τη χάρη τού θεού και τούς πνευματικούς του αγώνες έγινε ό βιωματικός άνθρωπος, μέσα στο πνευματικό στερέωμα της ασκητικής παράδοσης της Εκκλησίας μας.


Όταν ώς έφηβος βρέθηκε στην πόλη τού Ηρακλείου εργαζόμενος, παρασύρθηκε από έναν συγχωριανό του πού άνηκε σέ κάποια ευαγγελική αίρεση και παρακολούθησε μια ομιλία πού έγινε σέ αίθουσά τους. Ευθύς αμέσως ή Θεοτόκος εμφανίστηκε αστραπιαία στο νεαρό Γεώργιο, δείχνοντάς του το μεγαλείο της θ. Λειτουργίας από το όποιο κινδύνευσε να αποκοπεί.


Υπηρέτησε στις τάξεις του ελληνικού στρατού, ενώ τά προηγούμενα χρόνια είχε ταλαιπωρηθεί από τη γερμανική κατοχή και τά δεινά τού γνωστού εθνικού διχασμού. Ή παιδιόθεν κλίση του προς τη μοναχική πολιτεία άρχισε να γίνεται πραγματικότητα με την είσοδό του, ώς δοκίμου μοναχού, στην Ί. Μ. Βροντησίου, στις 26/7/1957, ημέρα εορτής της Άγ. Παρασκευής, σέ ηλικία 30 ετών. Το γεγονός της αναχώρησης του από τον κόσμο το απέκρυψε εντελώς από τούς συγγενείς του και από κάθε άλλο άνθρωπο. Για την προσέλευση του στην Ί. Μ. Βροντησίου συνετέλεσε και το γεγονός ότι ό τότε Εφημέριος τού χωριού του, Πανοσ. Άρχιμ. Θεοδόσιος, ήταν την περίοδο εκείνη και Ηγούμενος της εν λόγω Ί. Μονής, ευρισκόμενη, σχεδόν πλησίον της γενέτειράς του Πανασού. 

'Ο τότε Γεώργιος Λεονταρίδης και μετέπειτα δόκιμος μοναχός, δεν γνώριζε τίποτα περί Ί. Μονών.
Βοηθήθηκε πνευματικά από τον Ιερομόναχο Γελάσιο της Ί. Μ. Βροντησίου, έκανε τον κανόνα του, πού μεταξύ άλλων συμπεριελάμβανε εκατό μετάνοιες κάθε βράδυ. Στην Ί. Μ. Βροντησίου χειροθετήθηκε Αναγνώστης από τον τότε αοίδιμο Μητροπολίτη Κρήτης Ευγένιο.


Την περίοδο εκείνη στην Ί. Μ. Βροντησίου μόναζε ό π. Αντώνιος Γεπεσάκης, ό όποιος αργότερα πήγε στην Άνώπολη. Από την Άνώπολη μετακινήθηκε στην Ί. Μ. Κουδουμά, ώς Ηγούμενος, από τον αοίδιμο Επίσκοπο Αρκαδίας Τιμόθεο, σέ άντικατάσταση τού Πανοσ. Ηγουμένου, Άρχιμ. Ιωακείμ Δρακωνάκη.


Μετά το διορισμό τού Πανοσ. Άρχιμ. Αντωνίου Γεπεσάκη, ώς Ηγουμένου της Ί. Μ. Κουδουμά, ό δόκιμος μοναχός Γεώργιος, έχοντας γνωριμία μαζί του από το Βροντήσι, άποφάσισε να κατευθυνθεί προς την Ί. Μ. Κουδουμά. Αντί όμως να πορευθεί προς την Ί. Μ. Κουδουμά, πήγε στήνΊ. Μ. 'Οδηγήτριας, επί ηγουμενίας τού Πανοσ. Άρχιμ. Καλλινίκου, κατόπιν προτροπής τών πατερων της Ί. Μ. Καλυβιανής. Κατά τη διάρκεια της παραμονή του στην Ί. Μ. Οδηγήτριας και συγκεκριμένα στις [2/1957 δοκίμασε μια απροκάλυπτη και ανελέητη κακουργία των δαιμόνων. Αντιμετώπισε ολοφάνερη και αδυσώπητη πολεμική από διαβολικά τάγματα τά όποια -όπως  ό Γέροντας- θέλουν να συντρίψουν κάθε ανθρώπινη ψυχή. 


Έμεινε για λίγες ημέρες ακόμα στην Ί. Μ. Οδηγήτριας και κατόπιν προσήλθε και ενεγράφη ώς δόκιμος Ι. Μονή Κουδουμά. Στις 12/8/1958, επί ηγουμενίας Άρχιμ. Αντωνίου Γεπεσάκη, εκπληρώθηκε ό θείος του  πόθος και έκάρη Μοναχός, με το όνομα Αναστάσιος. Τον επόμενο χρόνο, δηλαδή στις 11/8/1959, χειροτονήθηκε διάκος στην Ί. Μονή της μετανοίας του, από τον Επίσκοπο Αρκαδίας Τιμόθεο και αργότερα Πρεσβύτερος. Έδώ γεύστηκε από την ησυχαστική παράδοση του Μοναστηριού την παραδεδομένη από τούς Αγίους νέους κτήτορα του, Παρθένιο και Ευμένιο, και επιδόθηκε σε σπουδαίους πνευματικούς αγώνες. Αθλήθηκε πρωτογενώς στην υπακοή, αγόγγυστα διακόνησε σέ όλα τά διακονήματα, τά οποία τον καιρό εκείνο, ιδιαίτερα στην Ί. Μ. Κουδουμά, ήταν εξαιρετικά κοπιαστικά και επίπονα.



Εμπνεύστηκε από τη ζωή παλαιοτέρων και έναρέτων Μαχών, όπως του Παρθενίου Ψαράκη, πνευματικού τέκνου τών'Αγ. Πατέρων Παρθενίου και Εύμενίου, τού Νικοδημου Καλιγιαννάκη και τού Εύμενίου Χαριτάκη. Υπήρξε ασκητής και συναγωνιστής τού 'Οσίου Γέροντα Εύμενίου Σαριδάκη και άρωγός του στον μεγάλο πειρασμό πού αντιμετώπιζε τά χρόνια εκείνα. Πάντοτε μιλούσε για το π. Ευμένιο με μεγάλο σεβασμό και τον τιμούσε ώς ένα Όσιο της Εκκλησίας μας. Εντός της χάριτος και της υπακοής άγιάζουσας Εκκλησίας, με ορθό εκκλησιαστικό φρόνιμα και με την ευλογία τού Ηγουμένου του καλλιέργησε τη σιωπή και την ευχή και αθέατος από την υπόλοιπη αδελφότητα κατέφευγε στα σπήλαια και τά αγιασμένα ασκητήρια, ιδιαίτερα τις νυχτερινές ώρες, με νηστείες, με χαμαικοιτίες, με αγρυπνίες, με την εσωτερική νοερά εργασία και άλλα πνευματικά γυμνάσματα και ασκητικά παλαίσματα, από τά όποια απόκτησε σπουδαίες και βαθιές πνευματικές εμπειρίες.


 Έζησε, επί 7 περίπου χρόνια, στο ί. Μετόχιο της 'Ι. Μ. Κουδουμά, στόν Άγ. Ιωάννη πού βρίσκεται σέ παραλιακό χώρο. Εκεί διέμενε όντος σπηλαίου μέσα σέ απαράκλητες για τά ανθρώπινα μέτρα συνθήκες διαβίωσης. Την περίοδο αυτή είχε συνασκήτρια τη μητέρα του ή όποια, όπως προείπαμε, έκάρη Μοναχή με το όνομα Ευγενία. Το βαρύ εγκεφαλικό πού υπέστη ή μητέρα του 1973 τον ανάγκασε να εγκαταλείψει τον αγαπημένο του χώρο της ασκήσεως και να επανέλθει στο χωριό του Πανασός για να δώσει την αναγκαία βοήθεια σ' εκείνη, ή οποία εκοιμήθη το ίδιο έτος και ετάφη στο εν λόγω χωριό.



Μετά την κοίμηση της μητέρας του μετέβη στο Άγ. Όρος, όπου περιόδευσε σέ Ί. Μονές και Σκήτες, χάριν ευλογίας και έγκαταβίωσε στην σκήτη τών Ίβήρων, κοντά στον Γέροντα Γρηγόριο για ένα περίπου έτος. Ή εκεί παραμονή του ήταν πολύ ωφέλιμη, καθώς έζησε τον αγιορείτικο τρόπο ζωής, αλλά και γνώρισε σπουδαίες προσωπικότητες, όπως τον Γέροντα Αθανάσιο τον Ίβηρίτη.


Επανήλθε στην Κρήτη για λόγους υγείας το έτος 1974, και μετά από συνάντηση με το γνωστό του Μητροπολίτη Γορτύνης και Αρκαδίας Τιμόθεο, χειροτονήθηκε Πρεσβύτερος στις 24/11/1974. Ό Επίσκοπος Τιμόθεος του πρότεινε να επιλέξει μεταξύ τών Ενοριών Άντισκαρίου και Τσούτσουρου. Ό Γέροντας επέλεξε την Ενορία Τσούτσουρου στην οποία εφημέρευσε από το 1974 έως και τις 30/6/2000, οπότε και συνταξιοδοτήθηκε. Διετέλεσε παράλληλα και Εφημέριος τού Ί. Προσκυνήματος τού Άγ. Νικήτα από το 1992 έως και το 1995 και επίσης διετέλεσε και Εφημέριος στην Ενορία Μαχαιρά. Έλεγε για τις τότε εμπειρίες του «από τη διακονία στον κόσμο, είχα ξεκλίνει τού αυστηρού εκείνου μοναστικού περιορισμού, γιατί ή κοινωνική ζωή ήταν διαφορετική». Τά ονόμαζε «παρατράγουδα» τού κόσμου.


Επανήλθε στην Ί. Μονή της μετανοίας του μόνιμα το έτος 2002, όπου έζησε τον υπόλοιπο βίο του ασκητικά και σιωπηλά, «πλήρης χάριτος και Πνεύματος Αγίου», διδάσκων τον ανεκτίμητο λόγο της πατερικής παραδόσεως και απολαμβάνων τον απεριόριστο σεβασμό της αδελφότητας και τών προσκυνητών της Ί. Μονής, μέχρι της όσιακής τελευτής του, ή οποία επήλθε στις 2/12/2013.


ΒΙΒΛΙΟΓΡΑΦΙΑ. ΑΠΟ ΤΟ ΒΙΒΛΙΟ ΓΕΡΟΝΤΑΣ ΑΝΑΣΤΑΣΙΟΣ Ο ΚΟΥΔΟΥΜΙΑΝΟΣ. ΕΚΔ. Ι Κ. ΜΟΝΗ ΚΟΙΜΗΣΕΩΣ ΘΕΟΤΟΚΟΥ ΚΟΥΔΟΥΜΑ.

CRAZY JOHN A MODERN DAY FOOL FOR CHRIST.






CRAZY JOHN
A MODERN DAY FOOL FOR CHRIST
  My Dear People,
            The following excerpt is taken from a book that was recently published in Greece in both Greek and English. It is truly a modern day miracle. This simple man of God acquired the gifts of Grace that equipped him to deal with the horrible afflictions of contemporary society; homosexuality, sexual perversion, adultery and specifically all the sins of human passions that are used by the evil one to enslave us to the ways of the world and then to finally destroy our souls.  Crazy John had acquired all the gifts of Divine Grace and that is why he acquired the spiritual gifts of discernment, prophecy and healing.  Because of his total commitment to Jesus Christ he was able to love his fellow man unconditionally.  He was able to communicate directly with Jesus, the Holy Mother and the Saints of the Church. That is why his whole earthly life was committed to healing the afflictions of humanity and then directs them toward the Kingdom of Heaven.  I am in the process of buying this book in Greek and English so that I can share with you more information on the life of this spiritual Light that this man brought to the concrete jungle of Athens, Greece.

Revisited & edited by:  
+Fr. Constantine J. Simones, (Charles) J. Simones, August 13, 2014, Waterford, CT, USA, cjsimones300@gmail.com,

            “This excerpt was taken from the newly published book about Crazy John, a modern day Fool for Christ.  This is taken from one of the most moving chapters in this book of saints of our Orthodox Church.  A blessed Levite of the Gospel, who lives in the blessed Agrafa Mountains in Northern Greece, narrated this story to us.  His narration is about a contemporary Fool for Christ who lived in one of the many faceless, inaccessible and remote neighborhoods of Athens.  Crazy John, who is the central figure of this story, lived in a tiny; humble apartment that he had inherited from his mother; one of twenty apartments that made up this building of condominiums.  He worked at the neighborhood bakery and began his daily work at daybreak.  And from this bakery in which he worked, he would customarily fill up two bags with loaves of bread and rolls every day.  He would then rush out into the city to distribute the bread and rolls to the elderly men, women and students who lived in the neighborhood.

            He would say to the people as he visited them; “Here you are, I thought you might enjoy some freshly baked bread which is a gift from Mr. Apostle, the baker, so that you can remember him in your prayers. The truth is that Crazy John would spend a large part of his own wages to provide this bread for the poor of his neighborhood.  He, in turn, would tell his boss Mr. Apostle that he was only helping out some sick friends and that he was being paid for this trouble. 

            The question is now asked; but how did he know who the poor were in his neighborhood?  He did this by indiscriminately ringing the doorbells of the people, not only in his condominium but also in neighboring apartment buildings.  He would introduce himself to everyone and he would ask them if they needed anything that he could help them with.  He would say to the people; “how is your day going today? Have you encountered any problem with which I can help you with?  How are your children?”  At the beginning, some of the people snubbed him.  Others would slam the door in his face, refusing to speak to him.  They were obviously annoyed by his unexpected presence.  But there were others who actually waited for Crazy John to visit them so that they could hear a kind word from him.  Eventually, he came to know all of them well.  He became familiar with their peculiarities and other aspects of their personalities.  In the evenings, Crazy John would retire to his humble home and pray.  He liked to read the Book of Psalms, telling someone who asked him why he did this he responded: “they are intended to drive away the little critters (demons) from the neighborhood.”  He used to read the Psalms out loud so that a newly arrived tenant who didn’t know him that well called the police. The neighbor complained to the police that he was disturbing the peace.  Daily he would incense all the apartments, beginning with the top floor and working down.  He would then go out to the back yards and incense there also.  And when someone was sick, he would visit them and after incensing them and making the cross over them, he would read with difficulty because of his limited education the words of St. James’ Epistle; He would say to the people, “Pray for each other, so that you may be healed.”  He would urge them to go to confession in order “to be healed by the greatest doctor in the world, our Lord Jesus Christ.”

            Quite often, after coming home from the bakery, he would grab a broom and sweep the entire apartment building in “order to keep it clean,” as he used to say.  He enjoyed intervening with those who were quarreling about politics with a smile.  In the past, there used to be heated arguments in the cafes over the political parties and he would say, “Ah, you guys, why do you pin your hopes on tin cans (the politicians) and clanging cymbals?  Instead of quarreling, you should be praying to God to send us another King David as our King.  He could solve our problems because his knees would bleed from prolonged supplications and prayers.  But what do your wise politicians do, they are paid for their efforts and then they become corrupted.  They take you for idiots and they mock you.” They would respond to him, “Get lost Crazy John,” and they would get rid of him by sending him off to do an errand.  But he would always say in response; “don’t pin your hopes on the rulers.  Have hope only in God.”

            One day, Crazy John didn’t go to work.  Mr. Apostle, the baker, was concerned when he did not show up for work for he was never absent from his job.  The baker sent someone to his apartment looking for him but before arriving at his apartment, he saw the fool holding a shovel and cleaning out the storm drains in the street.  He cleaned out the dirt and litter that was blocking them.  The man from the bakery shouted to him, “Hey you, have you really lost your mind?  Mr. Apostle is waiting for you at the bakery and you are out here cleaning the storm drains? Do you think the city council would hire you for this job?” He replied: “I have been trying to find two coins that I lost this morning but I cannot remember into which drain they fell into.  This is why I am cleaning all five of them.  And since I opened them, I thought I might as well clean out the dirt while I am at it,” Crazy John said laughing.  “So please go back to Mr. Apostle and tell him I will work extra tomorrow in order to make up for the hours I was absent today.  Besides that, they were two whole coins and that is no small amount of money.”

            One can only imagine the exasperation of the baker when he heard this.  As soon as he heard about what the fool had done, he threatened to fire him.  Five hours later, John the Fool, had completed his mission and returned home very pleased with what he had done.  “Well, did you find your coins?”  The grocer asked him mockingly, “You should go to the mayor and ask about the coins since you cleaned the drains.” he said to him while laughing.  But later on that afternoon, the sky began to darken.  Black threatening clouds gathered followed by lightning and thunder along with a heavy downpour.  The streets quickly turned into rivers sweeping away everything in their path including cars.  Many catastrophes were recorded in the city: houses, shops, and warehouses were flooded.  Properties were lost. The fire department couldn’t handle all the emergency calls.  The mayor visited the stricken areas of the city the next day in order to personally determine the damage.  All the citizens of the city complained to him about the clogged storm drains.  He eventually reached the area of Crazy John’s neighborhood.  He was startled to see that there was no flood damage there.  The grocer who spotted the mayor went up to him and said: “Your honor, you should go and thank Crazy John who has been cleaning out these storm drains since early this morning.  That fool’s craziness saved us, thanks to his persistent search for his two lost coins.” The baker also said the same thing to the mayor: “It is fortunate your honor that the madman cleaned the storm drains otherwise we would have drowned after a rainfall like that.  His madness saved us from a worse fate.” The mayor said: “it seems like a madman is of great benefit to us.” 

            John, the Fool for Christ, used to wear very worn-out clothes.  Many people would feel sorry for him, seeing him in that state of being and they would give him money.  They would say to him, “Here, take this you fool and buy yourself some trousers and a decent shirt to wear.”  He would then thank them and take the money. But he would then place the money in an envelope, add some more from his own wages and then he would secretly go and place the envelope under the doors of those whom he knew were in need.  Whenever he went to the supermarket, he would purchase very unusual items.  He would even place various women’s things, for example, in the shopping cart, and that would get the cashier girls giggling. The owner of the supermarket would feel sorry for him and he gave orders to his employees to allow him to pay for only half of the total value of the items that he purchased.   One day, someone’s curiosity got the best of him and he decided to find out what the fool did with all the things that he bought.  So one day he secretly followed him.  Crazy john went to a remote corner of a tiny square so that he could not be seen by passers-by, and he began to separate his shopping items into different groups.  He then would begin ringing the doorbells as he was accustomed to do and then he would leave the bags with the shopping items on the doorsteps. 
           
            The women’s articles that he purchased he would take to Katerina, a poor student. She was from a large family of many children.  She was a person in great need of help.  On the day of his death eight years ago, everyone in the neighborhood had a story to tell about the fool’s pranks: Anastasi, the janitor of the building where the fool lived, began telling the people about the great love Crazy John had for the Church.  He would go to Church almost every day.  On Sundays, he would arrive even before the priest arrived.  He would light his candle, kneel before all the holy icons and then go to his place at the entrance of the Church, pretending to be a beggar.  Whatever money he collected, as the priest later revealed to me, he would secretly go and deposit the money in the charity box for the poor and the elderly.  One day, the caretaker saw him at the charity box and thought that he was stealing the money.  So she ran off to notify the priest.  “Father, Crazy John has got his hands on the charity box!”   The priest then approached quietly and observed what Crazy John was doing.  He saw that the fool was pulling money out of his pockets and placing it in the charity box.  “What on earth are you doing there you fool?” the priest shouted at him.  And Crazy John replied: “Well, Father, you see a hole opened up in my pocket and so to prevent the money from falling through the hole and losing it, I put it in the box for the Holy Mother to guard and to give it to others poorer than me.”

HE SAVED A WOMAN FROM THE DEADLY SIN OF ADULTERY

            Nicoletta then took a long sip of coffee and began to tell her story about Crazy John. “One evening” she said, “perhaps ten or more years ago, I saw a young man wandering aimlessly in our neighborhood.  I watched him purposely, because I thought he was a burglar.  Suddenly, I noticed Crazy John coming out of his building in a hurry and quickly walking in the direction of the only ground-floor apartment in the neighborhood where a four-member family was living.  The fool sat himself squarely on the steps in the front yard, and began to chant the hymns to the All-Holy Mother out loud.  He especially liked to chant “O Virgin pure…”  Two hours went by, but the fool continued to chant hymns.  I went out and told him to stop.  Then I noticed the young man walk hurriedly away.  The fool got up and went inside the house.  I followed him out of curiosity to see what was going on.  I must admit that my mind went to something sinister.  I rang the doorbell and a young woman opened the door.  Crazy John was seated at the kitchen table, eating something the young woman had served him. Her five year old son was standing next to her.  Turning to the boy, the fool began to tell him that one of God’s Ten Commandments is the one that says: “Thou shall not commit adultery.” “You know George; adultery is not something that God likes.  Adultery opens a gate for Satan, who then enters the home and wreaks havoc.  That is when families break up, and sicknesses, pain and hatred come in through the windows and drive out God’s blessing that was given at the Sacrament of Marriage.  Men and women, like your daddy and mommy, become one flesh with marriage dear George; one body.  Adultery it is like cutting off your arm.”

            I have to admit that what he said made me angry.  “What on earth are you telling that poor child, you ungodly wretch?” I said.  The young woman burst into tears and said between sobs “he is saying that about me; leave him alone, don’t scold him.”  But Crazy John quickly got up and left.  The young woman then confessed that she had planned to cheat on her husband with a young man she met in a cafeteria that she had been to with a friend of hers for coffee.  She told her that the young man was supposed to meet her at her house, thus taking advantage of her husband’s absence who was away on business. But God protected her and the young man didn’t come. “I narrowly escaped a huge disaster, dear Nicoletta. I would have broken up my family and my marriage.  When Crazy John knocked on the door, I thought it was that young man, and I wouldn’t have had the strength to send him away.  Fortunately God saved me from committing a terrible sin.” “It was the fool who saved you” I said to her, “because the young man had indeed come this far, but the fool was sitting on your doorstep outside for hours, chanting incessantly, while the young man was pacing outside your door.  Didn’t you hear him?” I asked her.

            “I had heard,” the baker interrupted, “that John wanted to become a priest ever since he was a child.   But then came the German occupation which was followed by the civil war and so he never managed to finish his schooling.  He only managed to learn to read and write a little.  Thus, while still relatively young, when he went to the Bishop and asked him to ordain him, the Bishop instead recommended that he first go to school. But now all these things that are being said about John and with everything that I personally know about him, I can safely say that God may not have made him a priest, but he surely anointed him a Bishop for our neighborhood.”  These last words of Mr. Apostle were drowned out by his sobs and tears.

THE SECRET LIFE OF CRAZY JOHN

            Tears also began to well up in the eyes of many more that were present.  Everyone wanted to give their own testimony about Crazy John.  There were two girls who were observing the scene of this conversation some distance away from the others, appearing to be somewhat confused.  You could clearly discern admiration combined with a feeling of sadness from the expressions they had on their faces.  None of the people present knew who the girls were and they were curious to find out who they were.  Mr. Anastasi thought that they might have a family bond with the deceased John, so, being the janitor of the building, he took the initiative and asked them if they were related to the recently departed for the Lord, Brother John.  The heavier of the two girls then began to say the following, after brushing away her tears.  “My name is Arête, and my friend here, Calliope works with me at the Children’s Hospital.  Several years ago, we came to know Mr. John the Clown.  That is how we knew him, the one that you call Crazy John.  He would come almost every Sunday afternoon, always laden down with toys. He would share them amongst the children and he would play with them.  He loved them all, but showed special care and love for all the newly-born babies that were growing up alone in the hospital because they had been abandoned by their parents. He used to bring them clothes and toys and he would always leave some money with the nurses on duty in case the children needed something else, when he wasn’t able to be there.  We didn’t know him as a fool, like you do.  To us, he was the kindest clown who entertained the children like no one else could.”  “He especially loved a little child whose parents had abandoned it because it was born with Down’s syndrome,” Calliope added. 

            “But tell me, little Calliope, how could they leave behind this tiny angel?” he wondered.  “If only they (the parents) knew that this angel was for them a ticket to Paradise and eternity, they would never have abandoned it.  How on earth do you turn your back on such a treasure? Our Lord, dear little Calliope, said that He is love.  And you know that love involves sacrifice.  Love without sacrifice is like an empty can, an unvarnished one, as my dear mother used to say.  Christ, dear little Calliope, said that whoever doesn’t have sacrificial love is worthless.  If we only knew dear girl what treasures God sends to man in order to continuously save him, we would be jumping for joy.  Here, take a look at this angel here.  This is one of those treasures. In fact, I will tell you a secret.  If we could find a good family today who would adopt it, then not only would they receive innumerable heavenly blessings, but also, with the sacrifice of their love, in embracing a little angel with a wounded body, they would even cure it, because our Trinitarian God is merciful and caring.”

            These are the things that Mr. John would say as he looked at the sick and abandoned little child asleep in its tiny hospital crib.   “Isn’t it strange little Calliope how people nowadays care more about little animals, and pay no attention to these little children?  I’m not saying we shouldn’t love birds and animals.  We should care about them too, but how much more should we care about suffering mankind who is made in the likeness and image of God?  We need to become Good Samaritans nowadays, so that we might give up our lives if necessary to comfort our fellow-man. Don’t forget that, especially you nurses, whose work is linked to human suffering.”

HOLY SOULS LIVE AMONG LIVING HUMANS

            “I was under the impression that Mr. John was a theological professor.  I surmised this from his profound analysis of deep theological issues and equally by the way he simplified them.  He knew the entire Holy Bible by heart, and he would exhort me with faith to read one or two pages every day from the Bible he himself had given me as a gift.  He even counseled me to kneel before the icon of the Holy Mother every day and describe to her in detail the joys, the sorrows and the problems of the day.  He used to say: “Dear little Calliope, ask our Holy Mother to become your best friend and you will see everything changing around you.  Our kind Holy Mother is the kindest Mother of all, the kindest sister, and the kindest friend.  Talk to Her, She listens.”

            Last night, when I rang up Mr. John, a gentleman picked up the phone and told me that Mr. John had died and then he told me about the funeral.  I felt as though I just lost my father.  Mr. Anastasi suddenly jumped up and asked: “When did you ring him up?” “Last night, around 8 p.m., I wanted to ask him if he was going to come this Sunday when it is my shift, because I have to confess that I trusted Mr. John more than anyone else, even more than my own parents.” “But the apartment was locked since the day before yesterday and I am the only one who has keys to it” Mr. Anastasi said, mystified.  So he turned to the others in the room and asked if anyone else had keys.  The replies were all negative.  “But the voice on the phone sounded so much like Mr. John’s.  I just assumed it was a relative of his.  But now that you mention it, I remember that he called me little Calliope over the phone, and he was the only one who called me by that name! It’s just that at the time, I was so upset by the news of his death, that I didn’t pay special attention, when I heard the following:” “And now little Calliope, you will be looking after the children on your own, because your Mr. John has passed away, and can no longer visit you as a clown, he said to me over the phone.  I assumed that his next of kin was aware of this activity of his, so I didn’t take any notice of those words.  I am only now finding out that he had no relatives, and I don’t know what to say.”  Just then, Father Dmitri who was observing everything in silence while sitting at a nearby table, stood up and exclaimed; “This man is a saint.”

            “A Saint, a Saint, everyone instinctively repeated.  “I have been listening all this time about the stories of the life of our departed brother John. Everything that you said about Crazy John, as you all call him are miraculous events that characteristic only in the lives of the saints of our Church.  I am under the impression that this isn’t any ordinary funeral gathering; it rather resembles a festive occasion.  Calliope’s realization that he had spoken to her, albeit deceased, over the phone, shook me to the core and it reminded me of a similar incident that happened in the life of the Holy Elder Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia.” “Father, young Dmitri wants to say something too,” Mr. Apostle said.  “Come on, say it, so that everyone can hear what you told me a while ago about Crazy John.”  Young Dmitri was a boy in his early teens.  He was going on fourteen and was in his second year of high school.  He lived together with his brother Paul who was three years younger than himself, and his parents, just two apartments down from where Crazy John lived.

            During the past year, unlike other children his age, he had turned to God.  His friends couldn’t explain how he turned his life around.  They all wandered what had happened to make this high-spirited Dmitri abandon his mischievous pranks and turn to study and living a prudent life.  Even his parents had no idea what the reason was for his conversion.  At first, they actually believed he had been brainwashed by a heretical group.  But later, they realized that nothing of the sort was behind their son’s change.  They also noticed that ever since their son turned to God, the problems in their family had begun to diminish.  Quarreling stopped.  Teacher’s praises at school had replaced their complaints about his mischievous behavior.  Dmitri’s about face had changed the family’s course in life.  His parents became even more surprised when they saw their son going to Church every Sunday and he was reading the Holy Bible that Crazy John had given him as a gift.  Poor Panayiotis, Dmitri’s father, who only went to Church every Christmas and Easter, became very upset.  He discussed the matter with his wife Polyxeni.

            He asked her, “Dear wife, do you think Dmitri is in trouble? How did he change so much? Is there any chance he has suffered a romantic disappointment because some girl rejected him?  I am afraid that the priest will destroy him.  Not to mention that he risks being taunted and mocked by his friends.  What do you think?  Shouldn’t we have a talk with him?” he would say.  Poor Polyxeni would listen to her husband carefully.  She never spoke.  When the time came and she spoke up, she said: “I don’t know what to say, Panayiotis.  You may be right. I can’t hide the fact that those same thoughts had crossed my mind too.  But one thing I do know: ever since Dmitri displayed this new behavior, our family has calmed down.  His grades at school have shown a sharp improvement.  His teachers have only the best things to say about him.  Even they are amazed at Dmitri.  They actually asked me if he was being tutored privately.  Even young Paul has become motivated by Dmitri. 

            “Have you forgotten Panayiotis how much we worried when Dmitri would come home after midnight?  Have you forgotten the time we found a packet of cigarettes under his bed and the magazine with the indecent photos?  Have you forgotten the time we were called to the police station to pick up our son who had been held there because he had caused damage along with some others in the incidents that took place after their school’s party?  Have you forgotten our neighbors, who constantly complained that Dmitri and his friends would beat up Crazy John and make fun of him?  Listen Panayiotis, what I can see is that after Dmitri’s change, I am far more at ease, and so is this household. Our problems have become fewer.  Even our quarrels as husband and wife are now minimal.  Ever since Dmitri brought God home, smiles and happiness has returned to us. So I wonder, could we be the ones who are wrong?  Could we be the ones who were responsible for the path that our children had taken?  Panayiotis, instead of worrying about Dmitri, I suggest that we follow him on his path; that we begin as a family to go to Church, to do what Crazy John told us to do the other day, when you invited him over to eat with us.”

            “In other words, we should find a good spiritual father and go to confession.  That is what the fool meant when he said that confession is the fuel that helps man to ascend to Heaven. Remember how he would ask us if we would like to ascend to Heaven and we laughed at him and regarded his words to be foolishness?”  “Look, wife, I understand what you are saying, but it occurs to me that our friends will laugh at us if we do something like that.” Panayiotis replied.  “That also crossed my mind, but then I remembered when we didn’t have enough money to pay the monthly mortgage on our home and you asked your friends to help out and they all refused us.  They all disappeared and they even stopped calling us.  When did those friends stand by us?  They came over only when we invited them to eat with us or go to a tavern with us.  Weren’t you the one who told me that they gossiped about us, and that you discovered that deep down they were pleased whenever they heard us talking about our problems with the children?  We would have lost the house if we had not found that envelope with 100,000 drachmas under our door,  which, by the way, we never discovered who had put it there, although I suspect that the fool was behind that gesture” Polyxeni replied. “No. No.  I had asked the fool, but he flatly denied that he had done such a thing. Besides, how could the fool have known about our financial worries?” “He knows everything, since he makes his rounds in every part of the neighborhood.  Perhaps he saw us worried and asked Dmitri or Paul.  Don’t rule out anything, because other families around here have also received envelopes like that.”

            On the Sunday after that discussion, the parents announced to Dmitri that they would all go with him to Church.  In fact, they even woke up Paul, who preferred to sleep in on Sundays.  “We have only one day for sleeping” he used to say.  Dmitri was stunned at first, and he may have thought they were aiming to monitor his moves.  But when he saw that this routine was repeated and that his parents found a spiritual father and began to read spiritual books, he then began to speak of a miracle.  So, with some coercion by Mr. Apostle, young Dmitri began to present his own testimony.  Everyone had now turned their attention towards him.  In the meantime, several other people had gathered around from the adjacent tables.  “One day,” said young Dmitri, “my mother sent me to Mr. Apostle’s bakery to buy bread.  As I was buying the bread, I also did something bad, something that I used to do often with my friends also.  Well, I stole a chocolate bar.  Mr. Apostle didn’t notice and I was sure that no one else had seen me take it. But from the next day on, as I left the house to go to school, I would find two similar chocolate bars outside our door, just like the ones I had stolen.  This went on for about twenty days.  I asked my mother who kept putting the chocolates there and she told me that every morning, Crazy John usually rings the doorbells in the building.  “That guy does crazy things” my mother said.  That was when I realized that the fool must have spotted me when I grabbed the chocolate bar and this was how he was taking out his revenge on me.  “I’ll show the madman, who’s trying to make me feel bad for a measly chocolate bar that I stole.” That was how I used to think at that time.  The next day, I found chocolates again, one for me and one for Paul, my brother, along with a note that had the Ten Commandments written on it. It focused on the commandment “Thou shall not steal” and it was underlined.  I became very angry.”

            “So as soon as school was out, I went directly to Crazy John’s apartment building and rang his doorbell.  He opened the door and said with a smile: “I’m sorry, Dmitri.  I know you came here to give me a couple of punches because of the chocolates that I leave at your house.  I’m a fool; I deserve those punches.  Come on now hit me as hard as you can.  Let your anger out.”  “I was at a loss and was going to leave.  I got scared. How did the fool know that I had gone there to beat him up, seeing that I hadn’t told anyone?  As soon as this thought crossed my mind, he remarked:” “My dear boy, you must be wondering who told me you were coming here to beat me up, aren’t you?”  “I nodded affirmatively.”  “Well, you see, just before you came. Saint Demetrius was here, who is your patron Saint, and the Holy Mother also, and they told me.  You know, they love you very much, and they often talk about you.  For example, yesterday, with your schoolmate Helen, when you slapped her for disagreeing with you, you made them very sad and they were crying here along with me.  My dear Dmitri, I will tell you a big secret under the condition that as long as I am alive, you will not tell it to anyone.  Do you accept?” “Yes,” I replied, while I watched Crazy John radiate with joy.”

            “Our Lord Jesus, dear Dmitri, wants to come over to your place, but every time He comes to visit you, He hears quarreling and He departs, very sorrowful.  So, He told me to give you His Commandments to read, to learn them well, and to observe them all, and only then will He return to live with you continuously.  Do you know what it means to live in the same house, together with Him, Who created the entire universe?  Now leave, go home, because your mother will be getting worried.” “I began to leave, but while walking me out, Crazy John said with a smile:” “Hey, little Dmitri, where are you going?  You forgot to give me those punches!”  “I left for home as though flying on wings.  As soon as my mother saw me, she asked me why I was late, and I told her that I was at the fool’s house, to tell him not to leave any more chocolates on the doorstep because I will get fat.  Mother, give me thirty drachmas to give to Mr. Apostle, the baker.  I bought something but I didn’t have enough money on me to pay for it.  She gave me the money, and I went running to the bakery and handed it to Mr. Apostle. He was surprised when I told him that I had taken a chocolate bar along with the bread, but had forgotten to pay for it.” “Well, I was indeed surprised, because I knew you to be a mischievous brat, dear Dmitri.  But, as soon as you made that move, I told myself I shouldn’t condemn anyone because you never know what kind of heart is inside each person. From that moment on, I became very fond of you,” the baker explained.




THE FOOL’S LAST LETTER

            He then pulled Dmitri towards him and gave him a kiss while patting him on the head. His mother, Polyxeni and her husband Panayiotis who were witnessing the scene were obviously emotionally affected.  Mrs. Polyxeni then decided to tell her story.  “To us, Crazy John was the support of our family.  He was the one who was responsible for us making an about-face towards Jesus Christ.  Our life changed and he made us partakers of the miracle of salvation.  He brought blessings into our home.  To me, to Panayiotis and to my children, he was a friend and a brother.  As his brothers therefore, we decided earlier on to suggest to you all that we get together next Saturday at our parish Church in order to perform the three day memorial service for him and then all of you are invited to come to our home to eat a memorial meal in his honor.  Mrs. Polyxeni’s suggestion was welcomed by all of us.  Mr. Anastasi  in fact spoke up again, to add that it would be good to continue the impromptu discussion that had begun at the memorial service in the Church hall at the cemetery.  He then proposed that all the people who were present write down their own experiences with Crazy John during their contacts with him.  Father Dmitri who happened to be present addressed Mrs. Polyxeni and said: “I never got to meet the departed brother John, the Fool for Christ, however, I would like to ask you if possible and if you have no objections, if I could come to your house and listen to these stories about this man.’

            “It would be a pleasure, Father; it would in fact be an honor if you could come,” Panayiotis replied.  So, everyone was looking eagerly forward to the following Saturday.  Mr. Apostle, the baker, had arranged for the kollyva (boiled wheat) and all the other requirements for the memorial service.  He had even notified the priests of the Church that after the Divine Liturgy, they were to perform a memorial service for Crazy John.  More than anyone else, it was Mr. Apostle who was looking forward to that day.  Besides, he had every reason to look forward to the gathering because on the day after Crazy John’s death, he had received a registered letter. He was very surprised to see that the sender was Crazy John himself, who had arranged to send the letter on the eve of his death.  The ever curious grocer, Mr. Pandelis, was begging Anastasi in vain to tell him what the contents of the letter were.  Mr. Apostle kept the contents of the letter a big secret and would not divulge anything.  “Ha! Anastasi, I know why you don’t want to tell me what the letter says.  The poor deceased fool has probably written all sorts of silly things in there and you are too embarrassed to read them” he said slyly, in the hope of forcing him to reveal the contents.

            “Who finally was the fool, him or us?  Pandeli, I will tell you one thing: After reading the letter, I asked myself who was crazy, him, or all of us? We’ll talk about the rest of these stories in due course, don’t you worry,” Mr. Anastasi said.  But the news of the letter spread from mouth to mouth through the neighborhood. And as it was to be expected, it had stirred up everyone’s curiosity.  Thus, on Saturday morning, the parish Church was filled with people much to the surprise of the priest.  “This is the first time that I have seen so many people at a memorial service” he whispered to the sacristan.  He replied to the priest, “The fool, Crazy John, was responsible for this turnout Father.” “But I also see strangers in the crowd.  They must have been his relatives” he muttered to himself as he walked toward the altar. Father Vasili had been serving at that parish for twenty eight years and he knew most of the parishioners very well.  Young Dmitri who was assisting in the altar together with his brother Paul, said to Father Vasili that Mr. Anastasi was asking for his permission to say a few words after the memorial service; “Gladly, gladly my little Dmitri.  Let Mr. Anastasi speak” he said and nodded affirmatively, looking towards the podium where Mr. Anastasi was standing.  As he himself admitted later to Mr. Anastasi, he too was curious to learn the reason the Church was full of faithful as though it were a Sunday morning.

            So, towards the end of the service and before the closing prayers, Father Vasili performed the memorial service.  The entire congregation was crying when the following words were chanted: “My Lord, give rest to the soul of Your servant John.” He then nodded to Mr. Anastasi to approach the microphone and say what he wanted.  He then stood next to the royal entrance to the altar and said: “Reverend Father Vasili, you must be wondering what the reason is for this blessed gathering.  You must be wondering why the entire neighborhood, but also other Christians, not from here have come to honor the memory of our brother John who was known to all of us as Crazy John.”  Even the shop owners left their shops in order to come to the Church from early this morning to participate in the Church service and not just to come for the memorial service, as many people erroneously are accustomed to doing.  “Today, Father Vasili we have gathered here to honor a Saint, a humble man who the Lord had bounteously blessed with the Holy Spirit.  A man just like us, who concealed under the cloak of a fool all the virtues that Christ, had offered him.  John was a “Fool for Christ,” who cared selflessly for his fellowman day and night.  He approached every person with love. He ministered to the neighborhood like a Bishop does and guarded the Orthodox faith and would bring back with his supposed madness, souls that had almost forgotten our Lord Jesus Christ’.

            “There are many of us who are lucky because we were blessed enough, albeit unworthily, to meet and get to know a Saint of God in our everyday lives.  My words are too poor to adequately describe the life of our brother John.  In fact, I regard myself unworthy, after having read the letter that I received the day after his death, which had been sent by the deceased.  As he mentioned in the letter, John had been told in a miraculous way by St. John the Baptist a week before his passing to prepare himself for his exit from this world. As far as I know, he was not suffering from any sickness, nor had anyone suspected anything from his behavior that there was something wrong with him.  On the contrary, in the last days of his life he arranged to leave quite a significant trust for our neighborhood. He made arrangements for all of us.  In his letter, John gives advice and exhortations to each and every one of us by name, personally, that we must be committed to Christ and to study the righteousness of God.  I will read you the letter in detail,” said Mr. Anastasi, and he pulled out the letter from his coat pocket.  However, he was overwhelmed by his tears and was unable to say a word.  Tears welled up in everyone’s eyes also. 

            Father Vasili then intervened saying: “Dear Christians, I have known the deceased for more than forty years.  But, possibly because of my sinfulness, I was not able to discern John’s holiness.  Listening to Mr. Anastasi earlier, certain events came to mind with Crazy John as the central character.  It is only now that I am made aware of those events and can perceive them as miraculous acts.  I remember how one Sunday morning at daybreak when I unlocked the Church, I found Crazy John kneeling in front of the icon of Christ.  “How did you get in, you fool?” I asked him. “Well, dear Father, yesterday evening during vespers I completely lost track of time and the custodian locked me in.”  “And what was the prayer that you were muttering in front of the icon of Christ?” I asked him.  “I was just singing a song Father, to pass the time” he replied.  “Just be more careful because next time I will call the police.”  “I have to confess that I reprimanded him very severely.  Dear God, forgive me.” Father Vasili murmured.  “I am only just realizing why his face was shining like the sun.  And he went and took his usual place next to the main entrance of the Church like he always did and would sit and beg.” 

            “He begged for alms in order to give them to others.  There are poor and unemployed who ask for help every day, but nobody can ever know what diamonds and holy souls are hidden behind every beggar that we meet.  He then went on to describe the incident with the money that he received from begging and was put into the charity box which we described earlier on.  I have many things to tell you, dear Christians, because I believe that the riddle has now been solved, and for this I must thank Mr. Anastasi.  I will narrate only one incident and then I will let Mr. Anastasi take over. “One afternoon Crazy John was standing in front of the icon of the Holy Mother.  I was in the office.  I could hear him talking and I could hear without seeing that he was conversing with a woman.  I paid no attention.  When I came out of the office, I could see only Crazy John, and there was nobody else inside the Church.  The custodian was away on an errand.  Crazy John approached me and, after prostrating himself before me as he usually did, he said: ‘Father, you should go to Mrs. Stamata after Vespers. She is waiting for you so that she can receive Holy Communion because her hours are numbered and she may not make it through the night.”

            “And how do you know this?” I asked him.  “A woman told me a while ago” Crazy John replied. “And why on earth didn’t she come and inform me?” “Well, she must have thought I was the custodian” he said, and departed immediately afterwards.  “I have a clear view of the main entrance to the Church from my office and I didn’t see any woman entering.  After Vespers, I went to Stamata’s house. Her daughter was astounded when she saw me as she was planning to come and notify me the next day that her mother wanted to receive Holy Communion. She was going to call me the following day so that I would not be obligated to go out at night to visit her. I entered Stamata’s room and gave her Holy Communion.  She thanked me, and held my hand for a short while, then said to me, breathing with difficulty” “Father, please look after my daughter and my grandchildren.”  “Her daughter was divorced and she was raising her two children alone.  As I was leaving, she asked me who had notified me.  I replied that it was the woman whom she had sent to the Church who told Crazy John.  She looked puzzled.  That evening, two hours after receiving Holy Communion, a little before 10 p.m., Stamata departed for the Lord.  Next to her at that moment were her daughter, her two grandchildren and Crazy John, who was reading psalms from the Book of Psalms.  I was told this by the late Stamata’s daughter, who is here and can verity it.” 

            Then Maria (that was the name of the daughter of the deceased Stamata) got up suddenly and said: “Tell them Father Vasili about the envelope with the money also, which I thought you had left there and for which I thanked you.” “Yes” said Father Vasili, “Maria had indeed found an envelope on a chair in the room, which contained 100,000 drachmas.  She thought I had forgotten it there and she came to give it back to me.  But I had no idea about the envelope.”  “But Father, you and Crazy John were the only ones who came into our house and when I asked Crazy John, he said that the Holy Mother had sent the money for the funeral expenses because you are poor.”  “The Holy Mother does that sort of thing” he used to say.  “I didn’t take him too seriously and I was convinced that you had sent him and were trying to hide the truth” said Maria.  “No, child, I would have told you,” said Father Vasili.


HOMOSEXUALITY IS A FEARFUL DEMON

            Constantine, who always used to sit in the back pews of the Church, got up, with obvious hesitation at first, and walked up to Anastasi.  As he walked to the pulpit, he noticed that everyone was looking at him in a strange way.  He could see a look of wonder in the eyes of the Church goers, while he was wondering why Anastasi invited only him to stand by him during the reading of the letter. Something unusual however was prompting him, so, after a quick glance at his beloved Katerina, he asked Anastasi to say a few words in memory of Crazy John.   Anastasi intended that the letter be read first, and then Constantine would have been asked to speak.  But Father Vasili intervened saying: “Let the boy speak first, Anastasi.”  With his head lowered, Constantine approached the microphone.  He said; “I regard and perceive myself as the worst infection that has ever afflicted the world.  I furthermore know that you all look upon me as a curse upon society because of my prior sinful activity.  You are absolutely justified in thinking this way. That is how I deserve to be looked upon by you, because of the type of life I led. Not only did I harm myself but I also harmed those near me, that means all of you but also all those that I caught in my web of iniquity.  So, I am taking the opportunity that Mr. Anastasi is giving me to ask each one of you personally to forgive me.  I don’t even deserve your forgiveness, because I have harmed you more than you could ever imagine.  I harmed our city, our district, and our neighborhood.  I harmed friends and acquaintances of mine, and parents and relatives because with my lifestyle, I had brought the filth of debauchery into your everyday lives.  This downhill slide that I had taken was ended once and for all by Crazy John.  The prayers of that fool released me from the clutches, not only of one demon, but from an entire legion of them that had lodged themselves inside of me.” 

            “I was a transvestite for almost ten years.  I believed at the time that happiness could be found in the ephemeral pleasure that bodily contact can bring.  I dressed provocatively; I used to be angry with all people.  I confronted life as though it were a vessel for pleasure, which I had to make sure I fulfilled on a daily basis.  I experienced the depths of hell, more than a human mind could ever imagine.  That is why I used to regularly change my place of residence, since society had rightly perceived me to be an outcast.  And that was essentially what I was.  I believed that quarrels, insults and disappointments were the best way to defend my lifestyle. It was the best way to defend my immoral behavior that deviated from what was socially correct, from the ideals and values of the Gospel.  At the time, I had looked upon my illness as a human right, and was under the illusion that it was an outright normal thing, a thing that nowadays even leaders of our society accept as an alternative lifestyle.  So, there wasn’t a single police station in Athens that didn’t know me.  There wasn’t a single courtroom where I hadn’t been a customer. I either was the accused, for having offended virtuous behavior, or as a witness for the defense or for the prosecution in various related cases.  I was under the illusion that with my overall immoral activity, I was serving a silent revolution in favor of the societal acceptance of homosexuality.  Hunted as I was, I moved into your neighborhood too, and presented myself to the kindly poor old lady Chrysoula, to ask her to rent me her one-room apartment.  That is where I saw Crazy John for the very first time; he had brought over some bread to the almost destitute old woman.  Unlike most other tenants, I wasn’t asked too many things by old Chrysoula.  She just mentioned that the 30,000 drachmas she was asking for was the only income she would have, to make ends meet; so she asked me to not delay my payments because she had to pay the bills, the building maintenance, as well as to buy her other basic needs.”

            Chrysoula said to me “Oh, my dear child Constantine, God must have sent you! The apartment hasn’t been rented for three months and I am living off the help I get from Mr. Apostle, the baker and Mr. Pantelis, the grocer here, who send me bread and provisions with this fool here,” she said, pointing to Crazy John.”But I never sent you any bread Chrysoula, as I wasn’t aware of your situation” Mr. Apostle spontaneously remarked.  “Nor have I ever sent you any provisions,” Mr. Pantelis added.  “But that is what Crazy John told me!”  Chrysoula replied, totally at a loss.  After this small and endearing interruption, Constantine continued.  “Crazy john always used to conceal his good deeds.  He may have brought you food, my dear Chrysoula, but to me, he brought God.”  Constantine’s eyes became misty, and tears began to fall.  Everyone was now becoming tearful, along with him.  He took a deep breath and continued: “Three days later, I moved into the apartment.  Crazy John helped me carry all my things into the apartment.  And when the mover purposely dropped an innuendo because of my lifestyle and the manner in which I spoke, Crazy John stunned him, by pointing out to him that, as a person who systematically lived adulterously and behaved brutally towards his own two children, he had no right to make such remarks about me. The mover was shocked by these revealing words, and he immediately stopped his sarcasm. I of course was under the impression that the two of them were acquainted, but was taken aback when the mover turned towards Crazy John as he was leaving and said: “What are you anyway some kind of charmed person?” “Yes George, I have been charmed by our Church’s love,” the fool replied. 

            “He even asked the mover to stop giving grief to Christ, because, in spite of his sinful behavior, Christ had healed his daughter Theodora from a very serious ailment.  George then departed, with his head lowered.  He is the gentleman who is sitting over there with his wife and he can confirm the incident I just described.  I was impressed by the dialogue, but at the time I had dismissed it as the ravings of a fool.  So, on the evening of that same day, I dressed up in women’s clothes as I normally did, and I went to a familiar transvestite haunt on the main highway.  You can imagine my surprise when I spotted Crazy John watching me from the opposite corner of the block.  The thought crossed my mind that he was seeking some kind of an erotic encounter.   But then, how did he find me?  The fool must have followed me (I thought to myself), and now he would go and tell what he saw to Chrysoula. Oh well, I guess I will be searching for accommodations again.  As all these thoughts were running through my mind, a prospective customer stopped in front of me.  Just then, like a coiled spring, the fool jumped up and started to yell from across the street: “He’s got Aids! He’s sick and he will pass it on to you! Go away! Go away!”

            “I was taken by surprise by the erratic behavior of a man whom I hardly knew.  Naturally the prospective customer left.  Then I started to curse Crazy John.  I became hysterical.  This went on for almost a month.  Until this day, I will never know how he managed to discover those illicit haunts that I visited. One evening I actually beat him up severely.  But just imagine my surprise, when, every night after I got home, I would find an envelope containing almost double the money that I used to earn from my filthy activities and on it was written: “A blessing, for the servant of God, Constantine.”  I didn’t know what to make of all those weird things I was witnessing.  In the afternoons, I would go for a walk and whenever I’d see Crazy John, I would get angry.  But he would say “My dear Constantine, stop giving grief to Christ and to our Holy Mother, Who are mourning continuously over you.” I had even contemplated leaving the apartment but something was holding me back.  The other transvestites would ask me: “Hey, could he by chance be in love with you that is why he’s acting so weird?”  “No I’d reply, “He doesn’t have any such intentions.” “To make a long story short, I decided to invite Crazy John to my apartment, to put an end to all these things.  I was hoping that someone had been putting him up to it purposely, just to drive me insane.  Crazy John responded to my invitation affirmatively, despite having been humiliated by me so many times.  I don’t know what came over me that evening, but I cleaned the house, cooked something light, and sat down to some reading.  I was leafing through a magazine when an article caught my attention, about a certain Elder Porphyrios who served in the chapel of a hospital Omonia Square, Athens.”

            I hadn’t finished reading the article, when I heard Crazy John knocking on my door.  As soon as I opened the door, he said:”Be blessed, Constantine, in the present age and the age to come.” “It was the first time that I had ever heard such a greeting, but it was also the first time that I had ever heard a demonic voice speak from within me saying to Crazy John: “Have you come to my house here as well, you crazy old man, to drive me out? I’m not alone here.  I have 365 other friends!  I don’t intend to go away! You’d better be the one to leave, otherwise I’ll kill you!” “Crazy John then pulled out a crucifix from his coat and raised it in front of me, and began to say: “In the name of the Holy and Consubstantial Trinity” But after hearing these words I lost consciousness.  When I recovered, I saw the old fool standing there, smiling at me.  I felt really happy that he was there, but didn’t know the reason I felt that way.”  “I brought a gift, Constantine.  It is the Book of Psalms, a book that was written by King David the Prophet.”  “What’s going on?  What happened?” I asked.  “Constantine, you have received an enormous blessing.  Christ has chosen you.  He is preparing you for very important work.  However, you must be prepared to put up a serious fight, because what you have inside of you is not about to leave very easily.” “If you could only have seen the way that Crazy John’s face glowed, you would have understood why I was so terrified.  I had always thought that all the talk about demons was shear fiction.  I believed that they were just an invention thought up by priests and the Church, intended to scare people and to extract easy money from them, so that the clergy could enjoy their own lives, get rich etc. And yet, there I was a living witness of the insidious activity of demons against humans, living within me.”
           
            “Crazy John became a brother and a friend from that day on.  That very same night, I gathered all the women’s clothes and shoes and cosmetics that I had, and threw them into the garbage can.  The next day, I changed my phone number.  With the help of that fool, I even secured a job in the accounts department of a large company.  The owner of the company was a friend of Crazy John; he actually hired me with a good salary.  At the same time, I would go with Crazy John, on an almost daily basis, to a Church high up on Hymettos Mountain, where a priest would read the exorcisms of Saint Basil over me, while Crazy John would read the Psalms.  I cannot describe what I went through.  What I can now proclaim to the world, thanks to this experience, is that homosexuality and prostitution in general is not an alternative lifestyle or an illness; it is a formidable demonically generated activity which saddens our Almighty God.  What I also want to tell you is that our Holy Church possesses the weapons that are able to heal all those things that our modern society believes to be an alternative lifestyle for people.

            “The prayers of our neighborhood fool saved me.  My acquaintance with him changed my entire life.  What I experienced over these last few years in this blessed neighborhood constitutes a true miracle of the Trinitarian God.  I escaped from the clutches of a true hell, and I am now living in a world that I had never knew, not even in my wildest dreams. With the constant support of this saintly man, who was anything but a fool, I came to understand my mistake; I realized various things and situations that comprise the foundations of our society; I became familiar with the love of Christ.  I had been functioning like one who is addicted to a toxic substance; I was no different than a drug addict; I was living a nightmare which that wonderful Saint of God, Crazy John put to an end.   But I don’t want to tire you any further with my story.  After all, I am only recording my entire story in detail, as Mr. Anastasi asked me to do.  I also apologize to you all, and to the innumerable victims that I had lured into the web of my iniquity that I was trapped in.  I apologize to my beloved Katerina, who has opened her embrace to the most sinful person in the universe; who shut her ears to all the unfavorable comments and the justified criticism of me, and has accepted my marriage proposal to her.  She has accepted to live with a non-being, with an outcast, a moron.  This holy man, Crazy John, had promoted this marriage with his prayers and his tears. 

            Constantine’s last words were lost in his sobs.  Also crying with him was Father Vasili who had run up to hug him, as did all the other people in Church.  “Father Vasili, I’m thinking of moving out of the neighborhood, not for me, but for Katerina,” Constantine murmured haltingly. Father Vasili then spoke up and said: “Dear brethren, Constantine has just expressed the desire to leave our neighborhood.  What do you say?  Are we going to leave the living testimony of a miracle by our departed brother John, Constantine and Katerina to leave:  “No, no they all shouted.

ΔΟΞΑ ΤΩ ΘΕΩ ΕΝ ΤΟΙΣ ΑΓΙΟΙΣ ΑΥΤΟΥ
GLORY TO GOD IN HIS HOLY SAINTS
           

             

                 

Μοίρασέ το!!!!

ΣΗΜΑΝΤΙΚΑ.