THE FRUIT OF REPENTANCE (Μετάνοια)
From the book “Life teaches us about Jesus”
The scene of this miraculous occurrence is Thessaloniki, Greece, 2004. Costas and Maria was a couple who were educated, well off and in their forties. Costas was an atheist and he cursed a lot (The Greek text says that he blasphemed at lot. The Greek understanding of blaspheming is that he cursed the name of Jesus, Mary and the holy things of the Church). Maria was a woman of the Church. They have an only son who is fourteen years old who was confined to a wheelchair because of paralysis. He became paralyzed when he was five years old. This tragedy of their son was like driving a nail through their hearts.
The timeline for this story is July in the summer of 2004. Maria one day found out from one of her Church friends that an aged holy monk from Mt. Athos was staying at the home of a very pious family in the parish. This monk was also known to possess the powers of spiritual discernment. When Maria heard about this she spoke to her husband Costa about inviting the monk to their home in order to bless their paralyzed son John. Although Costa had no use for the Church he agreed to this arrangement to please his wife.
The monk was informed about the situation with the paralyzed child and was invited to the home of Costa and Maria to specifically bless the sick boy. The couple told the monk, Fr. Anastasios, that their paralyzed son would be sitting in his bedroom and when he arrived he should go directly to the bedroom to bless their son. When Fr. Anastasios finally arrived at their home the monk went to the living room instead of the bedroom. The couple was surprised to find out that the monk did the opposite of what they had told him to do.
When this happened, Costa, the atheist, said sarcastically to his wife: “Maria what kind of an old fool did you invite to our home? He can’t even distinguish the difference between a living room and a bedroom.” Hearing this Maria became embarrassed but she never said a word. The monk from Mt. Athos heard what Costa said from the living room where he was sitting. He then called to the couple: “Please come to the living room because I want to speak to you.”
The perplexed couple then walked into the living room and sat on a sofa opposite Fr. Anastasios. At this point the monk started asking questions of the couple: “Can you tell me Costa how many years it has been since you have been to a Church? How many times a day do you curse?” At hearing this, Costa turned white as a sheet. Fr. Anastasios then turned to his wife and asked her: “Maria, when was the last time that you received Holy Communion?” Maria responded: “It has been many years, I do not remember.” Fr. Anastasios then asked: “How many children did you dispose of by flushing them down the drain?” (The monk of course was referring to the abortions she had.) Shaken to the core Maria responded with shame: “I had four abortions.” Fr. Anastasios asked Maria another question: “Why did you divorce your first husband?” Maria, at this point, could not believe what she was hearing.
Fr. Anastasios then explained to the dumbfounded parents why he went to the living room instead of the bedroom. “This is why I went directly to the living room. Those who are seriously sick in this house are you not your son. Your son John is spiritually innocent. He suffers from his paralysis so that you may be taught a lesson and for you to seek repentance for your sins.”
Costa and Maria began to cry uncontrollably and responded to Fr. Anastasios asking: “And now Father, what must we do?” Fr. Anastasios responded: “You need to go to confession to a priest. I cannot hear your confession for I am simply a monk. I do not have the Grace of priesthood. You should go to confession to the priest of your Church, Fr. Chariton. He is a holy man and he is married. He is well aware of family problems. You are to reveal to him everything that you have done in life to violate God’s commandments.
On the 5th of August, 2004 Costa and Maria went to confession with great compunction and humbleness of heart. The priest who heard their confessions is a very spiritual man. While he was reading the prayers of absolution over them he became overwhelmed by their extreme compunction of heart. He said: “My children, you have made me very emotional in the sincere way in which you have made your confession to me. The day after tomorrow is Sunday and it happens to be the Feast Day of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ. You should go to any Church you desire and receive Holy Communion. I will not give you any penance to do for I am certain the Jesus Christ has completely forgiven you.”
And this is the way everything happened. After receiving Holy Communion the couple returned to their home with great joy in their hearts as they prepared to tend to the needs of their paralyzed son. This is when they encountered the great miracle that was awaiting them. As they approached their house, the son himself opened the door for them for he was now completely healed of his affliction. This is the end of the story and glory be to God for His profound compassion for humanity.