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Τρίτη, 27 Οκτωβρίου 2009

THE GREAT MIRACLE OF THE CENTURIES .An excerpt from the booklet "I Saw the Holy Light, " by Archimandrite Savvas Achilleos.

Many things have been told and have been written about the Holy LIGHT. However, no matter what has been recorded, the Holy LIGHT still remains a reality for all believers and an "enigmatic phenomenon" for others. This "mysterious" Light spontaneously and inexplicably pours forth every Holy Saturday from the Most Holy and Life-giving Tomb of the Resurrected Savior Christ.
The booklet from within which the subject article is extracted is a short description of the life of a saintly monk, Fr. Mitrofanis, who for 57 years served as the diligent guard at the entrance to the Holy Sepulchre. It is the result of many interviews the author had with the saintly Elder Mitrofanis. This specific excerpt relates to Fr. Mitrofanis' personal witnessing of the Holy Light, when he hid in a location right above the Holy Sepulchre, in his effort to personally witness the arrival of the Holy LIGHT.

In the beginning cold sweat bathed me from head to toe. My whole body trembled and I began to shiver. I felt as one who was about to be executed. Then, I experienced an exceedingly great fear, such as I had never felt before. Even until today 1 still seek to find the reason for that panic. I can give no explanation. My sense of helplessness and bewilderment was unprecedented. At the same time inside me, a strong incense, threatening voice of censure, constantly threw me into confusion. "Who else dared something similar in the passing of the centuries of Christianity? How could you decide upon this daring act? If, for any reason you are caught, what will you do? What justification will you give? What excuse will you dare to voice? What, Fr. Mitrofanis?"
Despite these horrible thoughts rhat terrified me, my perseverance did not desist. I must resolve my doubts. Why should I live every day with questions and misgivings? For my own satisfaction I must verify whatever happens, whether it is called a miracle or a delusion, I needed to know so that I could live the rest of my life in peace and trust. I must have weakened, however, because soon my strong persistence was on the wane and repentance was setting in.
I began to repent for the things I had done up to that moment. I felt someone forcefully telling me, "Come down quickly! Why did you entangle yourself in such a predicament? You still have time. In a little while the Orthodox Divine Liturgy will begin. It will end at 4 o'clock in the morning. Immediately following, the Armenians will come, and their service will last as long as ours. You will be compelled to be still continuously silent, composed, and calm. Will you last? And if not, then what? After the Armenians, the Latins will follow. Until 6:15 in the morning when they finish their Liturgy, you will not be, able to make a move or a sound. What if something annoys your throat, and you are forced to cough? What then? Well? Woe to you and three times woe to you. What will become of you, Fr. Mitrofanis?"
I began to deplore myself for my hasty and foolhardy decision. Continuously I was upbraiding myself and repeatedly kept saying: "The whole world believes! Who are you not to believe? Think of the consequences if you are discovered. In what a dreadful and difficult position you will find yourself then!"
While all of these thoughts, pricked my conscience, my eyes were glued to my watch. The minutes seemed as days and the hours seemed to last for years. The hour hand, as if in revenge for my rashness, refused to move.
Finally, it was two o'clock after midnight towards Holy Saturday, when the Orthodox priest came to the Holy Sepulchre to commence the Divine Liturgy. After the Orthodox worship, at exactly 4:00 in the morning, the Armenian priest came and immediately began his Liturgy.
The excruciating fatigue of being in a cramped position compounded by protracted wakefulness affected my hearing. Every sound reverberated through the whole of my feverish throbbing body. The taxing strain and exhaustion of the previous days combined with unwavering weariness and monotony brought on an unimaginable dizziness. Finally the Armenian service ended and the Latins arrived. To keep myself alert and awake I followed and observed closely whatever occurred during the duration of each Liturgy. I saw the unleavened wafers, thin round pieces, used as the Body of Christ, instead of the bread that the Orthodox use. With abated breath I sat patiently. The need to cough was unnecessary since I was in good health, but my mouth was dry from agony. Only from rime to time I put a little water on my lips to cool and wet them.
At 6:15, the morning hour of Holy Saturday, the last of the Latins departed and the Holy Sepulchre was given over to my geronda, Fr. Anatolios.
Imagine whar an unbearable shock he would have had if he had known that I was within reach of him. Truly, what would have happened? What a dreadful reaction could result if he knew that my pleas and my tears were all a monstrous lie, a lie that I was forced to resort to in order to pacify my dubiousness!
Immediately, preparations were begun, which under different circumstances I would have been the one to bring to completion. Fr. Anatolios, put out one after the other the 43 vigil lighcs of the Holy Sepulchre. Then, he went to the entrance of the Tomb where the Holy Stone was. There he occupied himself to have the sealing wax ready.
There was no delay in this preparation, because at IT o'clock, the search was to be made for any instrument capable of igniting. Immediately after, the doors of the Tomb would be Holy Light delivered to the faithful within the church of the Holy Sepulcher, on each and every Holy Saturday
sealed. At exactly 12 o'clock noon the Holy Sepulchre would be opened. Every Holy Saturday, this routine was executed with attention to every detail. I was aware of all the movements. At ii o'clock when the Tornb was sealed, I was in total darkness. I lit the flashlight that I had with me and I saw on the Tomb the Holy Kantila. 1 saw it, awaiting an invisible hand to give it LIGHT. Beside it, I saw the Prayer Book closed, except for a thick candle between some pages which would allow easy access to the special supplications. I turned off the flashlight. My agony reached its climax. I prayed to Christ.
"My Lord, You know the reasons for my decision to be in this unlikely predicament. All emanated by doubts of one shaken and weak in his faith. I have imitated your chosen and beloved Thomas. He didn't want to believe when the other disciples assured him of your Resurrection. Instead he wanted to see for himself and to touch your wounds and then to be convinced. I, much weaker than your doubting Thomas, ask to see with my own eyes what takes place regarding the Holy LIGHT. My faith such as it is, You know, Lord. My love does not escape Your omniscience. My Lord, and My God, make me worthy to see what will happen so that faith will replace faithlessness. Besides, even Your disciples asked You for reassurance even though they witnessed innumerable miracles, Increase our faith (Lk 17:5), they said."
When I finished my prayer,
I again turned on the flashlight to see the Holy Tomb. The light fell precisely on the candle. "Oh, that candle," I said. "What is chis candle doing there?" In a moment, I interrupted my monologue, because I noticed the door of the Holy Sepulchre opening. With a quick glance I saw it was exactly 12 o' clock noon. Agony began to overcome me, and my heart multiplied its beats so rapidly that I thought it would jump out of my chest. I felt a tightening pressure about me. I was ready to faint. I tried to control myself with all my strength and to give courage to my quaking body. The sound of footsteps inside the first chamber of the Holy Stone startled me. For a brief moment, I noticed the silhouette of the Patriarch, who bent down in order to enter the space of the Life-giving Tomb.
My excitement had reached a fearful peak; Yet I was so immersed in an endless silence that I could hardly hear my own breath. Suddenly came the sound of a soft whistling. It was similar to a fine breeze of wind. And immediately, an unforgettable sight, a blue LIGHT filled the entire Tomb.
That blue LIGHT, was going round and round exactly as a strong whirlwind, whose force uproots the tallest trees, grasps them, and carries them off. The restless blue LIGHT gyrated about with lightning speed and then the movements slowed down.
Within that LIGHT I saw very clearly the Patriarch. Drops of perspiration trickled down his face. As he was kneeling, he placed his finger at the opening in the Holy Book where the 'candle' was. In the meantime, he placed on the Tomb four bundles, each containing 33 candles. When the mysterious LIGHT changed to a steady glow the Patriarch opened to the 'candle' page and he began to read the prayers.
The then somewhat calm blue LIGHT, began again an uneasy movement. It was an unimaginable and indescribable whirling, stronger than the first. Immediately it began to change into an all-white LIGHT, as at the Transfiguration
of Christ (Mt 17:2). Gradually the all white LIGHT began to take the form of a disc, brilliant as the sun, and stopped motionless precisely over the head of the Patriarch. I saw the Patriarch take in his hands the bundles of candles. He raised them and waited. He was awaiting the arrival of the elusive LIGHT from God. As he raised his hands slowly, not quite reaching the height of his head, instantaneously as if he were touching a lighted furnace, the Holy Kantila and the four bundles of candles lit.
In an instant that bright disc vanished before me.
My eyes filled with tears. I felt shivers in my spine while my whole body was burning. I had the feeling that untamed flames of an incandescent furnace enveloped me. My entire body was soaked in perspiration, while my mind, heart, and soul seemed paralyzed at the heavenly revelation of the Holy LIGHT.
The Patriarch, deeply touched, and in a state of bliss, departed. Out of reverence for the Holy space of the Tomb, he bent his head low and backed out to enter the chamber of the Holy Stone. In his hands were the bundles of candles lit by the flames of the Divine LIGHT. Here was evidence of Grace in its glory!
Now was the time for the first bundle of candles to be presented to the Orthodox prelate. Out of joy, he was carried on the shoulders of the faithful to transport the LIGHT to the Church of the Resurrection. From his hand the LIGHT would be passed out to all of the people who clamored to have their tapers lit by the Holy FLAME.

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