In 1928 in the Holy Mountain there was a monk who had come from Athens and lived ascetically in a cell from Kapsala. He hadn`t got out of the Holy Mountain for years. In this time his parents had died and only his sister lived. Once he went to Athens to see her. When the neighbors found out that a monk from the Holy Mountain had come there, they gathered together to listen some words of wisdom. And the monk spoke to them.
Among the people who were there it was a gentleman who long time ago when the monk had lived in the world was one of his schoolmates and a very close friend. They used to go together to catechesis. Of course this one was older too and the monk didn`t recognize him after so many years. When all the others had left this one remained and said:
`Father, my brother, don`t you recognize me?`
`I don`t know you.`
`I`m your friend, so and so.`
`What are you saying, my brother, is that you?`
He embraced him and kissed him with joy and emotion. Then that man said to the monk:
`Can I talk to you?`
`Of course, anything you want.`
Then listen. When I was here and we went together to the church to catechesis I was fine with you. You went to the Holy Mountain and I fell into a deep darkness. What haven`t I done? I`ve sunk everywhere…When my parents found out in what situation I was my mother died of grief. I didn`t go to her funerals. Then my father died too and I wasted all the fortune he had left me. I slept on benches and in the worst places where no one could ever imagine. And now I am a wreck. Could I be received in the Holy Mountain in my condition?`
`How not? Then for whom did Christ crucify Himself? For whom did He come on earth? For the sick and the sinners. If you are sick do come!`
`Won`t I dirty the Holy Mountain with my presence?`
`No, my brother, come along, we receive you.`
`When are you going to leave?`
`On that day.`
`I`m coming too.`
He took him to the Holy Mountain but because he didn`t have trust to leave him in another community he took him into his. He had a small task to fulfill and he struggled. But the sin causes death. He got sick of tuberculosis. Then tuberculosis was as it is cancer nowadays. We used to call it a holy disease because it prepared the man and gave him the passport for the afterlife. Therefore as this monk lived a life of privations it came the time to be made a monk.
`Geronda, he said, if you make me a monk, call me Manasseh. Cause as that one betrayed the people of God and led them to idolatry and sinned a lot before God, I sinned and for this reason I want to call me Manasseh.
`Well, son, it will be as you wish.`
In this time his tuberculosis aggravated. When he saw that he couldn`t stand on his feet lied down in bed. There they went the monks and they read for him the Paraklesis of Theotokos, they read from the Psalter and the priest gave him the Holy Eucharist. One day when the monks were reading he cried:
`Fathers, stop, stop, don`t chant anymore. Don`t you hear the angels who sing: Blessed is the path you will walk on, brother for there was prepared a resting place for you. Don`t you hear the angels chanting?
And when he uttered the word `chanting` he closed his eyes leaving this life.
You see, my sons? This man lived such a sinful life I don`t want to give any details about it for not hurting your ears. And after one year of repentance the angels sang for him `blessed is the path…`That is why nobody should despair since despair always comes from the devil and never from God. We are fought by passions too but when despair appears let`s say: `It`s enough. We don`t listen to you, because Christ crucified Himself for us.`
We had another monk. This one young as he was fell into sins. But he stood up on his feet and made his canon, his prayers with the rosary. And his mind told him: You with so many misdeeds you have done how to make your canon? But this one got up and fulfilled his duties. This lasted for long years. He threw him into mistakes and he got up again. The devil was saying: `What`s wrong with this one? I cannot enslave him. Now I am going to attack him for the last time with a deadly blow.` He appeared before him and said:
`Aren`t you ashamed to make such a sin then get up dirty and make your canon and your prostrations? Aren`t you afraid of God?`
`Listen, said the monk. My cell is like a smithery. The blacksmith has the hammer and the anvil. He lifts the hammer and hits the anvil and does this so many times. It`s the same here. You give me a blow, I give you one. But on Jesus Who came and crucified Himself in the time of Pontius Pilate I swear that I will fight with you if you fight against me. I will fight against you till death. And in the end Jesus will win.
The devil seeing that the monk had never surrendered when facing despair immediately after he heard this answer said:
`Fine, I am leaving you. I stop fighting you for not giving you the chance to receive rewards for the war I am fighting against you.
And in the end he left that monk and the poor man made his canon crying peacefully. At last he sanctified himself.
You understand? The devil knocked him down and he stood up again. The monk gave him a blow and the devil fell down. The devil didn`t defeat him and due to him the monk received divine rewards because he fought. And this war lasted for long years.
That is why the Christian should never despair but fight until death. Never leave your soul to the spirit of despair. Despair is something demonic. God will never allow the absolute perdition of the man, no matter what situation he might have, no matter how fallen he would be. Because God is always hope, joy, relief and courage. On the contrary the closeness to the devil brings despair, fear and all the rest. For this reason we will have to strive when it comes to strengthening our hope. Let us always hope that God will help us even in our falls. Of course this will not be obvious but due to different happenings He will reveal Himself and His care for our salvation.
Sometimes in the cobweb it`s caught a small fly and it starts buzzing. Then somebody hears it and goes to escape it. If it didn`t buzz the man wouldn`t go to escape it and help it to fly in the air. In the same way we, if we fall we should buzz to be heard by God. What kind of buzzing will we be make?
`Lord Jesus Christ please forgive me. I sinned, Lord, please forgive me. Then we will fall again and then we will get back on our feet. How do the wrecked escape from the storm? The waves throw them to and fro but if they have patience and don`t despair they will find something to cling on. In the same way if we fall into despair and give up on our arms we sink and are eaten by the sharks.
xcerpt from the book The Art of Salvation published by Evanghelismos.