‘Father, why does someone have a special devotion to a Saint?’
‘For someone to have a special devotion to a Saint, it is necessary for the Saint to have spoken to them in some way or another. Each person, because of a particular event that happened to them with the help of a Saint, also has a special love for that Saint. This event can be something significant or it can be unimportant. For example, since I was a child and used to go to the Church of Saint Barbara in Konitsa, I have great devotion to Saint Barbara. She helped me in the army when, despite not having the required qualifications, I was assigned to the communications department. She also helped me at the sanatorium after my lung surgery (1). The doctors told me that as soon as my lung cleared up, they would remove the tubes and the apparatus (2). Although they were supposed to be removed five days after the operation, twenty-five days had passed and I still had them, which caused me a lot of suffering. On Saturday, December 3, I was expecting the doctors to free me from this torment, but unfortunately, they did not come.
On Sunday morning, during the commemoration of Saint Barbara, I said to myself, “If Saint Barbara was going to help me; she should have done so by now. The doctors have left. Today, on Sunday, it’s impossible for them to come. Who will remove my tubes?” I expressed a few words of discontent, saying, “I have lit the candle so many times in the Church of Saint Barbara. How many floating wicks I placed and how much oil I have brought! I have also cleaned and arranged the Church. And they won’t remove two tubes for me?” After that, I thought, “It seems that I have upset Saint Barbara, and that’s why she didn’t take care to have them removed.” Suddenly, I heard noises. “What’s happening?” I wondered. “Has something happened to someone?” “The doctors are coming,” someone told me. I don’t know what got into the director, but he told the doctors early in the morning, “Go and remove the tubes from the monk!” The doctors entered the room and said to me, “We have been ordered to remove your tubes.” It seems that Saint Barbara didn’t like that I expressed those words of discontent. Sometimes you have to complain a little. But it’s better not to complain. If you don’t complain, it means you have nobility.
Indeed, a Saint sometimes grants our requests immediately, while other times they grant them later. Sometimes they listen to the one who prays because they are in a good spiritual state, and other times because they cry and complain like a little child.’
(1) In November 1966, the Elder underwent lung surgery due to having bronchiectasis.
(2) The device was attached to him to drain the fluid after the surgical intervention.
Excerpt from On Prayer – Elder Paisios of Mount Athos, Evangelismos Publishing House.