Orthodox Byzantine Chants
Holy Mount Athos
Archimandrite Ioachim Parr
I want to tell you a story. One evening, many years ago when it was already past eleven I was called by the bishop of that place. He told me: `Father, I hope I didn’t wake you up!` Of course he had done that. Then he added: `They called me from the hospital. You must go there urgently to give the Eucharist to a sick person who is dying.` I took what I needed, then went by subway to Bronx, that was at about 20 km from our monastery. I arrived at the hospital, I gave the sick man the Holy Eucharist and when I went to take the subway back it was already past one after midnight. I waited for a long time and when the train came I was the only passenger from the wagon. Bronx is a very poor and dangerous district.
After a few stations a guy came in, stopped in the opposite corner of the wagon and started to look at me. He seemed very dangerous and when the doors closed and the train departed he came towards me. My first thought was: `Here’s my end.` When he came in front of me he asked me:
`Who are you? And why are you dressed like that?`
I told him that I was a priest.
`What kind of priest?` he asked.
`An Orthodox priest` I answered.
I had a bag with me where I had the epitrachelion, the ordinary and other things necessary for the holy services. Pointing towards the bag he asked me:
`What do you have in the bag?`
`The same stuff you have in your head.`
The man smiled and asked me:
`Aren’t you afraid of me ?`
`Not that much.`
He sat down and told me:
`You know once I’ve been a Catholic but now I don’t believe in such things anymore.`
`In what things?` I asked him.
`A priest told us that he could change the bread and wine in Body and Blood. Do you really believe in something like this?`
`Of course I do`, I answered.
`Then your parishioners don’t believe in this.`
`No, they believe in it too!`
Then he looked at me and said:
`So they never go home?`
I didn’t understand his question:
`What are you talking about? Of course they go to their homes!
Smiling he told me confidently:
`No, they don’t believe. If I had believed that Jesus Christ was on that altar in that church I would have never gone home. Why would I needed to go anywhere else? They don’t believe neither you, father.`
This was one of the best preaches I had ever heard. And I’m telling you know sisters that you don’t believe that Christ is here. You don’t believe that He is in you and you don’t believe that he is in your sisters. Even if you believed you would never behave with one another the way you do now. Thus in fact not the people from the world, but you are those who deny Christ. By your life you tell the others: `He doesn’t exist. He said: But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. (Mt 10, 33).
The earth doesn’t burn under your feet ? When will we change? What are we waiting for? Lightening from the sky. Once I asked this question at a preach and all of a sudden the lightening hit the church. Until now nobody from those who were in the church then forgot what I talked about then. I’m sorry that’s not possible at least to see this happening repeating…