Some people say: How is it possible for God to perceive the thoughts of millions or billions of people? Today the computers with their way of working convince us undoubtedly about this. And the more does God Who is everywhere and fulfills everything, Who is found deeply within us…and how can`t He know our thoughts and see clearly all our deeds in His mirror? We as some night birds or moles think that these things we see God sees them as well, but the rest He doesn`t see. But all things are known and perceived by God.
Therefore the spiritual man must know this and take heed at himself because we don`t know the day or the hour when the Son of Man will come. . We see a small icon at the Catechetical school where God knocks at the door. Yes it is true. Christ comes and knock at your door saying:
`Is your passport ready?`
`No, I`m going to make it now.`
`Now it`s too late, it`s over.`
I`ll tell you a story with a man who was not prepared for his exit from his flesh. When I was living at the New Hermitage – when our community was founded with a few monks – it took place a terrible but useful thing with a starets from the hermitage. There were two brothers who lived together, a priest and a monk. This monk was the starets and he was suffering badly of a heart disease. His brother called me for him to confess. I listened to his confession and I helped as much as I could. But the tempter influenced him powerfully and made him hide mistakes relating to his life from the world. When he felt burdened he sent his brother to call me again. He told me:
`The starets is restless. Come father confessor cause something is going wrong. He lost his patience and he is angry. Come and strengthen his patience so that he won`t lose his soul.`
But I was surprised because the monks are patient when they are sick.
`The monk doesn`t get angry so easily. There must be something else`
When I went again and saw him I realized that he didn`t lose his patience but something terrible was happening with him which had connection with his soul. I realized that the demons surrounded him and told him his sins. `You did this and that…He was frightened as if surrounded by some furious dogs who bit him and he defended himself, he grew wild and because of this he didn`t pay any attention to me.
Immediately after I saw this I tried to help him. I spoke louder to make myself be heard.
`Abba, what are the demons saying to you?`
`It cannot be told. They know better our sins than we can remember them.`
`Everything they tell you, you tell me.`
He slowly began to tell me the sins the demons showed him and many of those he hadn`t confessed. I gave him absolution. I hoped God would show him His mercy. He was in a miserable state, desperate. I thought to go to the disciples to tell them to leave their chores and pray for him with the rosary.
`I will be missing for a few minutes than I am coming back.`
`Don`t go father confessor! I need you. Don`t leave me alone!`
I went to the monks and I told them to pray together with the rosary to help him. When I returned I found him still.
`How are you feeling geronda? Did they leave?`
`The dogs are here but now they are mute. Now I`m well`
In the evening during the vigil the demons came to my cell and made noise. It was the first time in my life when they fought with me so badly so closely. But without being frightened I told them: You are with your business, I am with mine. I lit my lamp to read and they jumped from one side to the other to confuse me. At the Holy Liturgy they didn`t appear.
Then I went to see that starets. I helped him again with his confession with prayers and the holy unction.
`How are you feeling now geronda? But only the demons have come? Where is your guardian angel? Do you see our guardian angels?` I was with another confessor.
`Yes they are here but yours have crowns and something else very special as some guardian angels who protect confessors. On Monday we will have a holy feast. There will come some other persons. He referred at his death. And indeed on Monday at the funerals there came some other persons who in that moment were missing from the hermitage. May God repay the good you have done to me!
`Where is Michael the Archangel? Why doesn`t he come to take you?`
`He stands at the front door. He doesn`t take me because he waits for an order from above.`
`Geronda I am going to rest for an hour because I am tired from the vigil and I will come back.`
`Go and rest. I am fine. May the Holy Mother of God reward you for what you`ve done for me.`
`What have I done?` I haven`t even done my duty.`
In the last hours of his life the demons wanted to kneel him in something serious. I sent the monks on the day before the day of his death to keep a vigil beside him during the night and pray for him with the rosary to help him. The demons told him to drink the jug of water to soothe his pains because he thought that in that way he could burst. Then the demons would have said that he suicided himself out of his own will. But when he asked for the jug of water the monk didn`t give it to him because if he had drunk all that water he could have died. When I woke they told me that they already rang the bell which announced that he reposed his soul.
Have you seen the mercy of God how it intervened in the last moment to save his soul?
That is why we the confessors try to make the passports of the people right so that they would not be stopped at the customs by the publicans who wait for us in the skies before we reach heaven. And when our passport is right we can pass. If it is not right they will stop us and tell us:
`You have debts and you cannot pass.`
Then the soul will say: Why my confessor didn`t help me? Why didn`t he advise me? Why didn`t he cleansed me completely of my sins? Why didn`t he make my passport right? I didn`t know But he didn`t know either? He was an educated man, skilled in this work, he should have helped me `
You understand? That is why we who help the people tell them: `My son I acted in such a way so that you may make your papers and pass. These are the aids so that you won`t be impeded to go further.` This is the reason why we must search the thoughts and feelings of people`s hearts because sometimes they confess everything and we must purposefully teach them to know how and what they must say. May God see this small effort and save our souls at last for what we do.
As much as we can sons – and I am the first one – we should grow wiser and try to help ourselves as soon as we can. We don`t know when God knocks at our door and calls us to give account: How did you spend your life? What did you do with the time and opportunities I gave you? What did you do with the blessings I gave you?`
There is a wall in our life and this is our will. We put our will ahead. `I want to do that thing. I want to give in. The passion, the pleasure draws me and I do my will not God`s will. This is what spoils everything. That is why when we confess everything at the confessor God helps. Even if the confessor makes a mistake if we do what he told us then we are fine and we will have reward for his mistake. And God will take the confessor and ask him to give account because he bears the responsibility as the one who gave the order.
Sons, pray for us the confessors so that God may give us Holy Spirit to cover and protect us. And with the Holy Spirit we will receive due to your prayers to help you in this hard work which is called the salvation of the soul.
 Matthew 24, 44.
Excerpt from the book The Art of Salvation, to be published by Evanghelismos.