Four Stories about Liquor and God’s Providence

Alms for a Drunkard
 
A young couple came to their spiritual father to donate him one thousand roubles. It was a lot of money at that time. The priest declined the donation. Instead, he told them to give the money to the first person they would meet while returning to the railway station. Surprisingly, the first person whom they meet was… a heavily intoxicated man.
 
The young woman asked her husband, “What shall we do?” The husband shrugged, “Let’s do what our spiritual father told us.” As soon as they gave the money to the man, he instantly came to his senses, “Oh! How can I thank you? You’ve saved me from death!”
 
It turned out that the poor man worked in a store, and an inspection discovered that exactly 1,000 roubles were missing in the store somehow. He couldn’t reimburse the loss with his own money and faced a prison sentence. He was desperate and decided to commit a suicide. He was afraid so he drank a lot of liquor… The priest who saved his life in such an unusual way was Saint Seraphim of Vyritsa.
 
Don’t Judge Lest Thou Be Judged
 
Archimandrite Gabriel (Urgebadze), a famous elder canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church, shared the following story:
 
“When I was in the sanctuary one day, I heard other priests say about a certain priest that he was an alcoholic. I joined them in blaming the priest for alcoholism in spite of the fact that I didn’t know that man. I simply wanted to show off in front of the Patriarch.
 
I’ve got a lot of wine at home. I don’t drink it but one day I wanted to drink some wine, and so I did. When I was drunk, I went to the Sioni (the Cathedral of the Dormition in Tbilisi) and arrogantly burst in the sanctuary. I found myself standing at that very place where I had previously judged that poor priest. I stumbled but the Patriarch supported me, and luckily, no one else noticed that I was drunk. Later, I realized why it happened to me. When you judge someone, you judge God.”
 
Inebriated “Pilgrims”
 
There was an accident in the Pskov Caves Monastery in Soviet times: Drunk graduates of a military college came to the gates of the monastery at night, and attempted to break them. The night guard was terrified and called Archimandrite Alypius (Voronov), the namestnik of that monastery. Father Alypius had been a veteran of the Great Patriotic War. He put on his military uniform with lots of military decorations, hid that uniform under his monastic mantle and headed to the gates with the guard. A crowd of ten lieutenants broke into the monastery demanding to show them around the monastery and not to establish church rule on the Soviet land.
 
Father Alypius listened to them with bowed head. Then he suddenly looked straight into their faces and took off his mantle… The lieutenants were thunderstruck. The monk looked at them sternly and ordered one of the officers to give him his cap. He looked at the cap and made sure that the officer’s last name was inked on the inner side of the rim, as usual. He turned and briskly marched back to his cell. The embarrassed lieutenants followed him. They muttered their apologies and begged the archimandrite to give the cap back. Father Alypius didn’t utter a word.
 
The young officers had to follow the namestnik to his cell. He opened the door and invited them to come in. That night, he had a long conversation and shared a meal with them. He showed the lieutenants around the monastery and its ancient shrines and reliquaries. Finally, he hugged each one of them and gave each lieutenant a lot of money. They tried to refuse the money but Father Alypius said that the money collected by their grandparents and their mothers would be good for them.
 
A Shot of Vodka to Quench Grief
 
There was a priest whose beloved wife had died. He was so depressed because of his loss that he started drinking heavily. He remembered his wife in his prayers daily but
unfortunately, he was becoming more and more addicted to alcohol. One day, a parishioner called that priest and told him that his wife had appeared to her in a dream and offered her a shot of vodka. “You never drank vodka when you were alive, did you?” the parishioner exclaimed in bewilderment. “Sadly, I have to drink it now,” the deceased woman said. She added, “Call my husband and tellhim about it.”
 
The story impressed the priest so much that he quit drinking forever. Later, he became a monk and then a bishop of San Francisco and West Coast. We know him as a famous religious leader of the Russian exile Bishop Basil (Rodzyanko).
 
Translated by The Catalog of Good Deeds
 
Editor

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The Editor of the Catalog of Good Deeds.

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