“Ah, Father Paisios, what a providential encounter! A few words about myself: my husband is a minister, while I am constantly engaged in charity and making donations…”
In July 1958, Father Paisios temporarily moved from Mount Athos to Stomiou, a secluded monastery in the wild mountains, not far from Konitsa, his hometown in Epirus. Today we will tell you about an incident from that period of the elder’s life.
It happened on Holy Saturday, after a poor woman, named Annette, stopped Father Paisios in the middle of a street in Konitsa and told him about her misfortune. Together with her paralysed husband and two small children they huddled in a very tiny annex in the courtyard of a large mansion, belonging to her second cousin, a wealthy lady, living in Athens. It was on the previous day (which was Good Friday) that her sister arrived in Konitsa together with her family and told Annette that “everything comes to an end”, asking her to vacate their courtyard, which they were now going to use as a summer house. “
Telling Father Paisios about all this, and wiping tears from her face, the poor woman kept asking him, “Where should we go, father? What are we going to do, father?” The venerable advised Annette to trust the will of God, comforted her the best he could and continued on his way.
On that same evening, while visiting one of his acquaintances in the hospital, he ran into the aforesaid rich lady in the hospital corridor. Seeing Father Paisius, she broke into a smile and chirped:
– Ah, Father Paisios, what a providential Easter encounter! I have dreamed of meeting you for so long! You won’t believe just how many good things I’ve heard about you!.. Let me say a few words about myself. Well, my husband is a minister… Oh, how silly of me! I almost forgot to tell you that I know the queen personally. We often visit various charitable institutions together. Sometimes I feel that my whole life is nothing but sacrifice…
Thinking that the occasion was a fitting one, Father Paisios replied:
– It is not good that you are leaving this poor family with no shelter, especially since one of them is a disabled person, plus these are the holy days… It’s a shame… Please don’t evict them if you can. After all, you are relatives, albeit distant ones.
From the very beginning, the lady from the capital listened to the elder’s words, with undisguised anger, while his last phrase “After all, you are relatives…” infuriated her.
She began screaming, stamping her feet, and waving her expensive umbrella viciously in front of the reverend. Father Paisios stood before her with his head down and said nothing. “What can I tell you?” He thought, “I should give you a good slap, but my monastic status does not allow that. However, you will get it from Christ Himself before the cows come home”.
Only a few days later, the rich woman fell ill. Her family interrupted their vacation and urgently took her to Athens, where her state continued to get worse and worse. She was declining quickly, while the best metropolitan doctors could not even diagnose her disease.
Two months later, the poor woman in Konitsa found a letter in her mailbox with an Athenian return address. The letter started with the words, “My dear and beloved sister…” Among other things, it said, “… And one more thing: we are relatives, and I don’t want any hostility or misunderstandings to remain between us.
You and I, my dear, are sisters, albeit second cousins. We are of the same blood. Therefore, I tell you from the bottom of my heart: please stay in our house, except I would ask you to move from the small annex into the main house. I have already signed a deed of gift for you and your children. I ask you only to remember my father in your prayers and when you go to church, perhaps you could sometimes write prayer notes about my health?”
“This is what God’s answers are like.” With these words Father Paisios, who had great love for God and His people, used to conclude this story.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds