Monday, 21 January 2008

An atheist reborn in the Orthodox Church (2) [Un ateu renăscut în Biserica Ortodoxă]

Of a truth, the life of our British Orthodox brother would never be the same after that short, maybe unspectacular (in terms of those X Files kind of paranormal phenomena sought after by the entertainment-focused society of nowadays), yet definitely life-changing experience.

As for why the Lord chose St. Dionysios to bring an atheist from England to Orthodoxy, only He knows precisely. However, all the things that my new friend can humbly bear witness of have striking resemblances with what countless people have experienced throughout the past centuries, up to these very days - St. Dionysios miraculously helps people in various ways!

As I am sure that my new friend would like the world to know more about his patron saint, not his ordinary existence in Peacehaven (east of Brighton, the place in East Sussex were the Greenwich Meridian leaves the British territory descending southwards), here's a little story that proves why our Lord would so quickly yield to this particular saint's prayers.

It is said that once a man came to St. Dionysios dwelling place (certainly an ascetic one), and begged to be hidden from his pursuers. The saint offered shelter to the chased man but wanted to know why he being hunted like a feral beast. The man said that he had killed a monk, who was no other than Dionysios' beloved brother.

Upon hearing this, the saint kept all the grievance for himself, and when the pursuers of the murderer came, he offered them wrong directions, so that they would go away. Later on, the man burdened with such a terrible sin would himself repent and become a monk, so that St. Dionysios lost a brother, in this passing world, but eventually gained another one here, along with the hope of rejoining his blood brother in the Kingdom of God.

For this and many other proofs of true Christian love, ever since the saint's death, his prayers have been changing many peoples' lives. Even today, in the island of Zakynthos he has the reputation of the "walking saint," who pretty often leaves his tomb to help those in need. Every time the monks open the tomb of the saint, dust, grass and seaweed are found at his feet, while his slippers are worn thin, and actually need to be replaced regularly!

No matter how unbelievable this would seem for the skeptical world, even scientists asked for a piece of the saint's body just to get a rational explanation (oh, this reason, humanity's idol for the past centuries!) about the stories circulating about this "walking saint." To the scientists' shock, they saw living cells under the microscope, in which what was supposed to be an extraordinarily well-preserved piece of human tissue but, nevertheless, dead tissue!

This is what my Dionysios from UK tells me, but some other stories about the saint's miracles are already online, while the most can only be collected through firsthand experiences on Zakynthos island in the Ionian Sea. My British Orthodox brother also told me about the miraculous way in which he even got one of the Saint's slippers.

His godfather asked from the hegumen who takes care of the saint's church for a slipper, knowing that it was an extremely daring request, as many Orthodox believers from all over the world try hard to get pieces from St. Dionysi0s' shoes or garments. Amazingly, the hegumen's answer was something like "How could I possibly not give a slipper to this man, since the Saint himself told me to do so?..."

Who still doesn't believe any of the above, and doesn't see them as overwhelming evidence but mere stories, I can only say this - go to the Greek islands of Zakynthos, Aegina or Kephallonia, go to Mount Athos, go to Father Arsenie Boca's tomb at the Prislop Monastery (Hunedoara county, Romania) or go to the Orthodox Easter in Jerusalem!

Even today, the Lord has kept many places like the above (and many others) where He can prove even to the most stubborn of nonbelievers that He is Who the Orthodox Church says He is!

[For all the episodes of this series, and all the posts on this blog go to/ Pentru toate episoadele din această serie şi toate postările de pe acest blog mergi la: Contents/Cuprins]

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