Father Maximos told us another story in his usual casual manner. “During the first year I was a monk on Mount Athos, there was some kind of a misunderstanding between a young hieromonk and his elder. The young hieromonk was very upset because he heard a rumor that his elder was planning to change his work schedule. Being young and inexperienced he started bad-mouthing his elder. The rest of us, naive and younger than he was, would not waste a moment. We went straight to the elder and reported him. The elder’s reaction was ‘I’ll take care of him during vespers. I will make him feel so much shame he won’t know where to go and hide his face from the rest of us.’ We thought he was really going to reprimand him.”

“I remember it was Saturday before vespers. The elder walked down the steps from his cell, which was on the second floor, and called for this hieromonk. ‘Come to the sanctuary. I want to talk to you,’ he said to him somberly. ‘Holy Mother of God,’ the rest of us murmured among ourselves. ‘Alas to him.’ The elder was going to take care of him right inside the sanctuary. All of us were tense, waiting for the developments. We expected to hear raised voices and reprimands as the elder scolded him. I happened to be inside the sanctuary helping with the service as I had just been made a deacon. And what do you think I witnessed? As they entered the sanctuary, the sixty-five-year-old elder fell on his knees in front of the twenty-five-year-old monk, kissed his feet, and asked for forgiveness. ‘I am sorry, my brother,’ he said to the young monk, ‘I must have done something to cause you grief. Please forgive me.’ The other of course was shattered and began sobbing while asking forgiveness from the elder. By the grace of God, tranquility was restored in the monastery and a valuable lesson was offered to all of us.”

Kyriacos C. Markides, Gifts of the Desert: (New York: Doubleday, 2005), pp. 73-74.

About Fr Joseph Gleason

I serve as a priest at Christ the King Orthodox Mission in Omaha, Illinois, and am blessed with eight children and one lovely wife. I contribute to On Behalf of All, a simple blog about Orthodox Christianity. I also blog here at The Orthodox Life.
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