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November 8, 2009

Papa-Demetri Gagastathis and His Relationship With the Archangels

To read the autobiography of the Blessed Papa-Demetri Gagastathis (1902-1975) is to read about the special relationship he had with his heavenly protectors, the Archangels Michael and Gabriel. There are many instances in his life in which they intervened to save his life and guide him along the correct path of God's will. Though he was a married priest with nine daughters, he was an angel in the flesh for his pure and simple faith, and for this reason his relationship with his heavenly protectors was extraordinarily close that every time he boldly called upon them they immediately responded.
Below is an example from Papa-Demetri's autobiography to show how the Archangels once delivered him from error:

On February 22, 1943, [pro-communist] guerrilla forces came to the village with patriotic slogans. In the beginning they looked like saints, just in order to win everyone over. They were "wolves in sheep's clothing". I was fooled as well and followed them. We provided them with food, clothing, etc. However, from the very first moment I started supporting them, the church of the Archangels would not receive me. Even when I was in there, I felt a pressure to leave quickly, as though somebody was chasing me out. I realized that I had fallen in sin and that I was being chastised for it and I beseeched the Archangels to relieve me. While I was serving one Sunday, before Doxology, a thought crossed my mind that the Church was being threatened by communism and that I should get sacrificed for Her, according to the Holy Gospel: "I lay down my soul for the sheep" (John 10:11). I made a resolution to preach against communism. After I finished Divine Liturgy, I went to the Archangels and asked them to assist me in the great struggle that was about to start. Immediately the fear left me....

That night, I saw in my sleep two radiant Greek Army officers, who brought me several loaves of bread and said: "Don't be afraid! We are on your side. Nothing will happen to you. Here, take these loaves, because you've got a long way to go - an arduous, hard, and inevitable way. That is for sure the way of victory, but it'll take time. In every danger, we'll be with you. This is the real way of God!"

From then on I resolved to proclaim steadfastly that the communists were the enemies of the Church, Country, and Family. Me, to deny my Christ? Never! They called me in three times for interrogation. They wanted to make me change my mind and keep quiet, just as other priests in our district had done. but I stood firm and prayed to the Archangels to help me with my duty. I didn't sign the declaration they wanted. "I'll die on my duty", I said.

On another occasion the Archangel Michael came to the aid of Papa-Dimitri and rescued him from danger:

On October 20, 1945, Sunday morning, just after I rang the bell, guerrilla troops encircled the village. A nationalist squad had camped in our village, and they wanted to destroy us all. I had just entered the church. On hearing all the commotion, I crossed myself, asked St. Nicholas' help, and ran out quickly. They fired at me with their rifles, but no bullet touched me. I headed towards another village where a nationalist army was. After a short while, eleven horseman overtook me. The bullets pierced the cassock, but not me... They encircled me at about fifty meters and shouted: "Where are you gonna go bearded devil, eh?" (They cursed me meanly). I lifted up my hands to heaven and cried from the depths of my soul: "Archangel Michael, I'm in danger, save me!" And behold, O great wonder: Archangel Michael appeared like lightening! He threw their chief down from his horse, cutting the bands of the saddle with his sword. The chief broke his spinal cord, while the other ten were frozen on the spot. One of them finally told me: "Forgive us, my pastor, go on your way! You've got high protectors!" "Thank you", I said. I forgave them and prayed to God to enlighten them so they might repent and become good men. "Always speak the truth", I told them, "and may God be your help."

Papa-Demetri also records how a demon possessed woman was healed by the power of the Holy Archangels:

In August, 1958, the following happened to a young woman from Platanos. Since her childhood, she had fallen into many carnal sins. Two months ago, she started cohabitating with a fifty-four year old man. The righteous Judge, though, waited for her repentance. On August 6 she got possessed by unclean spirits. They beat her a lot and she screamed wildly. She could not see, hear, or recognize anyone. She was in another world. On August 8, he relatives called me to read a prayer over her. She gave no response. Then they asked for an icon of the Most Great Archangels to be brought to her. When the icon arrived, a radiant young man with a sword appeared to her - as she herself confessed later - and told her: "Don't be afraid, I'll deliver you from all this. But you have to repent and no more do what you have been doing so far. I'll protect you, but you must proclaim that the Church has a living religion for everyone to see and repent." And immediately - O great wonder! - she became well. The woman repented indeed and related to everyone what she saw and suffered. She kept saying: "Believe in God and in all His Saints. Believe especially in the grace of the Most Great Archangels - they have great power and can accomplish everything!" When I went to read a prayer over her on another occasion, she came forward to kiss my hand and thank the Archangels for their protection.

These are just a few of many such manifestations of the special bond Papa-Demetri had with his heavenly protectors. May we follow his example and seek such a close relationship with the Archangels and all the Saints, whom we can boldly call upon and they can also come to our aid in the same special way.