January 18, 2014

The Last Days of Elder Anastasios of Koudoumas (3 of 5)

My Visit to Venizelio Hospital in Heraklion

After the surgery I wanted to visit him, but due to various difficulties I postponed it for Tuesday, November 19. Meanwhile, on Saturday November 16 they informed me that the relapse began and the doctors told the monks of the Sacred Monastery of Koudoumas who accompanied him to prepare for his departure.

On Sunday I was in constant communication with Fr. Antonios Fragakis and simultaneously was supplicating God to keep him alive until Tuesday when I was going to visit him. Surprisingly the Elder began to revive, to speak and to regain his spiritual strength. I gave notification that I would visit on Tuesday, November 19.

The morning of that day I travelled from Nafpaktos to Athens. I arrived at the airport at 10:15 in the morning and the plane took off at 11:00. I arrived at the hospital around 12:15. Fr. Antonios Fragakis led me to the ward where the Elder was hospitalized. I took his blessing, and I gave him a wooden Cross made by a monk from Mount Athos.

The Fathers of the Monastery - Abbot Fr. Makarios and Hieromonk Fr. Theologos - informed me that he was waiting for me with longing. He had asked what time the airplane was leaving from Athens, when it arrived in Heraklion and how long it would take to arrive at the hospital. Indeed, as they told me, he paradoxically regained all his strength and temporarily escaped the risk of departure from this world, which was still imminent.

I approached his bed and told him the reasons for my visit, especially that I loved him and respected him, because he had the Grace of God energized within him - he energized the chrismation. I thanked him for his love towards my humble person and asked his prayers for my work.

Also, I told him that I prayed to God to prolong his stay on earth for us, but ultimately, if God allowed him to go towards the heavenly Divine Liturgy, then may His will be done. I also asked him to pray for us.

He thanked me for my visit, and expressed his gratitude and love. As he was lying down and I was next to him, he whispered, and I couldn't exactly understand what he was saying. Eventually I realized that he was saying that there are people who are honored by others but will not gain Paradise, and there are people who are considered sinners of the world who will be saved.

When Fr. Antonios came near us, he continued:

"Someone can be considered to have reached the limits of holiness, and someone else can be considered to be a 'goner' due to their sins. However, the pain created in the heart by the sense of sin can project them to great heights and the other will be left behind. One thing is certain however: No one will enter the kingdom of God without the pain of repentance."

In the ward were eight patients, each with their own problems. I approached them all, greeted them, and prayed for them appropriately. I saw that besides the physical pain in all the patients there was also a severe mental condition, while Elder Anastasios, with all he went on to say, and although there was great physical weakness, and much physical pain, which he did not show at all, he seemed to possess an intense, high spiritual state.

This was shown by whatever he said, in his pure and penetrating gaze, in his mental calmness and momentum of spirit. I saw great momentum in his soul, which literally flew. I saw a lofty internal theological world, inside a flimsy particle, a helpless and frail body, who yet remained in a state of peace. I was in awe how this body could hold within it such a sparkling and intense theological soul that longed for Christ.

The aforementioned Fathers of the Monastery with the help of other folk who were his spiritual children, raised him slightly in order to be seated on the bed, with the legs hung so he could shake his operated leg, as the doctors said. As he was seated he said repeatedly:

"Christ is an inexhaustible source!"

He constantly spoke of Christ, who loves us and fills us with heavenly gifts.

Translated by John Sanidopoulos.