December 19, 2014

The Simple Woman Who Taught a Bishop To Pray

By Metropolitan Nicholas (Selentis) of Halkida

A simple woman taught me to pray with devotion and tears. She lived in Perama of Piraeus and was contemptuously called not by her name but by her nickname "Avgoulou",* because she sold fresh eggs to make her "daily bread".

As I was walking one day I passed by her humble house, to obtain a subscription to the magazine ZOI. She was absent but her child was there, who had passed puberty. The oil lamp was burning at the icon corner and I had proposed to the child that until his mother returned we could pray a bit. Somewhat casually he nodded his head affirmatively to pray. When we completed the prayer, he said somewhat jokingly: "Oh, you don't know how to pray!" I was astonished by his bold remark and asked him to explain how I should pray as an Orthodox Christian. "I, sir, do not know Theology, but I see the example of my mother, who when she prays she cries out continuously 'Lord Have Mercy', constantly falling down with prostrations, striking her chest and a river running with her tears!"

After this explanation, my desire grew to know this wonderful woman and to learn from her something about her charismatic prayer.

That day she did not come back so I left. Another day I went to meet her and found before me a moving scene of a praying person. Her husband, as I learned, was a drunkard and good for nothing, who would take whatever she made from the eggs and boozed. That day on which I went to meet her, from drunkenness he had beaten her, taken her money, and threw her New Testament into the well! I found her kneeling at the well, praying:

"My Christ, my Panagia Full of Grace, the book with the sacred words, which my husband threw into the well, he did not do out of irreverence, but he was drunk.

Make those sacred letters, my Panagia, which will dissolve and become one with the water, be consumed by my husband, so that he will repent, confess and be saved, so that he won't go to hell, my dear Christ, because the people have me as a good person, while I the thrice-wretched have many incurable passions and sins!"

* Avgo is Greek for "egg".

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.