August 3, 2016

How the Theotokos Raised and Saved a Fornicating Priest

By Monk Agapios Landos of Crete

Once there lived a clergyman most-reverential to the Ever-Virgin Theotokos, who would pray to her often. Indeed he would daily read with much devotion and reverence the 24 Oikoi of the Akathist. But he was seduced into fornication. And one day on his way home, returning from the brothel, as he passed a bridge, he was reading prayers to the Panagia. At one point he stumbled and with the involvement of the devil he fell into the river and drowned.

Immediately demons grabbed for his soul to take it to gehenna. But the much-merciful ambassador of the dead our Lady immediately arrived there and commanded them to take the soul to the Just Judge for Him to decide. The keen tax collectors took him there and showed all his sins, especially his last act of fornication, of which they said to the Judge, that as one who is just He should not have mercy on this soul, rather He should hand him over to them, because he died in deadly iniquity.

On the other hand, the common protector and helper of sinners, the much-merciful Lady, said the following: "It is written in Holy Scripture, 'In whatever state I find you, in that state will I judge you' [see Ez. 33:12-16]. At the time the priest died, he was reading his service and praying to me, saying the salutation of the Angel, as he always used to, being my devout servant. Therefore you have no entitlement to that soul, because it is mine."

Then the Judge ordered an Angel to bring the tongue of the cleric before Him. The Angel immediately went to the river, removed the tongue of the dead cleric, and brought it to the Court. On it was written: "Rejoice, Mary full of Grace."

The Lord then said to the soul: "Return to your body and do great penance, because the devil has no power over you, due to your reverence towards My mother. For she is the salvation of the human race and must be revered, as much as you are able. Proclaim to the people her very great boldness before Me, as well as the power and victory over the demons."

In this way the cleric was redeemed from two deaths. The Angel returned the soul to the body and removed him from the depths, then departed for heaven. Meanwhile the priest was resurrected and then renounced the world and became a monk, that he may live out the great repentance told to him by the Just Judge Christ.

Source: From the book Salvation of Sinners. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.