July 5, 2017

Saint Athanasios the Athonite and the Monk Who Fell Into Fornication

A brother was dispatched by Saint Athanasios to perform a certain ministration. He became careless and negligent with regard to his salvation and fell into fornication. Afterwards, he returned to the Great Lavra and confessed it to the holy man who, as an experienced physician, guided and counseled him not to despair, but to place his hopes in God.

Now another monk, named Paul, heard of the matter and, as one indiscreet, he was offended and scandalized; so he condemned both the fallen monk and the Saint. He found fault with the elder because he had not punished the fallen monk who dared to commit such a shameful and unholy deed. The Saint, observing Paul with a severe look, said: "Paul, watch what you are doing."

From that moment, the demon of fornication shot with a bow his arrow at Paul, who then experienced carnal warfare for three days and nights. The worst part of it was that he was embarrassed to confess it to the Saint who, by means of the Holy Spirit, was made aware of it anyway. Nonetheless, the Saint, in a skillful manner gave him courage, enjoining him to confess and seek help. Whereupon, the all-wise one, admonished him not to judge the fallen, but rather to suffer with and pray for such. Afterwards, the Saint entreated God and the warfare ceased when Paul was humbled and wept.