March 23, 2021

When Archimandrite Pavel Gruzdev Was Taught a Lesson in Humility

The famous elder and confessor, Archimandrite Pavel Gruzdev (+ 1996), told the following story about himself.

Once he, already old and half-blind, went to a big city with a Metropolitan in order to serve with him.

The Metropolitan gave Father Pavel money for the return journey, and they parted. There was time before the arrival of the train, so Father Pavel decided to have lunch.

He entered a cafe, and the girl behind the counter said to him:

"Old man, you better leave, you are poorly dressed."

Father Pavel then looked at his feet, and saw that he had felt boots on. When he was leaving his village, there were frosts, and when he came to the city, there was a thaw, and puddles of mud fell from the felt boots to the floor. The priest's coat was also old, worn out, and the suitcase in his hand, with priestly vestments inside, was worn. The girl apparently thought that he was some kind of beggar, since his coat hid his cassock. So Father Pavel left.

He went to another cafe, more like a cafeteria, and there he was told:

“We have a variety of foods here!”

“Well,” Father Pavel answered, “this is good.”

He put his small briefcase under the table, took a tray and gathered a meal for himself with compote for dessert. He put his lunch on the table. Just before he was going to eat he realized that he forgot a spoon and a fork! He went to get a spoon and fork, came back and saw a man sitting at his table eating his meal. So much for lunch. Father Pavel sat down opposite the man and without a word began to eat at least half the meal. Having wrapped the bread and put it in his pockets, the compote was then equally divided with the man.

Then the man got up and went to the exit. Father Pavel glanced casually underneath the table and saw his briefcase was not there. That greedy man stole it! He ate half of his lunch, and he also took the briefcase. Father Pavel got up from the table, and as he went to run after the thief, suddenly he looked and he saw his briefcase ... only it was at another table. And the lunch plate at the same table was untouched. He got the tables mixed up!

Father Pavel's head started to ache thinking how humble that man was who didn’t even say a word when Father Pavel, who looked so impoverished and disheveled, ate half of his lunch.