September 23, 2021

Saint John the Baptist and the Monk Who Sought to Flee from Dionysiou Monastery

The icon of the Honorable Forerunner of the Monastery of Dionysiou (16th century). It is located on the right column of the katholikon of the Monastery.
By Monk Lazarus of Dionysiou

On January 13, 1952, while sitting on the balcony outside the pharmacy, I was looking at the dock of the Monastery [Dionysiou Monastery of Mount Athos] where the transport ship that had come from Daphne [the main port of Mount Athos] had stopped.

The newly appointed treasurer Hieromonk Paul, who arrived from Monoxylitis [Metochion of the Monastery of Dionysiou to the west], got out of the boat. Also inside the ship was brother Leontios who was appointed by the Monastery as caretaker, according to the established order, in the recording and delivery of the things of the Metochion, and the former treasurer Dometion, who also returned with his luggage.

The last one, however, I saw him sitting in the boat, while the other brothers had gone out and had already started going up the uphill road to the Monastery. Seeing all this, I wondered what was happening? Why does the former treasurer of Monoxylitis, after he came with his furniture, remain in the boat and does not take out his luggage on the waterfront?

I also saw the ship's captain racing for a quarter of an hour or more, trying to get the boat's engine up and running to continue its voyage. Unfortunately, the ship could not move.

The passengers of the ship seemed distressed by this unexpected event.

After a long time, the brother of our Monastery, who until then did not want to get off the ship, but, as I was later told, wanted to disembark at New Skete, seeing clearly the intervention of the higher Power, and rebuked by his conscience, he was terrified and remorseful, and begged those on board to help him take out his luggage and get off himself.

And as soon as that happened - O your wonders, Honorable Forerunner! - the engine started working normally and the boat continued its voyage.

Because we have had a special brotherly relationship with this monk for many years, as soon as he went up to the Monastery he visited me in the hospital and after the first greeting, as usual, he asked me to go to the pharmacy so that those located in the adjoining kitchen would not hear what the brother had to say to me.

"Let's go," he tells me "so you can give me medicine."

I jokingly said:

"You came to me sick from Monoxylitis, Father Dometion?"

After we entered the pharmacy and I locked the door, I noticed him mentally exhausted and very sad and in tears. That's why I asked him:

"What's the matter, Father Dometion, what is happening to you?"

He tells me.

"Do you think that miracles happen even now?"

"Yes," I tell him, "of course I believe."

And I was surprised to hear what he told me.

"Because I know you believe, that's why I came to confess to you what happened to me, so maybe my pain will be relieved."

After encouraging him, he began to confess to me the secrets of his heart:

"Did you see me in the boat where I was sitting and did not go out?"

"Yes," I told him, "I saw you, and I wondered why you were sitting inside. I could not explain your attitude."

"I," he tells me, "after handing over the Metochion to the new treasurer, had decided not to come to back the Monastery. I decided to leave. The causes," he tells me, "do not ask to know now." And saying this he could no longer hold back his tears.

"I had decided to go to my cousin Joasaph at New Skete, but, as it seems clear, this was not to the liking of the Honorable Forerunner [the patron saint of the Holy Monastery of Dionysiou]. As you can see, when the boat came in down at the sea and the brothers came out, they tried hard and with many pleas to persuade me to go down, but I did not obey them. And what happened then? The engine broke down and for half an hour and more we sat there motionless, without the engineer being able to understand what had happened, since he could not locate the fault. And when I got out, it started right away."

I comforted him as much as I could and advised him for the time being to be patient and to have hope in the Honorable Forerunner because he is the householder and the governor of the place and to have hope, and each of us  was to help and serve him according to their strength for the things and situations of the Monastery to prosper.

And so we left, without accepting a single cool drink to comfort him, even though I begged him many times. He left straight for his room, wanting as I understood him to cry a lot to be comforted by Divine Grace.

And that's what happened. For three days or more he did not leave his cell but cried constantly and confessed his blunder asking from above for Divine help and consolation.

Source: From the book Διονυσιάτικαι Διηγήσεις. Translation by John Sanidopoulos.