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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

A Miracle of Saints Anthony the Great and Athanasios the Great to a Cancer Patient in Athens


On January 17-18 at the Monastery of Saint Andrew in Kefallonia in 1997, we waited for Fr. Gerasimos Fokas to begin the vigil. He came a little late, but to our great joy he came together with our other great Elder, Fr. Hierotheos Sourvanos. He told us that he was coming straight from the airport and that there were traces of pain and suffering on his face for the people he constantly cared about.

"Do not bring me papers of names for those who seek to be healthy tonight if they merely suffer from a cold. Only for those who are seriously ill, for cancer patients, we will pray."

It is better to hear it from himself. Here are excerpts from the sermon of this blessed man about that blessed night. The excerpt is from a recorded sermon of Fr. Gerasimos during the vigil on January 17/18, 1998 in the Monastery of Saint Andrew.



Unfortunately, I built up a little steam tonight and I will say something very personal, but it belongs to all of us, it is for the family. Anthony the Great is the Professor of the Desert. And his biographer says: Anthony, when a young child, set off to go to the desert, and he saw that the devil set all the traps along the way, to defeat Anthony, because he knew who Anthony was. And then Anthony shouted, as we all shout: “Who can pass through the traps of the enemy?” And there came a voice from heaven, saying: "Humility".

This is the way to pass through the devil and go to God, to Christ. This is the course. The biographer says that Anthony the Great was advancing in virtue, he was climbing the ladder to attain dispassion, and there the devil appeared in the form of a lion, he has many forms that he presents, and Anthony entered a tomb in order to escape, he was alive in a tomb. And as soon as the battle was over and the devil was gone, my brethren, our Lord Christ appeared. And Anthony said, I wish we had such courage: "Where haveYou been for so long? Now You have come?"

This is what it means to be in a relationship, my brethren, this is how you talk to your father, your husband, your wife, your child. The Saints had this relationship with God, they had this communication, they had this immediacy. And Christ answered him, as He answers all of us, when we are in difficulties, in injustices, in trials. And we say:

"Where is God?"

And He answers both Anthony and all of us:

"I was here and I was observing to see what you were going to do. Will you retreat, will you lose the crown? Will you lose the victory? Or will you be patient for a while, to go to the glory of the heavens, the eternal, the endless, to the joy of the Angels?”

Last year, like tonight, I went to the funeral of our bishop's brother, in Larissa, and in Athens we were with Fr. Hierotheos Sourvanos. You all know Fr. Sourvanos, an excellent, diamond clergyman. We were together in Athens, in a house where the woman who hosted us had her mother sick with cancer in the hospital. This woman, the poor woman, had received the injection of chemotherapy and we proceeded to the airport to return to Kefallonia, together with Fr. Hierotheos. Before we left she had a little fever. I know, unfortunately, from cancer, I had poor Vasiliki, and I told them:

"This is how it is, it is from the injection, a 38 fever will pass", and we left, we came to Kefallonia last year like tonight. From the airport we went directly to Tasia and to the Monastery of Saint Andrew for the vigil of Saint Athanasios.

We started the vigil, but because I remembered that Fr. Paisios had said:

"The submissive of Anthony the Great, Athanasios the Great, is celebrating. To understand how big Anthony the Great is, the little finger of his hand is Athanasios the Great."

And he chanted to both Saints on the feast of Saint Athanasios.

I said to the chanters to chant tonight to Anthony the Great as well, even though it was towards dawn on the feast of Saint Athanasios. The abbess wondered:

"What happened to you tonight and you refer to Anthony the Great since we are dawning towards Saint Athanasios?"

I was patient, with both fathers. The same goes for Tasia and Panagangelos. The vigil was advancing, the litany, the breads, the Divine Liturgy, Anthony and Athanasios, together a father and son, elder and submissive, we chanted.

The vigil ended, we left with Panagangelos Karaviotis. He tells me:

"What happened to you that you chanted for Anthony the Great, since it is the day of Saint Athanasios?"

"I did my job. And Tasia together. You all know Tasia."

"What happened to you and you chanted for Saint Anthony tonight?"

"Nothing, I did my job. I remembered what Elder Paisios did. Let's go home."

In the morning they call me from Athens. They did not know anything in Athens, neither about vigils, nor about Saint Andrew, nor about Saint Athanasios, nor about Saint Anthony. At nine o'clock in the morning the woman who stayed at her house on the phone tells me:

"Gerasimos, what happened to you tonight?"

"What happened to us?" I say.

"Did you say any prayers?"

"I am a monk and the monk always prays. What happened?"

"My mother, when you left the house, got a fever of 41 degrees, the red blood cell count dropped and we took her to the hospital, to 'Alexandra'."

They said that the woman fell into a coma and at around 12:30 - at the time we prayed for cancer patients, drug addicts, heart patients - two clergymen appeared there, with their kalimavkions and cassocks, and went to her. She realized that these are people of virtue and got up to receive their blessing.

"Who are you, my fathers, to receive your blessing?"

"We are Anthony and Athanasios and they sent us from Kefallonia."

They blessed her and from that moment the woman got better and today she lives and reigns.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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