January 19, 2022

All the Churches Should Ring Their Bells on the Feast of Saint Mark of Ephesus

 By Dr. Nikolaos Baldimtsis

In Arta I served as an agricultural doctor for about two years, from 1979 to 1981. There I met spiritual people whose words and especially their lives were for me a teaching of faith.

In Arta I had as a spiritual father the archimandrite and preacher Fr. Iakovos Pachys, who was later chosen by God to be the Metropolitan of Argolis. This ascetic man lived in a simple room of the old boarding school in Arta. When I went and met him, we would sit in the yard under the trees, and in a happy mood he would tell me various incidents of his life and discreetly catechize me on serious matters of the spiritual life, as he experienced them.

He once said to me: "Today the Church celebrates a great and unknown to many Saint. Saint Mark the Eugenikos. Were it not for Saint Mark, we would not be Orthodox today but Catholics. So the honor of this great Saint should be commensurate. All the churches should ring the bells and majestic hierarchical Divine Liturgies with speeches should take place that would highlight the personality and contribution to the Church of this great Saint. That is, to make a big religious festival." Saying these words with a sad smile, he said: "But who understands these things?"

In fact, wanting to explain this situation, he went far back and told me a story from his student years:
"When I was a student at the Theological Seminary in Athens, the School chartered a boat and the Professors and the students made a pilgrimage to Mount Athos. The trip was pleasant and the destination was holy. During the trip all the church services were held, as some of my classmates were already priests. One of our Professors was in charge of the food program.

One Friday he informed us that the menu would include pastitsio and samali. Some of my classmates and I went and met with him and with respect we mentioned that this menu was given inadvertently on a fasting day.

We were surprised to hear the Professor's answer to us: 'These things about fasting are for the people! This is the food and whoever wants, let him not eat.' We ate something casual and did not break the fast. As for the Professor, apart from the food, he ate a whole pan of samali on his own (it was of course of similar dimensions). But his life was in danger from indigestion. We saw him strolling on the deck, like a drunk. Thus continued the journey that was a pilgrimage for the few and a 'cruise' for the many.

When such people who do not live the ascetic tradition of the Church and do not even observe the fast of Friday, occupy key positions in the Church, who will deal with Saints like Saint Mark the Eugenikos, who will respect the doctrines of the Church? Naturally, such people are interested in travel and 'tables', while Saint Mark was one of the greatest ascetic fathers of the Church who daily performed the Divine Liturgy."

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.