A Textbook Case


This story took place many years ago and this is exactly the reason why I am sharing it. Its main character has long since left our town, which is not too big for this situation or men like him not to be accidentally recognized based on the details.

Similar to many fellow parishioners in our church, this man came to faith only after he moved to our town: not many have come here as practicing Christians. So, one day, he went to church and followed the path typical of any newcomer: Hesitantly making his first steps there, becoming a practicing Christian and then a zealous devotee who romanticized all believers and/or clergy... but who ended up being a critic of those same believers and/or clergy...

The only problem was his rather unconventional cause of condemnation: He was taken aback by a great number of obese people among the clergy. Well, probably, it isn’t such a rare cause, and I simply go by my own experience, but he nursed condemnation for personal appearances.

But, apparently, this man, still rather young, was a true gourmand, so he had hard time committing himself to the requirements of fasting—thus his sin of condemnation of fat people. I can only assume as I don’t know for sure; we often get sticken with other people’s temptations.

So he condemned others. When he began to condemn others, he quit going to church. When he stopped going to church, he decided to have fun and went to a nightclub. He met some girl and cheated on his wife for the first time in his life...

And, then, he contracted “that” dreadful disease.

So, during the time he was rushing around doing all kinds of medical tests and making attempts to return to church, the Lord sent him a vision in a dream, and it is safe to say, it was a textbook case.

He dreamed that he had entered our church and saw that it was packed with sick people. Lame, exhausted, with festering wounds and abhorrent sores, they were sitting and lying everywhere... And so, he thought to himself: “What am I doing here among all these wretched people?!” He turned around, left the church and went to town.

Back in town, he was suddenly overcome by a dark terror—he suddenly realizes that he is being chased by some hideous monster. It was so terrifying that he didn’t even dare to turn around, but hearing the ghastly, threatening noises behind him, he knew he simply had to find an escape. And so, he kept running and running... not like in nightmares, where you become stricken with fear, but really running all over the city... Yet, that dreadful thing kept pace behind. And then he realized he had no strength left.

He suddenly realized he has to run to church. That it is a place where he will surely find shelter and salvation

Then he suddenly realized he has run to church. That it is a place where he will surely find shelter and salvation. With this thought, he caught his second wind, turned towards the tree-lined walkway leading to the church, rushed down the space between the gates and the entrance of the church, ran up the stairs towards the front door, grabbed the door handle, pulled... and it didn’t open.

He kept trying to open that door over and over again.... And so, in his empty attempts to open it, knowing that the monster is about to catch up with him, he wakes up.

I must say that when I heard this story, I didn't like the part where the door wouldn’t open. But the most terrifying thing here is this: Regardless of the fact that this man repented of his sin and went to confession, trying to become an active church member again, he was no longer able to return to church life!

Yet still, I do hope that, sooner or later, the door of the church will be opened for him. Because he did keep on pulling at its door handle... Perhaps one day, it will dawn on him to try to knock. He is a sincere and selfless man, and the doors are open to those who keep on knocking.

What we have gained from his personal experience is a perfect textbook story that can be on par with many other similar stories recorded from ancient times to our days, as in the Lives of the Desert Fathers, the Prologue, or the Patericon... Many of them say that people may not be forgiven for the sin of condemnation right away: some have to bear their punishment for many years! These stories serve to make us wise and fear the sin of condemnation more than all other sins altogether.

Nun Natalia (Kaverzneva)
Translation by Liubov Ambrose



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