Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Miraculous Healing

   One day, I entered the office of Fr. Sophrony. I used to always seek for an opportunity to have contact with him. I would go two or three, or several times a day to see him. I never asked questions, but I always knew that he would say something to me, and every time he said something, it was an opening of a horizon, of a spiritual horizon. There were many times when just one word made me understand many things from the lives of the prophets and of the holy apostles and of the saints; just one word.
   Once, I went to see him in his office which was his confessional as well, and he said to me, “To all who enter this room, I put myself under them, in order to be able to help some of them.” Actually this is the task of the priests. We must never have self-assurance in the ordination the Church gave us and to walk with authority, but we must try and put ourselves under the people we are trying to help, under the people we are trying to serve. If we put ourselves humbly under the people we are serving, they will come to a sense of honour to open their heart and to receive our word.
   That was the thing which struck me more than anything in Fr. Sophrony’s life. I remember once someone came for prayers. He was suffering from gradual paralysis of his extreme members, and his family brought him. He was not a man of faith, he didn’t believe at all, his wife hardly believing, but his mother-in-law was very pious. They brought him for Fr. Sophrony to pray for his healing. Many times we witnessed cases that were healed, not every time, but many times, and we became so used to them that we didn’t pay any attention, and Fr. Sophrony didn’t pay attention himself to those things.
   So Fr. Sophrony wanted to help this man, and even I went with Fr. Ephrem, to London to his house, and performed an unction with holy oil, and they gave him one or two books to read, trying to revive him, because he was not faithful, however he was seeking healing from a priest.
   Afterwards, he somehow became more soft, more accepting, and they brought him for the second time to Fr. Sophrony for prayers. Fr. Sophrony told me the reason why the first time the man was not healed, it was due to a presence of a certain person. So when they brought him the second time Fr. Sophrony read the three customary prayers from the prayer book, and as he barely finished the third prayer he lifted up his epitrachelion with sadness, and he said to him, “We are not wonderworkers. We are just priests, trying to help people to be reconciled with God.” And this man looked at him with a very nice face, pale and shining, and with a smile, and he said to him, “Yes, my body has not been healed, but while you were reading the prayers, my soul was healed, and now I believe.”
   Fr. Sophrony, after that incident, became so happy and so rejoicing, more than when he saw cases of physical healing after his prayer, because that was his target. He always said that there is no greater miracle in the whole universe than the union of man’s heart with the spirit of God, and that was the miracle which he was targeting and to which he was ministering.

Excerpt from the Q&A section of the “Domestic Theology” presentation given by Archimandrite Zacharias at Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, New York, USA, 2014.