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Short Stories (Stories for the Youth), book by Father Tadros Yacoub Malaty

199- Strange Godfathers

 

(The original copy of the story is taken from transcript 92 available at the Monastery of Great Saint Anthony)

Father patriarch met with a group of his sons whom he knew in person. After welcoming them, one of them said, "Forgive us father Patriarch. We came to your holiness to reveal a problem which was worrying us."

God will solve it my sons.

There is a lady who is living beside us and is known to all the city for her bad reputation. She opens her home for men and spoils the morals of the youth.

What is strange is that some weeks ago she came to my wife knocking at the door. She was really sick and weak. It seemed that she was really ill. She revealed all her disgraceful past to my wife and asked her to accompany her to the church and be her sponsor and God-Mother in front of the priest. My wife refused, as she knew that till recent times this lady was committing a lot of sins and was trapping others in them. My wife was concerned that her repentance might be temporary because of her illness and that shed go back to her past. In short, my wife didnt accept to be her godmother and was worried about her kids for fear of her bad conduct. So she spoke harshly to her so as to discourage her from coming again to her house.

St-Takla.org Image: A repent woman in awe, with the Holy Spirit - by Amgad Wadea صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: امرأة تائبة، في حالة صلاة وتأمل - الروح القدس - رسم أمجد وديع

St-Takla.org Image: A repent woman in awe, with the Holy Spirit - by Amgad Wadea

صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: امرأة تائبة، في حالة صلاة وتأمل - الروح القدس - رسم أمجد وديع

However, I heard from some of our brothers, that she approached them within these days and they did what we did. All people were worried that she might mislead their sons into folly. According to my point of view, as long as she was serious in her repentance, we should support her wisely for her redemption even if the whole city hears about her disgraceful reputation.

Forgive me my father! Could she be baptized soon?

No, we should give her some time to test the truth of her repentance.

Whats strange, my father, is that my wife saw her yesterday wearing a white dress which made my wife suspicious. So my wife asked her, "Why are you wearing this dress?"

The lady said that she was baptized and that she would stay for a week in white.

Are you sure of this?

Here is my wife. You can ask her.

What did the lady say?

My Father, she said that she has been baptized and that she would wear white for a whole week. Truly, my father, she was rejoicing. But I couldnt sleep all night as I was worried about her return to her past, especially, she did not quit her wicked life, as I believe, except after her illness. As before her illness, her house was the source of our worries because of those men coming in and out of our street.

Did she tell you who baptized her?

She said father so-and-so.

Don't worry my children. I know that the said priest is a wise and a prudent person. I think that he wouldnt baptize a person unless he was sure that she had a reliable godmother responsible for her life. Ive never heard that he rushed into baptizing any one. Ill summon him and check this issue with him.

All the people left the patriarch trusting that he would personally take care of this.

The said priest was welcomed decently by the patriarch and then was asked,

Ive heard that so-and-so was baptized.

Yes my father patriarch. Im the one who baptized her two days ago.

Do you know her beforehand?

Absolutely not, but I have heard about her as her disgraceful reputation was known all over the city.

How could you baptize her so fast?

Two days ago, she came to me with three distinguished persons from the city whom your holiness know and trust. They confirmed her repentance and pledged in front of God and me - and in the room of the deacon - that she repented and required urgent baptism.

Why didnt you ask for postponement?

I did try a lot but my confidence in them urged me to baptize her at their responsibility in front of God as they became her entrusted God Fathers.

Ill check with them. Would you object to that?

No, Im ready to confront them.

The holy patriarch summoned urgently the three men. Then he asked one of them,

Do you know that lady?

I heard about her but Ive never met her.

The priest was surprised and embarrassed and his face blushed and asked him again,

How come you didnt meet her?

Ive never met her my father.

Didnt you bring her for baptism with the other two men two days ago?

I for myself, Ive never seen her or brought her to you.

The other two men answered with the same words.

The father patriarch was surprised because of these denials and was confused. Yet he fully trusted his respectable priest as well as the three men.

The priest tried to control his emotions and quickly said to them,

Did you not come to me two days ago with the lady and asked me to baptize her and you were her God Fathers?

One of them answered,

This is strange, my father, Ive never seen you before this day and this is the first time, I know that this lady was baptized. We all know her bad reputation, how could we introduce her to baptism? How could we be her godfathers? Are you sure of what you are saying?

The priest answered, "Yes, The deacon was present. Hes there. Lets ask him."

The holy patriarch felt the seriousness of the situation. He summoned the deacon who greeted the three people. When the patriarch inquired, "What do you know of this lady?"

The deacon said, "I hear about her bad name. But two days ago, I attended part of the rites of her baptism and I was totally surprised how this lady was baptized and how such honorable people like these would sponsor her.

At this moment, the three men were surprised and asked, " Did you see us with your eyes?"

He said, "Yes and you were her God Fathers."

The priest was relieved and sighed. The three men were greatly terrified and insisted to summon the said lady.

The lady came into the patriarchate in her white clothes with a big smile. She met all the people there. The patriarch asked her quietly, "I wish to know how were you baptized."

She answered, My father, I felt greatly bitter and was eager to enjoy the secret of baptism but my evil past closed their hearts and I dont blame them for that.

Two days ago, I was weeping bitterly for long hours till God opened the hearts of these three men. They knocked at my door and asked me to rise with them and go to my father the priest. This deacon was present and I was baptized and this was my heart's wish.

God has fulfilled my heart's request and lightened my mind and my life has changed from darkness to light. Ive enjoyed resurrection after I was dead with sin.

Truly I say, my father Patriarch, I owe my whole life to these beloved men and to my father the priest. Its God who blessed them with the virtue of concealing my sins. God compensate them and their children.

Tears of joy came down from her eyes and all were silent. One of the men tried to check with the lady again. However, the holy patriarch asked him to be silent and asked the lady to go out for a while. Then he said to the men, "I thank you all for your love. But I would like to tell you a secret, all of you are saying the truth and there is a miraculous secret in the story of this lady, which we should know. I'll sit with her to know the truth of her baptism."

The patriarch excused and then he asked the lady, "Were these three men your God Fathers?"

The lady answered in surprise, "Ask them my father. I didnt ask them but they themselves came and requested me to do that."

Do you know them beforehand?

Never.

Why did they come?

I dont know.

Then the father patriarch closed his eyes and pleaded to God to reveal the secret of these men. God declared to him that three angels came to support her when all people refused to help her.

Then the patriarch asked her, "Did you perform any act of love?"

Could an adulterous woman like me do good things?

 Before your sinful life, did you do one good thing in your youth?

She remained quiet for some time then said, In my youth, I was walking beside a field. I found a person tying a rope on a tree and he stood on a chair to hang himself. I felt great pain so I went to him and asked what he was doing. He answered saying that he borrowed a lot of money and he could not pay his debts so he thought of suicide.

I cried in front of him bitterly and said to him, "Would you lose all your life because of money?"

He answered, "What should I do as I could not pay my debts?"

"I'll give you all what I have but dont harm yourself."

He responded to my pleading and left the tree and came with me home. I gave him all what I had of money and jewelry. I became poor and underwent a hard crisis so I was forced to sell my body for sin several times.

As I lost my purity, my life turned into adultery until God declared His love and allowed me to undergo a chronic illness and I was about to die. I implored God to give me another chance for repentance. Ive already done so but I couldnt find a person who could sponsor me for baptism. Then God sent me these blessed men.

Then the father patriarch sighed and said, "God is not unfair to forget any deed of love. You saved a person from the death of the body so God sent His angels to make you enjoy the redemption from the death of the soul. God loves you even if all the people closed their hearts in front of you.

The father patriarch went out to the priest and his deacon and the three men and told them about God's miraculous deeds and His eternal love. All felt elated and went out thanking God who does not forget our humble deeds of love, even if we forget them ourselves.

→ English translation of the story here at St-Takla.org: الإشبين الغريب.


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