It was silent in the village, as it was still dark. Samuel the young deacon went to the church early to participate in the Holy praises. He stopped at the door to listen to Cantor Mikhail singing a very sweet hymn, which filled his soul with spiritual joy. As he paid attention, he heard a well-known voice, that of Monk Agathen participating in the Sunday praises.
Monk Agathen Lived in a small cell on the roof of St. Mary’s church. He was responsible for the endowments of his monastery and the children’s classes joining the church. He used to teach Samuel reading, writing and memorizing the psalms.
Young Samuel entered the church, knelt before the altar and kissed Father Agathen’s hand. They all participated in praying the Holy praises under the light of the candles. How awesome is our church and how perfect are its rites!
All the children of the village, especially Samuel, loved their father and teacher Father Agathen. Monk Agathen had the gift of healing the sick. Samuel watched many of the miracles that God performed on Father Agathen’s hands.
Once a man rushed to Father Agathen’s cell. He forced the door of the cell open, which showed how much he was sad and worried. Father Agathen went with him home where his only son was lying sick with great fever. Because of his prayers, the son was healed at the moment. As he was going out, the man tried to present him a gift but he refused seriously. How can he take a price for what God has given him freely?
What attracted Samuel’s attention was the time which Father Agathen spent in his cell. He thought, “What does he do in his cell? Does he pray all that time? How does he pray?” He asked Uncle Stephen who bakes the Korban (The Holy Bread made for the Eucharist) but he gave no answer to satisfy Samuel’s curiosity.
At last, Samuel decided to discover himself. He went upstairs to the cell but Uncle Stephen saw him. He ran after Samuel and held his garment asking him, “what are you doing here?”
Of course Samuel did not tell him. He threatened to tell the cantor yet, Samuel did not fear for, he did not threaten to tell the monk.
What also attracted his attention was that the monk used to hide his face behind his cloak so that no one could see his tears during the Holy Mass. He thought, “Why does he weep and why that intensely?” His little mind could not answer all these questions. Moreover, He asked himself, why he felt awe when this father prayed the liturgy. Even the babes did not cry as usual and all people prayed with humility with tears filling the eyes of most of them. Why, when the monk’s voice was not lovely? He did not even tune the hymns correctly. Nevertheless, he seemed to be talking to God directly with no obstacles.
After some years, Samuel became a youth and his relation with Monk Agathen grew more intimate. They talked to each other much in the deep language of the spirit. They read the Bible and discovered its commandments and sweetness. With no reason, Samuel was worried. He felt that he was going to lose something significant.
As usual, he told his teacher and father about what worried him. Fr. Agathen comforted him saying that we do not possess anything in the world to worry about. The only thing that we should care for is our relation with heaven. Samuel’s heart was comforted; thus, he was able to bear what happened later courageously.
One day, while Fr. Agathen was praying the Liturgy during the Holy Lent, a black car stopped before the church. The passengers, an old man and an old monk with a white thick beard, entered the church. Fr. Agathen welcomed them very warmly after the Liturgy. As for Samuel, he did not felt at ease though he could not hate even an enemy. After dinner, the visitors left the village taking with them Fr. Agathen.
The fact was that his holiness the pope wanted to see the monk. He then ordained him a bishop over a city for the people there heard about his virtues and chose him. Samuel accepted to go with his teacher but his parents prevented him. Therefore, he bade his teacher farewell with warm tears. He stayed bearing many of his teacher’s characteristics.
On the appointed time, the people of the village felt a great need to have a good shepherd. They found no one but Samuel to bare the responsibilities of serving faithfully. The holy monk left the village but he left behind a fruit of love still walking in the village doing good.
An Illiterate Teaching me