The story about the construction of our cell reaches the time of its painting and of the lovely miracles that Saint Paraskeva worked to put her icon on one of the supporting pillars of our little church.
Here we are again my dear ones, to continue what we started. As we talked about, we started to build the cell after finishing the walls. We built it slowly, we even managed to cover the church with stone. So we laid the brick work for the cell, the church was even covered with stone. We can say that Mr. Becali helped us this far. After that, the Lord ordained something else. Because Mr. Becali couldn’t help anymore, he had his difficulties too, and God ordained… actually towards the beginning, someone came by here, and he had decided something; He had taken a thousand dollars from home, and he said [to himself], “Wherever I feel [that it’s the right place] that’s where I will give it in the Holy Mountain.”
And he came, we had just started, we were working at a certain level, let’s say. And when he saw, he said, “Father, look, I feel like giving you a thousand dollars.” And he said, “Because I have a website, if you want, give me some photos of what you have, how you started, how far you’ve gotten with the cell, how you built it up to this point, so I can post them and maybe people will help you. So they can see.” At first I did not want to, because I didn’t want contact with the internet, with these types of things. And I said, “I will ask my spiritual father”. When I went to Father Iulian I said, “Look, Father Iulian, what this man wants, he wants to help us in this way….” The Father said, “Let him do it, if he wants to do it, let him take pictures, give him what you have….”
And he started posting on there, he put photos, he put all these things, of course he also posted the information for a bank account that we had, for those who wanted to help, to be able to help. So the person did this with all his love. But at the same time, what did he think? He made a decision. He had read something in the Patericon, that someone was dividing the earnings from all his work, into three parts: a part for himself, a part for the poor, and a part for the churches. He was doing this. He [the man who came here] likewise thought, “Well, let me split it in two. Half for the family, the other half I use to help where I can,” he thought.
Well, after we made contact, he said, “Father, you know what I thought? That half I will use to help you with the cell, so you can continue…” because he saw that we had debts we had, as it is during a construction, so many things to get done. Interiors, everything, we were almost halfway done, because the cell was built, but those who have built know what it means to do the interiors and everything else. And the man started to help us. Well, from the moment he decided this, he started earning more and more in his work.
He marveled, his earnings doubled, then tripled. Honest work. And he began to help us, but the man, out of love, with zeal, when he saw that he began to earn more and more, he gave us, not half, he gave us 80%. He kept only what he needed for his family to get by, the rest he gave us. And he kept sending us [money], as time went on he kept sending us [money]. And we continued, of course, the debts were much higher here, but the man with a lot of love, whenever he had the opportunity he sent us [money], or when he arrived here… and there was a continuation so to speak, of course, within the limits that he could, not in the same amounts like how Mr. Becali helped us, but within his limits he helped us. And we started the painting of the church.
But before the painting started, let me tell you one thing. I really wanted a father painter from Sihastria Monastery. It is the monastery where I stayed, which is dear to me. And he was a painter who painted very beautifully. Father Modest. And when I went to Romania, I went to the abbot, who has gone to the Lord, Father Victorin, and I said to him, “Father, look, please, give me Father Modest…” I said, “Father, I will pay however much it costs, give him to me so that he may paint the church.” He says, “Yes, I’ll give him to you” since I had stayed there too, the father abbot had a lot of love and was very open. I actually talked to him, a little bit more, he had called me, there was a vigil then, in the altar, in the cathedral, and I talked to him some more there in the vestment room.
He said, “First let me have a little chat with the fathers to see.” Afterwards he discussed it with the fathers, and when I went the second time, he called me there again – he was a little grieved – and he said, “Father, I wanted to [grant your request] with all my heart, but there were some fathers who did not agree, (because they have a monastery council) they said, ‘Don’t we need him? Where would he go like that?'” Because I needed the father for about half a year, if he stayed continuously, to paint the church. Because our church is not that big. And then I said, “Father, but is there no way, what should I do?” He said, “Yes there is! Pray to the Mother of God! Pray to the Mother of God and she will arrange!” “Very well, father abbot” [I said].
And I began to pray to the Mother of God. And in this way it was resolved and the father came. No sooner had I returned, that shortly after me the father painter came and started painting the little church. He painted it, we can say, with prayer. The doors to the church were locked and he would stay inside and paint. I also gave him two other fathers from here to help him set the fresco, because it was done in fresco, here in the Holy Mountain it is rarely done in fresco. And the way that it’s done, it is the most resilient. And the father slowly began to paint. He painted for two months, then went back to Romania again for awhile. He came about three times like this, and painted the little church.
I’ve told the story somewhere before, and I will go back to it now. During the painting, and him advancing with it, I wished, because I had great piety towards St. Katherine, the Holy Great Martyr Katherine… I have always had [piety towards her]. It was the saint’s disposition for me to get to Sinai to stay for a week, at her monastery, I walked through all those mountains, it was really very beautiful, there have been miracles, wonderful things there, and I wanted St. Katherine somehow standing, to paint her on the right side, as I have my pew in the church, to have her to my right somehow, to paint St. Katherine on the pillar. And I told the painter, as that’s where the martyrs were, to paint the martyrs, and St. Katherine to be painted right there.
Dressed as a bride in a way, the bride of Christ, for she, as you know, received the engagement ring from the hand of Christ. The only martyr who received it directly, being on earth. Yes… And he painted her like that. On the left side, the painter was going to paint the venerable ones. And then he said to me, “Well, if on the right I painted the martyrs and I painted Holy Great Martyr Katherine, on the left I’m going to paint the venerable ones, on the same pillar that’s on the left, in order for it to be as it should be, I have to paint a venerable [female] saint, think of which one.” I thought about it… He said, “See which one you know.” I didn’t know which one to choose! I didn’t have, so to speak, a great piety towards just one, I had piety towards several venerable ones, but there wasn’t something so that I could choose.
And I said, “Give me a little time, I don’t know, let’s see what God, what the Mother of God ordains, as it is the church of the Mother of God, “The Entrance into the Temple.” And then I went to Romania, I think it was during the summer, something like that. I went to Romania and I got to the Venerable Parascheva in Iași. I venerated [her relics], and there I met a priest that I knew, who, when he saw me, said, “Father, do you want me to give you something from here, from the Venerable [Parascheva]?” I said, “Give me what?” He said, “A vestment that the Saint was dressed in somehow,” you know how the Saint’s garment is like there, he said, “It’s been changed and I have it and I want to give to you for Athos.” I said, “How could I not accept it? With great affection!”
And he gave me the garment, and I brought it to Athos. I came to Athos, as soon as I got to Athos, not long after, someone calls me, a person from Romania and says, “Father, do you want me to send you a cushion of St. Parascheva?” Because she has two cushions, as far as I understood, one under the head, one under the feet of the Venerable [Parascheva]. “Because I made others ones to switch them with the ones there, and they gave those ones to me, and I was thinking of sending them to…” I don’t know which monastery. “And then my boy (because that person had a boy, and they all knew me) said, ‘No mother, I really want to send it to Father Pimen in Athos.”’
And that’s when she called and asked me. “Would you like to receive a cushion of the Venerable [Parascheva]?” I said, “Of course I do, how could I not!” And shortly, she sent it to me. And that’s when I started wondering, “I wonder what the Venerable one wants from me?” So I went there with love and venerated, but I didn’t ask for anything. She sent me the garment, she sent me the cushion, I said, “Surely the Venerable one wants to be painted in the church.” And in this way, I told the painter, “When you get to the pillar, paint the Venerable Parascheva.” And he painted the Venerable Parascheva. And she turned out so beautiful, even with the hint of a smile, a spiritual [smile] somehow in the painting.
So somehow the Venerable [Parascheva] was pleased that we painted her. I would say, the Venerable one somehow got herself involved, she wanted to come here in the church of the Mother of God, to participate with something, to help. And I’ll tell you further. The painting continued and it was almost October, so it was close to October when the [feast day] of Venerable Parascheva was approaching. Well, the painting had advanced, and we had gotten to the end, as they say, and we were going to prepare, we wanted to do the consecration on November 21st. So then what did we do? We were at [the cell of] St. Artemius at that time, and we thought we’d have a vigil in honor of the Venerable Parascheva. And we had the vigil, nicely in the evening, from 6 o’clock.
And during the vigil at about 8 o’clock, someone from Romania called me, I was at the vigil and a father said, “Father, the phone rang, someone from Romania is looking for you right away.” I said, “Let’s see who it is.” And he said to me, “Father, how’s the situation over there, with the construction, do you still have debts?” It was the very person who I said was starting to help us… to help us out of whatever income he was making. And then he said, “Father, I want to send you an envelope”. I said, “Fine, as you wish.” He said, “But do you have someone coming?” [to send the envelope with] I said, “Tomorrow a person is coming here” it was actually a brother of mine who was coming to Athos. He met him on the fly as they say, he [my brother] was on the bus at the time, and he gave him an evelope, he brought it to me, it was exactly 5000 euros.
And at that time I was praying to the Mother of God, I said, “Mother of God, help me to have something to buy the vigil lamps with in the church and to make the holy vessels.” Why was I asking for that? Because at that time I was nearly 30 thousand euros in debt, it was about 25 thousand, something like that, and I had no possibility to buy the vigil lamps, the holy vessels, and I didn’t want to buy them out of any material, I wanted them to be silver. And when this envelope arrived I went straight to Athens to the little factories where they are made. And I started looking.
I had three weeks available, and I started to ask, “Who can meet the requirements of what I need with this amount of money and in this time?” I couldn’t find one anywhere. Eventually I found a place that said, “Father, we can fulfill this for the amount of money and within the given time.” So I left it with them and I left. Two days before the consecration, they sent them to me, beautiful vigils lamps, the holy vessels, everything that was needed. Everything I ordered for exactly that amount of money. And for the consecration we managed to put them all in the church, and we adorned the church. And who helped us? Just as I told you, it was exactly during the vigil of the Venerable Parascheva that the money was sent to us.
So the Venerable one helped us to adorn the church, and then immediately after the consecration, the next year when I went to Romania, I went to the Venerable [Parascheva] to thank her. And it was in the evening, I remember, I arrived in Iași, I went to the Venerable one, but, because it was evening, I went and I venerated [her relics] but I did not stay to pray there, I venerated and I went to a priest there – we had known each other for a long time- and I stayed overnight. Well, the next day I had to leave, the place I stayed was somewhere on the other side of Iasi.
And when I was about to leave, that priest said to me, “Follow me with your car so that I can take you out [of the city] on a bit of an easier road, so that you don’t have to go through the center”. I said, “Alright.” And I set off after him. Well, at one point I see him turning right, but I didn’t understand that I had to keep after him, and I went ahead. He turned again, came after me, stopped and said, “But I told you to follow me, come, I will take you a different way.” I said, “Alright.” I lost him again. Then I said, “Venerable [Parascheva], may I end up wherever you wish, if you want me to get on the right road, then may I end up there.”
But inside me there was something else. I wanted to get to the Venerable one one more time, and I went by chance. And I got right to the lower part of the cathedral by car, that’s exactly where the road took me. And then I said, “So the Venerable one helped me, and wanted me to get to her relics one more time.” I parked the car, I went to the Venerable one. So I stayed for the whole service, it was in the morning at 8, Orthros and Divine Liturgy from right behind the reliquary. And I spoke to the Venerable one and thanked her for everything she did.
And after I prayed at my leisure, the Liturgy was over, I went and looked for flowers. I went to lots of places, I couldn’t find them, until I found the flowers I wanted. And I came with them in my arms with love for the Venerable one. I thought, “At least this much to bring to her for everything she’s done for us.” Yes, so that’s how the Venerable Parascheva helped us, and of course now we honor her all the time with love, because she is one of our founders, we can say, here. Yes…
What can I tell you next? Later on, I will tell you other miracles, because many [miracles] have been worked here in time. So, as I told you, we managed to consecrate the church beautifully, afterwards we started having the Divine Liturgy every day here, we all moved here, it was actually in 2009 when we had the consecration for the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple. I’ll stop here, and in time, we’ll continue with the other miracles worked. May the Mother of God and Venerable Parascheva and all the saints help us. Lord help us!
May the Lord help us!
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