No good deed is done without trials and tribulations. Find out what the trials and tribulations were during the construction of our cell, and what was ultimately the result of them.
Look dear ones, we are together again! We will continue a little bit, going further ahead. I chose a place…look, there is a loaded cherry tree, I do not know how much you can see, that cherry season has come. They ripened, they’re very good, we have a few cherry trees, some ripening earlier, others later. We have strawberries, we have everything in the garden. Right in the orchard we also have wild strawberries, you know like the ones that can be found in wild forests, we have those, we have strawberries in the garden, and we also have cherry trees.
The Mother of God blessed us with everything. She never leaves us, there’s always an abundant harvest. Like how one of the fathers would say, “Well, the boyar is rich,” that is, God has plenty from which to give when He wants, He gives us plenty of everything.
But we must entrust ourselves to Him, just like how it is beautifully said in the Holy Scripture, “Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and all things will be added to you.” Everything else. Which means, if we put God first, Heaven, that is, we take care in this transient life to make it to the other, [if] we prepare for that, well, God takes care of the rest. He takes care, in His goodness, so beautifully…
Yes, and let’s continue a little bit. Don’t think that everything was rosy, as they say. Especially those who build churches know this, there are also temptations, quite great temptations. The devil does not sleep, when he sees that you are starting to build a church. When you build a house… it’s a house, but a church means that the Divine Liturgy will be served there.
And think, since 2009, when we consecrated the church, we’ve had the Divine Liturgy everyday. And then the devil does not like that, as that is where heaven descends to earth, the grace of God during the Divine Liturgy. So then he tries to stop it.
And there were quite a lot of temptations, don’t think otherwise, from all directions. But I knew that the Mother of God wanted me to do this work and it didn’t stop me, no matter what temptations arose. And with the workers we had many [temptations]. Don’t think otherwise. And I could tell, that they, as humans, weren’t bad people, but something always stirred them up.
We agreed on a price at first. They said, “This is how much we want.”
“Alright, that’s how much I will give you. Look, I will even give you a bit more so that everything is well.”
After a month, “Oh, we’re dissatisfied, we want you to give us this much more.”
“I’ll give you that much more.” After another two months,
“Oh, we want this much more,”
“I’ll give you that much more.”
And at a certain point I got to my limit and I said, “I’m not giving you more. “
“Oh, you are wronging us, we are working.”
So starting from something, they were climbing monthly, and I realized that the devil would not leave them in peace.
Or when we cleaned up, when we finished the house and we cleared down in the ravine, in the valley, how many spoons, how many forks we found…, a couple of drills, only to learn afterwards that some of them, when they did not like the spoon, they threw it directly in the ravine. And they would say to me, “Father, we don’t have spoons anymore, we don’t have forks anymore.”
Or there was one of the craftsman, if he thought that the drill was not working well, he’d throw it in the ravine. That’s why I found a couple of drills thrown into the ravine afterwards. That is, someone stirred them up, as they say, someone did not leave them alone to work with love, so that they would also benefit. No, many times…
The rest of the time, the work was going well. But there were moments when you thought you could not make yourself understood. [They were] dissatisfied. And I was trying to bring them everything they needed, so they wouldn’t lack anything. And they kept coming forward.
I assigned a cook to them. “What do you want?” I brought them food, “Father we want to have a glass of moonshine, one of wine, at noon, in the evening…” “Very well” I said. At one point, “Father, we are tired of this, we want beer.”
I mean, there was always something. Or on non-fasting days, there was always cheese, “Ah, we are tired of white cheese, we want cheddar cheese.” So there were things all the time, you would say, hold on a minute, I asked one of the workers who also worked somewhere else, “How did they treat you there?”
He said, “I’ve never seen moonshine and wine, just one beer on Saturdays, once a week.”
I was thinking, I gave them everything and anything. But I realized that the devil did not sit around. If you gave him one thing, he wanted something else. All the time just to stir them up.
But the Mother of God helped. We would get passed it, and kept going. There were also little things that they didn’t want to listen to me about, they did as they wanted, and I had to fix them later, because always, where there’s disobedience, things don’t work out properly. I would say, “Here it’s not going to turn out right, do it this way,” “No, Father, because we know” and of course it would come out bad. And then I had to, at my own expense, fix that thing.
So I told you a little bit so you can see this other side as well. That, truly, during any construction of a church, the devil does not sleep. He sticks his tail in it, as they say, as hard as he can, if possible to stop the work. But there is the grace of God and of the Mother of God that does not allow it. And now, let’s move on.
I know that, as I have told you, we had erected, and also covered the church with stone, and just the roof of the church cost us 20 000 euros to do. That was just for the laying of the stone, that is, the preparation with everything there was, with tar paper, with everything on top, after that the stone being laid, everything. Because here the stone is in big tiles like this, brought from a mountain in Kavala, they come carved on the spot, just how shingles are done in Romania. Just like shingles are laid, likewise the stone is laid. So it requires a lot of work and good craftsmen.
And the house remained uncovered, the church was covered, the house was only covered with tar paper. And of course, I put some laths, I nailed them, so as not to rain inside. But in time I would have to get to this job as well, to cover it with stone.
Of course, there was no money, and so, as always, the hope was on high, in the Mother of God. What do we do and how do we move forward? And I know it was, somewhere around June, something like that, and I was praying to the Mother of God, “Mother of God, help us cover the house too,” because if winter comes and catches us with it like this… because when we added the tar paper we also put laths that were nailed down. And those holes widened, from the heat, from the tar paper, and if we were going to get one of those winters where it rained for weeks, water would get inside all over the house. And then I said, “Mother of God, help us to succeed in doing this, to cover it, as you know best.”
Of course we had debts. We always had debts. For the duration of the work, we had debts permanently, that is, from a little to a lot. When I say a lot, I am not just saying that…
And I was once at a vigil at the big church at the center of the Skete, where we, the fathers, gather from all over the Skete, to the vigil there, on special days, on Sundays, for feast days… and it was during the vigil.
At some point, when there are longer vigils you get tired; I went outside, since I had all the building work to do, you can imagine, I couldn’t always rest as much as I needed to. And I went outside a little bit, around the church to move around and I was doing a few prostrations, to warm up the engine, to thaw out. As I was there, someone comes up to me and asks me, “Father, have you managed to cover the house?” Because generally speaking, those who passed by here knew it was uncovered, I said, “I didn’t cover it.”
After that he said, “But around how much money would be needed to commemorate someone, after you consecrate the place, alongside the founders, to be permanently commemorated?” I said, “Well, added there, to be commemorated permanently, for however long the church lasts, are those who help more, with larger amounts, or more materials, that is, those who have contributed because those are written as founders and are permanently commemorated. Even if we die, the next ones will permanently [commemorate].
Alright, so he left. At the end of the service he came forward before me when I was about to leave for my cell. He said “Father, look, here is an envelope for you, you have 25 000 euros. Is it enough to be commemorated with the founders?”
I said, “How can it not be enough, of course, it’s a big amount.”
He said, “Look, about this money…. I saved it in time, to do different things, but I prayed to the Mother of God, ‘Mother of God, where should I invest it, in this work or this one?'” (whatever he had planned). And he said, “I received notice from the Mother of God, and she told me, ‘Give it to Father Pimen to cover his house.'”
I did not ask him how he received [notice] I did not go into details…
He said, “Please don’t tell anyone, here it is.” He gave us the list of names, “To commemorate us” [he said].
And that is how I received 25 000 euros. Of course I came home, I said “All set, the Mother of God gave us [money] for the roof.” But there was another problem. The craftsman who had covered our church, he was very good, for 30 years he worked only in this type of stone. And he was wanted everywhere. And I knew that he always had work for at least a year in advance. However, I said I would call him anyways to see when he could schedule me. And I called him. I talked to him. Thasos was his name.
“How are things, do you have jobs?”
He said, “Oh, Father, I do, for this year and into the next.”
“Well, and how should we do this?”
“What?” he asked.
“Well look, I want to cover the house now, I have everything I need, we just need to cover it.”
He’s said, “You know what? I have just finished a job today. And in 2 weeks I have something else to do. I have a break between these jobs. If you want I can come in two days and start the job.”
I said, “How could I not want you to?”
He said, “But prepare everything, have new tar paper on the house, glued as it is with a kind of tar, and bring the stone, order it at Kavala, I will tell you from where exactly, the type we work with, and we will come.”
I immediately called someone, a driver from outside [the mountain] who was in charge of bringing us materials, and I said, “Go to this place in Kavala and urgently bring me one of those big cars full of stone.”
“Consider it done, Father, tomorrow I’ll go and bring it to you.”
After that we needed tar paper. The next day I quickly went to Kareya and they had enough of the tar paper that we needed. I brought in all the fathers I had, I asked a few neighbors to quicky help us take everything off, the old tar paper. And we started, I know we stayed up almost all night to make it. We pulled out the old one, and had to replace it with the new one. It had to be glued, it had to be put, we also ordered sand, we ordered cement, everything that we needed to have. And in 3 days, we solved everything. We prepared everything and the third day the craftsman came. And he got to work, slowly, beautifully.
And I had somewhat made plans, for that money. At first the fathers were looking at me like… they knew we had big debts… [big] sums… I was indebted everywhere and I was starting the roof. I hadn’t said anything to anyone. The person had asked me not to tell anyone, and they were looking at me like “But how do we pay?” we were almost 40 000 in debt, so it was a lot, and they thought I was starting another job on credit. And then I said to them “Rest assured that the Mother of God is taking care of it.” And she did. I didn’t give them the details.
And the craftsmen started working. I kept making plans, after I paid for all the materials, I said, the work is not that much, I think there will be some [money] left over. To be able to continue with something else… And the boys worked for more than 2 weeks, because it took awhile, but they stayed for a few more days, they postponed the other job, so that they could finish. And they worked nicely here, there were, I am not sure, 2 craftsmen, and 2-3 helpers who handed them stuff, chiseling the rock, as there was quite a bit of work to be done. And they finished the job.
When they measured and brought me the calculation, it was exactly the amount of money that I had left over after paying for the material and everything. It was exactly that amount of money. So the Mother of God had arranged exactly 25 000 euros for the cost of the job, with nothing left over.
And I realized that the Mother of God gave me exactly the sum to cover the house. Do you see how beautifully the Mother of God worked? When I didn’t expect it. In those moments I really was not expecting a cent from anyone. There wasn’t anyone who had offered, or who had said, “Father, look, I’ll be helping you.” It was at a time when nothing was coming from anywhere. We were in debt, we kept going.
It’s at the mercy of the Mother of God, I said. But the Mother of God, if I said to her, “Mother of God help us to cover the house,” immediately in a week’s time she took care of it. The duration of the job was almost 3 weeks, so within a month I had the house covered beautifully, as it is now, with stone.
So the kindness of the Mother of God is great and she helps us, but we have to put our trust in her completely. That is, not in half-measures, like, “Let’s see, maybe the Mother of God will help and I still see what I can do….”
No! When we put our trust in her, let us ask her wholeheartedly and sincerely. “Mother of God, you see the situation.” I have never been in the habit of asking the Mother of God for money. Always “Mother of God help me solve this problem, help me in this….” But not “Mother of God give me money!” Never that. I would let her decide in which way to help me. I would just tell her the problem, like to a mother, “Look, this hurts me, I have this, you know what is better, help me so that all will be well, so that it is resolved.”
And in this way the house was covered. In the meantime we had moved into it, slowly, slowly we had arranged it inside, the house was covered, as they say, everything was beautiful now. Covered and built, we could say, the house was done.
So the Mother of God helped us so beautifully as I told you, to build the church, the house, we consecrated it… It was so beautiful at the consecration, peaceful. Many fathers came then, I know that the little church was full, it was beautiful, the Divine Liturgy, the consecration.
And I have told you in many videos of Sabbas, the Greek, who I have been friends with for more than 20 years; He came to the consecration too, as he would come as often as he could. It was consecrated, everyone withdrew, all the worshippers who were here left, and he stayed another 2 days. I was sitting with him in the salon, there was a silence the grace was there after the Divine Liturgy, and he said, “How beautiful it is here, how much peace there is here! I am so glad Gheronda that you have fulfilled this dream, the little cell of the Mother of God that you wanted, you consecrated it and you have such a beautiful place here.”
Because, this cell is also the highest within the Skete, you’ve seen from the videos before, there is a wonderful view. There is the peak of the Athon, an opening to the sea, everything in the sun… It is so beautiful! That is, it is a small corner of heaven.
And the little church came out the way I wanted. I always said “Mother of God, for the house it doesn’t matter, but I want the little church to be the most beautiful in the Skete, not the most beautiful in Athos, but in the Skete here. Because there were several that were built, but may it turn out the most beautiful.” And it really did turn out how I wished it to.
Because the little church was made, arranged by the Mother of God, as I told you that I received an icon from the beginning with The Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple without knowing, with being told why I received a gift. Now, when I received that icon, I said, “This is the icon of the Mother of God, the church will be built after this icon.”
And that’s when I calculated: How many icons are needed? Four icons, the Savior, the Mother of God, The Entry into the Temple (the icon we had received), and St. John the Baptist on the other side. Good. What size is the icon? This big. So 4 icons of this size. Plus the deacon doors, the royal doors, and have this framed, the pillars that are there, everything. How much does it measure? This much. It means that this is what the Mother of God wants the width of the church to be. And of course the church came out to be 6 meters in width. And then I said, “The church has to be like a ship. 6 meters wide, we will make it 10 meters long.”
And the little church turned out so beautiful, painted and everything, exactly as I wished. The most beautiful in the Skete here. It was my wish and the Mother of God fulfilled it for me. It was so dear to me after the consecration, I went to church every day, and after the service, I would sit and look. I looked at the little church, I looked at the icons, the saints, I was rejoicing so much, I couldn’t get my fill of it. It was exactly, I have a saying, “Like the glass of a vigil lamp,” meaning bright, beautiful, luminous, clean.
So the Mother of God took care of everything. Because it’s her little church, the little church of The Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple. What does this mean? I would always imagine it. The Mother of the Lord comes at 3 years old, like she was brought to the temple, and enters our little church.
Who is the Mother of God? The Queen of Heaven and Earth. How should the little church be? It has to be gorgeous, everything always has to be clean because the Mother of God enters the church. That’s why there’s one more thing, that at first seemed a bit strange to many, but now they have all adapted and are very pleased with it. Because we keep the church clean, we have a beautiful burgundy, clean carpet, we have put slippers at the door in the salon, and everyone takes off their shoes and puts slippers on, with which they enter the church. I said we want to keep the little church clean, and it really is clean all the time.
So I have spoken to you about the little church of the Mother of God, about the love of the Mother of God, about the kindness of the Mother of God. I’m going to stop here and we will continue in the future with what I can remember. Because time has passed and I keep forgetting many things, I have forgotten them, I will try to remember and tell you.
Yes, my dear ones! May the Mother of God help us, and keep us safe! God help us!
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May the Lord help us!
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