Confession, Deed and Recompense – Father Pimen Vlad8 September 2022
Words Can Be a Form of Violence – Father Theologos6 December 2022
Watch a short clip of Father Pimen Vlad who talks to us about the remembrance of death and about repentance, starting from the lives of some very well-known people in ancient times: Alexander of Macedon and St. Moses the Black.
Alexander the Great
He ordered a stone coffin to be made for him, with two holes on the sides, and so to take him to the pit with his palms spread out, open, and his best doctors to walk around the coffin and always throw gold money. And they asked him why, and he said, “let everyone see that my best doctors couldn’t save me, they couldn’t lengthen my life, and I, who conquered half the world, leave this world with bare palms, without taking anything with me, and all the gold I gathered has no value anymore.”
So he also understood, as they say, in his last moments, that everything else is vanities. We take nothing with us. Therefore, let us take care and try not to hate, not to remember evil, because all this turns against us. Neither does God have mercy on us, and we leave this life without gaining eternity. As beyond there is no more forgiveness. Therefore, let us make clean confessions and forgive all those around us, so that then we do not get what has been said in the Gospel.
Saint Moses the Ethiopian
And we see one more thing: today is the holy Moses the Black, or the Ethiopian, who was of Ethiopia. Think of the greatest robber of those times. No one could catch him, not even the soldiers of the emperor, the army. He was of huge power, it is said that he was two meters tall, and no one could fight him. He was the leader of the robbers and had done all possible evils, murders and everything else.
And when God wanted him to return [to Him], he gave him a dream in which a river of fire passing through caught him and carried him downhill. Even with all his strength that he had, he still could not resist and began to feel the pains of fire and torments. At that moment he woke up and realized what awaits him for all the things he had done. Then he gave up the robbery, everything he did, and went to a monastery to repent. He confessed and said that he renounces everything and wants to earn the Kingdom of Heaven.
He stayed in the monastery, made obedience and ascesis, did the hardest obedience for many years, and eventually the father from the monastery gave him a more secluded hut in which he was to pray alone. It is said that at some point the robbers came to rob him, they were in fact the robbers he had previously been with. When they entered his hut — at that point he was also weaker, drying from fasting — they didn’t recognize him — he had a big beard — and then he said, “Take whatever you want from this cell, just don’t take this dish,” as there was a custom there: they had a dish which they went to church with.
But the robbers did not listen to him. They took everything, and also took the dish. Then he caught all four of them, tied them up, put two on one shoulder, and the others on the other shoulder and went with them to church. He threw them in the middle of the church and said to the fathers, “You judge them as I cannot do it.” And then the robbers, when they saw what power he had, asked the fathers: “but who is this man?”. “He is your former chief, the one who lead you before,” and when they heard this, that he had given up everything and became a monk, they also gave up everything and stayed in the monastery and became monks.
Saint Moses reached such a holiness that it is said that once the parents of the wilderness prayed to see what holiness it is, and they saw a ship led by the angels of God feeding Saint Moses with honeycombs. He had come to a great deal of love, he who, we can say, had been a murderer, an evildoer before. He had reached so much mercy that he would embrace everyone who came to him.
So do you see how God works for every sinner, no matter how great they are?
God has a way of repentance, He gives any sinner the chance to save himself. Therefore, we must never despair no matter how much we fall. There is always a way to rise, but we need repentance, confession, and to start correcting our lives. This way, we can gain the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, as the holy fathers say, humility lifts us up to the gates of heaven — so we need humility — and mercy opens them to us.
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