On Denying Christ

A certain monk, simple according to intellect, was a disciple of the holy Paisios (St. Paisios the Great ca. 320-417), obeying well all his commandments. One time he went into Egypt to sell handiwork. On the road he met a certain Hebrew, and he went together with him. When he recognized the simplicity of the monk, he poured forth with his foul tongue the poison of the soul-destroying serpent which he had in his heart, and said to him: “O monk, why do you believe in the Crucified One with such simplicity and so haphazardly, when He is not the expected Messiah? Because another will be he, and not the one in which you Christians believe.”

The monk out of guilessness and simplicity of heart, fell into error and said: “Perhaps it is thus, just as you say.”

And at once, alas, the calamity that the misfortunate one suffered! He feel from the Grace of Holy Baptism, as will be made manifest from the following. When he returned to the desert and the divine Paisios saw him, Paisios completely rejected him and did not even want to see him or talk with him, but turned away from him.

The disciple saw that the elder was avoiding him. He grieved bitterly and wished to know the cause. Wherefore, he fell at his feet and said to him: “Father, why is it that you turn away from me, the wretched one, and do not wish to see me, but loathe me as an abomination, a thing formerly you did not do to me?”

The elder said: “And who are you, O man, for I do not know you?”

The disciple said to him: “And what unusual thing do you see, O father, in me, that you do not recognize me? Is it not I, your disciple?”

And Paisios said: “That disciple of mine was a Christian and possessed baptism, while you are not he. If you are that disciple of mine, recognize this, that the baptism and the symbol of Christians has abandoned you. Tell me, what happened to you and what did you go through on the road?”

Lamenting and wailing, he told him: “Nothing at all happened, Father.”

And the elder said to him: “Go away from me, child, because I cannot bear to hear the speech of a man who has denied Christ, for if you were a disciple of mine, I would recognize you just as before.”

Then the miserable monk sighed and groaned, shedding tears that moved the elder to compassion. He insisted that he was his same disciple and not another, and that he did not know at all what crime it was that he had committed, nor that he did any evil.

Then the great Paisios said to him: “With whom did you speak on the road as you were going?” the disciple answered him: “With a Hebrew I was conversing, and with no one else.”

Paisios continued: “What did the Hebrew say to you and what did you reply?” “He said but one thing to me, that the One Whom we Christians worship is not Christ, but another one is he which shall come. And I told him: ‘Perhaps it is thus, as you say.'”

The the elder said to him: “O miserable one, what is worse or more shameful than that which you said? O wretched one, with that you denied Christ and were divested of holy baptism, Well then, go weep for yourself as you wish. You have nothing to do with me anymore, because your name is written together with those who denied Christ and with them you will receive damnation.”

The disciple heard these things and groaned from the depths of his soul. With lamentation and wailing he said: “Father, have mercy on me, the unfortunate one. I know not what to do, for due to my carelessness and inattention I have rejected divine baptism and have become the prey of demons. However, it is to you that I turn to after God for refuge, do not, therefore, neglect me, the miserable one.”

In like manner, the disciple besought him with tears more than with words, and the elder was moved to compassion. He said to him: “Have patience, child, I will supplicate the compassion and mercies of the man-befriending God on your behalf.”

These things he said and entreated God fervently, seeking forgiveness for his disciple. And God did not tarry, but immediately H forgave the sin of the disciple, and again made him worthy of the Grace of holy Baptism. For Paisios saw the Holy Spirit entering the mouth of the disciple as a dove, and the spirit of blasphemy came out and vanished like smoke, dispersing into the air; thus was the blessed one informed concerning his prayer, and he turned to the disciple saying:

“Glorify God, child, and thank Him together with me, because the unclean spirit of blasphemy has come out of you, and instead you have received the Holy Spirit and the Grace of Baptism has been returned to you. So then, be watchful that you not fall again into the trap of impiety out of carelessness and negligence, nor betray your soul, and that you not burn in the fire of hell for some similar sin.”

And, in this manner, he corrected the disciple. (Saint Paisios the Great, pp. 29-31)