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In this video recording, Abbot Ephraim recounts his meeting with an atheist at Vatopaidi Monastery, Mount Athos, Greece.

Wisdom from Mount Athos (WMA) Series
Video source: ΕΛΛΑΣ ΟΡΘΟΔΟΞΙΑ

Fr. Ephraim:
“Some days ago a student came here.
His high school teacher phoned me (he knew me) and said, “Father, someone is coming!”
And this child was the first in his school.
But he is an atheist“, he told me, “I talked at length with him. I was his teacher for three years. From the first to the third year of high school. And I could not convince him.”
And he said to me, “Give him a little attention!”
Of course, I didn’t know the child. He came here.
However, I told the guestmaster, “Someone will arrive, please bring him to me.”
They brought the kid to me, I talked to him, he had such a boldness… “…and what are you doing here, what is your role? Let’s see you in the world…”
So… I let him talk.
“I’m not going to kiss your hand, just so that you know”, he told me.
I said to him, “You better spit on it, to calm yourself down!” However, he did not spit.
I talked to him. I listened to him for a while.
He said, “How should I address you? Father?” “As you wish”, I said, “it does not matter how you call me.”
Finally, I allowed him to tell me a lot of things, then I left.
He left and came the next day. He stayed here for three days.
He said, “I want to talk to you”. “Well, we already talked…”, I replied. “I do not have time, there are others who ask for me and have a spiritual benefit… But you…”
“No”, he says, “we are serious today!” Yesterday it was not serious.
Finally, I spoke with the boy… I started to see that he was worried…
He says to me, “Forgive me for telling you these things, I spoke to you with insolence!”
“I now see that the monks are not as I expected, as I imagined… For the monks to be so willing to serve us with such goodwill… it means something is happening, something exists, it can not be otherwise! Otherwise, these people can not stay here willingly. I asked some of them how they came here and I thought you were a kind of a big gangster and you gathered them here”, this is how he told me.
I said, “My child, the gangsters are somewhere else, not here!”
I want to say that the child confessed and left on the third day.
And why did I tell you that? It is the atmosphere of this place! The graceful atmosphere of the place! And what we have here is the grace of the Most Holy Mother of God.
The Most Holy Mother is the one who protects this place. You will tell me: “But doesn’t she protect other places?” Yes, she does, she is the mother of all!
However, here, in the Holy Mountain, there is something special!”

 

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