In this video recording, Metropolitan Pavlos of Sisanion and Siatista (+2019) tells us a real story of an old woman who confessed to him and preferred rather to go to hell than to forgive her neighbor. The metropolitan then used a harsh method, which ultimately proved successful.
Video source: Άγιος Δημήτριος Ορθόδοξη Παρουσία
April 19, 2016, Church of St. Demetrios, Vironas, Greece
I went to a village to confess people. An old lady came. She also had these [short of] stupid disputes.
You will probably ask “how stupid can they really be?” I will give you an example.
Fifteen years ago, the chicken of the one entered the house of the other and this is the reason why they won’t talk to each other for 15 years now. “More stupid than the chicken themselves!”
I am telling her: “Grandma, those are not nice things, go make friends with another. You are relatives, those are stupid differences.”
“No” the grandma answers. “I am older than him!”
I am telling her: “Grandma, listen! First of all, you were the one who came here to confess. Had he been the one to come, I would have said the same to him. But now, you stand before me, and I am the confessor. And since you came, I am telling it to you. And you have to do it!”
The grandma refused to listen. Hoping “to wake her up”, I say: “Grandma, have you realized something?”
“What?” she says.
“Your one foot is already in the grave. Soon, your second will be there and your whole body too… If we put you in the grave and you have not forgiven the man, you are going to hell Do you get it now?”
What did the grandma answer me?
“Even if I am headed to hell, he is not even getting a single “good morning” from me!”
Do you know what I did? I send the grandma away in a really bad way… I almost kicked her out of the church… she had it coming… I am telling her: “Get out of here now!” The grandma lost it… “Did you hear what I said? Get out of here right now!”
Grandma did not expect such a behavior but I have to confess that my indignation was real! You see a man who prefers hell to forgiveness? He is a demon!
While leaving she told me: “But I am coming here, every single day, to light the candles [of the church]…”
“Worthless whatever it is!” I tell her
“I am doing every single day repentances …”
“Worthless, all of them!”
I send the grandma away. I did not regret it for one moment and you will see why this was the right way.
Three months later, I was back in the village to perform Liturgy, to give a homily and since there was a memorial service, as it is common in the villages, we went to the [so called] ‘table of forgiveness’. Opposite me a grandma is sitting and she tells me: “Father, do you remember me?”
I did not remember her, so I am saying: “To be honest, no.”
As soon as she started telling who she was… the one from before… honestly, it made my blood boil. Thankfully, she explained herself right away and told me:
“Father, I went and talked to him”.
“Well done! Did anything happen to you [because of it]?
“No, my father, be well!”
“Is it not better now, grandma?”
“Yes, my father, be well!”
And then I thought “sometimes I might have to get angry when I find a wall in front of me, built by the egoism and unrepentance of people.”
Who are the ones who deny forgiveness? Us, the Christians. An atheist does not go to confession. A man of faith does. And since the devil fights us hardly… Let me tell you something, an atheist might forgive. But it is horrifying that a Christian will not forgive.
As he has failed to realize that the devil has “grabbed him from the neck” and won’t let him. Thus, the question is “which is our spiritual life?” What is our relationship with God? What are we doing? We won’t examine ourselves. The grandma and the other guy, they would not see their mess, they were only examining the other. The Gospel says, Christ said, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” [Matthew 7:4].