In this recording, Elder Ephraim of Arizona talks about his biological father and how the Lord pulled him out of hell through the prayers of the Church. Elder Ephraim has built eighteen Orthodox Christian monasteries in North America and fell asleep in the Lord on December 7, 2019.
Audio source: Πνευματική Αφύπνιση
-“Do you want me to tell you something about my father, my poor father?”
-My father was not following God’s path. But my mother, this holy mother managed to bring him there. She brought him and he was praying day and night. However, I knew he had not confessed. My mother would try to convince him [to go to confession], but he was not paying attention.
He fell asleep, three months after I had left for Mount Athos, as my mother and brother told me. He was sick. He was sick of an illness which made his blood, water. His name was Dimitris. A doctor was seeing him, one of these blessed doctors, and told him “Mitsos, as I see it, you won’t make it past the winter” And so it happened.
I had left for Mt. Athos. My mother and my brother were keeping me updated. My father was heavily sick and he was bedridden. They called our spiritual father who was also a hieromonk. Now watch why, we, the spiritual fathers [and confessors] have to be extremely careful! This [omission], alone, can send us to hell… The spiritual father says to my father: “Mitsos, do you have something to tell me?” “No, father! I don’t” And I think… anyway, let the soul of the spiritual father be sanctified where it is right now… As if I wanted to tell him [the spiritual father], ask him something… “My Mitsos, did you ever ….?” Then, pat him a bit… “Did you ever this, that …?” Start nicely so he can get out of the difficult position, and he will reveal you his faults… the man [you are confessing] is about to depart… I have seen these things in my life, in my “career” as a spiritual father.
My brother, who is now here, tells me that our mother told him back then: “Go take the blessing of your father. Your father is about to die.” My mother with her prayer rope.
My brother says: “Mother, how can I go and what shall I say? … I am coming to take your blessing since you are dying …?” “No, not like that. You will say “father, I am going to receive Holy Communion and I need your blessing.” This was a holy practice of ours, to receive the blessing of our parents before we go to receive Holy Communion.
“Father, I am going to receive Holy Communion, I need your blessing …”
“Nikos, you have my blessing …”
My brother tells me: “While I was sitting, I see [our father] get angry and he was looking towards the door of the room.” He was so scared, he thought Death was coming inside and as soon as he watches this, he throws the blanket on him to cover himself and not watch anymore… since the demons had come. My brother tells me: “Elder, I was so much afraid that I jumped out of the window.” That’s what he told me.
Followingly, [I cannot recall] if I was a deacon yet or not… Afterwards, of course, I was commemorating my father both as a deacon and as a priest. In Volos, because of the war and the turmoil, I had a small table and I was selling some things, I was making 5 drachma [Greek currency at the time] so that the family could survive. I was 14-15 years old then… I was passing outside the prisons that were on my way… I was looking at the prisoners inside, I was sad about them. There was a chapel there of Saint Eleftherios and the people were throwing inside [stuff] for the prisoners… I did the same for the prisoners and I was saying “Saint Eleftherios, please set me free so I can leave the world and go become a monk in Mt. Athos.” I was doing this for a long time… Until I see during my sleep, although it was not “sleep” exactly… I see that I was on a bus with my two brothers and other people. As soon as we reached this region, I immediately turn left and look at the prisons. Inside the prisons, I see my father! Being chained, his feet were in chains connected to the floor so that he could not move… “My father inside the prison! What did he do?” I get off the car, the rest [of the passengers] did not understand anything and left, I run inside the prison immediately… As soon as I got there, they had opened the doors, they unchained him and brought him to the yard.
I say to him “father, may I have your blessing?” “You may have it, my child!” with his head down… “Why are you inside the prison, father?” He had “black spots” on him, his hands in chains… “Father, why are you inside the prison? The mother does not know, we do not know …
What did you do? His head down… He could not say what he had done… I ask him “Where do you live?” “Come I will show you.” And he took me to the room I could see from the bus. I saw the holes that were beneath. “Here is my cell.” “Will you not tell me now why you are in the prison and what have you done?” He shakes his head… “I blasphemed against God and He does not forgive me…” And as I was, I lost him …
When we had no school, I was working at a lawyer’s office. It was my job to go from the office to the court. I am still in Volos [city in Greece] and I pass by the court. I see a group of convicts coming, all of them were tied with chains and their arms were cut, guarded by some strict policemen. I think “I will go before the judge to see who they are.” And I see, first of all, my father in a dreadful condition. Don’t they know… he will face trial… I also go inside the court and I take my place. As I was a child, they dragged me to the seats on the back and I was watching… The speaker shouts “Gifts were offered in favor of the convicts, but they were denied and they are convicted … [will never] leave the prison…”
My father will not leave the prison… I will go throw myself at the feet of the Judge and beg him after tears to let him go… The policemen took their positions, the court ended, everyone outside… and we went outside
[no longer describing “the dream”]
Afterwards, we reached New Skete [in Mt. Athos] coming from the desert [of Mt. Athos]. We stayed at the deserted place of New Skete. The Elder [now Saint Joseph the Hesychast] was there… I was a priest and I was commemorating my father every day, memorial services and everything else… And I was telling mother, “Mother, pray with your prayer rope so we can save father…” I left Saints Anargyroi and I went to the Elder’s [St. Joseph] hut to confess. To confess my thoughts, to say how I performed the all-night vigil as it was our practice to confess every single day to the Elder. And I was on my way back again to Saints Anargyroi where it was the small church where I was living with a couple of brothers. There, I see my father, free and in a good condition… he had just exited the church of Sts. Anargyroi and we bumped onto each other. I see him in front of me, I hug him,
“Father, father, how are you? How are you father?”
“I am fine, I am fine”
“Are you okay?” [I ask while] shaking him.
“I am fine, thank you, thank you, I am fine, goodbye”
And he was climbing uphill …
I want to notice how the souls are benefited from commemorating them, from prayers that we should do not only for our people but for the whole world.