At St. John the Forerunner Women’s Monastery at Metamorfosi, Chalkidiki — at a nun’s funeral
“Και στα δικά μας” [“kai sta dika mas”] (*)
(*) (cf. Gerondas Gregorios’ word in the end)
Sister Episteme, +22 Friday September 2017, the day of our visit, reposed in the Lord on the eve of the Conception of St. John the Baptist, the patron Saint of her monastery, and her spiritual father, Gerondas Gregorios prayed together with her as she was leaving her last breath. Sister Episteme, 60 years old, 34 years a nun, felt her end approaching in the morning and asked her relatives who were visiting the monastery to take her on a last walk on her wheel chair giving them detailed instructions and blessing every corner of the monastery yard, churches and buildings. + Memory Eternal
Gerondissa Emmeleia, Sister Episteme’s mother in flesh, became also a nun in the same monastery immediately after she became a widow, after her husband’s 40 day Memorial Service. She had 5 children, 2 of which became nuns, Sister Episteme and Sister Christonymfi, and one a married priest, Father Nikolaos. The last decade of her life she led a most holy, hidden ascetic life in silence and obedience and reposed in the Lord last Easter Sunday. + Memory Eternal
Eleni, Sister Episteme’s lay sister, a kind, meek mother and grandmother, always caring first for others and never for herself, smiling radiantly, with courage, even when her sister was laid in the tomb: ” I feel such bright sorrow in my heart today!”
Tatiani: a pilgrim who tried for some time to become a nun in the monastery but gave up in the end.
– “What was the most difficult thing in monastic life? What made you ‘give up’?”
– “The fact that I could not surrender entirely to God’s Will and to do obedience in everything. I wanted to control my life, to have my opinions, to be in charge. A visa problem emerged, future was uncertain. If I “gambled” all my life and stayed in the monastery as a novice, I might jeopardised both citizenships, Greek and …, and ended up a refugee at God’s Mercy, God knows where. I did not have such ‘craziness’. The fasts, the long prayers, the vigils were difficult of course. One would get bored, tired, hungry, sleepy, but gradually, if one persists, one gets used to them, and grows spiritually. That was not really difficult. But cutting your will and having the guts to give up everything for Christ, and surrendering unconditionally, this has made all the difference. I could not do this.”
Presbytera (ie. a priest’s wife) Theodora with 9 children, suffering from lupus:
“Unless one surrenders unconditionally, reaches even the point of becoming a fool for Christ, one way or another, living only for Him, and loving Him more than his family and himself, God’s Grace is never revealed in all His Power in his life. Most people around him of course will not understand him, and think that he is really crazy, but they do not care about what the world thinks of them. They only want to follow Him. Sister Episteme surrendered unconditionally to Him all her life, and especially in her illness. And in just 9 months God granted her his Kingdom.
(*) Gerondas Gregorios wishing to me after the funeral: “May the Lord help you. “Και στα δικά μας” [“kai sta dika mas”] (Approximate translation of this wish is “the same to us” In Greece this is a reply to a well wisher in a very specific context, a traditional return gesture of good wishes, but more than that it is specific to the occasion. It most likely refers to an engagement or a wedding. The reply means: may good wishes accompany you when you also find yourself engaged or married or something similar ‘τα δικά σου’ – your (day of celebration). Actually it is an encouragement to follow the same route, wished to an unmarried guest in a joyous occassion, namely a wedding or engagement. There is a lugubrious exception, when this wish is said after the death of a monk in Mountain Athos or monasteries in general in Greece.
+ Memory Eternal!