Martyrs of Obedience

Saint Efraim of Katounakia

Christ is in our midst!

I would like to share a few thoughts about mental health disorders from the point of view of a carer. While in the UK, I worked in a care home for some time and had some experience interacting with mentally ill people. However, I was a member of a team and was not fully responsible for anybody. Now, things are tougher because I am in many ways wholly responsible and a carer 24/7. In so many ways I feel I too need long-term support…

‘Give blood and receive the Spirit’


“A woman knows she has conceived when she stops losing blood. So it is with the soul, she knows she has conceived the Holy Spirit when the passions stop coming out of her. But as long as one is held back in the passions, how can one dare to believe that one is sinless? Give blood and receive the Spirit. (Abba Longinus, Sayings of the Desert Fathers)

During this week my thoughts were on a recent saint, Elder Efraim of Katounakia, famous for his 42 years of the martyrdom of obedience to a very difficult, harsh and especially towards the end mentally unstable Elder Nikiforos.

I also reflected a lot on Sister Aggeliki of blessed memory and her obedience to her mentally disturbed sister, keeping her awake with all kinds of ‘happenings’ every single night for about 60 years (!), after her unmercenary doctor’s duties all day and night! I was reminded especially of her obedience to all kinds of crazy errands she was sent and/or accompanied and her long-suffering to all the insults and every name under the sun her sister was calling her for decades! Why did Sister Aggeliki not leave? For the salvation of her sister’s soul. Because, as much as she wanted to become a nun in a monastery, she knew that her sister would then be committed to a mental hospital and there she would be deprived of all the church services she so longed to participate in. And it was only during these church services and Holy Communion that she would be so surprisingly quiet, ‘saneand absorbed …

These were precisely my Elder’s words upon this new obedience: “it is very important that you are patient and do everything that you can so that this poor soul is saved and enters the Kingdom of Heaven!Not that I bear any resemblance to these exalted ones, but I too must give blood to receive the Holy Spirit and thus receive the baptism of long-suffering and obedience. Grace does not come without blood and tears.

Your prayers and your thoughts

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