I was received into the Greek Orthodox Church in England in 1958. At the time, there were very few English Orthodox around – today there are many more of us. I remember when the Greek bishop received me, he said, “Please understand that here in Britain you will never be able to be ordained as a priest. We only ordain Greeks.” Well, I was ordained deacon after I’d been a layman for about seven years. And then I was ordained a priest. And then a monk. And all of this was not by my initiative; it was the new Greek bishop who came to England in 1964 who pressed me to accept service in the church, and who sent me to be a monk on the island of Patmos. I’m still a brother of the Monastery of Saint John there.
The following occurred on the island of Paros during the German occupation. After an act of sabotage by the Greeks against their conquerors, the German commander in retaliation apprehended and decided to execute one hundred and fifty young inhabitants of the island.
The peasants in a mountainous village of Aegina had been without a priest for years. Time was going by, but nothing was changing.
In December 2004 a Saudi Arabian man, a Moslem, appeared before several new agencies to relate the following incredible event he experienced and which changed his life (this story appeared on TV, the Internet, radio, and was circulated in newspapers, magazines, and pamphlets throughout Saudi Arabia, Syria, Palestine, and evidently in all neighboring countries.
The old monk sat by the side of the road. With his eyes closed, his legs crossed, and his hands folded in his lap, in deep meditation. Suddenly his meditation was interrupted by the harsh and demanding voice of a samurai warrior. “Old man! Teach me about heaven and hell!”