Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene lead to Orthodoxy

The Byzantine Engolpion found by divine revelation among the Relics of Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene of Lesvos. The inscription below it roughly reads:
"This icon of the Lord Pantocrator was found in the earth immediately before the holy bema of the uncovered Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos, 500 years after the Turks destroyed the Holy Monastery of Kayres and from that time was totally unknown. This spotless icon of the Sun of Righteousness therefore was uncovered from the earth on the first of August, Tuesday, at 8 AM, in the year 1961, while the Hierarch was the Most-revered Bishop Iakovos of Kydonion. This silver covering was created through the hand of Photios Kontoglou of Kydonies, the Iconographer, who offers it in memory of his parents and siblings..."
Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene lead to Orthodoxy (amateur translation)
About ten years ago, Michael had become a Roman Catholic priest somewhere in Germany, and his life of agony and doubt was dedicated to the search for the Truth. This however was the good doubt that is blessed by the God of Truth.

His name had changed, and as a Catholic priest he was named Maximilian.

However, his question overcame the joy of the priesthood, something that would not let him find peace, that made him feel that something was wholly missing within him, despite the fact that he had fulfilled his desire to become a priest of Christ.

A continuous study of the Fathers with very fervent prayers began to create within him the glorious feeling that the Truth is not far from him, and that God would show him information from above!

Orthodoxy began to sweeten him and to lead him from within to read the Orthodox Fathers.

He sensed that the secret he was looking for his whole life with such fervor was hidden there and was calling him.
But with what power could he make this great return? How could he inform the wayward Roman Catholic Bishop of his return? How could he tell his parish, which he loved so much and had so much faith in him?
This dilemma ate him up inside, and diminished the joy of the blessing he felt from Orthodoxy...
Thus amidst this difficult situation, with childlike innocence, he entreated God in prayer to give him strength, to console him as He knows so beautifully, and to lead him to Orthodoxy. In addition, he asked God to show him an Orthodox Saint that he could have as a protector in this difficult decision of his life.
Maximilian would go every summer from Germany where he lived to Vienna for a week to rest and to see his friends there. One day, as he was taking a leisurely and restful walk through various bookstores, he entered a Catholic bookstore to see if they had anything of interest. And straightway his eyes fell on a beautiful icon, very beautiful and different from his own, with three unknown Saints. He looked at it and read: St. Raphael...St. Nicholas...St. Irene...
He knew well from his studies, as Maximilian told us, that Saints like these do not exist in Catholicism, and the Protestants don't have Saints, thus they must be Orthodox. And he bought the icon, full of joy that God had heard his prayer and sent him Orthodox Saints to help him in his return, though he didn't know anything about them, and in German there were not many books about Orthodox Saints! Thus he was left with his question and his prayer that help from above might continue unabated, that he might find the courage to make the decision to return.
After about three weeks, he went to another city for work, and visited a Uniate bookstore to buy a book. While there, before him he saw a red book in German with a strange title: The Life from the Tomb. He browsed through it briefly and saw that it had to do with martyrs, a topic that was important to him, so be bought it. That night, he quickly glanced through the book, and again found it interesting.
The next morning when he awoke, he decided to read this book more systematically, and as he turned through the pages, his eyes fell on the icon that he had recently bought from the Catholic bookstore: Sts. Raphael, Nicholas and Irene. It was July 3rd, the day when the relics of St. Raphael were uncovered...Up till that time, roughly all the important events of his life had occurred on July 3rd, without him knowing anything about it.
Later after much effort, he was able to visit Greece, and he had in his head to go venerate and fervently thank the Saints in Mytilene before he began his new life as an Orthodox Christian.
However, his Elder led him to a certain monastery, and Michael was obedient, saying to his Saint, his helper and fellow traveler during his difficult return: “My Saint, you know what fervor I have to go to your monastery to venerate and thank you...but the obedience of a novice to his Elder is above all...
Thus he went to the monastery and began his monastic life, where he learned that in a few days, there would be an organized pilgrimage to the Saints. Thus his obedience won out, and he made the pilgrimage with much joy.
After about five years, the Catholic Michael had become [an Orthodox] hieromonk and spiritual father, bearing the name of a great contemporary Saint, and he rejoices greatly that as spiritual children, he had certain Germans who had formerly been his parishioners, including the sweet Irene, who was one of his first three baptisms that he had performed as an Orthodox priest, and whom he dedicated to the Saints, thus naming her Irene. The other two that he baptized should be self evident: Raphael and Nicholas!
And the story of Irene is wondrous: a traditional Catholic girl with a terrible struggle in her life.

From the first day of her married life began the martyrdom...Her husband was a torturous man and desired in every way to control her in horrible ways. Many times he would leave her outside in the cold German night, and hid her in a nearby forest. But her faith in the Almighty God protected her and her fervent prayer warmed her during those dark nights...
However, her courage for many years, her agony, her psychological stress, her being abandoned of all love and consolation from her spouse and children led her as natural to medicines for consolation for many years.
Our good God, who seems sometimes to delay but never forgets, brought about the resurrection of Irene, rewarding her incomparable patience. The priest of her parish, Fr. Maximilian, helped her to flee and to change the dogma of her faith.
Irene knew that the priest was an sincere man who always sought the truth, and sought the Lord with his whole heart, and thus from his youth sought to find Him and not to cease until he did...
She came to him, and he spoke to her for a while. She soon experienced that sweetness of Orthodoxy and the spiritual love of her Orthodox spiritual father and the purity of Dogma. She did not delay being baptized, despite the war with her family...
And the miracle occurred. The day of her baptism, Divine Grace dispelled the fatigue of her life. She forgot her difficult and torturous husband and cleansed her subconscious, and she threw away her medicines. Today, she shines as does Orthodoxy. She has served for 75 years her unbearable and even more difficult husband and her wayward children. However, her joy is to go to Greece to go to the monastery of her repentance and to sense the divine consolation she experiences with the continuous Divine Communion, which strengthens her in her homeland, due to her great distance from the nearest Orthodox church.
Glory to God for all things, through the prayers of our Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene.

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

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