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Fr. Theodore

From New Martyrs of Russia, 2nd ed., pp. 182-184 by Archpriest Michael Polsky

They led me into a room and put me on a bench. I was not able to stand. There was wine on the windowsill; near it was a stack of papers, on which a lamp was burning and whose shade hid the face of the examining judge. I could see that he wasn’t old. He bent over the papers reading my case.

We sat in silence for some time. Then the judge, without lifting his head, said, “Well old man, tell me the whole truth for we shall know it anyhow. What organization sent you?”

I was silent. ”Do you know we shall know it anyhow? What organization sent you?”

I made the sign of the cross and said, “I know you will not believe me, but nobody sent me. I was going to Valaam; I wanted to stay at the monastery.”

He then lifted his eyes and looked at me. He stared: I could not turn my face away. It was as if I were bewitched. Time seemed to stop; a fog appeared to envelope us -Only that his eyes were looking through me. I don’t remember how long it lasted: perhaps one minute, perhaps an hour. I gathered all my strength and began, with great pain, to call mentally to the Lord. Then I heard his voice again, “Tell me, old man, have you ever been to the village of Troitskoye?”

I was startled! I must tell you that I was hiding at that time. I didn’t have any parish and I wandered secretly from one village to another, staying with good people, holding services and trying to console our much suffering people, and with them, bewailing the lost piety. People liked me and willingly hid me, and sent me from one to another, and above all this, the Lord protected me.

In my travels I came to the village of Troitskoye. I stayed for two weeks with good people and was about to leave, when one night late into the evening, someone knocked at the door of my landlord’s house. He came to the loft where I slept and said to me with embarrassment, “Father, I don’t know how to tell you, it’s an unusual affair. We have here a schoolmaster who is a rabid communist and atheist. He has an only son who is ill; his leg is paralyzed, and has suffered over a year already. He has been to many physicians and has stayed in a hospital, but nothing helps. However, his grandmother, the mother of the schoolmaster is a Christian -possessed of a gentle and tranquil character- who always weeps and says that the Lord had punished the son for his father’s sins. She determined therefore, while the father was away, to ask you to come and pray for her grandson.

I didn’t know what to do. The school was in the center of the village, as well as the police and the village soviet. The visitation could result in my being caught. I didn’t want to go, but I remembered that it was my duty as a priest to visit a sufferer when asked. I went with the grandmother, who wept all the way and asked whether I was cross with her. It was her only grandson; her daughter had just recently been buried. The boy had tuberculosis in his leg, and the doctors wanted to amputate it. What a misfortune!

We came to the school. There was a lad of fifteen or sixteen years of age, with a lean face and two feverishly burning eyes. His leg was bandaged and from it a disagreeable odor was emitting. I felt sorry for him.

I took my epitrachelion, the cross, and a little gospel, while the grandmother took the icons of the Holy Virgin and the healer Panteleimon out of her chest of drawers. I began to pray, supplicating the Lord to heal the little sufferer. The sick boy was silent, except for an occasional, pitiful moan. We prayed, I gave him the cross to kiss, I spread some holy oil over his body, blessed him and left.

Early in the morning there was an alarm. They told me that the police were looking for me. Somebody had denounced me. Fortunately the house of my host stood at the edge of the village, near the woods, so I was able to hide there. Later on I was informed that my host had been arrested. I was remorseful and distressed because innocent people were to suffer for me, a sinful man. I have never forgotten them and I always pray for them.

I remembered all this when the examining judge asked me whether I had stayed in the village of Troitskoye. “Oh, Lord, shall I have to name still other innocent people with whom I stayed? Don’t afflict this terrible torture upon me."

”Yes, I was there.” I replied.

“And have you been in the school?” His words cut like a knife. I saw that there was no use in concealing anything; he knew it all.

“And you prayed there?”


“Did you go there yourself, or did someone ask you?”

“A person enduring suffering without end and grieving greatly asked me.”

I was startled when he arose and began to pace from one end of the room to the other like a wild beast, the cigarette twitching nervously between his teeth! I saw that he was infuriated and I expected his fury to explode. From weakness and pain I lost all fear, knowing there was very little life in me. He continued to pace back and forth for a while, and then he sat down again behind the table.

“Do you remember the lad you anointed with oil? I am he!”

I felt quite a loss for words. I only prayed in my heart.

“You see, old man, where we met. It is your good fortune that you happened to be sent to me. I recognized you by your voice. You will get permission to leave the town; but go quickly away from here, as far away as possible. Remember: I cannot save you a second time.”

You can see in what manner the Almighty leads men to salvation, if only they don’t lose their faith in Him.

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