part one: Monk Ephraim
In the year of 1425 a monk was taken captive and tortured to death in his monastery in Greece for being a Christian. He was slowly tortured to death over a period of a year. After each episode his wounds were allowed to heal, and then he was subjected to new and worse punishments. Finally they executed him. He was hung upside down from a tree in his monastery grounds and run through with a pole which had been sharpened to a point and set on fire. All traces of his life and martyrdom were forgotten until this century, when he appeared to the abbess of a convent and told her of his life and sufferings. He also revealed the spot where his bones, which had never decomposed, were buried. They dug up the bones for the glory of God.
part two: the addict and the Saint
Some years later an American teenager in the Midwest was grappling with his own life. He was heavily using drugs (cocaine and heroin) and was quickly sliding to destruction. He had neither a stable family life nor a religious upbringing, and though still young was in serious trouble.
One night an ugly old man appeared to him and said, “I am your friend, I want to make an appointment with you to meet me.” He directed him to get into his car and drive as quickly as he could down a certain road which had a hairpin turn at the end with a sheer cliff at the bend. The young man did as he was told, got into his car and drove as fast as he could down the road. Losing his nerve at the last minute he managed to slam on his brakes and barely made the turn. He arrived home shaken.
Two nights later, the old man appeared again and said with anger and indignation, “I am very disappointed that you didn’t meet me. Get into your car again and drive as fast as you can and this time don’t put on the brakes.” The young man felt strangely compelled to do this. Once again he got into his car, drove as fast as he could and this time didn’t stop but drove at high speed off the cliff. The car was demolished but, surprisingly, he escaped with only cuts and bruises, and with a concussion.
A few weeks after he was out of the hospital, the ugly man appeared to him once again and said, “I am furious with you for not keeping our appointment. Tonight without fail you will meet me! Put a double dose of the drug in your needle.” Again the boy felt compelled to do this, and after injecting himself went into a coma from the overdose. He was taken to the hospital where doctors told his family that he probably wouldn’t live. And if by chance he did live he would only be semi-conscious – in a vegetative state. There was almost no chance of recovery. In two weeks, however, the young man did awake, fully conscious. He told those around him that he had seen a man which looked like some sort of radiant monk. He came to him and said, “I have been praying for you…. God has given you another chance. You will live, but you must correct your life. You are to go to Greece so as to visit the resting place of my bones, giving thanks to God for your salvation. My name is Ephraim.
(Din revista din SUA “The Orthodox Word”, iulie-august 1995)
Sfantul Efrem cel Nou – marele mucenic din Nea Makri (Grecia) – este cunoscut in toata lumea atat ca Mare Tamaduitor, Grabnic Ajutator in toate nevoile, cat mai ales ca SALVATOR al celor DEZNADAJDUITI – mai ales al celor care vor sa se sinucida – si OCROTITOR al celor DEPENDENTI de DROGURI. Actiunea binefacatoare a Marelui Mucenic din Nea Makri s-a rasfrant si asupra unui tanar american, care, in America zilelor noastre, se afla intr-o situatie disperata: consuma din abundenta droguri, nu avea viata de familie stabila, nici educatie religioasa si se indrepta astfel catre o grabnica nenorocire.
Acestui tanar i s-a aratat intr-o noapte necuratul (adica diavolul) in chipul unui om batran si urat, si i-a spus: -Eu sunt prietenul tau si vreau sa ne intalnim ca sa ma cunosti. Necuratul l-a sfatuit apoi pe bietul tanar sa se urce la volanul masinii sale si sa conduca cat poate de repede pe un anumit drum, pana la o intorsatura situata la marginea unei rapi adanci. Tanarul a facut intocmai, dar, cand a ajuns aproape de rapa, a reusit sa apese frana in ultima clipa, evitand astfel prabusirea. Apoi s-a intors acasa tremurand de spaima. Doua nopti mai tarziu, batranul cel hidos – care era de fapt necuratul – i s-a aratat din nou si, inversunat si plin de manie, i-a poruncit: -Sunt foarte dezamagit ca nu ne-am intalnit. Urca-te din nou la volan si sa conduci cat poti de repede, dar de data aceasta sa nu mai franezi. In mod ciudat, tanarul s-a simtit silit sa faca ceea ce i s-a cerut. Urcandu-se din nou la volan, tanarul s-a dus cu viteza maxima drept in rapa. Desi masina sa a fost distrusa, tanarul a scapat in mod miraculos, doar cu niste zgarieturi si contuzii si cu un soc puternic. La cateva saptamani dupa ce a iesit din spital, necuratul i s-a arata din nou in chipul batranului hidos si i-a spus: -Sunt suparat pe tine ca nu ti-ai tinut promisiunea. La noapte insa ne vom intalni sigur! Pune in seringa o doza dubla de drog. Tanarul s-a simtit iarasi nevoit sa asculte porunca si a intrat astfel in coma, datorita supradozei. Fiind dus la spital, medicii i-au spus familiei ca este posibil sa nu supravietuiasca, si, chiar daca va supravietui, va fi intr-o stare de semi-constienta. Nu i s-a acordat nicio sansa de insanatosire. In ciuda pronosticului nefericit dat de medici, dupa doua saptamani tanarul s-a trezit pe deplin constient si le-a marturisit celor din jur ca vazuse un om care semana foarte tare cu un calugar luminos. Acest om venise la el si ii spusese: -M-am rugat pentru tine… Dumnezeu ti-a mai dat o sansa. Vei trai, dar trebuie sa-ti indrepti viata. Vei merge in Grecia sa vizitezi locul unde se odihnesc oasele mele, pentru a-I multumi lui Dumnezeu ca ai fost salvat. Numele meu este EFREM.
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