Can Tea and Bricks Be More Important than The Jesus Prayer? A Story Told by Elder Paisios of The Holy Mountain

“When in 1953 I came to the Esphigmenou monastery, as a novice, I was assigned to help in the refectory.

Once an old and quite decrepit monk in his eighties asked me to sometimes bring soup to his cell for him, and so, finishing my obedience, I would pour some soup into a bowl and bring it to him.

There was a brother there who didn’t like it. Once he saw me pour the soup and started his broken record,

‘Listen, don’t accustom him to pampered life. He’ll get used to it and start nagging at you asking for one thing after another. You will end up spending all your time with this old man until you don’t have any left to keep your monastic prayer rule. You should have seen him torture me with his requests! I only helped him once when he caught a cold, and he just wouldn’t leave me alone. He kept knocking on my wall with his  ‘Show me love and make me some tea’ or ‘Show me love and help me turn over on the other side’. And then again in a few minutes: knock-knock, ‘Show love and put a hot brick on my lower back’… And he just went on and on like, ‘Pour me some tea, give me a brick’…  ‘Give me a brick, pour me some tea’. But I have to pray, how about that?.. I have my prayer rule!.. When am I supposed to do it if this old man keeps driving me bananas?..’

Can you imagine this nightmare? I can’t wrap my head around it! An old man is suffering and groaning behind the wall asking a monk for help, but the monk says ‘no’ because he does not want to interrupt his prayer rule!

This is a sign of a completely icy, soulless state.

What doubts can there be when it is clear as day that these bricks and tea would be of much greater importance for God than any possible number of ‘perfect’ bows and prayers!

After all, standing with his rosary before Christ, that monk asked Him, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me’ while snapping at his suffering neighbor”.

Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds


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