Saint Paisios on How Two Words Once Saved his Troop from Death and Why a Monk’s Way to Help People Is Prayer 

Greek Civil War

A nun once asked the Venerable Paisios of the Holy Mountain, “Geronda, what does prayer mean for you personally?”

The holy elder gave an example from  military life, ”When I pray, I send out a radio signal and ask for help. I constantly ask for help from Christ, the Mother of God and the saints… I ask for myself, as well as for others. After all, how can you get any help if you do not ask for it?

Once during the civil war, we were surrounded and blockaded by Communist units at a high ground.  There were sixteen hundred of them against only one hundred and eighty of us.

We hunkered down and held the defence behind the rocks. If they had captured us, they would not have left anyone alive. I was a radio man, so I tried to install an antenna to contact the Center. However, it kept getting knocked down by bullets and shrapnel.

The commander was shouting, ‘Leave this antenna, get over here and help me carry these boxes with grenades!’ Every time he crawled away to the machine gunners to check on how they were doing and give orders, I ran back to the radio. While he was giving orders, I tried again and again to install the antenna, and then ran back quickly and helped carry the boxes so that the commander would not yell at me.

Finally, with the help of a stick and a sapper shovel, I was able to fix the antenna and establish communication with the command post. I managed to broadcast only two words—our coordinates. Thank God, a couple of words were enough to change everything. At dawn, our attack aircraft flew in and bombed the enemy positions. We were saved!

One hundred and eighty fighters remained alive after being surrounded by one thousand six hundred! Then I realized what the ultimate mission of a monk was to help people with prayer.

People often say, ‘What are these monks doing? Why don’t they go out into the world to help society?’ Saying so, however, is like scolding a radio operator in combat action, saying, ‘Well, what are you doing there with that walkie-talkie? Drop it, grab your rifle and go shoot it’

Even if we tune into all the radio stations in the world, we will not get any benefit from it if we do not find heavenly fellowship and contact with God. Fellowship and contact with Him is necessary in order to ask Him for help and, most importantly, to receive it. Blessed are those who have established contact with the Heavenly Command Post and work with reverence on the same frequency with It.

Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds
From the book
On Prayer—the sixth volume of the series Words by the Holy Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain

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