Humility as Evangelism

Archimandrite Vasileios, “The Saint: Archetype of Orthodoxy” pp 45,6

A young man once came to the monastery and told us the story of how he had come to have a relationship with the Church.  It happened while he was still in school.  His parents were divorced.  He had read Nietzsche and Sartre, and gone quite wild.  He liked to give the impression that he was very atheistic, very modern.  At school, of course, they used to make fun of the Religious Education teacher.  But then that teacher left, and there was to be a replacement.  Soon they discovered it was to be a woman!  [not common in Greece in the mid 20th century where education was segregated] They thought they would really have fun stirring her up.  They prepared to receive her with provocative, ironic and impertinent questions.  The day came and she entered a classroom filled with smirking children who rained down on her the questions they had prepared.  She remained unmoved, however, and taught the lesson.  The same thing happened the next day, and the next.  The teacher calmly continued her work, and the children started to become curious.  Our young man began to ask himself: what is going on here?  If you shoot at someone and your bullets pass through them and do them no harm, then either they must be a ghost, or they are receiving power from somewhere else.  Something is happening here.  And indeed, the children’s behavior quickly changed.  The young man began to see their teacher as the only really genuine human being he had ever met–she became a mother to him, and he was able to open his heart to her.  It was she who led him to the Orthodox Church.  Now the young man was at university.  He went regularly to church and to confession, and had a relationship with saints.

This teacher presented in real life the archetype of Orthodoxy.  She showed her pupils what a saint is.  She demonstrated in action how Christ behaved during His Passion.  She made the Children understand the meaning of the words, “I neither disobey nor contradict.”  She endured everything, she let the children mock her–she had the strength to do it.  After all of the mocking and frenzy, the children became her own children.  In the process she introduced them to the Orthodox Church–to Christ, to the Mother of God, and to the saints–and in this way she enabled them to receive salvation.

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