Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

augustine_the_russian

Toward the end of his life, Father Augustine the Russian (+ 1965) lived alone in a hermitage dependent on the monastery of Philotheou (on Mount Athos). He had a great love for every person, and every time he met anyone -- whether monk or layman -- he would make a deep bow to him. "He carries the grace of Holy Baptism," he would say whenever someone asked why he did this. He overflowed with charity even for animals. Little by little, he transformed the enclosure of his hermitage into a hospice for elderly and ailing animals: asses and mules that were blind, lame, moribund, sick, or otherwise useless. The lay workers would open his gate and let such animals in without even asking him. The good old man would then take loving care of them. He used to go and cut fresh grass and store it for winter's provisions, for his "disciples," as he used to call them. When the fathers of the monastery saw how weak he had become, they suggested that they take him to the monastery infirmary. Father Augustine answered, "I can't leave my mules!" Finally, he accepted. At night, he had no need of a kerosene lamp. "God gives me another light," he used to say, "and I can see more clearly than during the day." In his simplicity, he believed that everyone could see, just like he could, the uncreated light of God. One day, the eve of the Annunciation -- the patronal feast of the monastery -- monks and laymen were busy polishing the monastery's brass. Suddenly, Father Augustine appeared, radiant, quite transformed with the divine presence. "Bless me, holy fathers!" he said, making his usual prostration. "Say, how are are, Father Augustine?" "I want to confide a thought to you. You must tell me if I am experiencing an illusion. This night, all night, there was a lot of light. One could see clearly, just like daylight, from Caracallou to Stavronikita. I could pick out the least detail. Was this, maybe, an illusion?" One of the lay workers, mocking the old man, replied, "But, dear father, it was a sputnik satellite. It fell from the sky into your cell and lit everything up." Reassured, Father Augustine thanked him, and took his leave. When he was bedridden in the infirmary, he used often to shout, "The holy angels are coming, there! there! Don't you see them?" And he would wake up the elderly monks sleeping next to him and shake them. Then, a little later, "The saints are here! The All-Holy Mother of God!" And he would again awaken the other invalids. The infirmarian used to reprimand him severely, saying, "Won't you stop this? You're deluded. Who is someone like you that the saints should come visit you?" Every day it was like that. When Father Augustine finally passed away, his face suddenly lit up, blindingly, three times. The infirmarian then understood his error, and exclaimed, "Now I am sure that this one was a saint!" The Living Witness of the Holy Mountain







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