Orthodox America


1. Improved Vision

Monday, December 8, 1997 I was at Holy Trinity Monastery for the pani-khida on the fortieth day after Josť's martyric death. The service at his grave had begun and I was following along in the English translation I had brought with me, when I realized that I didn't have my eyeglasses on. (Since moving into middle age, I've become dependent on glasses for reading.) I was about to reach into my pocket to get them, when I realized that the words in the booklet were perfectly clear, as clear as if I were wearing my glasses. In fact, they remained clear even as I proceeded to move the booklet in and out of my field of vision-at arm's length or inches from my nose, I could see perfectly clearly, without any blur at all. This extraordinary phenomenon lasted through the whole service.

Afterwards, I was going to give Fr. Averky a ride back down to the monastery. As we got into the car, I remarked on my eyesight, how I hadn't needed my glasses. There was a copy of Newsweek in the car, and I tested my vision on some miniscule print on the back cover, which normally I could scarcely read even with my glasses. This, too, was clear. It was as if the eagle-eye vision I had had as a youth had been restored to me. This clarity of vision lasted for some 48 hours, after which my vision returned to its pre-vious state.

Peter Nelson, Fly Creek, NY

2. Candles Burning in the Wind

There was some confusion as to the actual date of Brother Josť's death, and consequently also of his fortieth day. Expecting it to be on Tuesday, December 9, Reader Daniel Olson arrived in Jordanville on Monday afternoon, only to find that the panikhida had been served by Bishop Gabriel that morning. At Daniel's request, I agreed to serve another panikhida the next morning. Daniel mentioned this to Matushka Maria Potapov, who had come with a friend, also from Washington DC, and they asked to be present as well.

We gathered at the grave at eleven o'clock, and I asked Daniel to light the censer. It was bitterly cold and windy, so windy that the five candles stuck in the snow on top of the grave refused to stay lit. In attempting to light them, Daniel also tried to ignite the charcoal by touching it to the uncertain flame of the candles, but, as often happens, the small burst of gunpowder from the self-lighting charcoal caused them to be snuffed out. Kneeling down by a shrub, Daniel tried again to light the charcoal, but here too the wind interfered. I then suggested he take the censer inside the car, where the wind would not blow out the matches.

While waiting for Daniel to return, I recounted to Matushka and her friend my experience at Brother Josť's funeral. Feeling unwell, I had returned to my cell from the church after giving Josť the Last Kiss. My cell is located on the first floor of the bell tower, and as the large bell began to toll, I opened the door to watch the procession with the coffin on its way to the cemetery. I was sorely grieved by the terrible death and the horrible things that had been said about Josť, and I had been fervently praying to the Most Holy Mother of God that she would protect her loving and faithful servant. As I stood with heavy heart watching the coffin, I suddenly sensed the unmistakable fragrance of the myrrh, and my heart was put at ease. Surely the Mother of God had taken her long-suffering servant to the Heavenly Dwellings.

As I was finishing my account, Daniel returned and we proceeded with the panikhida. I was so engrossed in my thoughts about Josť and in the pani-khida that I did not notice just when the candle flames appeared. Only in retrospect, when this was brought to my attention (the women noticed it first), did the fact register that the candles had lit themselves. And I can say with certainty that this indeed happened. The two larger candles were still burning at the end of the panikhida, in spite of the wind, and they continued to burn to the very end, some seven hours! To Brother Josť:

Memory Eternal!
Hieromonk Averky, Holy Trinity Monastery .