Five episodes from the life of Elder Hieronymus of Aegina

Transforming people without judging them: Elder Hieronymus of Aegina

Elder Hieronymus of Aegina

May Your will be done

Before he became Elder Hieronymus of Aegina, everybody knew him as Father Basil. One day, he damaged his arm in an accident. He went to the doctor, and he advised him to contact a hospital immediately. At the hospital, he was diagnosed with a serious condition. The doctors said he needed an amputation, or else the illness would spread across his body. They even set the date for the surgery. In his infinite patience and submission to the will of God, Father Basil accepted the news calmly.

"Let them cut away my arm if that be His will. He knows best. May His will be done. Better be in heaven with one arm than in hell with both." Yet he also prayed incessantly to the Mother of God and the Holy Unmercenaries asking them to intercede to keep his arm, if God willed it, or to give him the courage and reassurance to go ahead with the amputation if needed.

He had an answer to his prayer. On the eve of the surgery, a brother from an Athonite monastery visited him. He offered him an alternative treatment with medicines if he refused the amputation and agreed to take the medicines. Father Basil checked himself out of the hospital. Three months later, he recovered.

Blasphemer

Elder Hieronymus was making his way along a river when he heard a shocking profanity. It came from an electrician. It was his usual way to express himself. Father Hieronymus called him and said:

"Forgive me, brother. I know that you are not saying this on purpose, and deep at heart, you are a good man. But please do me a favour. I will stand before you for as long as it takes, and you keep swearing at me long and hard until you are so tired that you have no energy to continue another time. Do we have any point in blaspheming against God? He gave us our eyes, ears - everything. He does not deserve to hear insults from us!"

"You're right, Father," agreed the electrician. "I am sorry, and I apoligise."

Take care of yourself, for our sake

By 1966, elder Jerome's health deteriorated, but he continued to receive visitors and refuse hospitalisation. To persuade Father Jerome to change his mind, a doctor came to visit him, stood on his knees and said:

"Father, everyone in Aegina needs you. Please go to the hospital so you might get better. Do not refuse. Do it for us, if you do not want to do it for yourself. Father Jerome was moved by these words and went to the Alexandra Hospital in Athens. When he was in pain, he prayed, "Lord, let me stay a little longer until you think I am fully yours."

The power of kindness

It was the feast of Saint Nicholas. The Divine Liturgy was over, and Father Hieronymus was on his way downtown to give his greetings to his relatives. As he was walking past a food store, he met its owner, who had a son named Nicholas. He stopped and said:

"Good day, long life, may St. Nicholas help you and your son."

But the owner did not return the greeting.

Instead, he replied angrily:

"Go away, father! I don't want to talk to you."

His unfriendly reception saddened the elder. But the thought that he might have upset the man disturbed him even more. Although he was not at fault, he still felt the need to reassure the man and cheer him up. So he approached the man and start over. For the meek and humble elder, the most important thing was to save the lost sheep. Once again, he left it in the Lord's hands. He prayed all night and went to the man in the morning by the same route as before. When he reached his store, he greeted its owner humbly.

"Forgive me, brother, if I have offended you in any way, but will you allow me to wish you a good day?"

The shopkeeper did not know what to say. His kind words were so disarming. He ran up to Father Hieronymus and said,

"Forgive me, elder. I do not know what happened to me yesterday. I am sorry and offer my apologies to you."

A friend in need

Father Hieronymus was visiting his friend Costas Vassiliadis in Piraeus. Over tea, he offered to visit a family that lived nearby. Costas agreed. They hired a taxicab and went. Finally, they arrived, and Father Hieronymus rang the bell. The family opened the door, and a sad scene unfolded before them. It was the sight of extreme poverty and destitution. The occupants had no money for food or medicine, underfed children were going barefoot and hungry, and their sick father was lying bedridden nearby. The elder asked him:

"Would you help if it was me? Please support them, then. Do it for me. Take it as my personal request."

"Certainly. Bless, Father."

Later that afternoon, an anonymous visitor arrived at the door of the family's dwelling with bags of food and an envelope with money. It was Costas' servant.

September 27, 2022
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