Do not get a miracle as a mystical experience of life in Christ confusedwith magic, which abounds in fairy tales and fantasy. Metropolitan Anthony (Pakanich) about magicians and healing saints on the day of remembrance of the Great Martyr and healer Panteleimon.

Великомученик и целитель Пантелеимон. Мозаика. Греция, монастырь Осиос Лукас. ХІ век

— Magicians and healers are found in popular fantasy no less often than fearless warriors. And this is quite understandable. In fantasy worlds, miracles are expected not from heroes, but from wizards. As you know, fairy tales reflect our reality, and among the saints, people especially venerate healing saints. Why does this happen both in movies and in real life?

– I would not draw such parallels. Firstly, the image of Christian holiness, which reflects the self-debasement and humiliation to the cross death of the Lord Jesus Christ, has nothing in common with the grotesque characters of modern fantasy novels, which often speculate on sinful feelings of pride, vanity and love of power. Unfortunately, the literature of this genre today is characterized by leveling the concepts of good and evil, and indeed any moral categories. Modern authors create "worlds" in which all ethical norms are blurred, everything is relative. And this is all the more sad because in the works of the classics of "high fantasy" – Lewis, Tolkien – we find Christian motifs, characters and symbols, and what is important — a coherent idea of good and evil. Today, completely different ideas and images are produced in this genre.

Secondly, we should not confuse a miracle as a mystical experience of life in Christ with a kind of magic that abounds in fairy tales and fantasy novels. It’s quite revealing that in the Gospel the Lord never performs miracles for the sake of his own self-affirmation, it is not a one-sided mechanical action of God in relation to man. But every time the Lord asks a person about his faith and the faith of his neighbors, before creating a miracle that occurs as the fruit of a mysterious combination of Divine power and human faith. Therefore, it is said in the Gospel that Christ did not perform many miracles in the places where He came from, because people who knew Him from childhood could not see Him as the Messiah. That is why it is said: "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house; now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief." (Matthew 13:57-58).

St. Panteleimon has been considered the patron saint of doctors since ancient times. Apparently, he had a strong impact on his contemporaries, because he remained in eternal memory as an amazing healer. What is known about the lifetime miracles of the great martyr Panteleimon?

– The vocation of St. Panteleimon was connected with a miraculous sign. According to his life, Pantoleon believed after he raised up a child who died from a snake bite through prayer to Jesus Christ. After this great miracle, he was baptized by the presbyter Ermolai and received the name Panteleimon. Having become a gratuitous doctor, Panteleimon deprived many doctors of income, and he was denounced to the Emperor Maximian, who did not like that Panteleimon visited Christians in prison and treated them in the name of Christ. The emperor called Panteleimon and asked him to refute the denunciation. The saint suggested to call one incurable patient and arrange a test. According to the writings, the pagan priests could not heal the patient, but Panteleimon gave healing to the paralyzed by the power of prayer. After that, many believed in Christ, and Maximian became hardened against Panteleimon and ordered him to be tortured and then thrown into the sea.

But Panteleimon remained unharmed, then they subjected him to new torments: they hung him on a tree, burned him with candles, then tore him with iron claws, wheeled him, tried to drown him in the sea. The wild animals, to which he was thrown, were licking his feet. After all the tortures, Panteleimon was sentenced to beheading. He was tied to an olive tree, and the saint by himself asked the soldiers to fulfill the order given to them. According to the life, when his head was cut off, milk flowed out of the wound instead of blood, and the olive tree was immediately covered with fruit. The body of the great martyr was thrown into the fire. It did not burn, and it was buried by Christians. The head of the Great Martyr and healer Panteleimon, as the greatest Orthodox shrine, is still kept in the Panteleimon Monastery on Mount Athos.

Do you personally know about the miracles associated with the holy healer in our days?

— There are so many miracles by prayers of the holy great martyr and healer so that a whole book was even compiled, which included their descriptions and eyewitness testimonies in different eras. I remember that the head of the healer Panteleimon was brought to Kiev in 2012. Many people came to this great shrine, and the local press wrote about the miraculous healings at the relics of the saint. This once again confirms that the Lord strengthens us in the person of His associates. Truly, "the God of Israel gives strength and power to his people." (Ps. 67:36). 

The professions of a doctor and a priest are very similar. The doctor tries to understand why the body hurts, and the priest tries to understand why the soul hurts. In both cases, a person trusts his life. Do you feel this responsibility?

— Absolutely. As St. John Chrysostom teaches: "A good shepherd not only drives away wolves, but also treats sick sheep with all care, because what is the use if the sheep, although they avoid grazing animals, are destroyed by the disease?" The vocation of a priest is so great so that holy father reminds all those seeking the priesthood: even a good and pious pastor will be thrown into hell fire for the sins of his flock. That is to say that this sacrificial service is intended only for those who are ready to give up themselves for it. That’s why the responsibility that a priest takes for the salvation of a person's soul in eternity is great. And it is quite obvious that this service would not be possible for any earthly person, if the Lord by Himself did not make up for our infirmities with His love of humanity and abundance of grace. After all, God Himself heals and saves, and we are only an instrument in His hands. And our duty is to conform to the high vocation that the Lord has entrusted to us.

Interviewed by Natalia Goroshkova

Опубликовано: Mon, 09/08/2021 - 09:36


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