The Alcoholic Monk

Once on Mount Athos there was a monk who lived in Karyes. He drank and got drunk every day and was the cause of scandal to the pilgrims. Eventually he died and this relieved some of the faithful who went on to tell Elder Paisios that they were delighted that this huge problem was finally solved.

Father Paisios answered them that he knew about the death of the monk, after seeing the entire battalion of angels who came to collect his soul. The pilgrims were amazed and some protested and tried to explain to the Elder of whom they were talking about, thinking that the Elder did not understand.

Elder Paisios explained to them: “This particular monk was born in Asia Minor, shortly before the destruction by the Turks when they gathered all the boys. So as not to take him from their parents, they would take him with them to the reaping, and so he wouldn’t cry, they just put raki* into his milk in order for him to sleep. Therefore he grew up as an alcoholic. There he found an elder and said to him that he was an alcoholic. The elder told him to do prostrations and prayers every night and beg the Panagia to help him to reduce by one the glasses he drank.

After a year he managed with struggle and repentance to make the 20 glasses he drank into 19 glasses. The struggle continued over the years and he reached 2-3 glasses, with which he would still get drunk.”

The world for years saw an alcoholic monk who scandalized the pilgrims, but God saw a fighter who fought a long struggle to reduce his passion.

Without knowing what each one is trying to do what he wants to do, what right do we have to judge his effort?

* Raki is a Turkish unsweetened, anise-flavored hard alcoholic drink that is popular in Turkey, Greece, Albania, Serbia, and other Balkan countries as an apéritif.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos

HTFr Milovan Katanic


11 thoughts on “The Alcoholic Monk

  1. Father Stephen-
    Was just over on TONUS PEREGRINUS, Vincent Uher’s blog ( he has me so upset and confused this past month I don’t know what to make of him!). He has a very short, interesting post about a Saintly Anglican nun, Sister Cecilia of Grahamtown. Thought you might want to re-post here.

  2. Well, I hope my life ends like this. I will not deny that I am the worst representative of Roman Catholicism. But my own holiness is independent of the opinions of some atheists, protestants and other people who don’t know anything about me other than what I’ve written or said. It is between me and my relationship with God.

    1. I am the worst representative of Roman Catholicism.
      No – it is me.
      I am the worst representative of Roman Catholicism.

      1. We can be the worst representatives of Roman Catholicism together. Now let’s go to confession! 🙂

  3. Reputation is what others THINK we are; Character is what we REALLY are – in our Soul – as God KNOWS us! Holiness is forged in the ‘crucible of Suffering’ – In, WIth and Through the ‘Purifying Fire of Christ’!

  4. This story, of course, has a profound message; that we can’t say that if I was that person, in their life and circumstances, that I would be doing better at it than that person is.(I think that is what Jesus meant when He said not to judge others, not that what anyone else does should never be criticized, as some people think.).

    However, I worked as a Registered Nurse in psychiatry and Chemical Dependency and it is clear to me that chemical dependency really is an illness that a person can not overcome with will power and that while at times God answers prayer at times by completely removing the desire to drink, usually it doesn’t happen that way. Usually it takes at least weekly regular AA attendance and often chemical Dependency treatment. It certainly takes a commitment to work the 12 steps of AA which is profoundly Spiritual. Anyone who is an alcoholic who thinks they can quit drinking by gradually reducing the amount that he drinks every day is only fooling themselves. With any true chemical addiction the person has to completely stop using the chemical, in the beginning. The mind of a person addicted to chemicals is very crafty and the person needs to stop completely and often be with other people who have also quit.

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