12. God’s profound wonderworking in plain sight

Fr Tikhon related to us an old great schemamonk, Fr Melchisedek, someone with great wisdom and asceticism. Fr Melcisedek hardly spoke.

Great schemamonks adopt a new name when they come into the schema. Fr Melchisedek was once Fr Michael, and a very skilled carpenter at the monastery. Fr Michael was tasked with an important carpentry project and he labored day and night, without sleeping much at all. He labored so hard and he finally simply fell down, and died.

Many monks saw the incident, and Fr John Krestiankin (Fr Tikhon’s confessor), suddenly proclaimed amidst the sorrow, that Fr Michael was not dead and would continue living. Then Fr John began to pray, and then suddenly, Fr Michael opened his eyes and came back from the dead. Upon waking from death, Fr Michael went to the abbot and begged him to allow him to enter the monastic schema. Since entering the schema is not something one would demand, the abbot dismissed the request. And yet, the very next morning, the abbot summoned Fr Michael and agreed to grant him the monastic schema. Apparently, the holy patron of the monastery, St Cornelius, sternly ordered the abbot to admit Fr Michael to the great schema.

Fr Michael was named Fr Melchisedek, after the prophet, when he took up the great schema.

There was once when Fr Tikhon, the author, faced difficult trials in his life and wanted advice from the most ascetic monk of the monastery, Fr Melchisedek. Fr Tikhon knocked on the cell of the old elder, and confessed to the old monk all his woes.

Rather than giving some verbose advice that may pacify the young monk, Fr Melchisedek cried with great sorrow, and said, “My brother, why do you ask me for advice when I am perishing myself!”

In the stunning few words, humility (St James 4:6) and tears, Fr Melchisedek gifted the young man with the greatest wisdom of a saint (Proverbs 3:13-18), relegating whatever worry and frustration the young monk had into oblivion. Fr Tikhon realized then, that his worries were insignificant compared to the great treasure of his monastic journey.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

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