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Chapter 20: Father Gregory Leaves the Monastery for Six Hours

Every week Fr. Symeon would ask, “When are you coming? I need you.” This of course would tear at the feelings of Fr. Gregory. Finally, Fr. Symeon bought an airplane ticket for Fr. Gregory, pleading with him to get on the plane and come, and “let the bishops figure this out later.” Father Gregory agreed, but before he was to leave, he wanted again to ask the abbot for his permission. When he did this on this occasion, the abbot was not in a very good mood, and when he heard this request from Fr. Gregory, his mood became volatile and he erupted. He denounced Fr. Gregory and ridiculed him in every way imaginable. Father Gregory remained silent, as he was used to these types of tirades, and just waited and waited, saying nothing until the anger subsided.

Finally when he had finished his denunciation and Fr. Gregory was about to leave his presence, the abbot shouted out one last utterance. He said, “Remember what Fr. Ieronymos in Greece said to you?” At this Fr. Gregory turned and said to him, “Yes. He said, ‘Who is your elder?‘ I pointed to you. And then he said, ‘Do you know him or do you have him?‘ I guess I have to know you and not have you, because now I desire to leave the monastery.” At this point the abbot retorted, “What else did he say?” Father Gregory in astonishment said, “What do you mean?” The abbot said again, “You know what I mean. What else did he say?” At this point, Fr. Gregory understood that there was something that Elder Ieronymos, who was gifted with divine foreknowledge, said, that was never translated to him, so he said, “You tell me what else he said.” Then the abbot snapped back, “He said to you afesseto.”

Bewildered, Fr. Gregory said, “What does that mean?” The abbot answered angrily, “It means leave off! It means leave off what you are doing!”

At this Fr. Gregory just walked away back to his cell, wondering how, after twelve years, this was never said to him before.

Father Gregory had determined after this encounter to get on the plane the next day and fly to California, thinking that there was no use. He had packed whatever he could and the next morning boarded the plane for the West Coast. The flight had one stop and change of planes in Philadelphia. From that airport, he telephoned Fr. Symeon and told him that he had departed the monastery and was about to start the second leg of his trip. Father Symeon had been on the phone with the abbot and Fr. Isaac the whole morning, and he had now changed his mind. He told Fr. Gregory, “Go back home.” “Are you sure?” Father Gregory asked him. He said, “Yes. Go back to the monastery.” Father Gregory was immediately able to get a return flight on the same ticket, since he did not complete the flight. That same day, during early evening, he was back in his room trying to heal from the all that had transpired. What was he to think now? He was outside the monastery for six hours. Fr. Gregory was told that Archbishop Andrew was made aware that he “ran away” from the monastery. He was not told of any reaction from the archbishop. Not long after this, yet another visitor from Archbishop Andrew again came to Fr. Gregory with a message which was one word: “Wait!”

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Last Updated: July 12, 2011