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I saw Saint Païsios on a good number of occasions between 1979 and 1994, when he departed this life. Except for one time, I never asked him a question, but he always spoke to me and taught me.
In 1990, Yorgos and I arrived at the Panagouda [Saint Païsios’ kelli, dedicated to Our Lady]. He welcomed us hospitably and took me by the arm, pulling me gently to the side, away from my friend.
He looked me in the eye and said:
‘Listen, Andreas. First comes your relationship with God, Whom you should love with all your heart, which means keeping His commandments within you.
Then you should love your wife as Christ loved the Church.
To love means to repent and to forgive.
As a married man, always bear in mind what Saint Paul teaches in the sacrament of Marriage. Men should sacrifice themselves for their wives, just as Christ sacrificed Himself for the Church and presented it pure to His Father.
Sacrifice means repentance. Take pleasure in finding your own error, the beam, as Christ calls it, and then you’ll see clearly- you’ll see as Christ does- the error committed by your wife. But you’ll feel empathy and you’ll forgive her wholeheartedly. Then the love your wife’s waiting for will come from God. That’s the love a wife expects from her husband, the love God gives to a man who repents. If there’s no conscious repentance, then the husband simply has authority over the wife and the wife reacts against this.
When the husband’s in a state of repentance, the wife becomes gentle and does whatever he asks. Do you understand? This is what’s meant when it’s said that a wife should submit to her husband- to a husband who sacrifices himself in repentance’.
I was speechless. Because back then in 1990 and every time I was with one of the Holy Elders, my mind was stilled, my heart opened and they saw what I wanted, but also what I needed to hear. Not so much so that I could pass it on, as I’m doing today, but so that I could apply it and regain my health, so that I could be cured.