Thursday, November 16, 2017

How A Certain Monk Was Restored From Excommunication After His Death

By John Moschos

(The Spiritual Meadow, Ch. 192)

The Story of a Certain Monk of the Monastery of the Divine Pope Gregory (590-604), How He Was Restored From Excommunication After His Death.

A holy presbyter from Rome called Peter told us a story about the most blessed Gregory, Bishop of that city. During his time of being Pontifex Maximus, he greatly edified a monastery of men by giving them a rule that they should not possess any money, not even a single obolus. Now, one of the brothers of the monastery made a request to his brother living in the world.

"I have not a tunic. Do me a favor and buy me one."

"Here are three numismata," the brother replied. "Take them and buy what you like with them."

Another monk saw that this brother had three numismata in his possession, and went and told the abbot, who in his turn reported it to the most holy Pope Gregory. Gregory's reaction was to order that the transgressor of the monastery's rules should be excommunicated.

Not long afterwards this excommunicated brother died without Pope Gregory being aware of it. Two or three days later, when the abbot went and told him, he was very distressed that the brother had departed this world before being absolved from the penalty of excommunication. He wrote a prayer in the form of a letter and gave it to one of the archdeacons with instructions to read it out aloud over the brother's grave. By this letter he absolved the dead from the bonds of excommunication. The archdeacon went as he was told and read this short pronouncement over the brother's grave.

That night the abbot saw the dead brother.

"Are you not dead then brother?" he asked.

"Indeed, I am."

"And where have you been up till today?"

"Truly, sir, yesterday I was in prison, but as of yesterday I have been freed."

And everyone was made aware that at the very time when the archdeacon had read the words of absolution over the brother he was released from excommunication and his soul was freed from judgment and damnation.