09 February 2013
Rescue from an Obsession with Obedience
St. John S&SF Miracle 91
from his pre-glorification biography
I consider it my duty to inform you about my miraculous deliverance thanks to the prayers of Archbishop John. After the repose of my late husband I wrote a letter with a request that I be accepted into the Lesna Convent. For ten years I had had a great longing, a fervent which for this; and Mother Abbess Theodora and Father Elder Nicander agreed to accept me into the convent. I was so happy that I at once sold and gave away all my possessions and speedily travelled all the way to this long-awaited convent. There I stayed about four years, when suddenly something strange began to occur with me: I would eat nothing for two weeks in a row; I would not drink or take any medication; for whole days and nights in a row I would sit up in bed, not leaving my cell, and would hardly talk to anyone, uttering just separate words only if there was a need. Mother Abbess Theodora visited me several times, warning me that if I would not begin to eat she would be compelled to send me to a hospital; but everything was in vain because I was convinced that I was doing all this as an obedience to the elder. So I was sent to a mental hospital, where I stayed several months; but since that hospital was quite a distance from the monastery, they would come to get me before great feasts and take me to the monastery for a few days. Oh, how happy I was and thankful to be at least a few days in my dear convent! But after a few days they would again return me to the hospital.
My friends from Venezuela found out about this, collected some money and sent one friend to bring me back. Since at that time I also had a bad case of rheumatism – lying (dressed) in bed. Especially before great feasts I would stop eating and drinking altogether, and no one was able to talk me out of it. As a result, instead of going to church I would end up in a hospital.
Yes, I could pray then, but in secret, short snatches, quickly uttering some little fragmentary phrase from a prayer and also quickly crossing myself, as if someone was not allowing me to pray. Once while lying in bed I clearly saw the heads of Mother Abbess Theodora and Elder Nicander over me, and both were clearly saying to me, "Do not eat anything and do not drink." And I, a silly one, was obedient and after that was again several times in the hospital because of my "strikes of famine." Poor Father Nicander used to write to me that I was listening not to him but to the enemy, and that I should force myself to eat and drink; but the deceiver so convinced me that I was ding the wish of my elder, I was listening to the enemy, being convinced that I was being obedient tot he elder.
Once Father Nicander wrote to me that I should at once write to you, Father Mitrophan [in San Francisco], asking for the prayers of Archbishop John for my healing. I am very thankful to you, Father Mitrophan, that you wrote me so quickly, saying that you served a Panikhida at Blessed John's Sepulchre and are praying to him for my healing. Yes, and also Abbess Theodora, in Father Nicander's letter, confirmed her total agreement with him. In your letter you sent me the grace-filled little piece of cotton and instructed me to stand before the holy icons and pray thusly: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, through the prayers of Archbishop John, heal me a sinner" – and with this holy cotton to make three signs of the cross over my forehead, saying every time: "In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit," which I do with faith every morning. In such a way I prayed for 30 days, as you wrote to me, but already after 21 days I was healed. This is how it happened:
One day when all of us were called to have breakfast, I did not go (I live in the Diocese Old-Age Home). Then the manager of this home came up to me and offered to bring me a cup of tea, so that at least I'd drink some tea, but I refused. And then when all finished breakfast and the tables were cleaned, I suddenly became aware of the thought that I had been repeating in my mind: "Only do not be obedient; on no account be obedient." And totally unexpected to myself – I suddenly jumped out of bed and quickly and decisively went to the kitchen, where I drank two cups of coffee with milk. After that I began to eat and drink normally, my strength came back to me and the merciful Lord enlightened me that this had been a demonic state of "prelest," which had lasted for two years. When I told that to the local priest, Father Sergius Gudzenko, he replied by saying, "Father Nicander and myself knew it" (since they evidently exchanged letters about me, as I assume).
After my healing through the prayers of Blessed John, the next day – from the very beginning of the day – the enemy ferociously attacked me, so that I could not pray properly, sitting in my cell as usual. All the time I would invent some sort of work, would take rides to town on business, so as to get distracted from the attacks of the enemy. Often I would enter my room, stand in prayer before the icons, repeat sentences of prayers, cross myself, make prostrations and leave the room again. My arms and legs trembled. I could not endure it any longer and went to Father Sergius. I told everything to his Matushka, and she read the prayers of exorcism over me and I at once peacefully went home. But this was still not the end of the enemy's attacks, although they were considerably lessened. The enemy began to attack me every night, from evening till morning, but that was only several times. I made a firm resolve not to give in; I resisted, asking the Lord to help, and the Lord helped.
For some reason, the enemy would attack with greater strength when I would lie down in bed, so that for two weeks I would both fall asleep and war with the enemy while sitting in an armchair. Because of this my feet became swollen that I could not put on shoes and had to walk in night slippers. But from the beginning of Passion Week up to today – glory be to God –, all is quiet.
Asking for your prayers and blessing.
sinful Galina Hockheim
May 11/24, 1972