Dreadful Death of a Sinner
DREADFUL DEATH OF A SINNER
Every time praying for the alive and the dead I always specially remember two names that got written in my memorial book on July 20th, 1902: Andrew and his son, whose name God knows. And every time a terrible event of their death, which was an obvious proof of punishment from God, rises up in my memory. May the Lord God forgive them for their martyr death, by the prayers of the Church, and, who knows, maybe their horrible example will serve to salvation and repentance of some lost souls.
Lord forgive and save us all!
At the time when it happened I was still a quite wealthy farmer. And there was a worker amongst all that worked for me, who lived in a nearby village, his name was Andrew Marin. Sometimes, when he wanted, he could be the best worker ever, but when he did not, no matter what you do, he wouldn’t change. I had pity on that guy, he was still very young, maybe 25-28 y.o. and I always thought that he’d straighten up when he gets older, and I would work on him until I make him change. I was young myself and had a lot of hopes in myself too...
Andrew barely made it the first year; served his term and came to get hired for the second one and asking for a raise, but my foreman was telling me:
"Don’t hire him, master, he’s no good and won’t change. What good is a man who beats his own mother when drunk? She’s been complaining to all local authorities, but the times are now that a widow can’t find any help. Don’t hire Marin!"
But I did not listen to him and kept Marin for the second term, hoping deep inside that I would be able to change him.
But soon I realized that the foreman knew better than me. I had to fire Marin for something he’d done, and I had to do it in the midst of the season when every pair of hands was for the weight of gold to every farmer. I don’t remember now what exactly he had done, but I believe it wasn’t anything minor...
A year passed. I lost sight of Marin. He did not stay in his village. Once I asked the foreman: "What happened to Marin?"
"They say he went back to the mines," he replied.
Well, I thought, mining will kill the guy!..
Who ever lived with me around here, would know what a change in people’s souls those mines did. Iron mines, stone mines, absence of influence of family and Church, communication with all sorts of promiscuous crowd, – all that broke and damaged the souls to the point, that there was almost nothing of a human left in those still young men: as if a poisonous breath of the Hades itself touched the people’s souls, burning all good and truth, which they lived by for so many years, building the greatness and glory of our Homeland...
My soul that year suffered a great change as well. In sorrows and tribulations, by a great mercy of God, which came upon me as an angry and strong storm, I took off to pilgrimage to the holy places in search for help. And then, at that time, God allowed me for the first time to come to Sarov monastery, glorified by miracles and zeal of a great Elder Seraphim. That was in 1900, three years before glorification but even then live faith of people was searching for help from St. Seraphim and was receiving great and miraculous according to their faith. And I too, I received everything that my frightened and hurting soul was searching for from St. Seraphim then.
From this trip to Sarov I brought a memory of one good and God-pleasing custom of the peasants of that area, which touched me deeply: on every road crossings and village outskirts I saw miniature chapels, where behind the glass were icons of Christ, Mother of God and saints with a vigil lamp always lit up. They were of a very simple construction: a pole with a square box on top and a roof with tiny cupola, and icons on every side of the box behind glass, some did not even have a glass. But I was not looking for beauty, nor for elegancy; but admired the love and faith of those simple hearts that built those wretched looking but great in spirit shrines. That very custom I brought home with me and implemented immediately. S oon after that, far from village, two chapels with icons to all four sides of the God’s land and vigil lamps were created. What a beauty it was especially in warm summer nights!..
Local people loved them too.
"God grant you good health!" they used to say, "look what he’s done! The other day, I was riding from town , a little drunk, devil playing in my head, fussing backward and forwards with co-travelers and wife ... Look! Icons! And with vigil lamps! I stopped and crossed myself, prayed for your health and next thing, see, stopped fighting!"
Winter came. People were saying that my chapels did a lot of good to the orthodox people in dark autumn nights and during blind winter storms; some were even saying that those little houses of God saved someone from death: one got lost in a fearsome winter storm, came across one of the chapels and then could finally find his way home. Those stories were bringing a lot of joy to my heart... And people started bringing to the chapels their hard earned kopecks, that they worked with sweat and blood for. They’d come; put those coins on the ground and leave. Who came and who left the money – God only knows. My men would go and bring 7-8 kopeks every time, sometimes even more. What were we going to do with them? We used to buy candles for the local church and light them up for the health and salvation of the souls that God knows. This little but great in spirit deed of Christian love and faith was happening for about two years.
One day it was brought to my attention that someone started stealing those donations from one of the chapels.
That kind of news made me very sad. I was worried for that Christian soul, that fell so low, that it decided to do such a horrible thing.
"What people say," I asked, "who’s doing that?"
"The rumor says that this is the local herdsman and his little son," was the reply, "one noticed as if they both, or separately sometimes, run somewhere early in the morning in the direction of the chapel before the cattle is out."
"And who is the herdsman?"
"Oh, that is Andrew Marin, he used to live with us sometime ago."
"That can’t be!.. Is he back from mines?"
"He’s back. Came back with nothing and men hired him to guard cattle. Oh yeah, he will guard for them… to the point that they won’t like their own lives! He was a self-idol, and he remained a self-idol. What good can you expect from a man who does not care about his own mother? You did not believe me, but there won’t be any good out of this man!"...
That was a remark to my address that despite multiple warnings from my foreman I demanded to keep that “self-idol” employed. That was a very descriptive word – “self-idol”; and in the lips of my foreman it meant a person, who is ready for anything to fulfill his own desires, even for a crime: idol to himself, and brings whichever offerings (sacrifices) he wants for himself...
We tried to catch a thief on the spot – but in vain...
"You are watching him, and he’s watching you: how would you catch him, if “the dark one” helping him?" explained my foreman.
We gave up and left it up to God to solve.
And judgment came...
My dear reader, have you ever seen a herd of our poor village of mid-Russia? Tears, not a herd! Starved cows, one cow per one or two families, exhausted by winter hunger and poor sun-burned summer meadows, by dampness and coldness of winter buildings, by the poverty of their owners – by all the tribulations and sorrows of the modern neglected village. A dozen or two of pigs with piglets; hundred of two of sheep, a bull and a tiny calf – and that’s the whole herd… Barely there, barely moving, half asleep, half alive, very weak...
And this is a herd that Andrew Marin was a herdsmen of.
A beautiful, but very shallow river was floating through my home village. Shallow to the point that chickens could cross it at places. It was a little deeper at the bottom of the village and local kids used to spend a lot of time swimming and splashing in it in summer, but at the top of the village, where the local herd was placed, you could even see rocks on the bottom of the river. Only at one place, where the river was making a sharp turn, the current washed out a hole, about ten feet deep and no more than seven feet wide. That was the only deep place in the whole length of the river, but even a grown up could jump it over.
St. Elijah’s Day was approaching. The supply of kopecks to the chapel stopped completely. The thief was impertinently laughing and rudely talking back when someone would hint to him that he was up to something really bad and that he’d teach his son the same too.
"You are all liars," he’d say, "and it’s none of your business! That is not your money, and even if I’d take it I won’t answer to you what I did and where I went!..."
Before the Matins on St.Elijah’s Day one of Andrew’s neighbors saw the boy, secretly, run somewhere into the field in the direction of the chapel.
"Oh, Andrew, Andrew!" said the woman, "you won’t escape the punishment! You just think what a Day today! And you, on St.Elijah’s Day, are doing such things!"
Andrew cursed back at the woman and said:
"Go and tell on me! And I’ll come after you, and you’ll remember not only St.Elijah then, but all of the saints. I don’t care about your Elijah!"
I learned about all of this much later. A Russian does not like to tell on his brother, and on top of that is afraid of modern courts, especially now...
As usual, with a permission of our priest, I was standing in Altar during the Liturgy. The church was overfilled with people, hot from the July sun and flames of the candles that were sacrificed from the works and sweats of the Orthodox people to God and to the great Miracle Worker, the Prophet of God. The Great mystery of Eucharist had been performed; the priest was receiving the Holy Gifts at the Altar and our deacon was reading Thanksgiving prayers. People started already to go home after Liturgy. I was delayed in the Altar, waiting for the priest... Suddenly a boy ran into Altar, having forgotten the holiness of the place, he started yelling with a trembling voice:
"Father! Andrew and his son drowned!"
"Which Andrew? What are you talking about?"
"The herdsman Andrew! At our corner, by the hill!.. Both of them surely drowned! They tried to save them but couldn’t. One boy was there with them on the meadow and saw everything, saw how the bull threw them, and they drowned..."
"Which bull? Say it clearly!"
But we could not make any sense from an excited and scared boy. This is what we learned later:
Early in the morning, after Andrew’s son ran to the chapel, he brought the herd to the meadow, to the very place by the deepest place in the river. When the sun went up and it started to warm up, Andrew’s boy laid down for a nap on the river bank… Andrew was watching the herd by himself. Cows laid down too; only sheep and pigs were lazily moving around and a bull was walking among the resting herd. At that very moment the boy, who later became the only witness to the God’s punishment, came to that place. Suddenly, right before the boy’s eyes, the bull came up to the Andrew’s son, sniffed him and threw him off the bank with his horns! The next second Andrew’s son was screaming in the water. Andrew saw that and jumped into the water to save him, but none of them could swim and drowned in that hole like in a barrel with water...
This is how Andrew and his son died under a sharp sword of the righteous judgment of God…
There are a lot of sacrilegists in Holy Russia now-a-days: you only hear, that they burglarized a church here, they killed the church watchman there, or both; defiled a holy place not only with theft and murder, but also with and unbelievable Satanic blasphemy... Hair stands up on my head when I read or hear what those evil people, who lost the image of God in themselves, do!.. They say and write in newspapers that those people are impossible to find and there is no punishment to them: demons help those people to hide from the men’s judgment!..
Let it be. God sees everything. God is patient: let the villain come, steal and kill... But the longer God waits, the stronger He hits, the heavier is the punishment: up to seven generations suffer for this. And if it was possible to watch the lives of those rejected ones, who, seemingly, are left without punishment for their crime, we’d see that even in this life the punishing Hand of God has reached them. And only those who exceeded the measure of Satan in their deeds, who is awaiting the flame eternal, that one is left without visible punishment until the hour of death, until the Dread Judgment of God. Lord, have mercy!..