Albanian 52-year-old Porphyria talks about her decision to be baptized into the Orthodox faith, about her dark path without her faith and her illness, which eventually made her even stronger.
Porphyria comes from Albania, is a new-born Christian, lived in Greece for many years, always loved Christ and then came the blessed moment when she was baptized and named Porphyria, out of love for Saint Porphyrios. However, various difficulties forced her to live as an immigrant for the second time and now she lives with her family in Germany. We met her in Greece and she spoke to us with the warmth of a true Christian comforted by the caress of God. She narrated without false humiliation her course in the dark path of the life without God and the sickness that she went through. She rejoiced with no trace of pride, as if she were talking about another woman's triumph.
Porphyria speaks to readers of "Orthodox Truth".
“I'm glad to be in Greece after three years. I'll try to tell them how my soul felt. And to speak even to a few who have the same experiences as me and to give them courage. I do not want to talk about my own experiences, but to glorify God for all He has given me. I want God to make me worthy, to express this love and gratitude that I have, to be heard by others. You know it's beautiful when we talk and support as much as we can people who have cancer, but it's very different when you go through the fire yourself and you want to talk by your own experience. The common experience says many things. Actually, I got sick of cancer for the second time. The first time I was ill I was 32 years old. Although I was familiar, I was terrified too. I remember the first day I went to do my first chemotherapy. There was a nest within me, a grief, a sadness, because I knew the road and didn't want to cross it again. That day I felt like the people who were sentenced to death and just before they were executed. I had this feeling when the medicine in my blood started to flow slowly. At that moment, I'm not going to hide it, I was tearful. "
Faced with this suffering, one can not but stand with utmost respect and with this feeling we asked her if she felt abandoned by God ...
Despite my pain, sadness, and crush with the return of my illness, I was not damned. I did not feel that God had abandoned me or given me a punishment. By God's grace, I quickly got used to it. And while I felt like they were executing me, at the same time I was thinking that Christ would turn the potent medicine into water. This poison that would enter my blood, if it wasn't for my good, Jesus would make it water. Until then it was my grievance and my pain, but not against God. "
What Porphyria told us was simply told. We also discerned the noble progress made by the soul through pain, so that it may wish to impart the knowledge she had acquired in such a hard way and to become a missionary of pain to its peers.
After cancer I started searching for myself. I had read about Elder Paisios a lot and also about Saint Porphyrios, to whom I prayed a lot, though I had not met him. Saint Porphyrios was speaking in my soul! He urged people to confession and communion. He said, "My children, most of the things that afflict us, are demons. If you build your relationship with God, you'll have nothing. You will be saved."
So step by step I started to work on myself and say that somehow I have made a mistake. So I was baptized and became an Orthodox Christian. I was learning myself through the mysteries. I resorted to confession. Man must tell everything in confession, even his sinful thoughts, without being embarrassed. Even if he has done the worst crimes in the world. Because it's all tricks of the evil one who wants to separate us from our Father. So the sly one wants to give us false cues and remorse that
make us supposedly so soiled that we can't go near God. But Christ said that He came, just for sinners, the very sinners, the harlots and the publicans, I did not come for the righteous. If He came for the righteous He would have gone to the high priests and the pharisees only. "
From what we discussed with Porphyria, it was obvious that she got this experience without having been thrown into depression. She did not feel it was a punishment of God. Cancer and everything she learned from it did not come across to her as punishment. It was almost a source of inspiration:
"We are often entangled in the prosperity of this world, in the fine foods, the drinks, the beautiful clothes, all of which is what the wicked one wants us to pursue in our lives. This is how it seduces people. And they think they are doing well. And because I lived through cancer, even if for a little while, in Christ's love, I was full in the Holy Spirit in my cancer, and I had nothing to lose. While experiencing the disease, I could not eat, drink, dress, have hair, lag behind other people around me, but I felt I had everything, that I lacked nothing. Diets and food and hair and clothes and beauty. Everything was the grace of God. And if we do not have this grace we will never be happy. God is our joy and our health and our happiness and our wealth and everything is ultimately Christ. We have lost Him and we experience so much pain in our lives. So I want to shout to people that for me cancer is not the boogeyman that scares people, I don't see it as a curse. For me this was God's blessing. Christ knew that I deeply worshiped Him in my soul even before I was even baptized. I was actually looking for Him. I had a good soul and I was a Christian without being a Christian. However, I was also very sinful. When I was an atheist, I had made two abortions in my country. My doctors were telling me abortion is nothing. Later I read that the fetus has a soul and tears to pieces. I was ruthless and God was merciful to me. He allowed the cancer for me to realize that I too could find death. “But I'm not like you, I have a lot of love. I love you, I don't bully you. I only want to slap you just to make you come back because you left Me. How to get you back from going off the cliff. So I allow something that you say is a curse, pain and sorrow, but in reality it is sanctification. This is how I finally felt got the cancer. "
"The reason I live is related to trying to cleanse myself from sin."
Time in patients fluctuates at a different rate, and often clarifies the foggy landscape that faded away so far the dominant thinking. What Porphyria put forward for her life in terms of pre- and post-knowledge was a first-rate lesson for the sick and the healthy:
“But first I found the time to think and draw some conclusions about myself and my life. At first I had a lot in my head and I didn't think about God. I took time, through illness, to think about why I came to life. To work from morning to night? To have more and more to eat? I realized I didn't come to earth for that. The reason I exist on earth is not to sin. Then there is no reason for me to live. The reason I live is related to trying to cleanse myself from sin. To make Porphyria clearer than snow, as the psalm says ... This is what we should ask God, He only knows what is good for us, no matter what we usually ask for in our prayer. We are unhappy because we want our will to be done. But God does not have the same will as ours. Because he knows better than us what we ask him of. And so I slowly learned to leave it in His hands. And let Him bring whatever He wants.
"The Lord used the hard way to bring me back"
It would be naive to believe that after this "happy end" they lived better and we did better. Porphyria does not leave us in such illusions, which gives courage to the people who fall and fall again, that is to all of us. She will tell us:
"I was not always in a state of grace, let's say. Although I got baptized and communed, when I went to Germany again the living worries came. And I was sad because my will wasn't being done. Things weren't happening the way I wanted them too. Of course, man also thinks in spiritual life that he manages things on his own. He reads a book and thinks that's enough. Then comes selfishness and it crushes you. So I want to say that for me cancer was life-saving. It brought me to God from whom I had been so far. When God abandons me I am tragically unhappy. I miss everything, I blame everything and I want to put the blame with everyone and on everything. God used the hard way to bring me back to salvation. Everyone has to search within themselves whether or not they have lost God. God is everywhere and within us and around us, but I may have lost him personally. And something must be done or done to find Him. So I ask God to dwell in my soul, because everything is ultimately a gift from God. Do what you can and you will realize the rest are God's gifts."
“It is a paradise to have Christ in us. Otherwise, we will never be complete”
Often those of us who are baptized as infants run the risk of cultivating, a lifeless silence in our faith. But a newcomer, after years of ignorance that took his breath away, when he finds it again becomes excited and becomes a teacher. Porphyria teaches us:
By the grace of God I realize how much I love the whole world and those who have troubled and distressed me. This can not be done without Grace. People should not fear cancer or other misfortune. Even losing our children, no matter how difficult it may be, even then we are not discouraged. If one divinizes his child and forgets God, then the child's loss can work so that we can find the true God we had forgotten. First of all is God, we must love Christ above all. Then we are complete. If we ask Him, God will teach us His will, He will tell us what He wants from us. I say to myself that I am 52 years old and have lived most of my life. So I have to fight my passions step by step and become a child of light. A child of God, to show us how our Father is. If we are not saints, then we think we are living, but we are dead. It is a paradise to have Christ in us. Otherwise we will never be complete. We will always miss something. And that then leads us on the wrong paths. Because when we miss something we always look for it in the wrong places.
published in the newspaper
ORTHODOXY ALITHIA Sept 11, 2019
translated by: https://orthodoxgladness.blogspot.com/
post in greek: https://apantaortodoxias.blogspot.com/2019/09/blog-post_62.html