There where once on Mount Athos at St. Paul’s monastery two elders from Cephalonia. Fr. Constantine and Fr. Demetrios from Pyrgi, whose mother’s name was Maria. Fr. Demetrios received a letter informing him that his mother had passed away; no telephones were yet available.
Fr. Demetrios approaches Fr. Constantine and tells him: - Fr. Constantine, can you please recite a forty day prayer rope for my mother (one complete prayer rope every day for forty days).
-I will, he said, may it be blessed. He was a struggler and prayed all night long with his prayer rope.
When the forty day prayers were completed, Fr. Constantine was sitting in his cell reciting the Jesus Prayer for the elder’s mother “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on your servant Maria”. He then sees a woman entering his room (it was the soul of the departed Maria) and tells him kindly:
-Evlogeite Geronda. (Bless me Elder.)
-The Lord. Where did you come from? (Note that women do not access on Mount Athos)
-Do not upset yourself Father, for God sent me here.
-And what do you want?
-I do not want anything, I simply came to thank you for the prayer ropes that you recited for me, they helped me greatly and my soul has found repose.
-Thank you Geronda, thank you and she disappeared…
Editor's note: If the prayer of a simple monk on the prayer rope benefited the soul of the departed so much, as to appear to him and thank him, (this was indeed God's providence as to show us the benefit of the prayer), just think of how much more beneficial is the 40 day commemoration of the souls by a priest during the Divine Liturgy. We should always give the names of our loved ones both living and departed for commemoration during the Divine Liturgy, especially in this period of Lent before the Nativity of Christ, but also throughout the year.
Translated from the Greek book "Από την ασκητική και ησυχαστική παραδοσή του Αγίου Όρους" - From the ascetical and hesychast tradition of Mount Athos