August 23, 2014

A Miracle by Elder Paisios

I held off talking about this miracle by Elder Paisios publicly until the miracle was complete, which it nearly is. I was asked to write an account of the miracle to be included in the papers sent to the Ecumenical Patriarchate where a decision will be made soon on the canonization of Elder Paisios as a Saint. I offer it here for the glory of God and the edification of the reader.

Elder Paisios


Elder Paisios

December 18, 2013
Naples, Florida USA

Early morning on April 2, 2013 I looked down at my phone and saw a text from Jeremiah’s mother Patti, “Jeremiah was in a bad car accident. We are on the way to the hospital.” Jeremiah was 23 years old at the time. She had just received the news from the police who came to her door to tell her.

I rushed to the hospital. Soon the rest of Jeremiah’s family arrived and we got the news. It did not look good. Jeremiah’s car hit the curb, rolled three times, and the paramedics found him sitting outside the car barely conscious. He had multiple skull fractures, slipped into unconsciousness and was laying on the gurney in the emergency room.

I told the family that this was a desperate time but in desperate times we pray and we are going to ask God to save Jeremiah. Then we prayed and I anointed Jeremiah with oil. It was foggy that morning so the helicopter could not fly Jeremiah to the trauma center in nearby Fort Myers. They drove him instead.

The next three days were touch and go. We did not know if Jeremiah was going to live. Meanwhile, Dimitri, a friend of Jeremiah’s in Greece heard about the accident and told Jeremiah’s sister Emily about Elder Paisios, particularly how the Elder helped many young people in car accidents in Greece who suffered brain injuries. Emily told me.

Dimitri told Emily what to do. Get a picture of Elder Paisios (Dimitri sent one by email) and put it in his hospital room and ask for his direct intercession. I pinned the picture on the bed near the side of Jeremiah’s head that was injured. We started to ask for the Elder’s intercession on Jeremiah’s behalf to God. A week later the oil arrived that Dimitri sent from the monastery where the Elder spent his last days in Greece and we annointed Jeremiah with it. Through Dimitri, Elder Paisios came to us.

Thousands of prayers were said for Jeremiah and we added ours to them. I could tell the day that Elder Paisios joined in, or at least when I became aware he was with us. It was as if the weight of the prayers lifted somehow, something I call “calling in the cavalry” – an American term that means that we are joined by fighters on horseback who sit higher and see the battlefield more clearly and make the prospect of victory tangible. This happened on the third day. We could sense the Elder’s presence and strength with us. Some nurses remarked they could feel a power in Jeremiah’s room.

We prayed and anointed Jeremiah daily. This was a particularly difficult time for his family but hope did not wane even though there were times of doubt and exhaustion. Jeremiah was in an induced coma for five weeks to give his brain time to heal and we waited with great anticipation for his return to consciousness so that we could get a sense of the extent of his injuries and healing.

Jeremiah's first liturgy after the accident


Jeremiah’s first liturgy
after the accident

Finally the time came to wean him off his medication. It would take three days for the sedation to clear his body. On the third day Jeremiah’s awareness returned. A test of a person’s brain function after a serious injury is whether he can respond to commands. As I entered the room I asked Jeremiah to give me a “thumbs up.” He lifted his thumb. Then I asked him to make his cross. He made it. We knew then that we might be witnessing a miracle.

Recovery was steady and after a few months Jeremiah was released from the hospital and went to the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia (a hospital specializing in brain injuries). There the doctors openly said that his survival and the extent of his healing was a miracle. On August 15, 2013 the portion of his skull that was removed a few days after his accident (to allow the brain to swell) was reattached. The surgeon told Jeremiah that 95% of his patients who had the kind of injury that he experienced do not survive. The other 5% another doctor told me are usually institutionalized for the rest of their lives.

Today (December 18, 2013) Jeremiah is fishing off the Gulf of Mexico with his friends. His healing is almost complete. We expect a full and complete recovery.

We are filled with gratitude to God and His servant Elder Paisios for Jeremiah’s healing. We are grateful for the self-revelation of God to the family and friends of Jeremiah –- an event that exceeds our comprehension to grasp entirely but which we see in countless ways. Our Lord has touched hundreds of lives and some have been changed.

May God be glorified in all things.

Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse

Comments

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    spidey says:

    Father bless!

    One little editorial quibble for you. There’s a typo in paragraph six. The phrase is “Calling in the cavalry.” It’s not just “strong men” joining the battle, it’s fighters on horseback. The elevation gives them an advantage. Very apt here!

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    Patti says:

    Thank you Father. As I read your words in honor of Elder Paisios, I am again in awe of Jermiah’s survival and healing. There is no doubt that we have, and continue to, witness a miracle. As his mother, I could not fathom losing my son. As a medical professional I was clear we had no control. I don’t have the words to express my gratitude to Elder Paisios for touching my son, listening to our prayers and blessing us with this absolute miracle. I clearly remember those moments of consuming exhaustion at Jeremiah’s bedside, holding his hand, thinking ‘I can’t let go.’ I’d look to Elder Paisios’ picture next to him and I knew he was there. The Theotokos held Jeremiah, I know it. Jesus never left, despite my feelings of unworthiness to ask for so much. God is divine and clearly showed us Mercy.

    I am grateful to Dimitri for bringing Elder Paisios to our attention. Or should it be thank you to Elder Paisios for having Dimitri contact Emily… Interesting all the the doctors, nurses, and others who looked at Elder Paisios and asked, ‘is this his grandfather?’ Then wanted to know the connection. They knew something big was going on in his room. Indeed.

    I want to thank you Father, for your unrelenting prayers and love. I feel you are like the strongest bridge, always open and supporting our paths safely to God. We are honored and blessed to have you in our lives.

    Eternally grateful and looking forward to where Jeremiah’s journey will lead him,…………Patti

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    Rich says:

    Extraordinary and almost incomprehensible. Praise God!

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    Kentigern says:

    Wonderful story to read today and share with family on the Feast of the Nativity on the new calendar. Glory to God!

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    A man gets into a traffic accident, paramedics take him to the emergency room and fill him with medication.

    Elder Paisios prays for him and steals credit for his recovery from the doctors.

    Pretty weaksauce “miracle”.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      This could only be spoken by someone who has no real understanding of the circumstances.

      Here are a few facts not in the article:

      1. The trauma room nurse said the severity of Jeremiah’s brain injury was like holding a ripe tomato at waist height and dropping it on the sidewalk. (Told to Jeremiah’s mother after the healing.)
      2. Another trauma room nurse said not one staffer on the trauma floor thought Jeremiah would live. (Told to me when Jeremiah was moved to a regular room and started talking and walking.)
      3. Two doctors at Shepherd Center, a top brain trauma hospital in the country, said there was no way to explain Jeremiah’s healing apart from the miraculous. (Their words, not mine.)

      I realize that your atheism requires that you deny the positive existence of the non-material. That’s an inviolable tenet of atheist dogma. But you would have a very difficult time proving your assertion to the nurses and doctors who helped Jeremiah heal.

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        If two doctors sincerely told you (a priest) that they had no explanation apart from the miraculous, seems to me that “top brain trauma hospital” needs a better caliber of doctor.

        • “That’s an inviolable tenet of atheist dogma.”

        Atheism has no dogma, no tenets, and no doctrine. Nor any central authority who could establish any. It’s just nonbelief in deities, nothing else.

        You’ve got it backward: Atheism does not entail naturalism, naturalism entails atheism.

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          James Bradshaw says:

          I think what Fr Hans is suggesting is that “dogmatic atheism” rejects out-of-hand the possibility of anything beyond the natural.

          I think this is a step beyond the actual stance of many atheists and agnostics (or even marginal Deists like myself) who acknowledge that anything is possible but that, lacking evidence, we simply don’t affirm and embrace a specific deity or creed and live as if it were true.

          For example, I acknowledge that it’s possible (if greatly unlikely) that the only religion that may have a grasp on the truth of the universe might be that of the Hari Krishnas. Nevertheless, I’m not going to embrace it and live according to their beliefs. I just don’t feel like shaving my head and handing out flowers in airports. But … you never know. ;-)

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          Stan Minor says:

          “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God (Psalm 14:1).’”

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    Karen says:

    Thank you, Fr. Johannes, for this wonderful testimony to the grace of God at work through the prayers of beloved Elder Paisios. To God be the glory!

    I lost a very dear childhood friend when I was 15 to a similar traumatic brain injury that was the result of a car wreck.

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    Mario says:

    Thank you Father for this beautiful account of Jeremiah’s healing, it moved me greatly. I’m a Croatian Roman Catholic based in Britain and I have a lot of love and respect for the Orthodox Church. I know about Elder Paisios and have read some of his words and teachings, he really is a great man and a true servant of God. I have no doubt that Elder Paisios’s intercession has saved Jeremiah and brought about his miraculous recovery, blessed is a Church and Nation that has saints like this. My best wishes to Jeremiah and his family and forever Glory to God and Jesus Christ.

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