During one of our last few evenings before he suffered the last series of strokes, I came to him and ask him to forgive me and to pray for me when he arrived in heaven. I remember him replying, “you pray for me… God forgives all.”
It was a very cold November day. I couldn’t get warm all day. I sat there at his bedside. We sat in silence for a while. Then I ask him, “Fr. L. … how do you know that the Holy Spirit is present?”
He layed there silently. I thought he didn’t hear me. He then turned and looked directly at me and ask me, “are you cold now?”
I hadn’t told him that I was cold… but I suddenly became aware that I was wonderfully warm and peaceful. I was not aware of the change till he had ask me. Much the same as no(w) retelling this story… I am still in awe. Peace seemed to radiate from him. We again sat in silence… I did not want the moment to end.
“When I am dead, come to me at my grave, and the more often the better. Whatever is in your soul, whatever may have happened to you, come to me as when I was alive, and kneeling on the ground, cast all your bitterness upon my grave. Tell me everything and I shall listen to you, and all the bitterness will fly away from you. And as you spoke to me when I was alive, do so now. For I am living and I shall be forever.”
This translation of the Psalms of David was completed in 1992, the last year of Fr. Lazarus’s life. The publication is sized for personal use, approximately 4″ x 7″, and contains an icon of Christ on the inside cover.
As I knelt by the Crib of our Lord at Bethlehem I saw a most beautiful Maiden, covered with a white mantle and a robe of fine texture. The time of her delivery seemed to be at hand. A venerable old man accompanied her. An ox and an ass were with them. When they had come into the cave, and the old man had tethered the ox and the ass to the manger, he went out and returned with a lighted torch which he fastened to the wall, and then he went out again so as not to be present at the birth of the Child.
Then Our Lady laid aside her white mantle, took off her shoes from her feet and the veil from her head, so that she was clad only in her light robe. Her beautiful gold hair hung down over her shoulders. Then she took out two linen cloths and two woolen ones, very clean and white, to wrap the Child in as soon as He was born, and two smaller pieces of linen to swathe His head. When all things were prepared Our Lady knelt down with her back against the manger, her face uplifted and turned eastward. Her hands were raised, her eyes fixed above, her whole being absorbed in ecstatic contemplation, bathed in heavenly rapture. And in a moment as she prayed she had given birth to her Son, from whom shone a light so great and so wonderful that the rays of the sun cannot be compared to it. The torch brought by St. Joseph seemed to be extinguished, so far did that Divine Light outshine all light which is of earth. The Infant was born so suddenly, so instantaneously, that I did not see how it happened. I only saw the Divine Child lying naked, white and shining on the ground. Then I heard the most wonderful singing of Angels.
When Our Lady, whose form was extremely delicate, slender and graceful, saw that her Child was born, she bent her head, folded her hands, and adored the Infant with the deepest reverence and devotion. Then the Child began to weep and tremble with cold on the hard ground where He lay. He moved a little and stretched His tender limbs as though He desired the comfort of His Mother’s caresses. The Mother took the Child in her arms, pressed Him to her heart, and warmed Him against her face and bosom with great gladness and tender motherly pity. Then she sat down on the ground, laid the Child on her lap, and began to swathe Him very carefully. First she wrapt Him in linen and then in the woolen cloths, binding His tender body and little arms with the swaddling bands which were sewn to the four corners of the outer woolen cloth. The she wrapt and bound His head in the two smaller linen cloths which she had laid beside her. When all this was done the venerable old man came in again, and falling on his knees adored the Child with tears of joy. Then the Virgin rose with the Infant in her arms, and she and St. Joseph together laid Him in the manger and worshipped Him with great joy and gladness of heart.