Perhaps you already read this somewhere online. Someone emailed it to me:
The incident related below was forwarded to me by a local priest and I thought the reading of this account would bring a blessing to others–God’s grace is magnificent (you’ll see what I mean in just a moment).
I thought the following story might be enjoyed by many on this list* in light of recent conversations on this list about repeating things in church services. It was told to me by an OCA priest, who had heard it from a hierarch.
In Warsaw, in the 1950s, when Communism was strong, three young Communist men were walking past the cathedral on Holy Friday at about noon. The young men realized the significance of the day to Christians and came to the agreement that they ought to go into the cathedral and make a statement, on behalf of “enlightened” communists. They drew straws to decide who would make the statement, and one of the young men went in. So they went in, and, like many young men who don’t go to church, felt a little awkward and weren’t quite sure what to do.
There happened to be a hierodeacon working in the church between services who spotted the young men coming in and recognized that something was going on. He went up to the young man that was to make the statement, as he was kind of standing towards the front of the group, and asked if he could help him. The young man looked back at his friends, who motioned for him to go ahead and talk to the hierodeacon. The young man, walking with an air of purpose, said, “yes, we would like to make a statement. We don’t believe in all this nonsense, and we would like to make a statement.”
“Sure. Sure,” the monk responded. He put his arms around the young man and brought him to the front of the temple, where the Corpus was still on the Cross, while the other young men watched from a distance at the back of the temple. “I tell you what I think you should do: Look up here at Jesus crucified, and say, “You died for me, and I don’t give a damn.”
The young man thought about it, decided that that wasn’t too hard, and said, in a loud voice, “You died for me, and I don’t give a damn!”
“Very good, very good,” replied the hierodeacon. “But, of course, in the Orthodox Church we like to repeat things, so go ahead and say it again.”
The young man was a bit taken aback by that, because he thought he had finished with his statement, but he looked up at Christ on the Cross again and said, in not so loud a voice, “You died for me, and I don’t give a damn.”
“Very good, very good,” replied the hierodeacon again. “But I was thinking, and if you REALLY want to make a statement that the Orthodox will respect you should say it one last time, because we are a Trinitarian faith, and the Orthodox are always saying things in threes. Yes, I think you should definitely say it one more time.”
This time you could see that the young man was totally beaten down by this last suggestion of the monk, but he pulled himself up for one last “statement.” “You died for me,” he began, but then collapsed on his knees, sitting on the floor in front of the Cross. “And I care,” he whispered and began crying.
The priest who related this incident said that the young man in the story was the same hierarch who told him the account.