The Cat

Bishop Tikhon (Shevkunov) | 11 February 2013

We offer you a story from the book “Everyday Saints and Other Stories” by Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevnukov)


What can we say? People love to judge a criticize priests. Thus, it was most enexpected for me, when once, when I was serving in the Don monastery, a parishioner named Nikolai approach me and said, “Now I understand: the best, greatest, most patient and wonderful people in the world are priests!”

I was surprised and asked how he had suddenly decided this.

Nikolai answered, “I have a cat. A really good,clever, special, good-looking cat. But there’s one strange thing about him: when my wife and I go to work, he jumps up on our bed, and, excuse me, poops on it. We have tried everything to stop this – we begged, punished – nothing worked. Once we made a barricade. But when I came home, I saw that the barricade was broken down, and the cat had again gone on to the bed and done it’s dirty deed. I was so angry that I took the cat and just beat it! The cat was so hurt, that it crawled under a chair, sat down, and cried. I tell the truth, it was the first time that I had ever seen tears drop from his eyes. Just then, my wife came home, saw it, and started in on me: “You should be ashamed of yourself! You’re Orthodox! I am not speaking to you until you go confess before a priest your disgusting, bestial, unchristian behavior!” There was nothing left for me to do, and it was on my conscience, so in the morning I went to the monastery to go to confession. Abbot Gleb confessed me. I waited in line, and them told him everything.

Fr. Gleb, an abbot from the Holy Trinity-St.Servile monastery, was temporarily serving in the Don monastery, and was a very kind middleaged priest. Usually, he stood to hear confessions, resting on the analogion with his beard on his fist, listening to the sins of the parishioners. Nikolai told him the whole story in detail, in all honesty. He tried not to hide anything, and thugs spoke for a long time. Then when he finished, Fr. Gleb was silent for a moment, and then said, sighing, “Well… Of course it’s not good. But I didn’t understand: this Copt [in Russian, the word “cat” sounds very much like the word “Copt”], who is he? Is he at the university? Don’t they have a dormitory there?”

“What Copt?” Nikolai asked.

“Well, the one that lives with you that you were just talking about.”

“And then I understood,” Nikolai finished, “that Fr. Gleb, who was a little hard of hearing, humbly listened to me for ten minutes about the Copt that somehow lives in our apartment, poops on our bed, and whom I cruelly beat until he crawled under a chair to cry. Then I understood that the most wonderful and indefatigable, most patient and great people in the world are our priests.”

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