LEO Tolstoy is famous for his epic novel, “War and Peace.” He is also well-loved by the Russians and many others for his short stories, especially about a bishop who wanted to visit his people at Easter.
After going from one parish to another, the bishop heard that some hermits lived in a remote island. So, he sailed in a boat to visit them. Arriving at the island, he saw the three hermits running to meet him. Then hermits knelt and kissed the bishop’s ring in humble gesture of obedience.
The bishop asked them, “My dear sons, what do you do here in your hermitage?” They answered, “We work in the garden for our food, then we pray.” The bishop continued, “And how do you pray?” Shyly the hermits responded, “We just raise our eyes and say, “God in heaven, Thou art three. We here on earth are also three. All glory and praise be to Thee!”
Amused, the bishop smiled, then said, “My sons, I will teach you how to pray.” Then he told them to say after him phrase by phrase the Lord’s Prayer. Being elderly, they had difficulty memorizing. Finally, towards late afternoon the three could recite the Lord’s Prayer by themselves. So, the bishop prepared to sail home.
At night, when the good bishop looked back, he saw by moonlight figures skipping over the waves. He stopped the boat. As the three figures approached, the bishop recognized the three hermits. Once aboard, they knelt down and kissed the bishop’s ring. They innocently pleaded, “Your Excellency, please teach us once again how to pray; we forgot.” Curiously, the bishop asked, “My sons, when you were skipping over the waves, did you pray?” They answered, “Yes, your Excellency. We looked up and said, “God in heaven, Thou art three; we, here on earth are also three. All glory and praise be to Thee!”
Humbled, the bishop told them, “My sons, go on with your usual prayer.”