Saint Panteliemonas by Fotis Mavroudakis
Office of the Foreign Minister of Hellas Athens: Friday December 21, 2012.
"Minister Elias, these gentlemen are part of the United States Homeland Security," said the US military attachÃ©.
"We are investigating a new global Internet virus that may have originated on your soil. Our government officially requests the names and identities of all the monks that reside on Mount Athos. We also request permission to search the living quarters, chapels, cafeterias, for computers and any hardware."
"Let me say that my government finds this an outlandish request. There is no way that we will allow any foreign agent to disturb the peace and tranquility of our monks on Agion Oros. What threat are they to the United States and to NATO? They are unarmed monks that spend most of their day in prayer and meditation. They have no weapons so the Hellenic military protects them. The holy mountain of twenty monasteries is a self-governed region of the Hellas. We follow the decree passed by the Holy Community on the 3rd of October 1913. What I will do is send for the Civil Governor of the holy mountain so that you can speak with him directly."
It's another brisk tranquil evening on Mount Athos as the bearded monks attired in there black robes and caps return to their personal quarters after vespers and second meal. It is the twenty-ninth week after Pentecost and the monks are fasting on bread, vegetables, and fruits. Celebration of the nativity is approaching.
Greek-flagged navel frigates can be seen in the distance. It appears they are performing naval maneuvers in the choppy waters of the Aegean Sea. During these moonless nights the monks can watch the ship-to-ship signal strobes flashing on the horizon. The sole illumination on the hill emanates from the candlelight that makes the chapel's stained-glass windows shimmer.
"Father, I want to confess my sins."
"Please, sit my son."
"I have committed the sin of omission. Six years ago when I arrived at Saint Panteleimonas monastery from Russia I did not tell Abbot Simeon all of my intentions."
"Speak my son. God is listening."
"You know that I worked for a computer anti-virus company in Moscow for six years. One day while deciphering a virus code I had an epiphany. I became tired of battling new viruses that miscreants create. I felt that my life was going in circles and I was merely maintaining a stalemate. I decided that in the future I would rather spend my time and energy preventing them rather than defending against them! I thought of the immune system that god put in our bodies. Medical doctors create vaccines to strengthen our physical immune system to fight infections. Why not create a digital immune system for all computers connected to the World Wide Web? ""Can that be done?"
"I thought it was possible if enough brain power and money was spent on the project. Unfortunately it would not be a profitable commercial undertaking. When I presented my idea of creating a vaccine for the Internet to my bosses they told me it was impractical. When I asked why, they said we would all lose our jobs. It would put the company out of business. There would be no need for the company if a smart vaccine became available that would be self-sustaining. They laughed at me and my idea. I became depressed. I thought my life was meaningless. I wasted the last twelve years of my life for no good purpose other than to draw a salary and make the corporation more money. I had to find new meaning in my life."
"Your motivations sound noble. What are you confessing, Cyril?"
"I want to confess that I came to the holy mountain under false pretenses."
"Were you not in constant prayer from the day you arrived on Mount Athos?"