Wounded By Love: The Life and Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios (Elder Porphyrios)
Posted 06 January 2010 - 10:24 PM
Author(s): Elder Porphyrios
Publisher: Denise Harvey, Limni, Evia, Greece
Sub-Genre: Spiritual Counsels; Orthodox Life
Links: Amazon.com, Skete.com
Description: From the backcover: Elder Porphyrios, a Greek monk and priest who died in 1991, stands in the long tradition of charismatic spiritual guides in the Eastern Church which continues from the apostolic age down to figures such as Saint Seraphim of Sarov and Staretz Silouan in modern times. In this book he tells the story of his life and, in simple, deeply reflected and profoundly wise words, he expounds the Christian faith for today.
This book was compiled after his death from an archive of notes and recordings of his reminiscences, conversations and words of guidance, and was first published in Greek in 2003.
The vibrant personality of Elder Porphyrios at all times shines through his words with great transparency and charm. In his introduction to the Greek edition Bishop Irenaeus of Chania writes: "The words of blessed Elder Porphyrios are the words of a holy Father, of a man with the gift of clear sight, who was ever retiring, humble, simple and ardent and whose life was a true and authentic witness to Christ, to His truth and to His joy. Through his presence, love, prayer, counsel and guidance he supported an untold number of people in the difficult hours of illness, mourning, pain, loss of faith and death. He is a god-bearing Father of our days, a true priest and teacher who in his ascetic way fell in—love with Christ and faithfully served his fellow man. His teaching is deeply impregnated with the ethos and theology of the Orthodox Church and is dominated by the person and image of Christ our Saviour."
Posted 07 January 2010 - 06:13 PM
Testimonies and Experiences
Elder Porphyrios – Prophet of our time
K.I.: Mr Demetriou, you had many experiences from your long acquaintance with Elder Porphyrios and we are sure that your testimony will help all of us to become established in Christ. First, could you please tell us how you got to know this holy man?
G.D.: You're giving me the opportunity to talk about a contemporary saint of Orthodoxy, and I'm deeply moved.
I met the Elder about twelve years ago. This was because I used to go to the area where he lived quite often to visit another monastery there, the Holy Monastery of the Paraclete*. He then lived in a wooden hut, a shed in the forest. The first time that I went to see him, a sister there told me that he was very tired and couldn't see me. I left disappointed and sat in my car, which I had parked under a pine tree. Naturally, Elder Porphyrios hadn't seen me at all. Some time later, the sister who I had spoken with came and said to me:
"Sir, the Elder wants the gentleman in the green car to come and see me."
K.I.: Was your car really green?
G.D.: Yes, it was green.
K.I.: Were there other cars there?
G.D.: Certainly. Well, I went and got his blessing. I told him about some problem I had and he gave the bes t solution possible for that problem. He then asked me if I had children
"Yes," I answered "I have two daughters."
He then said to me,"Let's see what your children are like."
He started to describe both my daughters and their personalities. I was immediately aware that I had a holy man before me, full of gifts from the Holy Spirit. I saw him quite often after that. God blessed me by allowing me to build a house in Oropos, on the hill opposite the Convent that the Elder built.
K.I.: Consequently you have a lot to tell us, Mr. Demetriou. Let's talk about a few of them, for God's glory.
G.D.: One evening I went to Elder Porphyrios with a well-known Cypriot who has settled in Athens. My friend was financing a movie that was about to be shot, based on the parable of the prodigal son. Despite the fact that the scenery and everything else was ready for shooting, my friend still went to get the Elder's opinion.
I then heard Elder Porphyrios talk to us about the father who forgave the prodigal son and how a father should behave in contemporary society. He said:
"When you see the German" (when he said 'German' he meant the enemy, the devil) "overpowering your son, instead of getting angry with your son because of his misbehavior, speak to God. Learn to talk to God about your children; instead of quarreling with them, speak to God about it."
It's sufficient to say that my friend changed the whole concept of the film because of what Elder Porphyrios told us.
K.I.: That's a great story you've told us, and it's very instructive for all of us parents.
G.D.: Elder Porphyrios was always a fountain of kindness. The love which he expressed went beyond human limitations and reached into the divine.
He was demanding of the people around him regarding two matters: he wanted everyone to be hard¬working and to aim for perfection. That's why all that massive work at the Convent succeeded.
It was built for the most part, with the voluntary labor of his spiritual children and from donations, not from rich people, but from the thousands of people who went there from six in the morning to get his blessing and to discuss their problems wit h him. All these people - some more so, some less so -helped the work succeed.
K.I.: One further proof of Elder Porphyrios' holiness, thus glorifying God, who revealed to us a saint in our time.
G.D.: Elder Porphyrios once came to my house and saw the irrigation system that I had put in the garden. He asked me to help them put in a similar system in the area around the Convent. I actually found the man who did the installation and I told him to do the work without taking money from the Elder. When I told the Elder about it, he said:
"No, Mr. Demetriou. I want you to come and work, because you should take a break from your job by occupying yourself with manual labor."
Elder Porphyrios had a great love for nature and the environment, which he valued highly.
K.I.: Mr. Demetriou, after knowing Elder Porphyrios for twelve years, you must have had plenty of opportunities to confirm this holy man's great gifts. Could you please tell some more about both his gift of discernment and his gift of foresight?
G.D.: We encountered a serious problem when my first grandchild, a lovely little boy, was born. The baby had been born healthy, but in the evening of that same day some serious problems appeared.. To this day, we don't know why it happened .. Maybe something went into his lungs during the pregnancy. It was a tragic situation. I immediately called several doctors including my distinguished compatriot Takis Kattamis, Professor of Paediatrics at Athens University. They examined the child and alerted the intensive care unit at the Children's Hospital in Athens. It was Sunday night. For six days I prayed to God continuously for my little grandson's life. On Saturday evening I left Athens and went to Elder Porphyrios. It was eleven o'clock when I arrived. He saw me, and with typical simplicity, he asked:
"What are you doing here at this time of night?"
"Elder," I replied, "My daughter, the rebel, as you call her, has given birth to a little boy and now the baby is in danger of dying." I then heard him say to me:
"Sit down and let me X-ray the child, to see what's the matter with him."
He then told me the following:
"There is a foreign substance on the lower right side of his lung. It has almost dissolved and will soon disappear. Don't be afraid. The child will live. You'll take him home on Monday."
When I left the Elder on Saturday evening, Dr. Kattamis, was leaving for Italy, where he would give a lecture. He would return to Athens on Sunday. So the next day, Sunday, I went and picked him up from the airport. We were childhood friends and fellow pupils in Kythrea. I explained to him what Elder Porphyrios had said to me, and I asked for his opinion:
"It's just like the Elder told you. Now, that he's told you, I'll tell you the same." On the following day, Monday, the child was fine and we took him home.
K.I.: "Wondrous are your works, O Lord of hosts."
G.D.: I'll tell you about another event that relates to Elder Porphyrios' gift of discernment.
One summer, the Metropolitan of Kitium, Chrysostomos, who I am close friends with, was a guest in my house for a few days. He had heard a lot about Elder Porphyrios and asked me to phone him so that we could then go and see him. However, I delayed calling since I knew that the Elder was ill. On Saturday, I suggested to his Eminence that we go to see the Elder on Sunday. We could attend the Liturgy in Malakasa.
"And after the Liturgy we'll see what'll happen, if we can go and see Elder Porphyrios or not."
We entered the church and the Metropolitan of Kitium went to the altar. Once the Divine Liturgy was over and the congregation had received communion, we saw Elder Porphyrios entering the church. He was accompanied by a spiritual child and close associate of his, in the construction of the Holy Convent "The Transfiguration of the Savior."
When I saw Elder Porphyrios entering the church I immediately gestured to the Metropolitan that it was Elder Porphyrios who was coming in. Well, Elder Porphyrios went into the sanctuary and said to the Metropolitan of Kitium,
"My child, won't you give me the Body and Blood of Christ?" Thus the Metropolitan of Kitium gave communion to Elder Porphyrios.
I was waiting at the Church entrance and when they had finished they came towards me. There I heard Elder Porphyrios saying to the Metropolitan:
"Aren't you the one who told Mr. Demetriou to call me so that we could meet?
G.D.: I then said:
"Elder, since the Metropolitan is with us, why don't we go to my house for a coffee?"
He agreed and we set off for my house. However, on the way he said:
"Let's go to my cell instead. Besides, I don't even drink coffee, so let's go to my cell, and I can drink a little melon juice."
He lay down on his bed and they brought us cof ee. The Metropolitan of Kitium said:
"Elder, please tell us something of benefit."
Elder Porphyrios answered him, with the utter humility that distinguished him:
"My children, what can an illiterate tell you?"
God helped, and in the face of our persistence I heard the following remarkable story coming from the Elder's mouth.
One day a couple went to see him. They had made their confessions and he placed the stole upon them. The Holy Spirit enlightened him when he was about to read the prayer of forgiveness. He saw that there was something that stopped the husband from taking Holy Communion. He told them to get up, without reading the prayer. The Holy Spirit had enlightened the Elder and he saw the husband's village. The Elder started to describe the village with so much detail that the couple asked him if he had been there, since he knew it so well.
"No," he said, "I have never been to that village. God enlightened me and I can now see it in front of me."
The Elder continued. He said that the husband had done something bad in his life. The husband replied that nothing troubled his conscience and that in his thirty years in Athens, where he had a shop, he had always been an honest tradesman. The man could not remember doing anything bad.
"You've never done anything bad while in your village?" the Elder asked him.
"No," he answered. "I'm from a rich family. My father died and he left me all his property. I'll give you an example so that you can see that I'm an decent man. Our foreman once stole a great deal of money from us. I didn't report him to the police, but I simply fired him, because I couldn't allow a thief on our property."
Elder Porphyrios then asked him, "Did you personally see him steal the money?"
"No," he answered, "but I was sure it was him, because he was the only one who knew where the money was kept."
Elder Porphyrios then said to him:
"No, he didn't steal the money and when you fired him you blackened his and his family's name. That action is what's now stopping you from receiving the body and blood of Christ."
K.I.: And was it really stolen by another person?
G.D.: Undoubtedly. The real thief was someone else. He then went to his village and reinstated the unjustly accused foreman in front of all the villagers. He received communion immediately afterwards.
K.I.: Mr. Demetriou, I must admit that I'm taken aback by the story that you've just told us.
G.D.: Let me now tell you a delightful story.
A friend of mine visited the Elder to get his advice about a business venture. To be precise, he wanted to open a bookstore. The Elder told him to make sure that the store had plenty of room so that all the different kinds of Christian books could be displayed. My friend told him that he had found a small store. Elder Porphyrios then asked for the store's dimensions. My friend told him them:
"No," the Elder said, "It's not as large as you say. It's smaller."
My friend went and measured it the very next day. It really wasn't as large as he thought, but exactly the size that the Elder had told him.
K.I.: That's what surprises us each time we hear new details - witnesses to both Elder Porphyrios' gift of discernment and to his gift of foresight. With the eyes of his soul he could see an actuality that was miles away from him, even in another country, and yet he could also deeply enter to the soul of each and every person.
G.D.: Exactly. He foresaw the end of his own earthly life. The following account relates to his death.
A few days before Elder Porphyrios' final rest I was called by a spiritual child of his. He had given substantial financial help towards the construction of the Convent that the Elder had founded. He now wanted to hire a helicopter to pick the Elder up from Mt. Athos to take him to spend Christmas at the Convent. He even asked me to travel in the helicopter to keep the Elder company.
My first reaction was to ask if he had talked to the Elder about it.
"I phoned him on Mt.Athos," he said, "I told him about my desire and he answered me, saying, 'I'm tired, my child. Leave me here on the Holy Mountain."
However, my friend insisted, so Elder Porphyrios then said to him:
"Call again at the beginning of December."
He died on December the second. And so, my friends' desire for me to a acompany the Elder from Mt. Athos to Oropos wasn't fulfilled.
Greece and worldwide Orthodoxy received a great gift from God. Through Elder Porphyrios' conduct on earth yet another saint was established in the halls of the saints.
Posted 08 January 2010 - 09:51 AM
Posted 27 June 2010 - 03:27 AM
Readers may like to know, if they do not already, that Elder Porphyrios and Elder Sophrony of Essex had a great love and respect for each other. They wanted to meet but neither could travel, so they arranged 'spiritual appointments' at a certain hour in the night when they met in spirit and conversed. As a result, Elder Prophyrios was able to describe the monastery here in detail.
Yes, a meeting in prayer.
Founder and former Abbot of the Holy Monastery of St. John the Baptist,
Essex, England. Writer.
With his gift of discernment Elder Porphyrios got to know another great Elder of our days, the Russian Starets Sophrony, founder and first abbot of the Holy Monastery of the Forerunner in Essex, England.
He wrote many books, amongst them, the internationally famous, "St. Silouan the Athonite," which has been translated into many languages. Elder Sophrony lived with Elder Silouan, who was proclaimed a saint in 1987, nine years ago.
In November 1990, we had the privilege of meeting Elder Sophrony in Essex and talking to him. He told me that he used to meet Elder Porphyrios in prayer every night. They each knew what the other one looked like, even though they had never seen one another with their physical eyes. Elder Porphyrios had never seen Elder Sophrony, and vice versa.
This unbelievable story was related to us by Elder Sophrony, in the presence of Archimandrite Kyrill, the abbot of the monastery in Essex, hieromonk Zacharias, the spiritual father of the monastery, and three spiritual children from Cyprus.
"And proclaim to the peoples that I have not died but I live forever and I proclaim the afflictions of the Lord Who crowned them."
In an effort to improve the second edition of the book we wrote to all our contributors, including Elder Sophrony who, because of age, assigned a hieromonk to write the following:
"Do they really write such glowing reports about me? How can I say that I am that kind of person? To write such things about myself would be strange. The facts are as follows: About ten years ago, at the request of Fr. Porphyrios and through the efforts of a mutual friend, a date and a time for mutual prayer was set for both of us. From that moment on, we began praying for one another."
In fact, some of the people at the Convent remember that Elder Porphyrios had asked them not to disturb him at a certain hour because he then had a spiritual meeting in prayer with Elder Sophrony.
Elder Porphyrios would also have these spiritual encounters with his spiritual children who lived far away.
Fr. Porphyrios' initiative, as mentioned by Fr. Sophrony, was realized when the following letter was sent. A copy of which was given to us by the spiritual child who mediated:
I embrace you in Christ.
A certain person told me that you would like to have us meet; that you've invited me to come to England and if I cannot go there, you will come to Greece.
Since it is impossible for me to come, and I do not wish you to go to the great trouble of travelling here, and since Christians cannot be separated by distances, we could meet one another in prayer by saying, 'Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me,' on Sunday, 31st August, 1980, from 12.00 to 12.30 after midnight (10.00-10.30 English time).
Unless you have business which brings you here to Greece.
I embrace you in the Lord along with your brotherhood and I wish you health in soul and body.
In the love of the Lord,
Hieromonk Porphyrios Bairaktaris
Edited by Herman Blaydoe, 27 June 2010 - 12:46 PM.
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