Elder Paisios the Athonite
Posted 08 January 2010 - 10:53 PM
The Elder (Paisios) was in the front yard of his retreat when he was visited by one of his spiritual children. He was repeating, from the heart, "Glory to You, o God", over and over again.
"Can someone be rendered useless - in a good sense?" the Elder suddenly asked him.
"Who would that be, Elder?"
"Well, I was sitting in my Cell quietly, then she came here and drove me crazy... They are having such a good time, 'up there'.."
"What's troubling you, Elder?"
"I will tell you, but don't you tell anyone."
He went on to narrate the following:
"I had just returned from the world, to deal with an ecclesiastic matter." (He had a meeting with the late Mayor of Athens, Mr.Tritsis)
"It was Tuesday, around 10 in the morning, I was in my Cell reciting the Hours. I hear a knock on my door, and a woman's voice saying:
"With the blessings of our holy Fathers..." (OODE note: the traditional monastic manner of requesting permission to enter another's quarters).
I thought to myself: "How did a woman come to be on the Holy Mountain?"
And yet, I could feel a divine sweetness flow through me, so I asked: "Who is it?"
"Efimia" (replied the voice).
I thought to myself: "Who is this Efimia? Could it be a woman who did something foolish and came to the Mountain wearing men's clothes? What am I supposed to do now?"
A second knock was heard.
I asked again: "Who is it?"
"Efimia" (replied the voice again).
I thought it over and decided to not open the door. At the third knock, the door opened on its own, even though it was bolted from the inside. I heard footsteps outside, in the corridor. I dashed out of my Cell and saw a woman who was wearing a head veil. She was accompanied by someone who resembled Luke the Evangelist, but he vanished. Despite my certainty that this was not a sinister phenomenon because the woman's presence glowed with a radiant light, I asked her who she was.
"The martyr Efimia"* (she replied).
"If you are indeed the martyr Efimia, come with me, and let us prostrate ourselves before the Holy Trinity. Whatever I do, you must do."
I went into the chapel, prostrating myself and saying "In the name of the Father....". She repeated it, also prostrating herself.
"And of the Son...."
"And of the Son...." she repeated in a soft voice.
"Louder, so I can hear you" I said to her, and she repeated it, in a louder voice.
While still in the corridor, her prostrations were not in the direction of the chapel, but towards my Cell. At first I was puzzled, but then I remembered I had a tiny paper icon of the Holy Trinity pasted onto a piece of wood, which was hanging above the door of my Cell. After our third prostration, saying:
"And of the Holy Spirit..."
I said to her:
"Now, let me prostrate myself before you." I prostrated myself and kissed her feet and then the tip of her nose. I thought it too impertinent to kiss her face.
The Saint sat down on a stool and I sat myself down on the small chest, and she proceeded to give me the solution to my concern (regarding the ecclesiastic matter).
Then she told me about her life. I knew that a Saint Efimia existed, but I didn't know anything about her life. When she described her martyrdoms, I didn't only hear them being described; it was as though I could actually see them and feel them.... I shuddered.... oh my God !!
"How did you survive such tortures?" I asked.
"If I had known what kind of glory the Saints have, I would have done whatever I could to undergo much worse tortures."
"Well, after that occurrence, I was unable to do anything for three whole days. I was beside myself with elation and was constantly praising God. I didn't want to eat, I didn't want anything... I was constantly glorifying...."
In one of his letters the Elder had mentioned:
"In all my life, I will never be able to repay my huge obligation to Saint Efimia, who, although entirely unknown to me, and without being obliged to, bestowed on me such a great honour..."
When describing the incident, he added very humbly that Saint Efimia appeared before him, "not because I was deserving, but only because I was preoccupied at the time with an issue that had to do with the state of the Church in general, and for two other reasons."
What had especially impressed the Elder was "how that petite, frail person could last through such tortures....If she were more of a....(implying a woman of a bigger and stronger physique).... but she was so tiny...."
While in that paradisiacal state, the Elder composed a versicle in honour of the Saint: "With what complimentary songs can we praise Efimia, who condescended from above and visited a wretched resident monk in Kapsala? On knocking the third time, the door opened miraculously and she, the Martyr of Christ, entered with heavenly glory, and we worshipped together the Holy Trinity."
He also composed a closing hymn, which began with the words: "Glorious Great Martyr of Christ, Efimia, I love you very-very much, after the Most Holy Mother....".
(Of course he did not intend these compositions for liturgical use, nor did he chant them in public.)
Contrary to his custom, the Elder left (Kapsala) for the town of Souroti and made the sisters of the monastery there participants of that celestial joy. With his help and his instructions, they painted an icon of the Saint exactly as she had appeared before him.
The Elder himself had fashioned a negative of the Saint's icon onto a metal mold, which he used to print small, stamped icons that he distributed as blessings to visitors, in honour of Saint Efimia. While sculpting the mold of the icon, he had trouble fashioning the fingers of her left hand. He said: "I struggled to fashion her hand, but then I put forward a positive thought to explain it : 'Perhaps it is because I had also oppressed the poor girl'..."
Posted 09 January 2010 - 01:28 AM
Also at the bottom of the site Dova shared with us is the following...
*During the Fourth, Holy and Ecumenical Council, which was convened in Chalcedon by the pious emperors Marcian and Pulcheria in the grand basilica of Saint Efimia, the 630 Fathers undertook the retraction of the heretical views of Archmandrite Eutychius, who was supported by Archbishop Dioscorus of Alexandria. To resolve the dispute through a divine decision, the Patriarch -saint Anatolius- proposed to both sides to compose a tome containing their respective Confession of Faith, and both documents would then be placed inside the reliquary of saint Efimia. The two parchments, on which were inscribed the definitions of the Faith with regard to the Person of Christ, were placed on the saint's chest and after the reliquary was sealed shut, the Fathers began to pray. After eight days, they all went to the witnessing place, where, upon opening the reliquary, they discovered to their amazement that the saint was hugging the Orthodox tome in her arms, as though she wanted to place it inside her heart, whereas the tome of the heretics appeared to have been thrown down to her feet. In the face of such a splendid proof of the truth, the Orthodox offered up thanks to God, and the heretics were scorned and jeered by the crowd of faithful.
Other miracles have been mentioned, which the precious relics of saint Efimia have performed. During a Persian invasion, the barbarians stormed Chalcedon and attempted to destroy her relics with fire. However, they remained intact and furthermore, blood was seen pouring out of the hole that was made to open the reliquary. This miracle repeated itself occasionally at later times and would heal the faithful who came to collect some of the blood of saint Efimia. However, her tomb would more frequently exude a fragrant aroma, thus witnessing the favour that God had bestowed on the saint.
To protect them from another vandalization, the precious relics were translated to Constantinople where they were deposited in the temple of Saint Efimia, near the Hippodrome. During the years of persecutions by Constantine V Kopronymos, her temple was turned into an arsenal, while her precious relics were thrown into the sea and were washed ashore on a coast of Limnos Island, where they were salvaged by two fishermen. They were rediscovered during the reign of the Empress Irene and were transferred officially to the Capital (Constantinople) in 796, where they continued to work miracles. After many other adventures, the relics are now venerated in the temple of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Fanarion. [The New Book of Saints of the Orthodox Church (July Volume), "Indictus" Publications, p. 112]
There is also on this site an icon of this story.
Posted 09 January 2010 - 05:59 AM
Posted 09 January 2010 - 12:47 PM
What was the 'ecclesiastical matter' and what was the 'crucial matter of doctrine' St Ephimia resolved?
I've read several versions of St. Euphemia's visit to Elder Paisios, and none of them gave details - the most said was that the Elder had looked at the problem from all sides, and all he could see was a spiritual impasse.
The crucial matter of doctrine was whether Christ had one nature or two (the story is in the first paragraph of the quotation in Paul's post above).
Posted 30 March 2011 - 04:00 PM
Posted 31 March 2011 - 08:44 AM
The man must give love to his wife, because supermarkets do not sell love."
At times, when we are submerged in (what we believe to be) «profound theological perceptions», we are under the impression that we are doing something unique and significant. However, because we have lost our simplicity, we have essentially lost Holiness. We lose contact with Jesus Christ. Very often, it takes the Holiness of “the person next door” to remind us that we should be simple and humble, like the lay porter of this incident, as narrated by the Geron Paisios.
...I once met a man who was very kind and sensitive. Just imagine, he even refused to stay overnight at the monastery, because he didn’t want to be a burden to the monks… I used to be the host monk at the time, at the Iberon Scete, when I went out onto the balcony for a moment at noon and saw a man lying down on the stones outside. Well, well, I wondered, what is he doing out there? So I went down to him.
— What are you doing here, you blessed one? Why don’t you come into the monastery, where we can offer you our hospitality?
— No, no, I’m just fine here, don’t concern yourself, he said.
I pressed him to come in, but he refused. He said: “All through the night, the fathers here are on vigil prayer… they’re tired, they fast… they retire at noon to get some rest, and I’m supposed to disturb them? Its not proper!”
See what kind of good thoughts he made? That is an indication of mental and spiritual health… whereas, other visitors come here, demanding to be served, and then they have nothing but malicious thoughts…they even accuse you. I finally convinced him, and brought him into the monastery, where we became better acquainted and eventually became friends.
Now listen to what this man had done. He was orphaned from his youth. He never knew his parents; he grew up in an orphanage. When he grew up, he worked as a porter in the port of Thessaloniki.
He married, and was very happy for that, as he had found the family that he longed for. His in-laws were like parents to him. They moved into a house near his in-laws and he was extremely fond of them. Imagine that, after leaving work every day, he would first go to his in-laws to greet them, to see if they needed anything, and would afterwards go to his own home to see his wife.
He was also very pious. He would repeat the prayer “My Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me”. He would carry loads and pray.
He was concerned however, that his in-laws were not believers. In fact, his father-in-law blasphemed and that made him very sad… So, he prayed to God, asking Him not to take them away from this life, before they had properly repented… He even asked me to pray for this problem..
So, there came a time that his father-in-law became very ill, and had to be taken to hospital. He was in there for days. One day, after work as usual, he went directly to the hospital, without passing by his home first. He looked for his father-in-law, but didn’t find him in his room… He searched everywhere, asking for him… “Who? Him? Oh, he passed away.. He’s downstairs, in the morgue, where they keep all the deceased patients”, they told him.
It was as if lightning had struck him. “Why, my Lord, did You take him away, if he wasn’t ready, and he didn’t even have a chance to repent? Why, my God?”
He began to pray fervently, with profound pain: “What is it for God, to bring him back? Nothing!” he thought, and began to beseech God accordingly.
He found his way downstairs, and looked around in the morgue, only to find him frozen, dead. He grabbed his father-in-law by the hand, insisting, “Come on, get up, let’s go home”. The dead man immediately came alive…he got up and followed him….
— Really, Geron, did that really happen? I asked him, dumbfounded.
— Yes, it is really true.
— And is that man still alive today?
— No, he has passed away... he lived on for a few more years, he repented, he became a much kinder person… a veritable lamb, and Christ then took him into Paradise….
I was amazed.
— Do things like that actually happen in our day? I asked with wonder…
— See?... and he was an ordinary layman. But he had such simplicity!!! And such profound faith. Didn’t Christ say: «whomsoever believes in Me, can do whatever I do, and even greater things»? Why should this incident seem strange? Didn’t Christ resurrect the dead? Lazarus, the widow’s son, Jaerus’ daughter? Didn’t the Apostles resurrect the dead?… Haven’t we read so many wonders in the lives of the saints?
Why should this seem strange?
Posted 10 September 2012 - 09:00 AM
Posted 10 September 2012 - 05:44 PM
Beloved Elder Paisios is appearing and granting miracles through his intercessions to many people in Greece. He may not be officially declared a saint, but he is definitely a saint of God who many men, young and old, were fortunate to have met at his 'hut'.
An elder from Mt. Athos that my husband met when he was a pilgrim there, sent us a wonderful long CD about the Elder's life and teachings, and it starts with hearing his sweet voice singing hymns. :-)
Another wonderful video I had come across was a talk which Bishop Athanasios (referred to as Father Maximos in 'Mountain of Silence' by Kyriakos Markides) gave remembering the blessed moments he had with the Elder when he spent time with him when he was a young monk.
Be well...and may the blessings and intercessions of sweet and holy Elder Paisios in heaven help us in our spiritual and worldly struggles,
Posted 13 September 2012 - 08:33 AM
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