Paisios (Eznepidis)

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[[Image:Paisiostomb.JPG|right|thumbnail|Tomb of Elder Paisios]][[Image:PaisiosPlaque.JPG|right|thumbnail|Plaque at tomb]]'''Elder Paisios''' of [[Mount Athos|Mount Athos]] (Greek: Γέροντος Παϊσίου του Αγιορείτου) is probably the biggest legacy of the Orthodox world of the 20th century after Saint Nektarios. Elder Paisios is considered by the Orthodox as a contemporary saint. [http://noctoc-noctoc.blogspot.com/2008/08/elder-panteleimon-of-hamatouraa-hidden.html?showComment=1217990940000]
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[[Image:Elder Paisios of Mount Athos.jpg|right|thumb|210px|Elder [[Paisios (Eznepidis)]] of Mount Athos.]][[Image:Paisiostomb.JPG|right|thumbnail|Tomb of Elder Paisios]][[Image:PaisiosPlaque.JPG|right|thumbnail|Plaque at tomb]]
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'''Paisios (Eznepidis)''', the '''Elder Paisios of Mount Athos''', (Greek: Γέροντας Παΐσιος ο Αγιορείτης) was a monastic of [[Mount Athos]]. An [[asceticism|ascetic]], he was known by his visitors for his gentle manner and acceptance of those who came to receive his advice, counsel, and blessing. His words of counsel continue to be published. [http://noctoc-noctoc.blogspot.com/2008/08/elder-panteleimon-of-hamatouraa-hidden.html?showComment=1217990940000]
  
==Biography==
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==Life==
On [[July 25]], Arsenios Eznepidis was born in Farasa, Cappadocia, shortly before the population exchange between Greece and Turkey. Arsenios' name was given to him by St [[Arsenios the Cappadocian]], who baptised him, named the child for himself and foretold Arsenios' [[monasticism|monastic]] future. After the exchange, the Eznepidis family settled in Konitsa, Epirus. Arsenios grew up here, and after intermediate public school, he learned carpentry.
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Arsenios Eznepidis was born on [[July 25]], 1924 to pious parents in the town of Farasa, Cappadocia of Asia Minor, shortly before the population exchange between Greece and Turkey following the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922. Arsenios' name was given to him by St. [[Arsenios the Cappadocian]], who baptized him, named the child for himself and foretold Arsenios' [[monasticism|monastic]] future. Very shortly after his [[baptism]] the young Arsenios and his family were forced to leave Asia Minor in accordance the peace Treaty of Lausanne. St. Arsenios guided his flock along a 400-mile trek to Greece. The Eznepidis family finally settled in the town of Konitsa in Epirus in northwestern Greece. As he had prophesied, St. Arsenios reposed forty days after the group settled in Greece, leaving, as his spiritual heir, the infant Arsenios. Arsenios grew up in Konitsa and learned carpentry after completing intermediate public school.
  
During the civil war in Greece, Arsenios served as a radio operator. He worried about his compatriots who had family, whereas he didn't worry for himself because he was single and had no children. He was noted for his bravery, self-sacrifice and moral righteousness. After the civil war ended, he wanted to begin the monastic life, but had to provide for his sisters. In 1950, this was accomplished, and he went to Mt Athos: first to Fr Kyril, the future abbot of [[Koutloumousiou Monastery (Athos)]], and then to [[Esphigmenou Monastery (Athos)|Esphigmenou Monastery]] (although he was not supportive of their later opposition to the [[Church of Constantinople|Ecumenical Patriarchate]]).
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During the civil war in Greece following World War II, Arsenios served as a radio operator. While concerned about his compatriots who had family, he didn't worry for himself because he was single and had no children. He was noted for his bravery, self-sacrifice and moral righteousness. After the civil war ended, he wanted to enter a monastic life, but had to consider his sisters, who were as yet unmarried. By 1950, he had provided for his sisters' future and was free to begin his monastic vocation.  
  
Arsenios, having been a novice for four years, was tonsured a [[monk]] and was given the name Averkios. Soon after, Fr Averkios went to the (then) [[idiorrhythmic]] brotherhood of [[Philotheou Monastery (Athos)|Philotheou]], where his uncle was a monk. While there, he was in obedience to Elder Symeon. In 1956, Elder Symeon was to tonsure Fr Averkios to the [[small schema]], giving him the name Paisios.
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He arrived on [[Mount Athos]] in 1950, first to Fr. Kyril, the future [[abbot]] of [[Koutloumousiou Monastery (Athos)|Koutloumousiou Monastery]], and then to [[Esphigmenou Monastery (Athos)|Esphigmenou Monastery]]. In 1954, Arsenios, having been a [[novice]] for four years, was [[tonsure]]d a [[monk]] and was given the name Averkios. He was a conscientious [[monk]], finding ways to both complete his obediences (which required contact with others) and to preserve his silence, so as to progress in the art of prayer. He was always selfless in helping his brethren. He was unwilling to rest while others worked (though he may have already completed his own obediences) as he loved his brothers greatly and without distinction. In addition to his ascetic struggles and the common life in the [[monastery]], he was spiritually enriched through the reading of soul-profiting books. In particular, he read the lives of the Saints, the [[Gerontikon]], and especially the [[Ascetical Homilies]] of St. [[Isaac the Syrian]].[http://elderpaisios.com/Life/index.htm]s.
  
===Timeline===
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Soon after his tonsure, monk Averkios left Esphigmenou and joined the then idiorhythmic brotherhood of [[Philotheou Monastery (Athos)|Philotheou Monastery]], where his uncle was a monk. He placed himself under obedience to the Elder Symeon, who gave him the Small Schema in 1956, with the new name Paisios. Fr. Paisios dwelt deeply on the thought that his own spiritual failures and lack of love were the cause of his neighbor's shortcomings, as well as of the world's ills. He harshly accused himself and pushed himself to greater self-denial and more fervent prayer for his soul and for the whole world. He also cultivated the habit of seeking the "good reason" for a potentially scandalous event and for people's actions. In this way he preserved himself from judging others. For example, pilgrims to Mt. Athos who had been scandalized by the strange behavior and stories told by a certain monk would when they met Elder Paisios, asked him what was wrong with the monk. He warned them not to judge others, and that this monk was actually virtuous and was simply pretending to be a fool when visitors would come, so as to preserve his silence.
*1958: Fr Paisios was asked to spend time in his home village to support the faithful against [[Protestant]]ism.
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*1962: Fr Paisios went to Sinai.
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*1964: On his return to Mt Athos, Fr Paisios took up residence at the [[Skete of Iviron (Athos)|Skete of Iviron]], then at [[Katounakia (Athos)|Katounakia]].  His failing health may have led him to leave Katounakia.
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*1966: Fr Paisios had an operation, and part of his lungs were removed. During this time, his friendship with the sisterhood of [[Monastery of St. John the Theologian (Souroti, Greece)|St. John the Theologian]], Souroti, began.  Elder Paisios would place the relics of St Arsenios the Cappadocian in this monastery.
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*1968: Fr Paisios went to [[Stavronikita Monastery (Athos)|Stavronikita Monastery]] and helped in its spiritual and material renovation.  While there, he was the disciple of Elder [[Tychon the Athonite|Tychon]], who lived in the hermitage of the Holy Cross.  Fr Paisios was then clothed in the Great Schema by Elder Tychon, and after Elder Tychon's repose, Fr Paisios resided in that hermitage.
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*1979: Elder Paisios moved to Panagouda, a hermitage belonging to Koutloumousiou Monastery.  It was here that his fame grew.  Between prayer and assisting his visitors, he only rested for two or three hours each night.
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*1993 Oct 5: Elder Paisios left Mt Athos for medical attention.  Despite his wish to be gone only a few days, he was diagnosed with cancer, requiring immediate surgery. After recovery, he was transferred to the Monastery of St. John the Theologian, Souroti.
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:Despite wishing to return to Mt Athos, his health did not allow it.
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*1994 Jul 12: Having received Communion the previous day, Elder Paisios reposed and was buried at the Monastery in Souroti, next to the church of St Arsenios the Cappadocian.
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==Early life==
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In 1958, Elder Paisios was asked to spend some time in and around his home village so as to support the faithful against the proselytism of Protestant groups. He greatly encouraged the faithful there, helping many people. Later, in 1962, he visited [[St. Catherine's Monastery (Sinai)|Sinai]] where he stayed for two years. During this time he became beloved of the Bedouins who benefited both spiritually as well as materially from his presence. The Elder used the money he received from the sale of his carved wooden handicraft to buy them food.
On July 25, 1924 the future Elder Paisios (Eznepidis) was born to pious parents in the town of Farasa, Cappadocia of Asia Minor. The family's spiritual father, the priest monk Arsenios (the now canonized St. [[Arsenios of Cappadocia]]), baptized the babe with his name, prophesying his future profession as monk. A week after the baptism (and barely a month after his birth) Arsenios was driven, along with his family, out of Asia Minor by the Turks. St. Arsenios guided his flock along their 400-mile trek to Greece. After a number of stops along the way, Arsenios' family finally ended up in the town of Konitsa in Epiros (northwestern Greece). St. Arsenios had reposed, as he had prophesied, forty days after their establishment in Greece, and he left as his spiritual heir the infant Arsenios.
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The young Arsenios was wholly given over to God and spent his free time in the silence of nature, where he would pray for hours on end. Having completed his elementary education, he learned the trade of carpentry. He worked as a carpenter until his mandatory military service. He served in the Army during the dangerous days of the end of World War II. Arsenios was brave and self-sacrificing, always desiring to put his own life at risk so as to spare his brother. He was particularly concerned about his fellow soldiers who had left wives and children to serve.
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In 1964, on his return to Mt. Athos, Elder Paisios took up residence at the Skete of [[Iviron Monastery (Athos)|Iviron]] before moving to Katounakia at the southernmost tip of Mt. Athos for a short stay in the desert there. The Elder's failing health may have been part of the reason for his departure from the desert. In 1966, a part of his lungs was removed during an operation. It was during this time of hospitalization that his long friendship began with the young sisterhood of St. [[Apostle John|John the Theologian]] in Souroti, just outside of Thessaloniki. During his operation he greatly needed blood and it was then that a group of novices from the monastery donated blood to save him. Elder Paisios was most grateful, and after his recovery, he did whatever he could, materially and spiritually, to help them build their [[monastery]].
  
Having completed his obligation to his country, Arsenios received his discharge in 1949 and greatly desired to begin his monastic life on the Holy Mountain. Before being able to settle there, however, he had to fulfil his responsibility to his family, to look after his sisters, who were as yet unmarried. Having provided for his sisters' future, he was free to begin his monastic vocation with a clean conscience. He arrived on Mt. Athos in 1950, when he learned his first lessons in the monastic way from the virtuous ascetic Fr. Kyril (the future abbot of [[Koutloumousiou Monastery]]), but was unable to stay by his side as he had hoped, and so was sent to the [[Monastery of Esphigmenou]]. He was a novice there for four years, after which he was tonsured a monk in 1954 with the name Averkios. He was a conscientious monk, finding ways to both complete his obediences (which required contact with others) and to preserve his silence, so as to progress in the art of prayer. He was always selfless in helping his brethren, unwilling to rest while others worked (though he may have already completed his own obediences), as he loved his brothers greatly and without distinction. In addition to his ascetic struggles and the common life in the monastery, he was spiritually enriched through the reading of soul-profiting books. In particular, he read the lives of the Saints, the [[Gerontikon]], and especially the [[Ascetical Homilies]] of St. [[Isaac the Syrian]].[http://elderpaisios.com/Life/index.htm]
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In 1968, he resided at the [[Stavronikita Monastery (Athos)|Monastery of Stavronikita]] helping with its spiritual as well as material renovation. While there he had the blessing of being in contact with the ascetic [[Elder Tikhon]] who lived in the [[Hermitage]] of the Holy Cross, near Stavronikita. Elder Paisios stayed by his side until his repose, serving him selflessly as his [[disciple]]. It was during this period that Elder Tikhon clothed Fr. Paisios in the Great Schema. According to the wishes of the Elder, Fr. Paisios remained in Elder Tikhon's hermitage after his repose. Fr. Paisios stayed there until 1979, when he moved to his final home on the Holy Mountain, the hermitage Panagouda, which belongs to the Monastery of Koutloumousiou.
 
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==Monastic Life==
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Soon after his tonsure, monk Averkios left Esphigmenou and joined the (then) idiorhythmic brotherhood of [[Philotheou Monastery]], where his uncle was a monk. He put himself under obedience to the virtuous Elder Symeon, who gave him the Small Schema in 1956, with the new name Paisios. Fr. Paisios dwelt deeply on the thought that his own spiritual failures and lack of love were the cause of his neighbor's shortcomings, as well as of the world's ills. He harshly accused himself, pushing himself to greater self-denial and more fervent prayer for his soul and for the whole world. Furthermore, he cultivated the habit of always seeking the "good reason" for a potentially scandalous event and for people's actions, and in this way he preserved himself from judging others. For example, pilgrims to Mt. Athos had been scandalized by the strange behavior and stories told by a certain monk, and, when they met Elder Paisios, they asked him what was wrong with the monk. He warned them not to judge others, and that this monk was actually virtuous and was simply pretending to be a fool when visitors would come, so as to preserve his silence.
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In 1958 Elder Paisios was asked to spend some time in and around his home village so as to support the faithful against the proselytism of Protestant groups. He greatly encouraged the faithful there, helping many people. Afterwards, in 1962, he left to visit [[Sinai]] where he stayed for two years. During this time he became beloved of the Bedouins who benefited both spiritually as well as materially from his presence. The Elder used the money he received from the sale of his carved wooden handicraft to buy them food.
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On his return to Mt. Athos in 1964 Elder Paisios took up residence at the Skete of Iviron before moving to Katounakia at the southernmost tip of Mt. Athos for a short stay in the desert there. The Elder's failing health may have been part of the reason for his departure from the desert. In 1966, he was operated on and had part of his lungs removed. It was during this time of hospitalization that his long friendship with the then young sisterhood of St. [[John the Theologian]] in Souroti, just outside of Thessaloniki, began. During his operation he greatly needed blood and it was then that a group of novices from the monastery donated blood to save him. Elder Paisios was most grateful, and after his recovery did whatever he could, materially and spiritually, to help them build their monastery.
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In 1968 he spent time at the [[Monastery of Stavronikita]] helping both with its spiritual as well as material renovation. While there he had the blessing of being in contact with the ascetic [[Elder Tikhon]] who lived in the hermitage of the Holy Cross, near Stavronikita. Elder Paisios stayed by his side until his repose, serving him selflessly as his disciple. It was during this time that Elder Tikhon clothed Fr. Paisios in the Great Schema. According to the wishes of the Elder, Fr. Paisios remained in his hermitage after his repose. He stayed there until 1979, when he moved on to his final home on the Holy Mountain, the hermitage Panagouda, which belongs to the [[Monastery of Koutloumousiou]].
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[http://elderpaisios.com/Life/lifetwo.htm]
 
[http://elderpaisios.com/Life/lifetwo.htm]
  
It was here at Panagouda that Elder Paisios' fame as a God bearing elder grew, drawing to him the sick and suffering people of God. He received them all day long, dedicating the night to God in prayer, vigil and spiritual struggle. His regime of prayer and asceticism left him with only two or three hours each night for rest. The self-abandon with which he served God and his fellow man, his strictness with himself, the austerity of his regime, and his sensitive nature made him increasingly prone to sickness. In addition to respiratory problems, in his later days he suffered from a serious hernia that made life very painful. When he was forced to leave the Holy Mountain for various reasons (often due to his illnesses) he would receive pilgrims for hours on end at the women's monastery at Souroti, and the physical effort which this entailed in his weakened state caused him such pain that he would turn pale. He bore his suffering with much grace, however, confident that, as God knows what is best for us, it could not be otherwise. He would say that God is greatly touched when someone who is in great suffering does not complain, but rather uses his energy to pray for others.
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It was at Panagouda that Elder Paisios' fame as a God bearing elder grew, drawing to him the sick and suffering people of God. He received them all day long, dedicating the night to God in prayer, vigil, and spiritual struggle. His regime of prayer and asceticism left him with only two or three hours each night for rest. The self-abandon with which he served God and his fellow man, his strictness with himself, the austerity of his regime, and his sensitive nature made him increasingly prone to sickness. In addition to respiratory problems, in his later days he suffered from a serious hernia that made life very painful. When he was forced to leave the Holy Mountain for various reasons (often due to his illnesses) he would receive pilgrims for hours on end at the women's monastery at Souroti. The physical effort which this entailed in his weakened state caused him such pain that he would turn pale. He bore his suffering with much grace, confident that, as God knows what is best for us, it could not be otherwise. He would say that God is greatly touched when someone who is in great suffering does not complain, but rather uses his energy to pray for others.
 
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In addition to his other illnesses he suffered from hemorrhaging which left him very weak. In his final weeks before leaving the Holy Mountain, he would often fall unconscious. On October 5, 1993 the Elder left his beloved Holy Mountain for the last time. Though he had planned on being off the mountain for just a few days, while in [[Thessaloniki]] he was diagnosed with cancer that needed immediate treatment. After the operation he spent some time recovering in the hospital and was then transferred to the monastery at [[Souroti]]. Despite his critical state he received people, listening to their sorrows and counseling them.
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After his operation, Elder Paisios had his heart set on returning to Mt. Athos. His attempts to do so, however, were hindered by his failing health. His last days were full of suffering, but also of the joy of the martyrs. On July 11, 1994, he received [[Holy Communion]] for the last time. The next day, Elder Paisios gave his soul into God's keeping. He was buried, according to his wishes, at the Monastery of St. John the Theologian in Souroti. Elder Paisios, perhaps more than any other contemporary elder, has captured the minds and hearts of the Greek people. Many books of his counsels have been published , and the monastery at Souroti has undertaken a great work, organizing the Elder's writings and counsels into impressive volumes befitting his memory. Thousands of pilgrims visit his tomb each year.
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==Quotes==
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'''Asceticism''': "The soft life makes people useless.  Without toil and struggle sanctification won't come." -- in ''Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit'', p.139
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'''Ecclesiology''': "Unfortunately, in our days, there are many people who upset the mother Church.  Of these, those that are educated have understood dogma with their minds and not with the spirit of the [[Holy Fathers]].  At the same time, those who are unlettered have grabbed hold of [[dogma]] with their teeth, which is why they grind their teeth when they speak about ecclesiastical topics.  In this way, greater harm is caused by those in the Church than by those who battle it from without." -- in ''Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit'', p.131
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'''Education''': "One word of a humble and (spiritually) experienced man that is painfully born from the depths of his heart has greater worth than a bunch of clever sayings of an external man that come out quickly from his educated mouth.  His words don't speak truth to the souls of men, for they are fleshly words and not the flames of the fire of [[Pentecost]]." -- in ''Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit'', p.134
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'''Fleeing the world''': "The monk flees far from the world, not because he detests the world, but because he loves the world and in this way he is better able to help the world through his prayer, in things that don't happen humanly but only through divine intervention.  In this way God saves the world." -- in ''Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit'', p.132
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'''Missions''': "That which is asked of every Orthodox person is to instill a 'good uneasiness' into the heterodox, that they might understand that they are in delusion.  This is so they will not falsely calm their conscience and thus be deprived in this life of the rich blessings of Orthodoxy and in the life to come of the even greater and eternal blessings of God." -- in ''Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit'', p.131-2
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'''Prayer''': "If you want to grab God's attention so He'll hear you during prayer, turn the dial to humility, for God always works in this frequency, then humbly ask for His mercy." -- in ''Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit'', p.137
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'''Renouncing the world''': "The monk is helped greatly when the monastery is far from the world, far from archeological sites and worldly noises.  Even monasteries that are great sites of pilgrimage lose sight of their true goal, for many times from being a monastery they end up as a business." -- in ''Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit'', p.132-3
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==Exerpts from Counsels==
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*The humble are like nightingales that hide in ravines and spread joy to the souls of men with their sweet songs.
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*We mustn't despair when we struggle and continuously see nothing but the slightest progress.
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*Unfortunately, in our days, there are many people who upset the mother Church. Of these, those that are educated have understood dogma with their minds and not with the spirit of the Holy Fathers. At the same time, those who are unlettered have grabbed hold of dogma with their teeth, which is why they grind their teeth when they speak about ecclesiastical topics. In this way, greater harm is caused by those in the Church than by those who battle it from without.
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*That which is asked of every Orthodox person is to instill a "good uneasiness" into the heterodox,' that they might understand that they are in delusion. This is so they will not falsely calm their conscience and thus be deprived in this life of the rich blessings of Orthodoxy and in the life to come of the even greater and eternal blessings of God.
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*The person who is possessed by material things is always subjugated to unhappiness and anxiety, for on the one hand he trembles for fear that they take his things away from him, while on the other he trembles for fear that his soul be taken from him. Now, the miser whose hand is sore from his tight hold on things, also squeezed his own heart, and turned it into stone. In order for him to be healed, he must visit unhappy people, to suffer, so he will be forced to open his hand slowly, slowly, and his heart of stone will also start to soften. It will become a human heart and in this way the gates of Paradise will also open.
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*The monk flees far from the world, not because he detests the world, but because he loves the world and in this way he is better able to help the world through his prayer, in things that don't happen humanly but only through divine intervention. In this way God saves the world.
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*The monk is helped greatly when the monastery is far from the world, far from archeological areas and worldly noises. Even monasteries that are great sites of pilgrimage lose sight of their true goal, for many times from being a monastery they end up as a business. For this reason some bishops, very rightly, would like to have these sites, for monastics must love poverty, which they were ordered by God to preserve. Unfortunately, however, they do not limit themselves to the necessary, the simple, as much for themselves as, more generally, for the monastery. Nor do they refuse things from the faithful, or encourage them to help, on their own, our poor, suffering brethren. But what do they do instead? They gather the sweat even of the poor and fill the monastery with a huge amount of oil lamps and bells, thinking that God is glorified in this way. This type of piety, however, is like the piety which many Russian clerics had who became the cause, though they didn't intend it, of the oil lamps, chandeliers and bells being made into cannons so as to hit the very Church of Christ.
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*When an elder doesn't have much experience, but has a great deal of love and much humility, he is able to help his spiritual children by means of the guidance of more experienced elders, as well as by the grace of God, which he continually receives due to his great humility. However, the young cleric who gathers young people as his disciples reveals his great pride, which he has down to the marrow of his bones. He is like a baby born with a beard-a monster-and those that follow him reveal that they have an ailment of the brain or heart. Also, those clerics who study psychology so as to help souls using human contrivances are not spiritually well. The strange thing is that their teachers of psychology don't believe in God or in the existence of the soul. If they accept the soul's existence, they do so in their own unique way. In this way these clerics show that they are spiritually sick and that they need to be examined by the Holy Fathers. Having been healed, they would be able to discern, on their own, the sick spirit and would experience divine grace at the same time. Thus from that time forth they would use the divine energy for those suffering souls and not human contrivances.
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*Those who rush to be made spiritual fathers, though they still have many spiritual toxins, are like unripe, sour quince, which, as much sugar as we may pour on, never becomes a nice sweet; but, even if it does, it quickly gets sour.' Sweet words and great truths have value when they come from genuine mouths, and are received only by those souls that are well-disposed and by those great people who have a pure mind.
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*One word of a humble and [spiritually] experienced man that is painfully born from the depths of his heart has greater worth than a bunch of clever sayings of an external mans that come out quickly from his educated mouth. His words don't speak truth to the souls of men, for they are fleshly words and not the flames of the fire of Pentecost.
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*If a passionate man tries to correct an egotist, steel hits flint and fires are ignited! If he tries to correct a sensitive person, he hurts him greatly. It would be like a wild man taking a thick wire brush to clean out a little mucus from a baby's eye.
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*What a wonderful thing it will be when we know ourselves! Then humility will be for us a state of being, and God will position us well with His divine gifts. Then the spiritual laws will cease working, and the one who rises the highest will humble himself, for we will all walk low, we won't fall and we will continually receive the grace of God which is given to the humble.
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*Holy asceticism, together with its great self-denial, which is born from great faith in a burst of love for God, brings man to true joy. He is happy to live, for his heart flutters, glorifying his God of benefactions. He is also happy to die, for he thus goes close to God again, and will continue there his doxology.
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*Virtue has the habit of betraying man, wherever he may hide. Though he may act as a fool-for-Christ,' still he will be betrayed, though it may bee later on, and he will help many souls.
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*The goal of reading is the application, in our lives, of what we read. Not to learn it by heart, but to take it to heart. Not to practice using our tongues, but to be able to receive the tongues of fire and to live the mysteries of God. If one studies a great deal in order to acquire knowledge and to teach others, without living the things he teaches, he does no more than fill his head with hot air. At most he will manage to ascend to the moon using machines. The goal of the Christian is to rise to God without machines.
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*Let us not expect the spiritual spring if we don't first pass through the spiritual winter during which the spiritual vermin die. We mustn't expect the divine to blossom within us if the human hasn't first died.
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*Costly (fervent) love, which sacrifices itself and does not partake of the world, is itself consumed by the love of God from within. The life of man is then a continuous Lent and all of his days are a continuous joy of light. Costly love for God, with its sacrifices sweetens the heart to boiling, and divine love, which cannot be held in, like steam, soars and so unites to God. This state of spiritual madness not only takes man out of himself, but even the heart is taken from the flesh, that is, from the fleshly desires, and is clothed completely in, and refined in God.
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*Those who constantly partake of the love of God are often indifferent to material nourishment. Or, if they eat, they don't taste the food, for even then they continue to feel God intensely and to partake of the sweet blessing of His love. When the heart becomes a furnace through the love of God, it is then able to burn up all vanity that approaches, and this brings internal peace when man passes through the fiery trials of his life.
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*There are no people more blessed than those who have made contact with the "heavenly television station" and who are piously connected to God. In the same way, no people are more wretched than those who have cut contact with God and wander, dizzy, around the world, flipping through the world's many television stations so as to forget, if only for a short time, the anguish of the derailment of their lives.
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*It is very helpful to read a bit of the Gerontikon before beginning to pray. Then your heart will warm up, the lid will come down on your many worldly cares, and you will be able to pray without distraction.
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*In the hour of prayer, when our mind wanders to thoughts of bad things, or if these thoughts come without our wanting them, we shouldn't wage an offensive war against the enemy, because, even if all the lawyers in the world joined together, they wouldn't make any headway with a little demon. Only through ignoring them can one chase these thoughts away. The same is true for blasphemous thoughts.
+
 
+
*If you want to grab God's attention so He'll hear you during prayer, turn the dial to humility, for God always works in this frequency; then humbly ask for His mercy.
+
 
+
*My brother, don't ask for anything in prayer except for repentance. Repentance will bring you humility, humility will bring you the grace of God, and God will uphold you in His grace and will give you whatever you need for your own salvation as well as whatever is needed, should the case arise, for you to help another soul in need.
+
 
+
*When man is spiritually healthy and distances himself from other people, so as to better help them through his prayers, then he regards all people as holy and only himself does he regard as a sinner.
+
 
+
*If we haven't got control of our mind during the hour of spiritual study we are not benefited at all. We simply yawn and tire ourselves without a goal, for we cannot remember anything. In the same way, when the printer doesn't have his mind on his work and forgets to put ink in, the printing presses work without printing anything.
+
 
+
*All evil begins in the mind, when it is interested only in science. Scientists don't find their inner peace and their balance then. However, when their minds are attached to God, scientists use their science to cultivate their inner world and to help the world, for their minds are sanctified.
+
 
+
*The mind, when it begins to spend time near God, oftentimes forgets, not only its dwelling, but even this dwelling of the soul, this earthen flesh.
+
 
+
*In all things we must put forth good thoughts and refuse to accept evil telegrams" if we want to purify our heart and change the evil machines of the heart into good machines; then gold will be turned into holy chalices and broken bells into chandeliers.' Even discarded paper will be turned into fresh napkins. When, however, the heart is evil and it views good gold as bronze, it will make it into bullets and cannonballs.
+
 
+
*Oh, blessed desert by which created man is so greatly helped to be reconciled with his Creator, and is transformed into an earthly Paradise - as you gather once again the wild animals around the person you tamed!
+
 
+
*As much as is possible, love the desert and the immaterial life, and fly from your material possessions to the fold of the poor. Simplify your life so as to be freed from worldly anxiety, so that your life might have meaning.
+
 
+
*Conscience is the first law of God, which He carved deeply into the hearts of the first-created. In turn we each make a photocopy from our parents when we're born. Those who manage to heighten their sense of conscience through daily study of themselves feel themselves to be foreigners in this world, and worldly people are baffled by their gracious behavior. Those who haven't studied their conscience benefit neither from their spiritual studies nor from counsels from their elders. They won't even be able to keep God's commandments, for they have lost their senses altogether.
+
 
+
*The soft life makes people useless. Without toil and struggle sanctification doesn't come.
+
 
+
*When one realizes one's sinfulness and the great mercy of God, the heart cracks, as hard as it may be, and real tears fall of themselves and then man prays and weeps without effort. This is because humility works continuously together with philotimo and drills on the heart so that the springs increase, and the hand of God continually strokes the hard-working and philotimo child.
+
 
+
*Let us struggle with all our powers to gain Paradise. The gate is very narrow, and don't listen to those who say that everyone will be saved. This is a trap of satan so that we won't struggle.
+
 
+
*Christ is wholly love, goodness and consolation, and never suffocates. He has an abundance of spiritual oxygen.
+
 
+
*God allows temptations so as to dust off our soul, for it to be purified through sorrows and weeping, so that we are forced to take refuge in God for our salvation.
+
 
+
*Theology is the word of God that is comprehended by pure, humble and spiritually reborn souls. It is not the beautiful words of the mind which are formed with philological artistry and which are expressed with the juridical or worldly spirit. Created words can't speak to man's soul, just as a beautiful statue is not able to speak, unless the audience is very worldly and is satisfied simply by beautiful words. Theology that is taught as a [worldly] science usually examines things historically and consequently understands things externally. Because patristic asceticism and inner experience are absent, this theology is full of doubts and questions. With his mind man is not able to comprehend the divine energies unless he first struggles ascetically to live these energies, so that the grace of God might work within him.
+
 
+
*Children contract their first spiritual colds from the open windows of their parents' senses. The mother passes on her cold especially when she is not modestly dressed and scandalizes her children with her behavior.
+
 
+
*The holy life of parents instructs the souls of their children and so they naturally obey them and grow up with piety and without psychological problems, and the children are pleased with their parents. The parents are gladdened by their children in this life and in life eternal, where they will once again glory in them.
+
 
+
*Whoever is at peace in the material world and is not concerned about the salvation of his soul is like the senseless birds who don't make a noise from within the egg, so as to break the shell and come out to enjoy the sun-the heavenly flight in the life of Paradise-but instead remain unmoving and die inside the egg shell.
+
 
+
*The pretense of worldly politeness is very harmful, for it fools one and opens one's heart to the worldly person, and in the final analysis it wastes one's piety, for the worldly person doesn't know what piety is. It's like giving golden pounds to people that only know bronze pennies.
+
 
+
*Blows are necessary for the salvation of our souls, for they cleanse the soul. The more one hits and rubs clothing, the better it is cleaned. Similarly, the more one hits octopus and cuttlefish, the more they are softened and washed from ink.
+
 
+
*Live in constant glorification of and thanksgiving towards God, for the greatest sin is ingratitude and the worst sinner is the ungrateful person.
+
 
+
*At the beginning of the spiritual life, out of love, God doesn't allow anyone to realize either his sinfulness or the many benefactions that He bestows on him, so as to keep him from despair, especially if he is sensitive.
+
 
+
*Those who are in the world must not despair when they are overcome by many passions, and when their nature is unruly and races passionately downwards. Rather, they must trust in the almighty power of God and turn the steering wheel of their powerful engine back onto the road toward God, upwards. Soon after they will pass other, slow-moving cars, which for years have been driving the road toward God
+
 
+
*How can I not trust the Holy Fathers? They were far more experienced, and virtuous, and saintly. How can I agree to something that is nonsense?  How can I tolerate someone abusing the Holy Fathers?” We must have faith in Tradition.
+
 
+
*The Holy Fathers must have known something, when they forbade every association with a heretic.  Nowadays they say: “We should all pray together – not only with a heretic, but also with a Buddhist and a fire-worshipper and a demon-worshipper.  The Orthodox should also participate in these common prayers and conventions. It is a matter of being present.
+
 
+
*I was once visited by some Catholic youth who had good intentions, and were ready to acquaint themselves with Orthodoxy. “We want you to say something to us, so that we will be helped spiritually”, they told me.  “Look”, I replied, “find a book on Ecclesiastic History, and you will see how we once used to be together, and then see where you wound up. This will help you immensely.  Do it, and the next time, we will talk about many things.”
+
  
*It is not freedom when we say to people that everything is permitted. That is slavery.  
+
In addition to his other illnesses he suffered from hemorrhaging which left him very weak. In his final weeks before leaving the Holy Mountain, he would often fall unconscious. On [[October 5]], 1993, the Elder left his beloved Holy Mountain for the last time. Though he had planned on being off the mountain for just a few days, while in Thessaloniki he was diagnosed with cancer that needed immediate treatment. After the operation he spent some time recovering in the hospital and was then transferred to the monastery at Souroti. Despite his critical state he received people, listening to their sorrows and counseling them.
  
*That which is asked of every Orthodox person is to instill a "good uneasiness" into the heterodox,' that they might understand that they are in delusion. This is so they will not falsely calm their conscience and thus be deprived in this life of the rich blessings of Orthodoxy and in the life to come of the even greater and eternal blessings of God.
+
After his operation, Elder Paisios had his heart set on returning to Mt. Athos. His attempts to do so, however, were hindered by his failing health. His last days were full of suffering, but also of the joy of the [[martyr]]s. On [[July 11]], 1994, he received [[Holy Communion]] for the last time. The next day, Elder Paisios gave his soul into God's keeping. He was buried, according to his wishes, at the [[Monastery of St. John the Theologian (Souroti)|Monastery of St. John the Theologian]] in Souroti. Elder Paisios, perhaps more than any other contemporary elder, captured the minds and hearts of the Greek people. Many books of his counsels have been published, and the monastery at Souroti has undertaken a great work, organizing the Elder's writings and counsels into impressive volumes befitting his memory. Thousands of pilgrims visit his tomb each year.
  
==Works==
+
== Works ==
===Translated into English===
+
* ''Saint Arsenios the Cappadocian'', translated into English and published in 1989 and 2001 by Holy Monastery "Evangelist John the Theologian", Souroti, [[Thessalonica|Thessaloniki]], Greece.
*''Saint Arsenios the Cappadocian'', translated into English and published in 1989 and 2001 by Holy Monastery "Evangelist John the Theologian", Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece.
+
* ''Elder Hadji-Georgis the Athonite'', translated into English and published in 1996 by Holy Monastery "Evangelist John the Theologian", Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece.
*''Elder Hadji-Georgis the Athonite'', translated into English and published in 1996 by Holy Monastery "Evangelist John the Theologian", Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece.
+
* ''[[Athonite Fathers and Athonite Matters (Elder Paisios)|Athonite Fathers and Athonite Matters]]'', translated into English and published in 1999 by Holy Monastery "Evangelist John the Theologian", Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece.
*''[[Athonite Fathers and Athonite Matters (Elder Paisios)|Athonite Fathers and Athonite Matters]]'', translated into English and published in 1999 by Holy Monastery "Evangelist John the Theologian", Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece.
+
* ''Epistles'', by Elder Paisios of Mount Athos, translated into English and published in Feb 2002 by Holy Monastery "Evangelist John the Theologian", Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece; distributed in the U.S.A. by [http://www.sainthermanpress.com St. Herman of Alaska Monastery].
*''Epistles'', by Elder Paisios of Mount Athos, translated into English and published in Feb 2002 by Holy Monastery "Evangelist John the Theologian", Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece; distributed in the U.S.A. by [http://www.sainthermanpress.com St. Herman of Alaska Monastery].
+
* "Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain," by Priestmonk Christodoulos, published on the Holy Mountain, 1998.
*''Discourses 1: With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man''.
+
* ''Spiritual Counsels, Vol. 1: With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man'', translated into English and published in 2006 by Holy Monastery "Evangelist John the Theologian", Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece.
 +
* ''Spiritual Counsels, Vol. 2: Spiritual Awakening'', translated into English and published in 2008 by Holy Monastery "Evangelist John the Theologian", Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece.
 +
*''Spiritual Counsels, Vol. 3: Spiritual Struggle'', translated into English and published in 2010 by Holy Monastery "Evangelist John the Theologian", Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece.
  
===Others, as yet untranslated===
+
===Untranslated works===
*''Discourses 2 - Spiritual Wakefulness'', 1999 & 2000. <!-- Πνευματική αφ�?πνιση - anyone want to translate the title? -->
+
*''Discourses 3 - Spiritual Struggle'', 2001. <!-- Πνευματικός αγώνας - anyone want to check the translation of the title?-->
+
*Discourses 4 and 5 (unknown titles).
+
  
==Other sources==
+
*''Spiritual Counsels, Vol. 4 - Family'', 2002.
*Middleton, Herman A., 2004,"Elder Paisios the Athonite", in ''Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit: The Lives & Counsels of Contemporary Elders of Greece'', 2nd edn., [[osource:Protecting Veil Press|Protecting Veil Press]], Thessalonica, Greece [http://www.protectingveil.com/available]
+
*''Spiritual Counsels, Vol. 5 - Passions and Virtues'', 2006.
*"Talks with Father Paisios", by Athanasios Rakovalis, published in Thessaloniki in 2000, distributed by St. Nicodemos Publications [http://www.saintnicodemos.org]
+
*[http://elderpaisios.com]
+
  
==External link==
+
== External links==
*[http://www.pigizois.gr/agglika/paisios/10.htm Elder Paisios: A short biography]
+
* [http://www.pigizois.net/agglika/paisios/10.htm Elder Paisios: A short biography]
 +
* [http://www.protectingveil.com/ Middleton, Herman A., 2004,"Elder Paisios the Athonite", in ''Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit: The Lives & Counsels of Contemporary Elders of Greece'', 2nd edn., Protecting Veil Press, Thessalonica, Greece]
 +
* [http://www.saintnicodemos.org/ "Talks with Father Paisios", by Athanasios Rakovalis, published in Thessaloniki in 2000, distributed by St. Nicodemos Publications]
 +
*[[Wikipedia:Greco-Turkish_War_(1919–1922)]]
  
 +
[[Category:Athonite Fathers]]
 
[[Category:Monastics]]
 
[[Category:Monastics]]
 
[[Category:Elders]]
 
[[Category:Elders]]
 +
[[Category:Greek Saints]]
 +
[[Category:20th-century saints]]
  
 
[[el:Γέρων Παΐσιος]]
 
[[el:Γέρων Παΐσιος]]
 
[[ro:Paisie Aghioritul]]
 
[[ro:Paisie Aghioritul]]

Latest revision as of 12:00, October 23, 2012

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Elder Paisios (Eznepidis) of Mount Athos.
Tomb of Elder Paisios
Plaque at tomb

Paisios (Eznepidis), the Elder Paisios of Mount Athos, (Greek: Γέροντας Παΐσιος ο Αγιορείτης) was a monastic of Mount Athos. An ascetic, he was known by his visitors for his gentle manner and acceptance of those who came to receive his advice, counsel, and blessing. His words of counsel continue to be published. [1]

Contents

Life

Arsenios Eznepidis was born on July 25, 1924 to pious parents in the town of Farasa, Cappadocia of Asia Minor, shortly before the population exchange between Greece and Turkey following the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922. Arsenios' name was given to him by St. Arsenios the Cappadocian, who baptized him, named the child for himself and foretold Arsenios' monastic future. Very shortly after his baptism the young Arsenios and his family were forced to leave Asia Minor in accordance the peace Treaty of Lausanne. St. Arsenios guided his flock along a 400-mile trek to Greece. The Eznepidis family finally settled in the town of Konitsa in Epirus in northwestern Greece. As he had prophesied, St. Arsenios reposed forty days after the group settled in Greece, leaving, as his spiritual heir, the infant Arsenios. Arsenios grew up in Konitsa and learned carpentry after completing intermediate public school.

During the civil war in Greece following World War II, Arsenios served as a radio operator. While concerned about his compatriots who had family, he didn't worry for himself because he was single and had no children. He was noted for his bravery, self-sacrifice and moral righteousness. After the civil war ended, he wanted to enter a monastic life, but had to consider his sisters, who were as yet unmarried. By 1950, he had provided for his sisters' future and was free to begin his monastic vocation.

He arrived on Mount Athos in 1950, first to Fr. Kyril, the future abbot of Koutloumousiou Monastery, and then to Esphigmenou Monastery. In 1954, Arsenios, having been a novice for four years, was tonsured a monk and was given the name Averkios. He was a conscientious monk, finding ways to both complete his obediences (which required contact with others) and to preserve his silence, so as to progress in the art of prayer. He was always selfless in helping his brethren. He was unwilling to rest while others worked (though he may have already completed his own obediences) as he loved his brothers greatly and without distinction. In addition to his ascetic struggles and the common life in the monastery, he was spiritually enriched through the reading of soul-profiting books. In particular, he read the lives of the Saints, the Gerontikon, and especially the Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian.[2]s.

Soon after his tonsure, monk Averkios left Esphigmenou and joined the then idiorhythmic brotherhood of Philotheou Monastery, where his uncle was a monk. He placed himself under obedience to the Elder Symeon, who gave him the Small Schema in 1956, with the new name Paisios. Fr. Paisios dwelt deeply on the thought that his own spiritual failures and lack of love were the cause of his neighbor's shortcomings, as well as of the world's ills. He harshly accused himself and pushed himself to greater self-denial and more fervent prayer for his soul and for the whole world. He also cultivated the habit of seeking the "good reason" for a potentially scandalous event and for people's actions. In this way he preserved himself from judging others. For example, pilgrims to Mt. Athos who had been scandalized by the strange behavior and stories told by a certain monk would when they met Elder Paisios, asked him what was wrong with the monk. He warned them not to judge others, and that this monk was actually virtuous and was simply pretending to be a fool when visitors would come, so as to preserve his silence.

In 1958, Elder Paisios was asked to spend some time in and around his home village so as to support the faithful against the proselytism of Protestant groups. He greatly encouraged the faithful there, helping many people. Later, in 1962, he visited Sinai where he stayed for two years. During this time he became beloved of the Bedouins who benefited both spiritually as well as materially from his presence. The Elder used the money he received from the sale of his carved wooden handicraft to buy them food.

In 1964, on his return to Mt. Athos, Elder Paisios took up residence at the Skete of Iviron before moving to Katounakia at the southernmost tip of Mt. Athos for a short stay in the desert there. The Elder's failing health may have been part of the reason for his departure from the desert. In 1966, a part of his lungs was removed during an operation. It was during this time of hospitalization that his long friendship began with the young sisterhood of St. John the Theologian in Souroti, just outside of Thessaloniki. During his operation he greatly needed blood and it was then that a group of novices from the monastery donated blood to save him. Elder Paisios was most grateful, and after his recovery, he did whatever he could, materially and spiritually, to help them build their monastery.

In 1968, he resided at the Monastery of Stavronikita helping with its spiritual as well as material renovation. While there he had the blessing of being in contact with the ascetic Elder Tikhon who lived in the Hermitage of the Holy Cross, near Stavronikita. Elder Paisios stayed by his side until his repose, serving him selflessly as his disciple. It was during this period that Elder Tikhon clothed Fr. Paisios in the Great Schema. According to the wishes of the Elder, Fr. Paisios remained in Elder Tikhon's hermitage after his repose. Fr. Paisios stayed there until 1979, when he moved to his final home on the Holy Mountain, the hermitage Panagouda, which belongs to the Monastery of Koutloumousiou. [3]

It was at Panagouda that Elder Paisios' fame as a God bearing elder grew, drawing to him the sick and suffering people of God. He received them all day long, dedicating the night to God in prayer, vigil, and spiritual struggle. His regime of prayer and asceticism left him with only two or three hours each night for rest. The self-abandon with which he served God and his fellow man, his strictness with himself, the austerity of his regime, and his sensitive nature made him increasingly prone to sickness. In addition to respiratory problems, in his later days he suffered from a serious hernia that made life very painful. When he was forced to leave the Holy Mountain for various reasons (often due to his illnesses) he would receive pilgrims for hours on end at the women's monastery at Souroti. The physical effort which this entailed in his weakened state caused him such pain that he would turn pale. He bore his suffering with much grace, confident that, as God knows what is best for us, it could not be otherwise. He would say that God is greatly touched when someone who is in great suffering does not complain, but rather uses his energy to pray for others.

In addition to his other illnesses he suffered from hemorrhaging which left him very weak. In his final weeks before leaving the Holy Mountain, he would often fall unconscious. On October 5, 1993, the Elder left his beloved Holy Mountain for the last time. Though he had planned on being off the mountain for just a few days, while in Thessaloniki he was diagnosed with cancer that needed immediate treatment. After the operation he spent some time recovering in the hospital and was then transferred to the monastery at Souroti. Despite his critical state he received people, listening to their sorrows and counseling them.

After his operation, Elder Paisios had his heart set on returning to Mt. Athos. His attempts to do so, however, were hindered by his failing health. His last days were full of suffering, but also of the joy of the martyrs. On July 11, 1994, he received Holy Communion for the last time. The next day, Elder Paisios gave his soul into God's keeping. He was buried, according to his wishes, at the Monastery of St. John the Theologian in Souroti. Elder Paisios, perhaps more than any other contemporary elder, captured the minds and hearts of the Greek people. Many books of his counsels have been published, and the monastery at Souroti has undertaken a great work, organizing the Elder's writings and counsels into impressive volumes befitting his memory. Thousands of pilgrims visit his tomb each year.

Works

  • Saint Arsenios the Cappadocian, translated into English and published in 1989 and 2001 by Holy Monastery "Evangelist John the Theologian", Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece.
  • Elder Hadji-Georgis the Athonite, translated into English and published in 1996 by Holy Monastery "Evangelist John the Theologian", Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece.
  • Athonite Fathers and Athonite Matters, translated into English and published in 1999 by Holy Monastery "Evangelist John the Theologian", Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece.
  • Epistles, by Elder Paisios of Mount Athos, translated into English and published in Feb 2002 by Holy Monastery "Evangelist John the Theologian", Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece; distributed in the U.S.A. by St. Herman of Alaska Monastery.
  • "Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain," by Priestmonk Christodoulos, published on the Holy Mountain, 1998.
  • Spiritual Counsels, Vol. 1: With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man, translated into English and published in 2006 by Holy Monastery "Evangelist John the Theologian", Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece.
  • Spiritual Counsels, Vol. 2: Spiritual Awakening, translated into English and published in 2008 by Holy Monastery "Evangelist John the Theologian", Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece.
  • Spiritual Counsels, Vol. 3: Spiritual Struggle, translated into English and published in 2010 by Holy Monastery "Evangelist John the Theologian", Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece.

Untranslated works

  • Spiritual Counsels, Vol. 4 - Family, 2002.
  • Spiritual Counsels, Vol. 5 - Passions and Virtues, 2006.

External links

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