Paisios of Mount Athos
Elder Paisios (Eznepidis) was a very well-known monk on Mt Athos.
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' monastic future. After the exchange, the Eznepidis family settled in Konitsa, Epirus. Arsenios grew up here, and after intermediate public school, he learned carpentry.
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 (although he was not supportive of their later opposition to the Ecumenical Patriarchate).
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, 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.
- 1958: Fr Paisios was asked to spend time in his home village to support the faithful against Protestantism.
- 1962: Fr Paisios went to Sinai.
- 1964: On his return to Mt Athos, Fr Paisios took up residence at the Skete of Iviron, then at Katounakia. His failing health may have led him to leave Katounakia.
- 1966: Fr Paisios had an operation, and part of his lungs were removed. During this time, his friendship with the sisterhood of St. John the Theologian, Souroti, began. Elder Paisios would place the relics of St Arsenios the Cappadocian in this monastery.
- 1968: Fr Paisios went to Stavronikita Monastery and helped in its spiritual and material renovation. While there, he was the disciple of Elder 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Despite wishing to return to Mt Athos, his health did not allow it.
- 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.
Asceticism: "The soft life makes people useless. Without toil and struggle sanctification won't come." -- in Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit, p.139
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
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
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
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
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
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
Translated into English
- 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.
- Discourses 1: With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man.
Others, as yet untranslated
- Discourses 2 - Spiritual Wakefulness, 1999 & 2000.
- Discourses 3 - Spiritual Struggle, 2001.
- Discourses 4 and 5 (unknown titles).
- 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.
- "Talks with Father Paisios", by Athanasios Rakovalis, published in Thessaloniki in 2000, distributed by St. Nicodemos Publications