SAINT PAISIUS AND THE HOLY MOTHER
The Elder Ephraim, the Abbot of the Vatopedi Monastery relates to us the following stories told to him by Saint Paisius. "I believe that some of you have read the life and works of St. Paisius. What is so unusual about this holy man? That which sets him apart from other human beings is his total sacrifice for his fellow man. He would offer himself as a whole burnt offering for the welfare of his fellow man. I remember him telling me once when I was visiting him: He said, “My child, something happens to me that if I tell you what it is you would think I am crazy. But what can I say, it just happens to me. Up until 1974 I had such great love for God that when this love for God overwhelmed me I would suddenly fall down and become unconscious. I would remain in that condition for a long time praying and then the feeling would leave me.
“After 1974 this same intense love I had for God was also expressed toward my fellow man. I feel such love for my fellow man that I would pray for them with such intensity that people would ask me, what is wrong with you? For example, I would pray in my cell for people who had communicated with me about their problems. Some of these people were having marital problems and others were having problems with their health. After getting these messages I would then travel in the Spirit to Sidney, to Melbourne, to Monaco, to Cyprus and to Athens. I would invisibly visit these troubled people in the Spirit, I would bless them with the sign of the Cross and they would be filled with a sense of peace. I would also pray for the sick in the hospitals and for those in the intensive care units. I would visit them invisibly in the Spirit and see them personally. I would bless them and they would become healed. Nobody was aware of these visitations for I would visit them invisibly in the Spirit. And this happens many times.
In fact, I would like to tell you something else that has not been recorded anywhere. Neither has what I have already told you been recorded anywhere. A theologian visited Mt. Athos who had some theological concerns about one of the hymns of the Church. In fact he visited during the first fifteen day period of August when we honor the Holy Mother of Jesus. There were five pilgrims in this group visiting the Holy Mountain. He was telling his fellow pilgrims the following: “We chant the following; 'Oh you Apostles from far away are called together to come to the village of Gethsemane to bury my body’. This theologian said to his friends: 'is it possible for the Apostles from the far reaches of the world to be brought together to be present at the funeral of the Holy Mother? I cannot believe that. I respect the Holy Mother but that I cannot believe that happened. Maybe the Apostles were present at the burial in thought or with their hearts but not physically present.”
So these five pilgrims finally went to speak to Fr. Paisius at his hermitage. When they arrived at Panagouda Fr. Paisius said to the theologian: "You, the theologian, who are a little confused of mind, come here close to me. You others may now leave."
Fr. Paisius said to him: "Why don't you believe in the words of the hymn which you chant in Church: ‘Apostles, who are gathered together from distant places?’ The theologian was shocked when he heard the Elder speak to him this way. (Please remember, dear people that this is the first time that the theologian had met Paisius). The Elder then took hold of his hand and together they mystically visited London, Frankfurt and other places which I do not now remember and then returned to the Elder's cell. This of course was done in the Spirit. The Elder then asked him; “how is it possible that we traveled together to these different places and now we have returned to my cell? This is the same way the Apostles traveled to be at Mary’s funeral. I want you to know that there are very many supernatural events like this that take place in the world.” The Elder Paisius succeeded in performing every kind of physically impossible feat through the power of the Holy Spirit. And this is why the Church canonized Paisius so soon after his repose.
Abbot Ephraim continues by saying: “I would like to tell you another story. This family was well known here at our Monastery. The family had a son-in-law who was an atheist. The whole family one afternoon was visiting in Thessaloniki. Someone in the group said to the others ‘let us go and visit the grave of St. Paisiius.’ (St. Paisius is buried in Soureti which is some twenty miles northeast of Thessaloniki). The atheist said: 'You go, for I do not believe in that stuff. Why should I go?” Finally the fiancé of the atheist said “let's go together so that we can accompany the others.” He then said “I will go but I will not honor the Saint.” The girl finally managed to convince him to go with them. When they arrived at the gravesite of St. Paisius, the atheist appeared to be in a state of awe and wonder before the grave. In fact, he made the sign of the Cross and proceeded to pray at the grave. When the group was leaving the gravesite, the atheist was very quiet and did not say anything. Then a member of the group asked him what was troubling him. He responded by saying: “Didn’t you people see anything unusual about the grave?” The people responded, “We did not see anything.” He responded by saying: “didn’t you see a monk there who was sitting on the grave and as soon as we arrived he disappeared into the grave?” They responded: “No, we did not see anything.” He responded: “I saw him. It was Father Paisius.” As a result of this vision this atheist is now a devout member of the Orthodox Church.
“I would like to share with you another story. A plumber was driving from the city of Thermi to Thessaloniki. As he was driving along the highway he saw a monk thumbing a ride on the side of the road. The plumber stopped the truck and invited the monk to get in. The monk said: “Would you please take me to Thessaloniki.” “Get in father, I will take you there.” As soon as the monk got in and they began driving down the road, the monk said: “Costa, you have the first stages of cancer in your lungs. You should go to a doctor and have yourself checked out and you will get well.” Saying this, the monk simply disappeared from the truck. The driver then began calling his friends and telling them what had just happened to him. These people responded by bringing him pictures of monk Paisius. Upon seeing the pictures he verified that it was the very same monk that he picked up on the road. (Needless to say, the plumber went to a doctor and verified what the monk had said about his lungs. He was treated for his condition and was cured of his cancer. This miraculous encounter happened after the death of Elder Paisius.)
Abbot Ephraim finishes his story by saying: “I wish to say that many things like this happen and the Saints live eternally. The Saints are alive and active in the life of the Church. We, because of our spiritual insensitivity and unclean hearts, have become spiritual blockheads. This is so because we do not have that spark of spirituality that we need to truly love God and then feel the Grace of the Holy Spirit.
THE HEAVENLY HOST THAT CONSTANTLY PRAYS FOR
THE SALVATION OF OUR SOULS
Translated from the Greek by:
Fr. Constantine (Charles) J. Simones, Waterford, CT, USA, July 8, 2016,