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.
Early life

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 (north western 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.

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.

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 obedience’s (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.
Monastic Life

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 neighbour’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 behaviour 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

In addition to his other illnesses he suffered from haemorrhaging 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 Thessalonica 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 counselling 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, 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.

Elder Paisios was a very simple man, who believed in the word of the Gospel, making monasticism and the teachings of the Orthodox ascetical tradition his way of life. His general education was limited to primary school level. Despite all this he was distinguished by his “charming” simplicity and his intense anxiety to help his fellow man, who needed a spiritual guide. He himself was the example of a person dedicated to God, removing from himself personal aspirations and all personal wills. Obedience, practice (ascesis), humility, piety, a sense of honour and, above all, love and patience, were a way of life for him, as well as teachings for all who sought a word of comfort or a solution to a personal problem.

Thoughts. The Elder gave great importance to thought. He always stressed that everything begins from good thoughts which drive away evil ones. We should think positive thoughts about our fellow men, not negative ones, otherwise guile and obstinacy enter our thoughts. He also mentioned that we should not trust our thoughts and rather give way to God’s will, because he who does this, always wins.

Sense of Honour. The Elder constantly mentioned that people should have noble love. “Whatever we offer or do”, he would say, “should always be done with a sense of honour and not out of necessity or selfishness. We should not follow out of fear but rather we should have good will and intention, as did Christ when He came to this world”.

Divine Justice. He always said that if we want to be like the Saints we need to enforce Divine Justice and not human justice. According to the Elder, human justice is blind and is there only to drive away evil and cunning people. Divine Justice however, aims to assist man who is weak and those who have need. When we enforce Divine Justice we avoid disputes, castigations and differences between with our fellow men.

Divine Providence. Divine Providence is unfathomable and uncharted and aims at the salvation of man and eternal life. He emphasized that we should not constantly concern ourselves with life’s needs, because God provides in such a way that He will give us want we desire, many times before we even ask for it, as long as our thoughts are on Him and we pray. When something bad happens to someone it is God’s concession, not sent by Him, so that He can teach man, because of His dispensation.

Humility. For the Elder, humility was the foundation element of the salvation of man and generally, the element which brings about good relations between people. He also said that God “is unable” to help when man is not humble and tries in every way to bring about this humility, through suffering. “Without humility”, he continued, “ there can be not Divine Grace, we close off our hearts to Christ and whatever it is that we gained, we quickly lose”.

Obedience. Total obedience, according to the Elder, brings about humility which is the beginning of all good. “We must obey even when we are unfairly treated, because God rewards patience in injustice”, he often said. “Today everyone is impatient, but those who are patient, according to Christ, will gain the kingdom of heaven”, he would say.


Holy Protomartyr Archdeacon Stephen

Stephen was a kinsman of the Apostle Paul and one of those Jews who lived in the Hellenic provinces. Stephen was the first of the seven deacons whom the holy apostles ordained and appointed to the service of assisting the poor in Jerusalem. For this, he is called the archdeacon. By the power of his faith, Stephen worked great miracles among the people. The wicked Jews disputed with him, but they were always defeated by his wisdom and the power of the Spirit, Who acted through him. Then the shameful Jews, accustomed to calumnies and slander, incited the people and the elders of the people against the innocent Stephen, slandering him as though he had blasphemed against God and against Moses. False witnesses were quickly found who confirmed this. Stephen then stood before the people, and all saw his face as it had been the face of an angel (Acts 6:15), that is, his face was illumined with the light of grace as was once the face of Moses when he spoke with God. Stephen opened his mouth and enumerated the many good works and miracles that God had performed in the past for the people of Israel, as well as the many crimes and opposition to God on the part of this people. He especially rebuked them for the killing of Christ the Lord, calling them betrayers and murderers (Acts 7:52). And while they gnashed their teeth, Stephen beheld and saw the heavens open and the glory of God. That which he saw, he declared to the Jews: Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God! (Acts 7:56). Then the malicious men took him outside the city and stoned him to death. Among his persecutors was his kinsman Saul, later the Apostle Paul. At that time, the Most-holy Theotokos, standing on a rock at a distance with St. John the Theologian, witnessed the martyrdom of this first martyr for the truth of her Son and God, and she prayed to God for Stephen. This occurred one year after the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. Gamaliel, a prince of the Jews and a secret Christian, clandestinely took St. Stephen's body and buried it on his own estate. Thus, this first among the Christian martyrs gloriously reposed and took up his habitation in the Kingdom of Christ God.



19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family,28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

New International Version (NIV)




1. I was pleased yesterday to see your right feeling when I entered upon the subject of Lazarus, inasmuch as you approved of the patience of the poor man, and shrank from the cruelty and inhumanity of the rich man. These are no small tokens of a noble mind. For if, though not possessing virtue, we yet praise it, then we may be at all events more able to attain it. In like manner if, though we do not flee from sin, we still blame sin, then we may at all events be able to escape from it. Since, therefore, you received that address with great favour, let me deliver to you those things which still remain.


Oh, thank you, God!

A woman hurried to the pharmacy to get medication, got back to her car and found that she had locked her keys inside.

The woman found an old rusty coat hanger left on the ground.  She looked at it and said, "I don't know how to use this."

She bowed her head and asked God to send her some help.

Within 5 minutes a beat-up old motorcycle pulled up, driven by a bearded man who was wearing an old biker skull cap.  He got off of his cycle and asked if he could help.

She said: "Yes, my daughter is sick.  I've locked the keys in my car.  I must get home.  Please, can you use this hanger to unlock my car?"

He said, "Sure." He walked over to the car, and in less than a minute, the car door was open.

She hugged the man and through tears, softly said, "Thank you, God, for sending me such a very nice man."

The man heard her little prayer and replied, "Lady, I am not a nice man.  I just got out of prison yesterday; I was in prison for car theft."

The woman hugged the man again, sobbing, "Oh, thank you, God!  You even sent me a professional."


St. Panteleimon, the Great Martyr.

His Eminence Panteleimon Metropolitan of Antinoes

St Evouli (the mother of ) St. Panteleimon – St Hermolaos (his teachers)

            During the end of the 3rd century AD St. Panteleimon, the Great Doctor and Martyr, was  born.  His father, Eustrogios, was not only very rich but was well known for his zeal in idol worship; whereas his mother St. Euboule was a faithful Orthodox Christian full of Holy Spirit, love and kindness.  Her only interest was to guide her only begotten son in the true faith and virtuous life. 

            St. Panteleimon's first name was Pantoleon.  When he was very young his mother, St. Euboule, passed away and his father taught him to worship the false gods of their ancestors.  He studied under the guidance of the wise doctor Euphrosynos, and shortly differentiated from all his other classmates in wisdom and all virtues.  Even the Roman Emperor Maximianus admired his kind character, that he ordered Euphrosynos to teach him all the secrets of medicine, so that Pantoleon become his own personal  imperial doctor. 

            At that period of time, in the Greek city of Nicomedia, there was an old man named Ermolaos, who was the Orthodox Priest of the city.  He foresaw, that the young Pantoleon will become a vessel of Christ's Grace and will glorify Him through his life.  One day, as Pantoleon was passing by, he called the young doctor to his house and asked him about his family and religious beliefs.  Pantoleon, as noble as he was, answered with politeness to all his questions.  St. Ermolaos said to him, that the medicine which Asclepius, Hippocrates and Galenus taught is of no value, nor the gods of the Empire are true gods, but false and work of man. He taught Pantoleon about the Orthodox Christian Faith and that Christ is the only True God, Who created heaven and earth, and reminded him that his mother believed in Jesus Christ.  He also emphasied that Christ is the True Physician of both soul and body and  assured him, that if he believed in Christ, he shall cure all illnesses through God's Healing Grace.


St. Markella of Chios, the Much-suffering and Glorious Virgin Martyr.

22 July
 St. Markella lived in the village of Volissos, Chios in the middle of the fourteenth century. Her parents were Christians, and among the wealthiest citizens of Volissos. Her mother died when she was young, and so her father, the mayor of the village, saw to her education.
   St. Markella had been trained by her mother to be respectful and devout, and to guard her purity. She avoided associations with other girls who were more outgoing than she was so that she would not come to spiritual harm through such company. Her goal was to attain the Kingdom of Heaven, and to become a bride of Christ.
   St. Markella increased in virtue as she grew older, fasting, praying, and attending church services. She tried to keep the commandments and to lead others to God. She loved and respected her father, and comforted him in his grief over her mother’s death. She told him she would take care of him in his old age and would not abandon him.
As an adult, St. Markella was loved by everyone for her beauty and for her spiritual gifts. The devil tried to lure her into sin by placing evil thoughts in her mind. However, St. Markella resisted these temptations and so the devil turned away from a direct confrontation with her. Instead, he incited her father with an unnatural desire for his daughter.
   Eventually, Markella’s father changed in his behavior toward his child. He became moody and depressed, forbidding her to go into the garden or to speak with the neighbors. Unable to understand the reason for this change, she went to her room and wept. She prayed before an icon of the Mother of God, asking Her to help him. Soon she fell asleep, only to be awakened by her father’s shouting.

Markella, Virgin-Martyr of Chios

Markella, Virgin-Martyr of Chios (ca. 1500) - July 22

Her mother died when she was very young, and she was brought up by her father. As she grew older, she grew in virtue and beauty. Her father conceived an illicit desire for her and made improper advances toward her, which troubled her so greatly that she fled her village and hid in the mountains. Her father pursued her, even wounding her with arrows in his effort to possess her. Finally she took refuge in a cloven rock. When her father found that he could not drag her from her refuge, he viciously dismembered her and threw her head into the sea. From the rock that had sheltered her a stream appeared, whose water had healing virtues. The holy Markella is especially venerated on Chios to this day.


Saint Paisios of Mount Athos on the “Old Calendarists”

Elder Paisios dealt with the Calendar issue too. He was really worried for the division the issue has caused and he was praying about it. He was really worried for the groups formed by old calendarists behaving independently having no communion with the Orthodox Patriarchates and the local Orthodox Churches. Some groups of those kinds that were in Athens and Thessalonica, united under his instruction with the Church of Greece, keeping at the same time the old calendar.
The elder said: “It would have been good if this calendar difference did not exist, but it is not a matter of faith”. In the objections that the New Calendar was done by a Pope he would reply: “The new calendar was made by a Pope and the old one by an idolater,” meaning of course Julius Caesar. In order to understand the position of the Elder more clearly on the matter, the following incident is mentioned.
An Orthodox Christian who was Greek in origin had lived with his family in the USA for many years. He had a serious problem, though. He was himself a “zealot” (old calendarist) whereas his wife and children followed the New Calendar. “We could not celebrate a feast together like a family”, he used to say. ??They would celebrate Christmas when for me was St. Spyridon’s Feast. When I had Christmas, they had St. John’s. And that was the least of our problems. The worst thing was to know, as they had been teaching us, that the NCs are heretics and will be damned.
It is no little thing to keep hearing that your wife and your children betrayed their faith, went with the Pope’s side; their mysteries have no grace etc. We would talk for hours on, but without coming to a conclusion. To say the truth, there was something I did not like with the OCs too, especially when some of our bishops would come to talk to us. They were not talking with love and pain in their heart for the deceived New Calendarists (as they considered them to be). But it was as if they had hatred and were happy when they would proclaim that the NCs would go to hell. They were very fanatical. And when their speech would end, I would feel inside me an internal agitation. I was losing my peace. But I would not even think of leaving our tradition. I was greatly distressed with the whole issue. Surely something would happen to me from the constant worry.
In one of my travels to Greece I mentioned my problem to my cousin Yianni (John). He told me about some elder Paisios. We decided to go to the Holy Mountain, in order for me to meet with him. We arrived at “Panagouda” (where the Elder was living). The Elder offered us something and with a smiling face made me sit next to him. I felt at a loss with his behavior. I felt that, as he was acting as if he had known me forever, he also knew all about me.
– How are things going there with the cars, in America? were his first words.
I was taken aback. I had forgotten to mention that my job was at parking lots, and of course I was dealing with cars all day long.
– I’m doing well, was the only thing I could falter, looking at the Elder with surprise in my eyes.
– How many churches do you have there where you live?
– Four, I replied and a new wave of surprise came over me.
– With the old or with the new (calendar)? , came the third “thunderbolt” which, however, instead of increasing my surprise, somehow made me feel more at ease with the Elder’s charisma.
– Two with the old and two with the new, I replied.
– Which one do you follow?


An amazing recipe for non-dairy tzatziki!

3 heaped soup spoons of tahini - the lighter in colour the better
1 soup spoon of vinegar
2 soup spoons of lemon juice
2 - 3 soup spoons of water
2 cloves of garlic
1 cucumber, grated
Salt - to your liking
Dill - fresh (about quarter of a cup, chopped) or dried (1 teaspoonish)
Whizz everything except the cucumber in a blender until it becomes a nice smooth and creamy mixture - if it's too runny add abit more tahini to thicken it and if it's too thick add a little more water. Pour into a bowl and stir in the grated cucumber - if you like garnish with some olives and a little chopped fresh dill.

Created by Fr Palama, Abbott of the Monastery of Kalipetras


Source: “Wounded by Love: The Life and Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios, ”
published by Denise Harvey, Limni, Evia, Greece (2005), pp. 122-126.

Listen and I’ll tell you about something that happened to me a few days ago. A monk who practices the Jesus Prayer came here from the Holy Mountain and he asked me:
—How do you say the Jesus Prayer? Do you sit on a low stool? Do you lower your head and concentrate?
— No, I replied. I say, Lord Jesus Christ... clearly in my mind, giving attention to the words. LordJesus Christ, have mercy on me... Lord Jesus... That’s how I do it in my mind and pay attention only to the words.
—That’s not right at all, Elder, he said. The way you describe it is quite erroneous, not to say deluded. The mind needs to be in the heart. That’s why it’s called “prayer of the heart.”
—I’ll tell you something else, I said to him. Sometimes when I would be facing some temptation, I would bring into my mind the image of Christ on the cross with his transfixed hands and feet dripping blood and with the crown of thorns piercing his brow and with myself kneeling before him and saying to Him, Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.
—-And you didn’t bring your mind into your heart?’ he interrupted.
—No, I replied.
— You are deluded, he said to me. The mind must be in the heart. Again, that’s why it’s called “prayer of the heart.” Delusion!
He got up to leave.
—Elder! I said to him. Listen and I’ll tell you something. When I am repeating the prayer in my mind, sometimes my joy becomes more and more intense. Moreover, when my joy becomes ever stronger with the words, Lord Jesus Christ..., I feel my mind leaping within me along with my heart. That is, I feel my mind plummeting into my heart and there I experience all this joy as I say the prayer.
I begin with the mind and then my mind moves on its own when joy comes.
—So that’s how you pray! That indeed is the way!’ he said to me. Forgive me for accusing you of “delusion.”
It is the mind that thinks. The heart does not think. Have your mind on God and your heart will leap for joy spontaneously. It will feel compunction. For Christ to enter your heart you must love Him. In order to love Him, He must first love you. God must first know you and then you Him. He will stoop to you, if you first seek Him. In order for Him to love you, you must be worthy. In order to be worthy, you must prepare yourself.
First, you must shun all self-interest. Prayer must be entirely selfless. Everything must happen mystically and without self- interest. That is, do not think that if you concentrate with your mind then grace will come into your heart also and you will experience that leap of joy. Do not pray with that motive, but with simplicity and humility. Aspire always to the glory of God. What did I tell you about the nightingale? It sings without anyone seeing. Be like that—selfless. Give yourself over to the worship of God in secret.
However, be careful! As we said, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.
(Mt 6:3). Do not let your malicious self know what is going on. Live in Paradise and do not let your evil self-know and envy it. Do not forget that there exists the envy of the evil one.
Preparation is also to learn to keep the commandments of God. To expel the passions—condemnation, anger, etc.—in a subtle way.
That is, do not strike at the evil directly, but, disdaining the passion, turn with love to God. Occupy yourself with singing hymns, the triumphant hymns of the saints and martyrs and the Psalms of David. Study Holy Scripture and the Church Fathers. In this way your soul will be softened, sanctified and assimilated to God. It will be ready to hear the disclosures of God. ‘Gradually grace will visit you. You will enter into joy. You will begin to live in peace and then you will become stronger by virtue of the divine grace. You will not become angry, or irritated, you will not be offended, you will not judge others, but rather receive everyone with love. You will have that which
Saint Paul describes: Love does not boast... it does not behave in an unseemly manner... it does not rejoice in injustice, but rejoices in truth; it covers and protects all things, it believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails, (Cor 13:4-8). The prayer purifies the soul and keeps the mind in check. The most perfect work is done in the depths of the human soul, which is hermetically sealed and known only to God. And so we witness something extraordinary: people who are transformed into children of God, even though they had reached the very depths of their self-destructiveness.
And I, too, wretched and crocked-up fellow that I am, make this effort. I do not give myself over openly in prayer, but secretly I pray. Do you understand? The grace of God comes and overshadows you too. It brings a freshness and joy to youalso as we live together, eat together, talk and pray and simply keep company with one another. Do you understand?


How Angels Serve Priests in the Holy Altar

by Fr. Stephanos K. Anagnostopoulos
This incident was narrated to the author by the blessed departed Gerondas Gabriel, who for a great period of time was the abbott at the Holy Monastery of Dionysios on Mount Athos.
“There once lived a most devout Priest. Even though he barely knew how to read and write, he was a Priest, a clergyman of strong faith, great virtue and of many spiritual struggles. He used to stand up-right for hours during the Proskomedia, despite the fact that the veins of his feet had been affected and were hemorrhaging. There were times when one could see the blood running down since he was standing up-right commemorating the names of numerous people. He was a man of sacrifice to his last breath, in fact, his soul departed just after the Divine Liturgy.
As he barely knew how to read and write, by some misunderstanding, he did not place the portions on the Holy Diskos properly. When we place the portion of the All-Holy Theotokos on top of the Holy Diskos,we say; The Queen stood at thy right hand…” The Gerondas (Elder) Priest was under the impression that,since he said”at thy right hand”, the portion of the All-Holy Mother of God must be placed on the right side of the Lamb (as he was looking at the Holy Diskos). In other words, he was placing the portions backwards.
Once a Hierarch [Bishop] visited the Holy Monastery for the Ordination of a Deacon. During the Psalms of Praise, when the Bishop enters the Holy Altar, he vests, then later goes to the Proskomedia, which has already been prepared up to a certain point. From then on he alone is the one to continue commemorating.
Thus, the Bishop noticed that the portions had been placed backwards by the priest:
“You did not place the pieces properly, father,” he told him.
“Father, come here for a minute. The All Holy Theotokos is placed over here and the Orders are placed over there. Hasn’t anyone told you; hasn’t anyone seen how you do the Proskomedia?”
“Certainly,Your Eminence,” replied the Geronda Priest. “Everyday, when I celebrate (for a day did not go by unless he celebrated the Divine Liturgy), the Angel who serves me sees what I am doing but does not tell me anything at all. I apologize, illiterate as I am, for making such a mistake; I will be careful from now on.”
“Who did you say? Who did you say serves you here?” asked the Bishop, “Isn’t he a monk who serves you?”
“No”, answered the Priest, “an Angel of the Lord.”
The Bishop fell silent,what could he have said, anyway? He was astonished and had certainly realized that a holy priest was standing before him.
At noon, following the meal in the trapeza, the Bishop said goodbye to the Abbot as well as the rest of the monks, and departed. The following day, as it was still night, when the Geronda Priest went to the Holy Altar in order to hold the Proskomedia.
The Angel of the Lord came down. During the act of breaking the Lamb, the Angel noticed that the Priest had placed the portions properly.
“Fine father!” he told the Priest. “Now you have placed them properly!”
“Yes, you knew the mistake I have been making for so many years!”
“And why didn’t you tell me anything; why didn’t you correct me?”, he asked.
“I could see it, but I do not have the right to tell you anything. I am not worthy to correct a Priest.
“God,” the Angel continued, commands me to serve the Priest. “Only a Bishop has the right to correct you!”



St. John of Kronstadt brings homeless children to the shelter.
A child’s soul is divine beauty
St. John of Kronstadt considered love for children to be the foundation of a teacher’s work—a foundation that is very often denied by modern-day so-called technicians of secular educational sciences and activities. He said to the students of the gymnasium where he taught, “You are my children, for I gave birth to you and continue to give birth in you to the good tidings of Jesus Christ. My spiritual blood—my instructions—flow in your veins. You are my children, because I have you always in my heart and I pray for you. You are my children, because you are my spiritual offspring. You are my children, because truly, as a priest I am a father, and you call me “batiushka” (“little father”, an affectionate term for a priest).
In Fr. John lived a kind of unearthly, angelic love for children, which inspired him and motivated the entire educational process. It was a special gift of God’s grace, which burned in him so strongly that in later years, when he was no longer teaching, he often healed sick children with the power of love and prayer, continually blessing and instructing them in the faith. How often did he weep over sick children, especially if they were spiritually sick! Once he stroked the head of an emotionally ill boy, and another time he kissed a seriously ill girl in the hospital, kneeling before her bed. “My dear, are you in pain? My little sufferer!” Fr. John lamented.”
Father John’s strictness
Nevertheless, Fr. John could be abrupt. One day a sixteen-year-old boy who was extremely lazy and morally spoiled, expressed his disbelief before the entire class in the divinity of the Holy Spirit. Fr. John called him godless and a miscreant, but he did answer his question. Later he summoned him for a separate conversation, after which the boy felt renewed and strengthened in spirit.
Some recall how a noblewoman complained to Fr. John about the degradation of religious and moral education of her children. “Their teachers,” she said, “taught them everything they need to pass the exams and be clever.” “You should say that they pounded them and not taught them,” Fr. John corrected her. “When being pounded with spiritual knowledge, they have the same feeling as when they are learning arithmetic and so on. But how about you? Do you take care of their souls? Have you directed them so that besides human approval they would strive for God’s approval?” “I suggest it to them according to my strength,” the lady answered him. “After all, one can’t find the door to one’s own child’s heart.” “You didn’t find the door to the heart, so you’ll get beasts instead of humans,” Fr. John replied. “You have forgotten that the Lord has shown mankind an example in the bird species. A bird first gives birth to an egg, and until this egg has been kept for the proper time in maternal warmth, it remains an inanimate object. It is the same with people. The born child is that egg—with the beginnings of earthly life, but inanimate with respect to his blossoming in Christ. The child who has not been warmed by his parents and family to the root of his soul, to the root of all his feelings, will remain dead in spirit for God and good works. And it is precisely from these children not warmed by love and spiritual care that those generations come into the world, from which the prince of this world will recruit his armies against God and His holy Church.”


Preface Psalm 103

Following “Blessed is our God…” which the Priest who is to conduct the Vespers Service says majestically, the Hierarch, Priest, Psalte (chanter) of the Church recites articulately, slowly and steadily, the majestic Psalm 103, which in liturgical terms is called the Psalm of Preface because it is the psalm which is the prelude to Vespers.
This Psalm expresses all the majesty and grandeur of the Creator who in His Omnipotence and Omniscience created the world. It is a wonderful poem, through which the Poet in just a few verses, shows us the wondrous works of creation and calls on the most perfect of Creations, mankind, to sing praises to the Creator. It comprises 35 verses and we can distinguish them as follows: In the first part, verses 1-4 refer to the things created on the first and second day, beginning at the creation of light and the heavens. The second part, verses 5-18 the created things of the third day are praised, referring to the separation of the waters from the earth, the waters which water the dry earth and bring forth food to the animals and to man. The third part, verses 19-23 speaks of the creations of the fourth day, the sun and moon. The fourth part, verses 24-30 speaks again of the sea and of the creations of the fifth and sixth days, expressing his wonder for all the fish of the sea. We then come to the fifth and final part, verses 31-35 which are verses in praise of the Creator.
It is these verses that are sung in a celebratory manner by the Psaltes during festal Vespers Services and are usually known by the name Anixantaria.
This Psalm promotes the majesty of the Creator through His creations and calls on mankind, the crowning glory of creation, to stand between the Creator and creation and to hymn and praise the Most High God. Psalm 103 follows in the simplest language, so that it can be understood by all.

1. Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, You are very great. You are clothed with praise and splendour.
2. You wrap Yourself with light as with a garment, stretching our the sky like a skin.
3. It is You who covers the upper regions of the heavens with water, who makes the clouds His chariot, who walks on the wings of the winds.
4. Who makes spirits His angels, and His servants flames of fire.
5. Who poises the earth on its axis so that it will never wander throughout the ages.
6. The deep, like a garment, is its clothing, and waters stand on the mountains.
7. At Your rebuke they run away, and at the peal of Your thunder they quail.
8. They spring from mountains and flow down valleys, to the place which You have appointed for them.
9. You have set a bound which they cannot pass, so they can never return to cover the earth.
10. He sends torrents down ravines; and the waters pass between the mountains.
11. They give drink to all the beasts of the field; and wild asses quench their thirst there.
12. The birds of heaven settle on them; among the rocks they pipe their calls.
13. You water the mountains from above, the earth is filled with the fruit of Your works.
14. He makes grass spring up for the cattle and plants, through the labour of men, to produce bread from the earth.
15. That wine may cheer the heart of man, that his face may shine with oil, and bread sustain man’s heart.
16. The trees of the plains are drenched, the cedars of Lebanon which He planted.
17. There the birds make their nests, and the herons higher up.
18. The high mountains are for the deer, the rocks are a refuge for badgers.
19. He has made the moon for the seasons and the sun knows its time for setting.
20. You order darkness and night falls, during which all the beasts of the forest prowl.
21. Young lions roar for their prey, and they seek their food from God.
22. The sun rises and they gather together and then lie down in their dens.
23. Man goes out to his work and to his labour until the evening.
24. How magnificent are Your works, O Lord! You have made all things in wisdom. The earth is full of Your many creations.
25. There is the sea, great and wide; there live reptiles without number, creatures small and great.
26. There ships sail to and fro; there to is the serpent which You made to play there.
27. All of these look to You to give them their food in due season.
28. When You give it to them they gather it, when You open Your hand all things are filled with goodness.
29. When You turn Your ace away they are troubled. You take away their spirit and they vanish and return to dust.
30. You send out Your Spirit and they are created; and You renew the face of the earth.
31. May the glory of the Lord endure for ever; the Lord delights in His works.
32. He looks upon the earth and makes it tremble; He touches the mountains and they smoke.
33. I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
34. May my meditation please Him and I will delight in the Lord.
35. May sinner vanish from the earth, and the lawless too, so that they may no longer exist. Bless the Lord, O my soul.



            We know that in the life of the Saints of the Church, the Holy Spirit has imbued them with extrasensory perception that defies the powers of nature.  One of the books of the life and works of St. Porphyrios that I was blessed to translate from Greek to English, there is a dialogue between the Saint and one of his spiritual children George.  George is interested in learning about life that exists in other planetary systems.  The dialogue goes as follows:
            George says: “This is in relation to my continuous questions to him about life in other worlds, about life that co-exists with us and other relevant doubts of mine which would often elicit a reprimand from Papouli (St. Porphyrios).  He would always add the same refrain: “Oh, my dear George, you read too much, certainly it is wrong, and this harms you because you always ask and ask and you wait for answers to your questions and when you don’t receive them you feel disappointed.”
            George now relates to us what happened late one evening when he received a phone call from the Saint.  “So quite late on a very cold winter night, it was probably past 10 p.m. and I was preparing to go to bed.  Pappouli called me and asked me to pick him up from his house in Tourkovounia and take him to Kallisia (a retreat center in the mountains).  Without saying a word, I dressed, got in my car and went to pick him up.  During our trip there and especially after Penteli (a mountain), we took the dirt road toward Kallisia.  I started my usual conversation by saying:  ‘Look Pappouli at how many thousands of stars are above us. It was a clear night.  Is it possible for some of them not to be inhabited?  Statistically, at least, it seems impossible for there not to be life out there.  There must exist some forms of life even if they are drastically different then ours!’
            ‘In the meantime we had arrived at the open space there were we parked the car in order to take the footpath to St. Nicholas retreat center.  We got out of the car when, to my surprise, Pappouli asked me to accompany him all the way to the Monastery.  It already must have been after 11 o’clock and I felt hesitant about going but I did not say anything.  The Elder explained to me that he did not feel too well and it was likely that he might need my help.  Starting off on the footpath Pappouli said to me suddenly, “And why are you interested, George, my child, in life on other planets or other forms of life here or elsewhere?  Is it possible that this knowledge would make you a better person? You must pursue knowledge of things that will improve you.  The other things are useless for you. Therefore stop this type of inquiry.”
            ‘We proceeded silently for a short while and then Pappouli turned and said to me, “Look at how beautiful, peaceful and quiet the night is.  All of nature is sleeping and you have the impression that we are alone.  But yet, around us, in spite of the fact that you George cannot see it, there is pulsating life.  There are different beings that are encircling us, moving, living, existing but for you that should not be of any concern since you do not have any connection with them.  Neither do they have any connection with you and therefore even if you could see them, as I do, and you became convinced of their existence, this would not help you at all to improve yourself which should constitute the prime objective of each one of us.”
            ‘In this way the Elder answered me indirectly.  However, it was either the night or the wilderness or the forest or the things that he had described to me that made me feel somewhat fearful, although I do not usually fear such things. Pappouli realized this, he laughed and without me saying anything to him, he started to joke with me in order to change the subject.  When we reached the Monastery we parted company.  I would now be alone taking the return path back to the car.  I confessed to him that I had become frightened.  The Elder laughed and said to me that I should not fear anything because he would accompany me in spirit back to the car. He added that if at any moment my fear became overwhelming, I should look back at the Monastery and he would flash his light.  He had a small flashlight in order to show me how he was following me and was thinking of me.
            Troubled, I started my trip back to the car and I tried as much as I could to control my fear which initially was not very much.  But after a short while, when I had gone some distance and entered the forest, fear increased.  I had the feeling that I was not alone, that many eyes were watching me.  I began to hear strange sounds and generally I began to panic. Turning my head I saw Pappouli’s flashlight only a few meters behind me.  For a moment, I stopped and thought of turning back and telling him to return to the Monastery since I was certain, that in order for him to bolster my courage he was close behind me.  But after this, I decided to call to him to tell him to go back which I did and the flashlight went out.  I continued walking so that I would not repeat the same thing every time fear overcame me. I turned my head and saw the light was always there to encourage me.  I turned my head and saw the light was always there to encourage me and comfort me.  When I was finally approaching the car and all those that have travelled to Kallisia will remember that the Monastery becomes visible only a few hundred meters before one reaches the clearing where we left the cars.  I finally turned unconsciously in the direction of the Monastery and there was the light of the Elder going on and off at a distance from the Monastery.  The Elder had given me a good lesson in reference to our discussions with him about my doubts but on the other hand, in a miraculous way he showed me that he will always be with us.  He also taught us that such inquiries about the universe should not take place without the blessings of highly spiritual people.


Edited by:

+Fr. Costas J. Simones, June 9, 2017, Waterford, CT, USA