A Spiritual Father for Our Times.
An introduction to the life and counsels of Elder
Paisios the New of Mount Athos by Hieromonk Damascene
The Elder’s Love.
In the words of H. Middleton, author of the recently published Precious
Vessels of the Holy Spirit, Elder Paisios of Mount Athos, "perhaps
more than any other contemporary elder, has captured the minds and hearts of
Greek people" (H. Middleton, Precious
Vessels of the Holy Spirit: The Lives and Counsels of Contemporary Elders of
Greece, Thessalonica, Greece: Protecting Veil Press, 2003, p. 129).
Although not nearly as well known in the English-speaking world as in his
homeland, this holy Elder also has much to say to contemporary spiritual
seekers in the West. In his life and teachings, we can find a key by which to
go deeper into the heart of the Orthodox Christian Faith.
As books published after his repose indicate, Elder Paisios was a man of
lofty spiritual life. He received many heavenly visitations from our Lord Jesus
Christ, His Most Holy Mother, and the saints; he was granted the gifts of
clairvoyance and of miracle-working; he beheld the Uncreated Light in divine
vision; and he was filled with God’s Grace to such an extent that he attained
to deification (theosis).
There is no doubt that Elder Paisios’ impressive spiritual gifts and
attainments have contributed to the widespread veneration of his memory in
contemporary Greece. However, these gifts are not the only — or even the
primary — reason he has come to be so greatly loved. For the main explanation
as to why he is so loved by the people, we must look at the love which he had
for the people. That love, borne aloft by the Grace of Christ, was seemingly
Elder Paisios poured out his heart in love for his fellow man. As his
spiritual children have written, "His sanctified soul overflowed with
divine love, and his face radiated Divine Grace" (Elder Paisios of Mount Athos, Epistles, Souroti, Thessalonica,
Greece: Holy Monastery of the Evangelist John the Theologian, 2002, p. 10).
He suffered with people, listened to them, offered them hope, and prayed for
them untiringly. He spent his nights in prayer and his entire days in relieving
human pain and spreading divine consolation. He guided, consoled, healed, and
gave rest to countless people who took shelter in him.
In his spiritual counsels, many of which have been recorded in writing,
Elder Paisios tells us how we too can enter into the experience of such
overflowing, Grace-filled love. The path he sets for us is indeed a hard and
narrow one, for it is none other than the path that Christ has given us.
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