Tag Archives: Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos

The elder’s pain and love.

I don’t know who all will be in my class when my parish’s church school program begins again next month. But I think I know what I’ll be teaching, and it includes gleanings from this book that I haven’t read yet, With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man. The arrangement of our classes and students and how and where they will meet is one more realm of decisions that has been affected by the coronavirus situation, and that is why I didn’t know until this week to get busy and start reading; I had expected to be using a different curriculum.

This big book was first published in Greek in 1996, as the first of several volumes of the monk’s teachings. Over the course of 28 years his spiritual counsels were carefully recorded in notes and on tape, by the sisterhood of St. John the Theologian monastery in Souroti, for whom he was a guide and helper. In the preface they tell about his response at the beginning of their project:

“When Elder Paisios realised what we were doing, he was rather irritated: ‘Why are you taking notes?’ he asked. ‘Are you saving them for an emergency? You should put my words into practice; put them to work! Who knows what you are saying in these notes! Let me see them.’ When we showed him a sample, particularly the notes of one Sister, his expression changed. He seemed comforted and reassured, and exclaimed with satisfaction, ‘My goodness! She is like a tape recorder! She wrote it exactly as I said it!'”

St. Paisios of Mount Athos: InjusticeThis man, who in 2015 the Orthodox Church formally recognized as a saint, was in 1924 born Arsenios Eznepidis, in Cappadocia in Asia Minor. This was just after the Greco-Turkish war, and just before those governments mutually agreed upon a population exchange that forced more than a million people to become refugees; his family was among them, and they moved to Greece. You can read all about his life here: St. Paisios, and in other articles and books. I just wanted to tell you a little bit in introduction, because I’m planning to share at least a few quotes from the saint as I go. For now I will leave you with this that I found elsewhere:

“What I see around me would drive me insane
if I did not know that no matter what happens,
God will have the last word.”

— Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain


Faintheartedness in Childbearing

paisios-of-mount-athos-2ELDER PAISIOS ON HAVING CHILDREN IN TODAY’S WORLD: The Elder was asked a question: “…many young people today don’t want to have children because they see the kind of world into which they’ll bring their child. Pollution from chemicals and nuclear energy, life full of anxiety, wild society, wars…If we are already in the time of the Antichrist, as it seems to me, maybe it’s not worthy getting married and having children.”

He answered:

No, it’s not like this! Didn’t Christians at the time of the persecutions get married? Didn’t thy have children? They both married and had children! They had their hope in Christ, not in people. This way of thinking is faintheartedness. In one minute God can change everything; straighten all the crooked things. People make plans. God has His own plan as well. If you knew how many times the devil wrapped the earth in his tail so as to destroy it; but God doesn’t allow him. He ruins his plans. The evil which the devil attempts to initiate, God uses and produces great good. Don’t worry!

from Orthodox Christian Parenting, pg. 77.
Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos reposed in 1994

Listening at the end of Lent

About now I begin to think I really should hold my tongue and start listening harder. Here are some things I’m hearing:

1.  Do not show forth a useless fast.

2.  Can’t you see that the world is on fire, burning! Temptation is everywhere. The devil has set such a fire that even all firefighters in the world could not put it out. It is a spiritual fire. Nothing but prayer is left for us now, prayer that God may take pity on us! You see, when a fire spreads and the firefighters can do nothing about it, people turn to God and pray for a heavy rain. The same happens with the spiritual fire started by the devil; only prayer is needed so that God may help us.

Wherever you may turn, one thing is clear: things are falling apart! It’s not, for example, that we have a house and a window or something else that needs fixing and we can take care of it; it is the entire house that is in shambles––and worse yet, the entire village. We are spinning out of control. Only God can step in and make a difference. He’s got to roll up His sleeves, take a screwdriver and with a slap here and a caress there fix the mess. The world is harboring a blistering wound, full of puss, that needs to be opened and treated; but it’s too soon to open it now. Evil must come to term as it did in Jericho, a long time ago.
––Elder Paisios in With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man

3. A word about how we relate to the saints.

4. “There’s no taking snakes with sugar-tongs.”  -Proverb

5. From yesterday’s Orthodox matins service:

O wise Lazarus, prepare now for thy burial; for tomorrow thou shalt die and leave this life. Look at the tomb in which thou shalt dwell. But Christ will bring thee back to life again, raising thee on the fourth day.

Be glad, O Bethany: for Christ shall come to thee, performing in thee a great and fearful miracle. Binding death with fetters, as God of all He will raise up Lazarus, who was dead and now magnifies the Creator.

Come, let us make ready to meet the Lord, bringing to Him palms of virtue. So shall we receive Him in our souls as in the city of Jerusalem, worshiping Him and singing His praises.