About the elder Paisii Svyatogorts
On July 12, 1994, the elder of Athos, the old Athenian Paisius the Holy Trinity, passed away to the Lord. Portal
Let us tell a little of what we have seen and heard, being responsible to testify to the old man, how the holy apostles testified of Christ, of His life and miracles in order to help all of us believe that He truly is the Christ the Savior, the Deliverer of the world, and believing in Him, we will receive eternal life.
Many people knew the elder and were associated with him. All of them, each in his own measure, received his blessing and prayer and certainly could tell a lot. After all, that blessed communion is inexhaustible, as the ocean of Divine grace, which always filled the old man, is inexhaustible.
I met elder Paisius when I was 18 years old. Immediately after graduating from school, in 1976, I became a student in the theological faculty of the University of Thessaloniki. From various of my classmates I heard about the Holy Mountain, and I really wanted to go there. And in September 1976, I first went to Athos.
This visit was tragic. I didn’t like it at all, and the next morning I left. And he said to himself: “Everything, and there can be no question of returning here again!” This place seemed so unpleasant, so gloomy, so depressing. Of course, it was a temptation; do not think, please, that in fact this place is like this! It was me who was to blame, and not a place at all, however, this picture was painted in my imagination. Do not forget that I came from an environment where we had no particular understanding of monastic life and Athos.
The next morning I left. And then, when I heard the stories of my classmates about how glorious on Holy Mountain, I was ashamed to admit that I didn’t like it there at all. After 10-15 days, I decided to go to Athos again. It was, I think, somewhere in the beginning of October. And I had already heard from fellow students about the elder Paisii, about Father Efrem Katunaksky, about some other elders who truly shone during that period, like lamps, on the Holy Trinity sky.
The first meeting with the elder Paisius
I went to the elder with one hierodeacon, who is now dead. It was he who led me to old man Paisius, who was then living on Kapsala, in the cell of the Honest Cross.
I anxiously expected to meet, because on the way the deacon told stories, wonders, prophecies. I was afraid that the elder would expose all the innermost secrets of my heart, I was afraid that he would kick me out of his cell.
We rang the bell and waited. I was impressed by the sign that the elder wrote. There, in the cell of the Holy Cross, he wrote: “Better not to engage me in empty conversations and
For a moment we heard a voice. And I see an old man wrapped in a green striped blanket. He slowly rose, staggering for us to open the gate. The deacon says to me: “This is Starets Paisius!” – “Is this Starets Paisius?” All my moods immediately disappeared. I was expecting to see this … I don’t know what I thought up there myself, it doesn’t matter … And I saw an old man in front of me, not even an old man – he, more precisely, was my present age, but it seemed to me then that it was an old man. Weak, painful … He opened to us, we went inside, settled in his beggar in the literal sense of the word archontist, or rather even it was just a room with two as it were. Full of bewilderment and impatience, I waited to see what kind of person it was.
The old man began to tell us different stories, but they were not at all interesting to us. Suddenly, he took off his shoes and climbed onto the couch, wanting to portray us to something he was talking about. I thought: “This man is not in himself.” Having finally disappointed, I said mentally: “It seems he is not in himself, therefore he was“ made holy ”and they come to look at him … We’ll see how he behaves if we turn the conversation over to a serious topic!” Imagine what I got there ?! – “Geronda, you are widely known in Thessaloniki.” To this he replied to me: “Dear child, did you see the garbage there, a little higher, where did you go?” – “Yes.” He continued: “Look there.” I looked: there was an old tin can from the squid lying around — those were brought to Athos, light fell on it, and it glittered. Father Paisius says: “Do you see how this tin can glitters?” – “Yes.” – “That’s how I am. Empty tin can, no one needed, missing. People look at her from afar and think it is something like that! ”But I tried to ask him something else, he gave me a sweetheart. So I ate 15 pieces of Turkish delight until it was time to leave.
The elder said nothing to us. I was disappointed and did not ask about anything else. Some things he said to the deacon. Then we got ready to leave. I say: “Geronda, and we were told that you have snakes living here. Is that true? ”-“ Yes. Do you want to see? ”Well, what could I say to him about it — that I don’t want to ?! “Yes, it would be great to see them!” I told him. “You know, tomorrow, when you become a spiritual father, come and I will show them to you, they are all here,” he answered, implying his heart.
We went outside. I was disappointed and thought: he doesn’t represent anything at all, and why did we just come here! At the fence, near the gate, I asked him for the last time, hopelessly: “Tell us something sensible!” (As if: “and what you have been telling us about all this time!”) – “Children,” he said “You are young, make many bows.” – “How much?” – “Many, many.” And hit us on the back. At this point, in reality, I confess to you, a great event happened: the whole area was filled with fragrance. Trees, birds, air, rocks – everything, everything. It was scary! For the first and only time in my life this happened to me. Everything was fragrant unbelievable, and an unknown force seized us. The elder said: “Come on, guys, go, go.” He quickly drove us out, locked the gate and went into the house. And the deacon and I were seized by an amazing state. I say to him: “Listen, you smell sweet!” And he told me: “This is indescribable! What is happening ?! ”We ran from Honest Cross and very soon reached Buraseri, we just could not stop on the road. Up to Buraseri, everything was fragrant. After that, I realized that really this man is fraught with great treasure.
“My soul has clung to him”
Again I visited him in about 10 days. After, and probably because of this previous event with fragrance, the old man was already completely different. And from that time, since October 1976, according to the psalmist, “my soul clung to You” (Psalm 62: 9), my soul clung to this old man, and I felt that God was with him, and He was !
The first thing that I finally became convinced of in an amazing way was that when I spoke with Elder Paisius: what Christ says in the Gospel, what the holy fathers said in the lives of the saints, everything that was written and said in the Church, everything I heard, – all this turned out to be true. In my soul, there was not the slightest doubt about anything said in the word of God and in the Gospel. Because, naturally, at 18 years old – so much then I was – many things are still very immature in the human soul.
During the year I came to the elder many times. And he decided to stay on the Holy Mountain, for which he wanted to interrupt his studies. Father Paisius did not accept this, because I had a scholarship from the Church of Cyprus. And he told me: “Well, stay on the Holy Mountain, but only go to Thessaloniki and pass the exams at the session, because once the Church has sent you and you have a scholarship, it’s wrong right now, as soon as you come, to leave school.” And so it happened.
“It is impossible to get used to the man of God”
I would like to draw your attention not so much to the wonders of the elder Paisius, numerous, hidden from the outer eyes, committed by him posthumously, but to what really distinguished the elder Paisius from others, and to what made him, in my humble opinion, so great saints. I believed and fully believe that we are talking about the great holy Orthodox Church of our day, and in my mind he is already counted among the great saints. I am convinced that he is holding the world with his prayer.
Seeing how weak and unhappy I am, the old man gave his blessing, and I spent many nights beside him. Sometimes it lasted up to two and a half weeks.
I watched him closely and tried to notice everything down to the smallest detail. I was curious to see his whole life. I always had the impression that this person holds peace in his hand and strengthens it with his prayer.
The first time I stayed with him for the night, I remember, he suggested to me: “Let’s go and eat.” But what to eat ?! After all, there is even a roll down the ball! I can not describe to you what kind of extreme poverty he had, especially in the cell of the Honest Cross! And so we went to eat. The old man laid it on the ground, he did not have a table, but only a square piece of marble. On it, we had to eat. He took out one or two onions, a few crackers and a can of canned food that someone had brought to him. Father Paisius says: “Now I will open it for you, especially for you, the coast.” But how to open it? In the absence of another instrument, he opened it with a scape. We stood up to pray, read “Our Father.” Father Paisios stood in the middle of the desert (such was Kapsala, the cell of the Honest Cross – a completely secluded place), raised his hands to the sky and said: “Our Father, You are in heaven …” And I confess to you, so many years have passed, but I never again heard the Lord’s prayer sounding with such force. I felt that God stretched out His hand from heaven to bless our “drinking and drinking.” It was something incredible!
So strong was his whole life. I lived beside him until 1992: I often visited him, spent many nights with him, served many times in his little church, but I could never get used to this man. Every time I met him again, I felt the same excitement as the first time. It was my bewilderment that was resolved by the elder Sophronius of Essex. When we went to him with our ever-memorable old man, he told us, among other things, in a conversation: “A meeting with a spiritual person every moment contains a kind of prophetic event. It is never impossible to get used to the man of God. Always communicating with him is unique and unrepeatable. ” This was the case with elder Paisius.
This man surpassed the laws of nature, his life was a strong and obvious presence of grace. I just could not imagine such a thing so that he would fall ill and die, and I would not have come to see him in the last days of his life. And with many people visiting him, he gave me his prayers.
What set it apart is a great love for God. Infinite love, which nullified his love for himself. There, where old man Paisius lived, there was no human consolation, absolutely nothing, therefore the love of God, the grace of God was so noticeable in the life of the old man. And God dwelt with him constantly, and “the hand of God was ever upon him.”
“My creature was ablaze with the love of God”
On Christmas Day of 1982, if I am not mistaken, after the all-night vigil, when we had already rested a little, I went to the elder. He was alone in his cell, in Panagud. He was in great spirits; there was silence; There was not a soul around (probably, then there was bad weather), and he tells me the following: “This is what I tell you, deacon! (I was still a deacon then). Once, my being burned with the love of God so much that I felt my bones melt like candles. Especially once. I even stopped because I could not move from the love of God, which I felt within myself. I leaned against a tree standing next to me and said: “If only nobody would see me now, otherwise they will understand me wrong! If only no one knew what I experienced. So much the love of God burned in me. Seven or eight years have passed, and this love not only did not cease to glow in me, but it turned into a love of peace, and I daily melt about suffering people and cannot comprehend how God became man for us. Sometimes I think about how Christ was born and where He was born and melt. ” Tears filled his eyes, although he did not allow himself to do this usually with others. A valiant warrior, he avoided showing his inner experience, although his life in Panagud was truly an everyday sacrifice for the people of God and a model of perfect love.
And his word was truly amazing, and I was convinced of that myself. I spent some time in Kutlumush, accompanying our old man, and carried the obediences of the archontarist and the gatekeeper there. I have always been very talkative, I liked to build a teacher from myself, and everyone who passed by me was tormented by my “sermons”. When people met an old man, they were satisfied with just one of his words, and sometimes he didn’t even say anything to them – they just saw him, and this changed their whole life. As the Gospel says, “with the Lord’s help and support of the word” (Mark 16:20). Christ assured and sealed the word of the elder with the following signs of grace that he displayed on it. They were so pure, so abundant and plentiful that books have now been made up of them! And how many more miracles people remember in their memory as their personal experience of meeting with an old man. Indeed, such signs show us the great holiness and boldness of this man.
Ticket of St. Maxim Kavsokalivita
One evening, when I stayed with Father Paisius, I was upset: our elder Joseph was in Cyprus, in one monastery, which he tried to arrange, and I did not have any news from him. He was late with the letter, I was worried. Father Paisius asked: “What’s the matter with you, what are you concerned about?” – “There is no news from Stare Joseph, so my heart is restless.” “Uh, why are you worried, poor thing!” Let’s buy a ticket and go to Cyprus! ”-“ With pleasure ”. He asks: “And which airline will we fly, Olympiaks?” – “Olympiaki”. “Well,” he says, “we’ll find out when there are flights, and fly to Cyprus.” – “Agreed, Geronda.” “But,” he says to me, “we will fly on the ticket of Saint Maxim Kavsokalivit.” – “What do you mean?” – “How do I mean? He ate one rusk and on the wings was transferred from Kavsokaliva to Vatoped. And we eat breadcrumbs tonight and go to Cyprus. ” “Oh, you are joking,” I think to myself. We ate our crackers, and I went to bed. The elder prayed.
In the morning, when I woke up, he was already on his feet. Asks: “And how did you sleep?” – “Good.” “A wonderful monastery there,” says. “Beautiful,” I reply. And he described to me in detail the place where Elder Joseph was, his cell, his office, down to where his pen, penknife, slippers lay, everything. – “Geronda, how do you know?” – “A plane flew over us. I looked in to call you with me, but you slept, and I went alone. Your ticket is gone. I flew alone and returned in the morning. ” That was how his life was filled.
I will end with another incident that occurred in 1977, in the cell of the Honest Cross. I was a deacon then. In the morning I went to the elder. As soon as he saw me, then, as usual, jokingly says: “Welcome, deacon! I just did not have enough deacon for the feast day! ”I say:“ Well, here I am. ” And he: “I ordered 100 kilograms of fish, they will come from the skete of the prophet Daniel, from the cell of the Apostle Thomas, those and those will come … We will have a ruler …” – and I don’t know what else … – “we will celebrate the feast day”. At that moment I believed him.
“Will you stay today?” He asked me. It was the first night I stayed with him. I flew with happiness. In the evening, he says to me: “Look, we will serve the agripenia to the Honest Cross,” and explained what I should do. Of course, agripnia on the rosary, because there was no one to sing. We started about 5 o’clock in the afternoon. “At about midnight I will call you and we will read the Follow-up to Holy Communion. Then in the morning the priest from Stavronikita will come and serve with us. ” “Blessed be Herond.” He gave me lengthy recommendations on how to pray. And he himself remained in one cell, and I in another. Every hour and a half he knocked on my wall and asked: “Deacon, how are you, okay?” – “All right, Geronda.” – “Are you sleeping?” – “No, I’m not sleeping.” He warned: “If you hear the noise, do not be afraid: these are wild boars or jackals.” All night I heard his footsteps. Since the old man had only half a lung, he inhaled deeply and then said, “Glory to Thee, God,” in his own wondrous manner.
I felt that the elder was next to me, and did everything I could. Around midnight, he called me, and we went to the church, next. It was a narrow, long church with one stasidia and five icons – Christ, the Virgin, John the Baptist, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and one Russian saint (I don’t remember who it was once Father Tikhon the Russian lived there). The elder says: “Let’s read the Follow-up to Holy Communion.” He put me in stasidia, opened the Hour’s Book to me, gave me a lighted candle; standing next to me, uttered the words of the Follow-up to the Divine Communion: “Glory to Thee, O God, glory to Thee.” Every time he uttered a verse, he smoothly set his bow. I read: “The bread of the abdomen of the eternal belly may be Your Body, Your Holy …”
Around us impenetrable darkness, night in the desert. When we reached the verse, which says: “Mary, the Mother of God, the fragrance of the sacred Tabernacle …”, I heard as if a breeze had entered the church. I thought the old man had opened the window, but he was standing beside me. Suddenly, the whole space lit up, and the lamp of the Mother of God began to sway by itself. There were five lampads in total, but only this one was swinging, the others remained motionless. It became light in the church – I understood this, because the candle I held in my hand was no longer needed. I turned on the elder. He looked at me and showed me to be silent. I stopped reading, the elder knelt down. I remained standing, waited, waited, half an hour or more had passed, and all this time the following had happened. The lamp went back and forth, the church was lit, the old man was kneeling, and I, with a candle in my hand, did not know what to do. Half an hour passed, I said: “I should read the Follow-up to Holy Communion, or what shall we do?” I began to read, read, without stopping.
At some point, on the seventh song, we returned to where we were – in the twilight. The lamp has stopped. Divine Communion is over. We went, sat down – there was a small front, outside the archondarik, from the side of the church. The elder looked incredibly transformed spiritually.
I say: “Gerond, what was it like in the church?” He replies: “What is it?” I say: “And the lamp… did you not see it?” – “Ah, I saw the lamp. And what else have you seen? ”I said:“ I did not see anything, only the church was lit up, and the lamp was swaying ”. – “You didn’t notice anything else?” – “No, I didn’t see anything else. What else was there? ”-“ There was nothing, baby. ” I say: “Well, how could it be that there was nothing? Why then do we not see it everyday? And why can’t everyone see it? ”-“ True, nothing happened, my dear child, but didn’t you read that the Mother of God passes the Holy Mountain in the evenings and watches what the monks do ”. I did read about it a few days before. “Here she passed here,” he says to me, “I saw two crazy people who read prayers, and she swung the lamp to greet us.” Another time, he told me that he saw the Mother of God at that time in the church.
What happened that night was one of the most amazing experiences that I experienced with the old man, because until about 6 o’clock in the morning, when the priest came from Stavronikita and came to serve with us, we sat and the old man told me many incidents from his spiritual life. They ask me: “Father, Father Paissy is a saint? Is it true that we commemorate him together with the saints? ”I confess to you (this is not the official opinion of the Church, this is my opinion): I certainly believe that if the elder Paisii is not a saint, then there are simply no saints in the Church. It is impossible that a person who had such abundant grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, who performed such supernatural feats, would not be with the saints.
I once asked him: “Gerond, can we serve memorial services for saints who have not yet been canonized?” He replied: “Look, blessed one, there will be no harm to the saints. When we pray for them, they pray for us. ”
In relation to the elder, all that was sung at the Divine Liturgy today, in this consecrated place, where we were with you, in the monastery of Stomiu, a gracious, beautiful, blessed monastery, is applicable. We sang a sacrament, each word of which is really for the elder: “Blessed are they, and they chose and accepted the Lord, and their memory is in clan and clan.” Elder Paisius is one of those blessed ones whom the Lord chose and accepted to Himself.
Miracle in Cyprus
I will tell you about a miracle that the elder Paisius recently performed in Cyprus, after his death. One man from Paphos told me about him. He himself is a plumber, a hard worker, a simple person, not at all church-going, but having popular piety characteristic of all people. Once he worked in the yard of one house, was not too attentive, leaned over to replace the pipe, and something like a fishing hook came into his eye – a terrible thing! He felt the eye literally coming out. “Mother of God!” He exclaimed and began to lose consciousness. Suddenly, he sees a monk in a woolen cap in front of him. The monk takes his hand and says: “Do not be afraid, you have nothing. Listen to me: push out with force what came into your eye, and then go to the hospital. ” – “I can not, I will die.” The old man grabbed him, pulled the “hook” out of his eye and said: “Now go to the hospital, you have nothing”. He laid his hand on his bloody eye, about which the poor fellow thought he had already burst. He felt iron inside the eye, but he also felt the force with which the elder took this iron out of his eye. Barely alive he screamed. At the hospital, an ophthalmologist confirmed that everything is in order, nothing is, except for a small scratch.
After five or six days, this man went to the bakery for bread. There the mistress was reading the book of Father Paisius, and he saw a photo of the old man on the cover, he was frightened and said: “Excuse me, but who is this?” – “Father Paisius is from Holy Mount Athos, a saint of our days.” Then he said: “But I saw him, he did this and that for me … it was he who was.” Of course, she advised him: “Go to Limassol, there you will find father Athanasius, tell him about it.” He told the story to me, and then he wrote it down and sent it to the monastery, where they collect evidence about the posthumous miracles of the old man.
Many miracles were performed by the elder Paisius after his death. They confirm his holiness and the fact that he was holy not only during his life, but also after death. About his miracles tell people who did not know him, have not heard of him and never met him.
Father Paisius was a great patriot and was very fond of Greece and “Byzantine”. There were two things he worried about. First, when they touched his homeland and someone told him: “You know, Geronda, Macedonia, after all, it’s Slavic.” Then he lost his temper. And the second thing that upset him was when he became a cause of inconvenience for others: when someone used his name and said that, say, Father Paisius said this, while he did not say that. And the words passed from mouth to mouth: “Father Paisius said: buy food, dig trenches, there will be war in the summer”, and people rushed to buy food. The elder never talked about dates, at least I never heard from him. He said that “difficult times are coming, we must be on full alert, live in repentance” – he said that exactly. That “the Turks will go bankrupt and give us Constantinople” is what he also said. But he did not say how many years were left, did not give exact dates. When he heard that his name was used, it really saddened him.
Since I had to watch several times how he shaken people up (read: “Knocking Out Dust.” –
From the speech of Metropolitan Athanasius of Limassol at the conference dedicated to elder Paisius Svyatogorts, in Konits, in September 2011. Translation is made by: Ἐμπειρίε του Μητροπολίτη μα ἀπό τόν μακαρα Γέροντα Παϊσιο // Παράκληση. Λεμεσός, 2012. Τευχ. 66 (σ. 6–8), τευχ. 67 (σ. 1–3), τευχ. 68 (σ. 1–3).