Impasse

By Archimandrite Touma (Bitar)

Abbot of the Monastery of St. Silouan the Athonite– Douma

A few years ago, before the current economic crisis, I had the opportunity to visit Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos. There I was blessed to visit the spiritual elder and ascetic Joseph, who had previously been abbot of the flock of monks of that monastery and who was a member of the spiritual family whose father was the great elder Joseph the Hesychast the Athonite, who died completing his spiritual struggle on August 15, 1959. So let’s call Joseph, whom I was graced to visit by the blessing of the Lord Jesus, …

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The Monks of the Arizona Desert

They surrender their lives to the “Geronta” or “Elder” or “Starets” trusting him to lead them to perfection and sanctification-”theosis”.

They always gaze toward the Cross of Christ seeking the strength and consolation of the Crucified and Risen Lord.

Through Prayer, Obedience and Humility they become “like Christ”. They crucify their flesh and their will so that they may transform themselves from fallen human beings to “transfigured children of God”.

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The punished angel

From the ‘Large Gerontiko’

 An elder once said that there was this hermit who was living in the deepest desert for many years and had achieved the visionary charisma to such an extent that he was also in company with angels. Then this is what happened:

Two brothers, monks, heard about this hermit and wished to meet him so that they could benefit from his acquaintance.  Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Video from the memorial service on the burial place of Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi

Scenes from the 1st year memorial service on the resting place of Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi. Click here for the video. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Miracles by Saint Onoufrios

1. A miracle performed to a Turk forester.

This event was conveyed to me by elder Christodoulos, when I was at the Saint Onoufrios Seat and was helping father Ierotheos, who was a gardener, on June 12th, 1944. Father Christodoulos remembered this event, which took place during the Turkish occupation of Greece around 1910, and passed it on to honor the memory of Saint Onoufrios. read more… Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

The truly great Saints of our times

Elder Iakovos Tsalikis

These days when stress and insecurity prevails and unimportant issues are presented as crucial, I think we must remember the wonderful Saintly Elders (gerontes) of our times, who lived among us just a few years ago. These gerontes were regularly consoling hundreds of people of all religions and beliefs, believers and non believers alike, and were performing miracles with their prayers, curing many of their physical and mental illnesses.
Gerontas Paisios of Agio Oros (Holy Mount Athos), whose many prophecies have been regularly cited in this blog, used to say:
-“If one lives to serve his own interest only, he is a useless person”.

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Message of the day

If we saw how much Christ loves us… The Lord does not abandon us, never and no way.  From the time He came to the earth through the Theotokos Mary and became God-man, He is with us always. And as Elder Porphyrios – may we have his blessing – used to say it, if we saw how much Christ loves us and what He has done for us, we would go crazy from our joy. We would leave ourselves in His hands, and wouldn’t have any care about anything.

Anthology of Counsels of Elder Porphyry Priest-monk, edition of Transfiguration of the Saviour Convent (in Greek)

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Message of the day

Innocence is greater than genius.

Elder Amphilochios of Patmos

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The Elder Joseph the Hesychast (+1959) Strugles, Experiences, Teachings (5)

04_EldIosif

Continued from (4)

4. The Move to St Basil and the Death of the Elder Ephrem

Any move is in itself not pleasant. But when it becomes essential or useful for the overall goal, then it is the preferred option and is carried through. This is what one finds in most of the Fathers. The prince of evil who schemes against our salvation leaves untried none of the means at his disposal in his war against us, in his efforts to impede our progress towards our spiritual goal. He makes use of locations, places, our limbs, people, things, the inner, the outer, things around us and whatever else you can think of – he turns it all against us so as to lessen our faith in God, to overturn our beliefs and disappoint our hopes. But it is with a particularly frenzied fury that he attacks those who are making progress in the work of the heart and spiritual intellect. Abba Isaac the Syrian refers to something of this sort in his discourses when he says, ‘When the devil sees that progress of this kind has begun, he will stir up some person or some occasion even from the other end of the world to create an obstacle, to prevent the intellect perceiving the experience of grace.’

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The Elder Joseph the Hesychast (+1959) Strugles, Experiences, Teachings (4)

03_EldIosif

Continued from (3)

3. Settlement in Katounakia with the elder Ephrem

They thanked the Elder and promised obedience.  Once they had received his blessing, it was not long before they discovered the elders Joseph and Ephrem at the nearby hut of the Annunciation.   These were brothers according to the flesh from Albania, and were both very old.  They had lived in that spot since their youth, striving well and with arduous ascetisism, according to the tradition of Athonite monasticism.  These Elders were successors of the first monk to live at the hut, Nicodemus of Dionysiou, a scholar, writer and hesychast. 

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Message of the day

«Injustice is a big sin. Those who commit injustice put fire on their head .»

Elder Paisios

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The Elder Joseph the Hesychast (+1959) Strugles, Experiences, Teachings (3)

02_EldIosif

Continued from (2)

2. Initial Difficulties and Aid from Grace

asion that presents itself arouses enthusiasm and interest. The remote and peaceful surroundings of Vigla, untroubled by any care or noise, especially attracted the attention of the young ascetic. He at once began a more detailed search for a place in that general area where he could stay longer. His first impressions from the lives of the Fathers that he had read had left a deep mark on his imagination, and he could not believe that there did not still exist the same conditions and the same ways of life as then. To inexperience and fervour, everything is possible. He believed that there must be inaccessible ascetics, naked, free from care, concerned solely with prayer and contemplation. Fantasy arising out of ardent zeal is an acute temptation for the inexperienced, until experience changes their frame of mind. So because he needed to be independent in order to carry out his search and make a mature choice, he did not want to undertake obedience at once to the existing Elders, but wanted to remain free for the time being. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

The Elder Joseph the Hesychast (+1959) Strugles, Experiences, Teachings (2)

Elder Iosif 1

Continued from (1)

Part I: The Life

1. Childhood and Youth

The Elder’s homeland was Paros in the Cyclades; a small island, but peaceful and, at that time, a place with strict moral standards. His parents were simple people and not well off, so that the children were obliged to work for a living from a young age. His father, George, did not live to bring up all his family. So the children, already poor, were now orphans as well – something not that uncommon in poor families. His mother Maria, a real woman of God in all her natural and acquired character traits, was, in the words of the Lord, ‘an Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile’ (Jn 1.48). This blessed soul had such simplicity and intregrity that many times in her life she saw supranatural phenomena, and believed that everyone else must be seeing them too. This happened especially when she went into churches, whether for services or just to take care of the church.

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The Elder Joseph the Hesychast (+1959) Strugles, Experiences, Teachings (1)

Elder Iosif 1

Introduction

It is only natural for noble memories to be recorded, so that they remain forever as glowing landmarks in spiritual history. This is the more necessary these days, when life is in a state of flux and rapid change so that the traditional foundations are almost totally transformed. Anyone of an advanced age will have something to say from his experience of the past, as a witness to events and a source of reliable information. But this is also an obligation which creates history. This is how knowledge about the lives of former generations is handed down to us – of how they lived, how and what they thought and what their social and spiritual life was like.

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Dialogue between a Geron (Elder) and an atheist

The Holy Image or "Mandylion" (also known as the Shroud of Turin). For proof that this cloth is indeed the ancient image of Jesus Christ venerated since early Christian times in Syria, see these two books: http://www.amazon.com/Holy-Faces-Secret-Places-Wilson/dp/0385261055 and http://www.amazon.com/Crucifixion-Second-Completely-Revised-Expanded/dp/1590770706/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1254215747&sr=1-1

The Holy Image or "Mandylion" (also known as the Shroud of Turin). For proof that this cloth is indeed the burial cloth of Jesus Christ that is venerated since early Christian times in Syria and then in Constantinople, see these two books: http://www.amazon.com/Holy-Faces-Secret-Places-Wilson/dp/0385261055 and http://www.amazon.com/Crucifixion-Second-Completely-Revised-Expanded/dp/1590770706/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1254215747&sr=1-1

One morning, the holy Elder («Geron») Epiphanios Theodoropoulos (1930-1989) was in a conversation with 2-3 visitors at his home. One of them was an ideological atheist and a communist. Suddenly, someone from outside came rushing in, and informed them that the city of Athens had been flooded with photographs of Mao Tse Tung, with the inscription “Glory to the great Mao”. It was the day that the Chinese dictator had died.

Geron:

That’s the way things are, my child. Atheists do not exist. Only idolaters exist, who take down Christ from His throne and in His place they enthrone their own idols. We say: “Glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”. They say: “Glory to the great Mao”. You pick and choose which one you prefer.

Atheist:

You also choose your drug, grandpa. The only difference is, that you call it Christ, others call it Allah, or Buddha, etc. etc…

Geron:

My child, Christ is not a drug. Christ is the Creator of the entire universe. He is the one Who governs everything wisely, from the multitudes of infinite galaxies, down to the minutest particles of the microcosm. He has given life to all of us. He is the One Who brought you into this world and has bestowed you with so much freedom, that you can actually doubt Him, and even deny Him.

Atheist:

Grandpa, its your right to believe in all of those things. But that doesn’t mean they are true. Do you have any proofs? Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Message of the day

At the end of exhausting patience appears the Grace of God in a way that can be sensed (tangibly).

Elder Joseph the Hesychast (1897-1959)

 

Message of the day

The joy of human life springs forth from the Cross.

Elder Ephrem of Katounakia

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On Holy Tradition, by Father Cleopa of Romania

The Cross of Justin II

The Reliquary Cross of the Byzantine emperor Justin II (reigned 565-578).

Ch. 3 from The Truth of Our Faith:: A Discourse from Holy Scripture on the Teachings of True Christianity, By Elder Cleopa of Romania

Inquirer: What is the Holy Tradition that the Orthodox consider to be the second source of Holy Revelation and coequal with Holy Scripture?

Elder Cleopa: Holy Tradition is the teaching of the Church, God-given with a living voice, from which a portion was later written down. As with Holy Scripture, so, too, Holy Tradition contains Holy Revelation, and is, therefore, fundamental for our salvation. Holy Tradition is the life of the Church in the Holy Spirit and, consonant with the enduring life of the Church, is thus a wellspring of Holy Revelation, such that, consequently, it possesses the same authority as Holy Scripture.

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Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi (1/7/1921 – 1/7/2009): A Brief Biography

(At the right hand bottom of the window of the video, by clicking on the arrows, you can go into fullscreen.)

Auf Deutch

Ελληνικά

Elder Joseph, insignificant according to the world, was born in Drousia, a small village in the district of Paphos on the island of Saints [Cyprus], on July 1st 1921. His mother Evgenia gave birth to her little child when she was seven months pregnant at the Monastery of the Holy Unmerceneries in Giolou on the feastday of these Saints. The mother thought the child had died, yet he lived. The infant received the name Socrates upon being baptized.

Little Socrates was closely raised by his peasant parents living from a young age the hard life. When he succeeded in finishing the fourth grade of Elementary School, he was needed to do field work. Until he was fifteen years old he remained in his village. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

A simple biomedical presentation of the first miracle of Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi (Mount Athos), who smiled 45 minutes after his death.

Part 1. The contemporary situation.

The present contribution describes a miracle that, as far as we know, is almost unheard of in the entire history of Christianity. A dead person (Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi) smiled. Impressive is the fact, that this smile occurred 45 minutes after his death. This is photographically documented. There have been reported a lot of miracles with dead persons (prophets, saints, e.t.c.). But almost never before did occur a miracle like the one that happened on July 1, 2009 in the Holy Great Monastery of Vatopaidi (Mount Athos, Greece)

Since many months, the spiritual family of Elder Joseph (namely the Brotherhood of the Holy Great Monastery of Vatopaidi and especially Abbot Ephraim) suffers a unique, for our days, persecution. The latter consists of all kinds of lies and slander. Every father is sad, when his children are acused. But he is much more sad, when the acusations are faulty. Elder Joseph, being the spiritual father of this family, suffered from this persecution as well. But where sin abounded (in this case the unjust and systematic persecution of the Vatopaidi Brotherhood and of Abbot Ephraim by the pathetic watchdogs of the New World Order), grace did much more aboud (in this case the smile from eternity) (Apostle Paul, Letter to Romans, chapter 5, vers 20). Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Why’s the smile of elder Joseph of Vatopedi from eternity?

keidia-5

Honorable Mr. Papanikolaou,

A few hours after the entombment of elder Joseph, you posted at your website an article with the title «Funeral of Blessed Elder Joseph of Vatopedi – A Smile From Eternity«, describing in a few words the event aided by a few pictures. [transl’s note: original greek article] Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Becoming «All things to all people in order to save them.» (Elder Porphyrios)

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The holy elder Porphyrios.

Elder Porphyrios throughout his whole life received all those who came to him; becoming, like St. Paul, «All things to all people in order to save them.»

All kinds passed by his humble cell; both holy ascetics and sinful thieves, Orthodox Christians and people of other denominations and religions, insignificant people and famous personalities, rich and poor, illiterate and literate, lay people and clergy of all ranks. To each one he offered the love of Christ for their salvation.

This does not mean that all those who went to the Elder or who knew him, for however long, adopted his message or acquired his virtue, and thus were as worthy of our complete trust as he was. A great deal of care, vigilance and good sense is required, because as the Elder becomes well known, the temptation will come to some people to claim some type of attachment or connection with him. They will want to boast or to create the false impression that they are speaking for him. Apart from pure devotion and true love, apart from humble approach and honest learning, there is also conceit and personal gain. Naivety exists, but so does guile. Ignorance exists but so does error and deception. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Papoulakis, Saint Joachim of Vatopaidi (2)

Continued from (1)

by Elder Joseph οf Vatopaidi

Agios Ioakeim Pappoulakis 2

To the Very Reverend Abbot Archimandrite Εphraim And the other venerable Fathers of the Holy, Royal, Patriarchal and Stavropegic Monastery of Vatopaidi on the Holy Mountain, children in the Lord beloved of our humble self, Grace be to you, venerable fathers, and peace from God.

Based on the material submitted by you, beloved and venerable fathers, and on the relative report from our Canonical Commission, which were reviewed in the council of our Holy and Sacred Synod, the Monk Joachim Papoulakis of Vatopaidi from Ithaki – whose blessed life and conduct were distinguished by a genuine Orthodox way of thinking and by a great contribution to the Church – is hereby numbered among the Blessed Ones and Saints of the Church. His commemoration is appointed for the 2nd of March each year, whereas that of the translation of his relics for the 23rd of May. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

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Papoulakis, Saint Joachim of Vatopaidi (1)

Elder Joseph οf Vatopaidi

Agios Ioakeim Pappoulakis 2

HOLY GREAT MONASTERY OF VATOPAIDI MOUNT ATHOS 2005

PAPOULAKIS

SAINT JOACHIM OF VATOPAIDI

© Holy Great Monastery of Vatopaidi, Mount Athos, Greece 2005

All rights reserved. Printed in Greece.

Translated from the second Greek edition of

© Holy Great Monastery of Vatopaidi, Mount Athos 1998

 

PROLOGUE

While exploring the inexhaustible library of our Monastery, a book printed in 1902 fell quite unexpectedly into our hands. It bore the title The Life and Acts of our Blessed Father Joachim of Ithaki and was written by a physician from Ithaki named Panos D. Raftopoulos. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

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On the Presuppositions of our Personal Salvation, Elder Cleopa of Romania

Fresco detail from Vatopedi Monastery (Ascending to Heaven)

Fresco detail from Vatopedi Monastery (Ascending to Heaven)

Ch. 13. from The Truth of Our Faith:: A Discourse from Holy Scripture on the Teachings of True Christianity

Inquirer: Father, earlier you spoke about our “personal salvation.” Can you tell me more about this?

Elder Cleopa: Some religious confessions teach that personal salvation presupposes the action of Divine Grace alone, according to Calvin, or the grace of faith, i.e. of trust in God, according to Luther, by which the “merits” or virtues of our Lord Jesus Christ are conferred upon man. Therefore, to give a general outline, there are Protestant Christians who believe that salvation stems only from faith and that on the part of man himself there is placed no condition or requirement for his salvation. MORE… Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »