Elder Joseph of Vatopedi: “The changes in spiritual life”

Question: In addition to what you have already told us, geronta, what else must we do when these changes appear in our spiritual life? Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Praying and fasting in our Orthodox Christian life…

We all understand how important prayer is for the spiritual life of an Orthodox Christian. But how are we to pray? Two forms of prayer are evident in the Orthodox Christian life: private prayers said at home and unified Church prayer. Each has certain special characteristics. Our Saviour gave instructions in the Gospel about private prayer: «When you pray, go into your room and shut the door, pray to your Father Who is in secret; and your Father Who sees in secret will reward you openly» (Mt.6:6). Of course, home prayers are basic to us. Prayer is deeply intimate and heartfelt. Everyone who has sincerely searched for heartfelt and moving prayer, knows well how easy and natural it is to pray in solitude, in silence and peace. Moreover, our Lord firmly warns us against hypocritical prayer done for show, to elicit praise from people.

When a Christian prays to God, he must strive to contemplate the words of the prayers which he reads, and to concentrate his thought on the content of the. Everyone knows how difficult it is to struggle against the pressure of outside thoughts and images which tiresomely besiege the person who is praying. This comes to us both from our personal distraction and from the indirect action of the evil-one. The task of a Christian is to apply all his powers to persistently shake off all these side thoughts (which are sometimes impure) that torment him, and to pray piously and with concentration. One should remember that an extra pressure of thoughts and images—often vile and blasphemous—comes to us directly from Satan, and the struggle of resisting these thoughts is a direct struggle against evil. Consequently, one receives great benefit from such a struggle. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »

Papoulakis, Saint Joachim of Vatopaidi (12)

Continuued from (11)

by the Blessed Elder Joseph οf Vatopaidi


As was proper and natural, the place of Saint Joachim’s spiritual birth assumed the duty of bringing to light and honoring its saintly offspring. In 1991, the Abbot of Vatopaidi Monastery, Archimandrite Ephraim, and fathers of the Monastery went to Ithaki and, with the help of the inhabitants of the island, identified the place of the Saint’s grave. They arranged with the Metropolitan Bishop of the diocese for the translation* of the Saint’s relics on May 23 of the following year, 1992. News of this forthcoming event soon became known to the people of Ithaki, as well as to the faithful throughout all of Greece.

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Papoulakis, Saint Joachim of Vatopaidi (11)

Continued from (10)

by the Blessed Elder Joseph οf Vatopaidi


On March 1,1868, blessed Papoulakis was resting on his hard mat at the home of a Christ-loving man named H. Paizi Lianou in Vathy. He peacefully and calmly foretold that he was preparing for his eternal journey. Lying on his scanty mat on the floor, and now completely exhausted, he refused all food. His friend Maratos the doctor visited him and asked if there was anything that he needed or that he could do for him. The Elder replied, «There is nothing that I need; I’m getting ready to depart.» He called for the devout and virtuous priest-monk Agapios to draw near him for the last time. Having confessed, he then became silent, waiting to give over his spirit to its Maker whom he so loved and to whom he had devoted his entire life.

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Papoulakis, Saint Joachim of Vatopaidi (10)

Continued from (9)

by the Blessed Elder Joseph οf Vatopaidi

Agios Ioakeim Papoulakis

Olga Sophianou of Kionio recounts that a fellow villager of hers, an older woman named Garoupho, lived alone without any human consolation. Papoulakis felt sorry for her and would go regularly to visit her. A neighbor, however, began slandering her out of envy, saying that she was having a sinful relationship with the Saint. The woman heard these tales and became very upset, but she continued to welcome Papoulakis, without telling him anything, and also offering him food as always. The Saint received information by the grace of God, and told the old lady Garoupho, «Do not be sad. Mitsalou, who falsely accused us, will get ‘the carboni’ (i.e., bad pimple) inside the nose, and no one will be able to greet her besause it will stink». And indeed it came to pass just as the Saint had said.


Olga Sophianou tells us that a certain woman in Kionio violated the fast days of the Church. One Friday, as she was cooking meat, the Saint passed by her house and asked if she was cooking something. Out of shame before Papoulakis, she lied, saying that she was cooking only vegetables. The holy man instructed her, «Open the pot with the food.» She opened it and found the meat full of worms. Thus the Saint taught her in a practical way not to violate the fast.

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Papoulakis, Saint Joachim of Vatopaidi (9)

Continued from (8)

by the Blessed Elder Joseph οf Vatopaidi

Agios Ioakeim Papoulakis

K. Koutsouvelis from Kionio recounted that a certain man from Anogi had been nurturing a bitter hatred for a fellow villager of his, for reasons of honor. Unable to free himself from this passion, he was thinking about taking the man’s life and was already planning in his mind how to carrying it out. No one suspected his intentions, and perhaps even the intended victim had no idea of his dis¬position. One day he was informed that his enemy was in Stavros, and that during the night he would be returning to Anogi. He saw this as a suitable opportunity to wait in ambush in a hidden place, and the moment the man passed by, he would shoot him with his gun. Διαβάστε τη συνέχεια του άρθρου »



Like so many other aspects of our spiritual life, emptiness cannot replace fullness. To trust in God and to rejoice in His goodness is an act of fullness, an act that fills the heart with good things.

Fr. Stephen Freeman

I admit to being a child of the 60’s (which means I was born in the early 50’s). I have lived through a period in American history marked by assasinations, abuse of power, incompetence and unrelenting and outrageous pieties from the lips of the impious. As such, like many in my generation, I am tempted by cynicism – an assurance that things are never as they seem but that things seem mainly because someone wants them to seem that way. Of course, cynics rarely have to repent because history frequently supports their suspicions.

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