Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain
(By Priestmonk Christopoulos – Holy Mountain Monk)
Reviewed by Emmanuel N. Stamatiou
1. A Short Biography
• Elder Paisios was born in Farasa in Cappadocia, Asia Minor on 25 July 1924.
• He was baptised by St Arsenios the Cappadocian on 7 August 1924.
• After the Greco-Turkish War he emigrated with his family to Epirus, Greece in September 1924.
• He worked as a carpenter in Konitsa, Epirus after completing elementary education.
• In 1945 he was drafted into the army and served during the years of the civil war until 1949 as a radio operator.
• In 1949 he went to Mount Athos to become a monk. He stayed for a few months and returned to his family because his mind was on his sisters who were still unmarried.
• In 1950 he went back to Mount Athos and in 1954 he was tonsured a monk.
• In 1956 his spiritual father, Elder Symeon at Philotheou Monastery gave him the name “Paisios”.
• In 1958 he was asked to go to Stomio in Konitsa.
• In 1962 he went to Sinai for 2 years.
• In 1964 he returned to Mount Athos.
• In 1966 he founded the Monastery of St John the Theologian in Sourote, Thessalonki, Greece which he also guided spiritually for 28 years, from 1967-1994 – which also contains the miraculous relics of St Arsenios of Cappadocia.
• He fell asleep on 12 July 1994.
2. Elder Paisios’s Gifts
While still alive, Elder Paisios was considered a saint by many. There are hundreds of signed witnesses of miracles he performed.
On the Holy Mountain he practised asceticism. The gifts God adorned him with were many:-
(a) Gift of healing – he healed many people from diverse illnesses, cancers, paralytics from birth, etc.
(b) Gift of taking out demons – from people.
(c) Gift of foreknowledge – to many he had told events which would happen to them in the future on a personal level but also prophesised future developments in history.
(d) Gift of clairvoyance – he knew the heart of each person deeper and more clearly than the person himself. For this reason, he also counselled correctly and with precision and each one listened to the word which he needed to hear.
(e) Gift of discretion of spirits – he knew with exactitude if a spiritual event was from God or from the devil who was trying to deceive and lead astray.
(f) Gift of discretion of God’s will – he knew in each case what God’s will was and if he ought to reveal it or not.
(g) Gift of theology – from the many spiritual experiences he had with saints, with angels, with the Virgin Mary, but also with visions of uncreated light, not once, but many times. He had truly become a theologian and deeply knew God’s mysteries.
(h) Gift of love – he had love for everyone, without limits, with absolute self-sacrifice. A love on fire, sweet, almighty, divine. It was this love which gathered people around him. Hundreds of people visited him daily in his cell. The elder gathered the pain, the agony and the problems of the people and gave a solution, joy and peace. He intervened miraculously with divine authority and solved the unsolvable. The Elder was a gift of God to people.
3. The Elder’s Teachings
1. “Before you do something, think what Christ wants you to; then act accordingly. Ask for God’s guidance.”
2. “Do not look at what people do, or examine how, and why they do it.”
3. “Perverse thoughts separate men from God. Our aim is to totally submit our mind to the grace of God.”
4. “If one lives in the world of his pride, that is, his own thoughts, he is filled with illusions and he is in danger. He must ignore both positive and negative thoughts and always confess to his spiritual father, and obey whatever he tells him. He should only trust him and not in his own thoughts.”
5. “As long as man humbly thinks of himself, God’s grace remains with him and protects him.”
6. “In our days, people have lost control over their lives and they do not know what they are doing. They do not wish to be guided. They want to live undisturbed, following their own freewill, which will eventually bring them to total destruction. He becomes deceived. He experiences and interprets everything by using his own logic. Instead of God’s grace, human logic rules his life and his mind is in “confusion”.”
7. “If a passion rules our lives it is because we consent to it. If we remain enslaved by it, we do it because we love our passion and want to be a slave to it. The moment we hate the passion and direct our love towards to God, we immediately become free.”
8. “”Purification” requires the soul to be pure and clean from our own will; to abandon our own will to the will of God. To humble our will and elevate God’s will.”
9. “”Obedience” means not to have a will at all and obey your spiritual father.”
10. “”Philotimo” is the reverent distillation of goodness, the radiant love of the humble man bereft of himself, but a heart full of gratitude to God and his fellow man, and because of spiritual sensitivity he tries to repay even the slightest good which others do to him.”
11. “A person who asks for miracles, in order to believe in God, lacks dignity. If God wishes he could make everyone believe with miracles. But he does not do so because he does not want to exercise force on man’s free will; man will then end up believing in God, not out of gratefulness or due to God’s excessive kindness, but due to his “supernatural power”.”
12. “Our saints had divine justice instead of human justice. When we neglect our spirituality and instead take to court people who treat us unjustly, we consider our material possessions and our pride more valuable than the salvation of our soul.”
13. “Divine Providence is the care that comes from God. He looks after the tiniest detail of the smallest of his creatures. His providence will take care of everything in our lives if we reject everything and become wholly and undistractingly devoted to his love.”
14. “We should constantly and unceasingly repeat The Jesus Prayer. Only the name of Jesus must remain inside our heart and mind. When we neglect our prayer, that is our communication with God, then the devil finds the chance to confuse us with negative thoughts.”
15. “When God sees that we are proud and arrogant, he allows for the presence of afflictions and temptations in our life. He will take them away from us when He sees that we have humbled ourselves.”
16. “Hell and paradise do exist. Our soul experiences both, as they are spiritual states and not places where fires are burning, or birds are singing. The soul experiences fear, terror, agony, anxiety, despair and disappointment. If it has been separated from God in this life. It experiences hell – a torturing experience. Hell is not a place where souls are boiling inside cauldrons, but rather a state is which the soul will be found after the separation from the body. Then, you will realise the truth and suffer tremendously for not believing in Christ and his preaching on life after death. The soul will more intensively feel the guilt for its actions and experience these unpleasant feelings of fear, terror, despair, etc. It becomes a place of hell. The same applies to paradise as well, your soul is filled with joy and love.”
The teachings outlined above are only a short summary of Elder Paisios’s spiritual knowledge and wisdom. Christians who take the time to read this book and put Elder Paisios’s counsels into practice will benefit significantly. “Blessed are they who live the word and not those who only hear it or read it.”
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