Tuesday, 6 July 2010
A Saint's reflections on the journey
A person once asked the Elder what differentiates a Saint from other people. The Elder responded by saying:
“It is Divine Justice”
The person then asked the Elder what is Divine Justice. The Elder responded by stating the following example:
Let’s assume that two people are sitting in a room with a bowl of ten (10) apricots. If one of the two eats more than five (5) apricots then this is gluttony. If both eat five (5) apricots each then this is human justice. But if one of the two people realises that the other likes apricots and eats less than five (5), in order to allow the other person to eat more than five (5), then this is Divine Justice.
I over the next week or so I hope to post a series of sayings from The Elder Paisios.
There will, God Willing :) be a saying for each day to reflect on.
A little about the Elders life...
On July 25, 1924 the future Elder Paisios (Eznepidis) was born to pious parents in the town of Farasa, Cappadocia of Asia Minor. The family's spiritual father, the priest monk Arsenios (the now canonized St. Arsenios of Cappadocia), baptized the babe with his name, prophesying his future profession as monk.
The young Arsenios was wholly given over to God and spent his free time in the silence of nature, where he would pray for hours on end. Having completed his elementary education, he learned the trade of carpentry. He worked as a carpenter until his mandatory military service. He served in the Army during the dangerous days of the end of World War II. Arsenios was brave and self-sacrificing, always desiring to put his own life at risk so as to spare his brother. He was particularly concerned about his fellow soldiers who had left wives and children to serve.
Arsenios received his discharge in 1949 and greatly desired to begin his monastic life on the Holy Mountain.
He was a conscientious monk, finding ways to both complete his obediences (which required contact with others) and to preserve his silence, so as to progress in the art of prayer. He was always selfless in helping his brethren, unwilling to rest while others worked (though he may have already completed his own obediences), as he loved his brothers greatly and without distinction.
Fr. Paisios dwelt deeply on the thought that his own spiritual failures and lack of love were the cause of his neighbor's shortcomings, as well as of the world's ills. He harshly accused himself, pushing himself to greater self-denial and more fervent prayer for his soul and for the whole world. Furthermore, he cultivated the habit of always seeking the "good reason" for a potentially scandalous event and for people's actions, and in this way he preserved himself from judging others. For example, pilgrims to Mt. Athos had been scandalized by the strange behavior and stories told by a certain monk, and, when they met Elder Paisios, they asked him what was wrong with the monk. He warned them not to judge others, and that this monk was actually virtuous and was simply pretending to be a fool when visitors would come, so as to preserve his silence.
Elder Paisios' fame as a Godbearing elder grew, drawing to him the sick and suffering people of God. He received them all day long, dedicating the night to God in prayer, vigil and spiritual struggle. His regime of prayer and asceticism left him with only two or three hours each night for rest. The self-abandon with which he served God and his fellow man, his strictness with himself, the austerity of his regime, and his sensitive nature made him increasingly prone to sickness. In addition to respiratory problems, in his later days he suffered from a serious hernia that made life very painful. When he was forced to leave the Holy Mountain for various reasons (often due to his illnesses) he would receive pilgrims for hours on end at the women's monastery at Souroti, and the physical effort which this entailed in his weakened state caused him such pain that he would turn pale. He bore his suffering with much grace, however, confident that, as God knows what is best for us, it could not be otherwise. He would say that God is greatly touched when someone who is in great suffering does not complain, but rather uses his energy to pray for others.
His last days were full of suffering, but also of the joy of the martyrs. On July 11, 1994, he received Holy Communion for the last time. The next day, Elder Paisios gave his soul into God's keeping.