Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries Digital Books

Biographies - Personal Experiences


Previous // Contents // Next

 

ELDER PORPHYRIOS

Testimonies and Experiences

 

Elder Porphyrios Prophet of our time


 

 


 

Stavros Kalkandes
Retired squadron leader

=============================================================

 
Q: How did you get to know Elder Porphyrios?
 

A: I had gotten to know Father Philotheos Zervakos, a great personality of spiritual stature. He spoke about God and I couldn't understand him. It was like taking a child from the first grade of elementary school and putting him in high school. I couldn't understand those things he was telling me then, but in recent years I've understood everything. Even when he said to me that yesterday God told me this and that, and I said, "What is he telling me? What is he telling me?"
One day he came to me after the Divine Liturgy, (we had built a chapel in Palaeo Psychiko, at the National Foundation for the Resettlement of the Disabled) and said, "Let's go and say good-bye to Fr. Athanasios in Balla because last night the Lord told me that He would take him."
 

"What's he telling me now?" I thought. "All right, Elder," I said to him "I'll come."
 

At that time I was paralyzed from the neck down. The military had given me two personnel, one was a driver, the other a nurse. They got me ready, picked me up, put me in the wheel chair, and we left!
 

He prayed continuously throughout the whole trip. We were going to visit the Elder Athanasios Hamakiotes, another great figure. When we arrived we found him walking in the yard. "Oh, my brother," he said, "welcome. I thank God who sent you so that I can confess."

 

Father Philotheos said to him, "I bring you a joyful message, an angelic message, a message from the Lord. Get ready, my brother, because the Lord is coming to take you." Then I saw the expression on the face of Fr. Athanasios, just like a little child who has just been given a shiny new bicycle! He was so jubilant he said,

"What can I do, my brother, to thank the Lord for the news of the fortunate event that you have brought me?"

When we went inside what a conversation they had! I said to myself, "Where am I, in heaven or on earth?" I remember it very well, vividly, because I'm experiencing it at this moment. I vividly remember when he said to him, "Be careful, Athanasios, at the last moment."

 

I was still in spiritual infancy and I said, "Hmm Father Philotheos! What can he do to him? He's an old man, so to speak." He replied, "He will bring him scenes of fornication, he will suggest evil thoughts and so many other things. It's there that the first come last and the last come first."

 

Fr. Athanasios said to him, "I'm scared of the Evil One. I'm scared of him. I'm trembling. Trembling, my brother," he said to him, "I'm trembling."

Now I have lived through those difficult moments of sickness and when I was close to death, I thought about, I tried to think about God. I tried to think about a lot of things but the devil didn't let me. My mind wandered far away from where I wanted it to go. Then I remembered the words, "Be careful of the Evil One at your final moment."

Let's now come to Elder Porphyrios. One day I said to the Elder, Fr. Philotheos, "Now that you're leaving this life (he was 98 years old), where shall I go for confession?" (I met him in 1962. In 1970 when I got up I was, let's see, 48 years old, now I'm 70. He died in 1980, I was 60....)
 

"Well," he said, "go to Fr. Porphyrios." I didn't know Fr. Porphyrios and I said to him, "Where can I find him?" He said to me, "Go and ask and you'll find him. I don't know where he is, to tell you." I said, "Do you know him?"
 

"No." he said, "I don't need to know him. God knows him." (Elder Porphyrios hadn't yet gone to visit him.)
 

I asked a lawyer friend of mine and he said "Let's go together." He then lived in Tourkovounia, by the Church of the Panagitsa and held confession there. My turn also came, it must have been about eight o' clock in the evening. He introduced me and the Elder suddenly said to me, "Eh! What can I say to you, Stavros, I'm tired. We must talk about things somewhat differently. Do you know what joy it gives me when I meet kindred souls! I'm very pleased. Leave it...I'll phone you up when I can." I left, but I was not too pleased when I left, because I had waited a long time for my turn.

I didn't get the chance to reach my house, when I heard the phone ringing. "You're back? It's Fr. Porphyrios speaking. I need you tomorrow, as I thought we should go on a mission. Are you ready to come?"
 

"Sure, I am." I said to him, "Where shall we meet?"
 

"Here at the church."

I went to pick him up in the morning, and he said to me, "Drive towards Corinth."
 

"To Corinth?"
 

"Yes, I'll tell you on the way."

We continued, and he says to me "I'm going to pick up a founding charter from a monk who has a monastery. He is a literature teacher, and they tell me that he has a very good charter."
 

"Do you know him?"
 

"No."
 

"How will we go there?"
 

"Is that what's bothering you? It doesn't bother me, it bothers you?"
 

"But I'm the driver. How will we get there?"
 

"Oh you, step on it and I'll tell you on the way. You just move the car. I'll do the talking. Some spiritual children come to me and say that I am a good person, but I say to myself that I'm not good. However, because they insist on me building a monastery, 'fine,' I said, Ill take care of it.'..."
 

"Great," I said, "Tell me where to turn off in time because I'm traveling very fast, and won't be able to turn off if you tell me at the last minute."
 

"Don't let that bother you..." he said. "You'll stop at the last gas station on the way to Corinth."
 

"And how will I know which one is the last gas station?"
 

"I'll find it." he said "Do you know it?"
 

"No," he said, "we'll find it on the way..."

It was the first time I really met him and I didn't understand what he meant...I was astonished. I said, "What are you telling me now? Do you know it? Have you gone there?"
 

"No"
 

"Do you know where it is?"

 

"No"
 

"How will you get there?"
 

"What do you care?" he said. "Look, stop at this gas station."

 

I wasn't thinking properly, and thought that he would want to fill up the car. So I said, "Pappouli, it's not right for you to put in gas for me...there is another gas station further on."
 

"Ah!" he said to me, "You're not obedient. You'll have to turn back as you won't find another gas station." We, therefore, continued, only to see that there wasn't another gas station all the way to the Corinthian Isthmus. I turned back, we go to the gas station and Fr. Porphyrios asked the people there.

 

"Is there a small monastery here with a high-school teacher? Where does he live?"
 

"He died...Yesterday." they told him. "And where is the monastery?" he said to them. "There, on that dirt road..." they told him. "Step on it." he said to me.

I got into the car, and continued, in ten minutes we came across three roads.

 

"Now," I said to him, "which one do we follow?"

 

He closed his eyes and said, "We'll keep towards the left."

 

We entered the Geraneia Mountains. There was no going forward and no going back. The road was terrible! Really terrible! After half an hour there I started to fume and fret. I said,

 

"But Elder, is this really the road? Will we find it?"
 

"Oh you! We'll, find it." he said, "Look! Don't worry, at the next turning you take, we'll find it in front of us."

"So you know what you're saying then?"

"I told you I've never been there. How do I know?"
 

"Eh? Then how come you're telling me?"

"Oh, that's something else. You'll learn, little by little." So, we turned and saw the monastery on the road in front of us.

His sister was there, an aged nun, and he said to her, "Where's the Elder?"
 

"There, that's him." she said, pointing to his grave. Elder Porphyrios got out, went down to the grave and said a Trisagion for him. Afterwards he said to her, "Do you know where he has the founding charter of the monastery?"
 

"It's no use talking to me about those things," said the nun, "I don't know anything. You should go to the notary in Corinth who prepared the papers." she said, "He's studied both Literature and Theology."

He said, "Hit the gas pedal for Corinth..." We left and I said to him, "Where are we going to find the notary now? I don't know Corinth..."

"You'll enter by a main road." he said.

"I don't even know that much." I said

"I'll tell you," he said, "which road to take. Carry on, turn left... this is the main road."

We enter the main road. "What happens now?" I asked him.

 

"Carry on driving slowly, close to the sidewalk," he replied, "and I'll tell you which man to ask."

 

As we crawled along he said to me, "Not him, not the second man, not the third man, him, the man wearing the pullover. Do you see him? We'll ask him."

I stopped, opened the door and shouted, "Mister, mister..., please come here so I can ask you something... Tell me. is there a notary's office near here?"
 

"There", he said, "that building is full of notaries." I stopped the car there. I took hold of the Elder and we went.
 

I said to him, "Now there are twenty notaries...Where shall we start?"
 

"Follow me," he told me, "follow me and I'll take you." He proceeded to the office of a notary public and went straight in.

 

"An Elder came here and drew up his papers. Would you be so kind as to give me a photocopy of his founding charter? He has died, the Lord took him yesterday."
 

"I'll give it to you, Elder..." He made a photocopy. "Take it." It took five minutes...

 

"Ah," I said, "pappouli you're not normal."
 

"Why?" he said to me
 

"Oh come on," I said, "you knew the place and you went in..."
 

"Ah!" he said, "You're also distrusting... I told you, I've never come here before."
 

"Eh, how did you come in then?"
 

"Don't ask me. You'll find that out later, you'll learn about it..."

"What do you want now?" I told him, "What shall I do?"


"Do you know what I want? I fancy something to eat at a first class restaurant..."
 

"What do you want to eat?" I said.

 

"A tomato." he replied
 

"A tomato in a first class restaurant! How's that going to happen?"
 

I drove along the coast, everything was closed, they only open in the evening...

 

"What shall we do?" I said to him, "Where are we going to find a restaurant? Why do you want it to be first class? Isn't it enough to find a small diner to eat in?"


"I want to see the people who are coming and going," he said, "I want to say to you, 'Do you see him? He's so-and-so... Do you see him? He's so-and-so.'"

 

I thought, "What's that he's telling me now?" I couldn't understand because I didn't know him at all, I knew nothing. I said to him, "I'll take you to a first class restaurant. Let's see now..."
 

At Megara I turned right and went down to Pachi and we sat at a small taverna by the sea. The Elder ordered a tomato and I ordered some octopus. I remembered that it was Wednesday. We ate. He said to me, "Do you want me to tell you where you were born?"

"Do you know the place?"

 

"I know it"
 

"Have you gone there?" "No."
 

"How can you tell me then?"

 

"Don't ask me such things," he said.

 

"Yes," I said, "I want you to tell me."

He starts, "We're in a boat, in the middle of the sea and we're looking out to shore. I see a large church in the center. It's the Cathedral. Isn't the village there? It's a small country town, your town. On the right you built St. Nectarios', about twenty-five meters from the sea, isn't it?"
 

"Yes." I reply.
 

"On the left hand side, my, my, what can I see? my, my, my! Something archaeological. The sea is full", he said, "what was over there? It looks like something sank, some town.."

"That's what it is." I said. I didn't know about that though. I didn't know about the archaeological site.(My village is called Neapolis or Vatica, in Laconia, opposite Kythera.)

 

He said to me, "So, we'll have confession on the way back... You'll stop under an olive-tree and we'll talk. You won't say anything. I'll tell you it all."
 

"But how do you know about it," I say, "and you're going to tell me?"
 

"Eh, be patient," he said.

We stopped under an olive tree and he put on his stole. He gave a complete diagnosis of my sickness. No-one could ever have done that for me, not even in America. Absolutely no-one. He said, 'here you have feeling, there you don't have feeling, here you're in pain, your hands are numb here, there they're paralyzed, here it is, turn over... My, my! What's this I see on the back of your neck! Blood, blood...blood, blood. What's the matter with you?' He tells me that my circulation is not functioning properly after all I've been through. Everything is upside down under the nape of my neck. "Your problem is your circulation," he said "Something's wrong with your circulation."

We also talked about other things. He said that he was very happy about our acquaintance and that now he would be able to continue (with the convent). He was looking for a location. 'We'll probably end up in Oropos,' he said. He hadn't bought anything yet. He looked at the charter and said to me, "We will make progress..." He told me a lot more and then we left. I dropped him off and went home.

That's how our relationship began; before he built those buildings (in 1981) he lived in a shack out there in Oropos. We went there and had conversations. Other people also went there.

Q: What do you remember about the Elder?

A: I remember one day, when the weather was fine, we were sitting outside. An archimandrite came along. They greeted one another and then as soon as the archimandrite sat in his chair, the Elder made the sign of the cross over his knee. "How do you know about it, Eider?" he asked. (From childhood his knees had the tendency to slip out of joint.) "I've had it since childhood (now he is an abbot in Cyprus). I went to America for my theology doctorate. I received a scholarship to write about Mystical Theology while on Mt.Athos. That's the subject of my doctorate. Mystical theology says that the intellect has the lead over the heart. Tell me, what does your practical theology say?"

"No," he said to him, "I don't agree. It's the heart that has the lead."
 

"Could you please explain, pappouli, how it's the heart that has it?"
 

"The intellect' he said, "wakes up and thinks about what lie it will say to dupe the customer; if he's a businessman, how he should act there, what he should say to this person, what he should do to that person, how he'll get hold of more money. The heart on the other hand, sees a small child and pampers it... He puts his hand in his pocket and gives some money to a disabled person. He runs to the hospital and visits someone who is sick... He willingly offers his services or he gives money. When the heart speaks the hand goes into the pocket. When the intellect speaks, the hand stays out of the pocket. Therefore, for me the heart comes first."

Fr. Porphyrios told the archmandrite from Cyprus, that the intellect is not interested in prayer, in what the heart pursues. They have different interests. The intellect relies on cunning, whereas the heart tries to communicate with the divine.

 

"What, therefore, must happen?" he says to him.

 

"Do you know that there are oportunities to communicate with God? When? In extreme spiritual or bodily pain the intellect surrenders, restrained by the desire of the heart. By speaking of the heart we don't mean the flesh of the heart. The heart is further in, more internal. Then, since the intellect is restrained we have a self-denying comedown. Then what happens? Immediately it becomes brilliant, it becomes light. That's why God says knock on my door, and I will open it. Ask me for anything you want and I will give it to you. When? When our voice reaches Him. You know that on the street unless you shout, "Hey! John, John..." he won't turn around to look at you. God must hear our voice. Each time we say that we're praying, is our voice heard by God? That's the question. No, because how many times have you gone to pray and you start yawning. You go to pray, and you remember what this person or that person did to you, how you'll get your own back, what you'll do... It's not possible for you to say that you've prayed tonight. That is why, only, when a person suffers bodily and spiritually, only then can he open the door to Christ." I found this out myself during my own ordeal.


When I asked Fr. Philotheos for the first time if it was possible to communicate with God, he said to me, "What are you saying, son? The harder it seems, the easier it is. It's enough to want it, to believe, to pray and the first step is confession and Holy Communion. Is that so difficult?"
 

I said to him, "If I do all that will I communicate with God?"
 

"Yes" he said.

So for the first time I started to go to confession. God sent me elders of great spiritual stature because man cannot do anything alone, without the help of such spiritual people, like Elder Porphyrios and Elder Philotheos. That's why we say, where are we going to find such spiritual people? We run to America to see doctors for our bodies, but we are indifferent about our souls. We are now orphans, and we don't know what will happen.

Well, they talked and discussed for long enough... The archimandrite was now more aware of things and went away pleased.

Another time, a certain doctor came with his pregnant wife. The Elder blessed her belly with the sign of the cross.

 

"What do you see, Elder?" she asked him.

 

"Oh, my dear child, how can I tell you what I see? I see a mark on its face."

 

She became uneasy and said to him, "Tell me what kind of mark it is, what mark?"


"Here," says the Elder, "his lip, it's a little torn." The child really was born with a torn lip.

One day an electrician was fixing something in pappouli's room. At some point he turned to the Elder and said, "Elder, I'm amazed, so many people have gathered outside, what do they expect from you?"

"Well," said pappouli, "I tell each person a saying and then they leave."
 

"Are they really so stupid, coming here just to be told a saying?" he said.
 

He replied, "Do you want me to tell you one of my sayings?"


"I'm listening, Elder" he said.


Then the Elder started to tell him all about his family problems, until the electrician said,

 

"Stop, Elder, stop. How do you know about all that?"

 

The pappouli said to him, "Eh! How do I know about all that, I can't tell you now. Get on with your electrical work and we'll talk about it another time..."

 

The electrician was astounded...Then pappouli added, "Eh, those are the sayings that I tell them."
 

"Forgive me, pappouli, I didn't know."

In the meantime in order to get there I had to make a 70 kilometer round trip. Sometimes I came and he was tired. "Come again some other time," he told me, "because I'm tired."

"But," I said "I've come a long way."

"It doesn't matter." he told me. I kissed his hand and left. I went there lots of times only to have him tell me, I'm tired; not now Stavros!' I would again kiss his hand and leave. One day, while on the way there, I said to myself, if he doesn't receive me this time and I just kiss his hand and leave, I'll try and force myself to improve, not to sin anymore. Then I won't have to go anymore, I can't, I haven't got the strength, that is to say, I went with difficulty. I arrived and he said to me, "Oh dear, you've caught me again. I'm very tired."

"Fine, pappouli, let us..."

"I want to tell you a story before you leave... A lady came and waited all day. She was the only one left and I was very tired. I said to her, 'Oh dear, Madam, I'm tired again, what can I do? A lot of people have turned up around here... and I need to have my rest in order to talk.'

 

And she said, This is no good, I'll try not to sin anymore...then I won't have to come again.'"
 

I said, "You're talking about me?"

"At last you've understood." he said to me laughingly.

One day I went to him and said, "I'm suffering, Elder, I'm going to America."
 

"What are you going to do in America?" he said, "They won't be able to do anything for you. Trifles."

 

In fact I went and I suffered. It appeared that the cyst had grown on the spinal marrow again. I called him up and asked someone if I could speak with him. I said, "Elder, I've got cancer of the mouth, what shall I do?"

"I've got the same thing." he said, "I've got the same disease. How did we both get the same disease."

"Yoy can overcome it." I said, "What should I do? Will we go to America together?

"No." he said, "I'll go there where God tells me to go." "What," I said "should I do?"

"Whatever God enlightens you," he told me, "I can't tell you anything."

In fact, I went there, and they operated on me. They removed half my tongue and with the help of God I recovered and I'm here now. I brought him to my house. He made the sign of the cross over my mother who was partially paralyzed. I took him to other houses.... I took him on another mission, I don't remember it now. In any case, I would like to finish off by saying that even here I had not really understood that I was dealing with a man of God.

Q: When did you realize this Mr. Kalkandes?
 

A: When he died I said to myself, what did I have before me for eighteen years, and I didn't take advantage of it spiritually? What a loss! Whatever we discussed, whatever we talked about, whatever he told me, it has remained with me. Now that he has left I have all those words before me. I'll always remember them. I'm always returning to the events that we experienced together, because I knew him for eighteen years. Because he and I saw wonders.

God surrounded me with people or great spiritual stature, like Fr. Amphilochios, Fr. Philotheos, Fr. Athanasios and Fr. Porphyrios.... Great spiritual stature.... Holiness..... Unfortunately, now we are orphaned and we don't know where we're going or we'll end up. We run about here and there, like sheep who have lost their shepherd.

 

I took a lady to him for confession. One of her breasts had been removed, but she was now spiritually unwell. As she entered the Elder picked up his jacket, wrapped himself up and left for the forest. The lady turned to me and said, "Why did he leave? Where did he go? Why did he leave me?"


"Wait here," I told her, "he'll return." He told me that he had gone to pray.

 

When he returned he said, "Next to that woman's spiritual problems, her cancer's nothing. She has enormous problems. She is seriously ill spiritually. Eh! She is not one of those people that we can possibly help." She did not return, of course, and she also died.

Another time pappouli said to me, "A tour bus is coming to the Convent. What will we do with them? Where shall we put them all?
 

"But where," I said, "do you see the tour bus?"
 

"Well," he said, in a short while you'll see it too." The tour bus really did arrive a short while later.

It was like I was wearing a veil over my face, which didn't let the eyes of my soul to penetrate more deeply... When it fell then I saw all the events before me.

"Their eyes were opened..."
 

"Yes. Then I realized what I had before me and I hadn't taken advantage of it. I knew Fr. Philotheos very well for eighteen years. I also knew Fr. Amphilochios from Patmos...He told me many things. I knew and was surrounded by spiritual figures of great height...Giants."
 

"In our century God has given both our Church and Greece very many who were strong in spirit."

"Certainly..."

"Very many... St.Nectarios, Philotheos, Porphyrios....."

"We could say they were pure people. Real children, completely innocent people. They really communicated with God....."

 

 

<<

____________

Previous // Contents // Next

Article published in English on: 6-2-2009.

Last Update: 6-2-2009.

Up