Testimonies and Experiences
Elder Porphyrios – Prophet of our time
K.I.: Mrs. H. I would like to thank you for your
immediate reply to our request for this conversation about Elder Porphyrios,
through whom you have had so many exceptional experiences.
H.H.: I first met Elder Porphyrios in 1981, while helping out friends and relatives who did not have cars but wanted to see the Elder.
K.I.: You continued doing that until the Elder passed away. Apart from all the other times, it was with you that I went to see the Elder the last time that I saw him on this earth.
H.H.: As you know, there were always a lot of people who wanted to see him there. I always respected the fact that he was always tired and very often ill. The first time that we were able to talk, I wanted to repeat the words of the Myrrh-bearing Women again and again, "I have seen the Lord."
K.I.: That's beautiful.
H.H.: He had such simplicitity, such love, such freedom and such wisdom concentrated all together in his person. Elder Porphyrios loved the whole world.
The thing that was really wonderful was the discernment he had. At any given moment he knew what he should say to each person according to how receptive they were at the time. When he saw that we were not ready to accept what he wanted to tell us, he said a lot less and added, "Well, we'll talk about it again."
He often told us whatever he had to say by using examples, rather than directly. He used examples a lot, "This lady, who had those problems with her children..." or "That young woman, who came across this problem..." and so on. By generalizing the issue, each of us more readily accepted what Elder Porphrios wanted to tell us. Wisdom was really given to him by God.
K.I.: Could you tell us about some of your experiences involving the gifts of the Holy Spirit, that Elder Porphyrios had?
H.H.: When my husband died, our children, Dimitri and Constantine, were only twelve and ten years old respectively. As you can understand, they were terribly hurt.
The Elder, who saw deep into their souls said, "They're hurt, they're wounded." He helped me a great deal, especially with my eldest son. The loss of his father created a deeper wound. He advised me to treat him with lots of gentleness and love. He told me, "Don't be upset when the child is rude and reacts. He doesn't want to be like that, but he can't help it at that moment. He'll feel sorry later. However, when we get angry we act with demonic will and get into its cycle.'
He always pointed out to me that, "There is only one way to avoid problems with children: holiness. Become saints and you won't have any problems with your children."
K.I.: Didn't you ask him how we can become saints?
H.H.: Certainly. His answer was, "It's very simple; when divine grace comes." When I asked him how divine grace comes, he answered, "With humility and prayer. But our prayer must be strong, alive. We always get results when we pray with faith and trust.
"Don't pressure your children," he said. "Whatever you want to say to them, say it with your prayers. Children don't listen with their ears. They'll only listen to what we want to tell them when divine grace appears and enlightens them. When you want to say something to your child, say it to the Panagia instead and she will do all the work. Your prayer will become a spiritual hug, which embraces your children and captivates them. We, you see, often try to hug them, but they object. They never object to a spiritual hug, though"
Let me tell you how I saw it being put into practice. The first time that I went on vacation with my children after my husband's death, my eldest son found some friends there. He would go missing during the afternoons. I didn't know where he went or what he did.
Well, I said to him, "Come on, son, don't leave again. What do you get up to, disappearing like that all day?" And all those things that mothers usually say. He, however, didn't listen to me.
One day I remembered what Elder Porphyrios had said to me. When the boy left I picked up the Paraklisis to the Panagia and started reading it. Before I was able to finish, my son came in and said, "Mom, where did you say you would like us to go this afternoon?" The Panagia's answer was so immediate, that only then did I consciously understand that the Elder Porphyrios' stance was the only correct one towards children.
K.I.: Those experiences of yours are very helpful and important for those of us who are parents.
H.H.: He gave me guidance and advised me about every subject that concerned my children.
My children went horseback riding. The time came for us to buy a horse. It was an important decision, so I went and sought the Elder's advice. He encouraged me to make that decision. He called the children and told them that horseback riding is a great thing. He told them to be careful when riding, that it's wonderful when you sit upon a horse, and to enjoy it thoroughly.
He also encouraged my children to go skiing. He said to them, "There on the mountain, where you can see the sky and the snow and all that beautiful scenery, think about who created it all." He gently guided them to the Creator through Creation.
He also told them at the same time not to neglect their school work. He said it in such a beautiful way, "You won't neglect your books and your studies. If you read and then get a little tired, go and ride your horse for a little while, then you'll return to your books refreshed."
K.I.: How beautiful that is!
H.H. When I was going to buy a house I looked at many other houses before I bought the one we live in today. I continually asked for the Elder's advice. He insisted that the house be in a position that was in the sun and that had a horizon, meaning a view.
He told me about the monastery that he was building in Milesi. He would visit the site months before building began. He would go and see the sunrise, how it was at noon, sunset, and so on. He explained that the monastery was built in such a way that it saw the sun rising and setting, until its final rays fell upon the monastery. The house that I bought with his guidance and blessing is exactly like that.
However before I bought the house I had found another one which fulfilled all my requirements. I went to the Elder and told him about it. He wouldn't allow me to buy the house. He said that there were high voltage electricity cables above the house, that were harmful to our health. It was something that I hadn't noticed. I listened to his advice and I didn't buy the house, because it's been scientifically proven that such cables above our houses can cause cancer, especially in children.
K.I.: Elder Porphyrios knew everything and tried to protect us from everything.
H.H.: He had the feeling, you know, that he was
the greatest sinner in the world. Whenever he saw all those beautiful and
splendid things with his gift of foresight, he said, "I'm glad that we were
given the chance to chat and that God chose to reveal those things to me,
the worthless sinner. Then I think about how God has enlightened me and what
I said, and I'm glad."
The Elder's ability to see water underground is very well-known. He was able to 'descend' to the water source under the earth without moving from his position. Indeed, with the gift that he had, he was even able to sample the water. He said that if he had a glass with him he could fill it up and bring it to the surface. However, since that miracle would be a bit too strong he never did it.
K.I.: That's amazing.
H.H.: My husband died suddenly while he was working abroad, and it took a week before all the proper procedures were completed for the transfer of his remains to Greece. During that time I didn't tell the children that their father had died, but that he was seriously ill.
I took my oldest son Dimitri with me to Elder Porphyrios. Before entering the cell, I told him that his father had died. Pappouli then talked to Dimitri and with very simple words he told him the Christian view of death. In words that a child could understand he told him that death is simply a change of place. Now we're here and the next moment we're there, in another life, which is very beautiful but on another level.
Elder Porphyrios always emphasized in front of my children that eternal life exists. "It's much easier for me to say that the sun won't come up tomorrow rather than for me to say that there is no life after death. We know this, we see it."
K.I.: Elder Porphyrios had the grace of seeing
both shores of existence.
H.H.: Yes, quite true. He would say to my children that the other life is beautiful and that our body which goes into the grave is ours, but as he also told me, "when they place our body in the grave it becomes like a man's suit." His words helped me very much during the funeral and burial of my husband.
Elder Porphyrios, who my children very much loved, revealed many theological truths to them, using only stories and fables.
My oldest son once said to me, "Fine, Mom, I know that Dad is in a good place. But, do I really have to wait for seventy or eighty years until I see him again?" I told the Elder and he told me to tell my son to ask an elderly person how long it took them to reach their eightieth year, and to listen to the answer carefully. My son asked my father, who replied, "Son, it's like the years passed by only yesterday."
K.I.: What did he say to you, Mrs. H., during your hours of loneliness and pain after the premature death of your husband at such a young age?
H.H.: He helped very much, especially during those moments when you're quite naturally overwhelmed and the question, "Why, God, why so young?", starts torturing you. I felt derelict and sank into my chair unable to get up.
"When you get that feeling," he advised, "jump up and go for a walk on the mountain." When I asked him how I would go out if it was nighttime he said, "If you can't go out you'll fill your mind full of beautiful images, like the park that you once visited with your husband and your children, or a beautiful sunset, that rests upon the sea. You'll drive the ugly thoughts away and you'll say, "Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on my husband, have mercy also on us." He instilled me with the conviction that there was communion between the Combattant Church and the Triumphant Church.
K.I.: What you said is very lovely. Did he talk to you about your husband on the other side?
H.H.: When I went with my oldest son that time that I mentioned, he said that he had seen the soul of my husband.
K.I.: That's very important, because it's one more palpable proof of the other life's existence; that a human being here on earth, Elder Porphyrios, could see the soul of a deceased brother.
H.H.: He explained to me how we can help the souls of our departed.
K.I.: What did he tell you?
H.H.: We must pray a lot, do good works, be charitable, and take part in the Divine Liturgy (by making prosphora and giving the names of the departed so that they can be remembered.) We and our children must receive communion frequently, if possible at every Liturgy.
K.I.: I am really moved by this conversation with you Mrs. H., because you are giving us the Elder's words relating to life after death. The question of death concerns everybody and it's really jolting, but also a great gift from God, to hear testimonies and proof of life after death from the mouth of a holy man like Elder Porphyrios.
H.H.: When my grief was just beginning I had the opportunity to confirm just how miraculous Elder Porphyrios' prayer was. When I went to tell him about my husband's death, (I was alone at the time. I went with my son another day), he wasn't in his room. I saw him for a brief moment on the road outside, and since he very much shared in human pain, he said nothing; so much so that I even wondered if he had heard me at all.
I could be found at home in the afternoon of that same day, when I suddenly felt all the burden leaving my soul and joy springing up within me. I crossed myself and said "My God, is my reaction logical?"
I later learnt - and I cross-checked my information -that at the exact moment when I felt like that, Elder Porphyrios had been praying for me.
K.I.: That's really significant.
H.H. I verified the miraculous effect of his prayer with relatives concerning issues of health, especially spiritual health.
He insisted on prayer a great deal. He told doctors, myself included, "At the moment when you're leaning over the patient in the consulting-room, pray for him and say the Jesus Prayer."
I really put that into practice at my office. With difficult cases I say, "Lord Jesus Christ..." (now after the Elder's departure I add "and through the prayers of Elder Porphyrios") "...help me to make the correct diagnosis and to overcome this particular difficulty."
Elder Porphyrios wanted us to help others by example and not by words. He wanted us to influence them and to urge them on to the way of Christ.
Someone, I remember, once sought his advice about future marriage to a young lady who had certain problems, and, in any case, that they would, like all couples, have some other problems after the wedding. In addition to that she wasn't very faithful. The Elder told the man, "Fine, you can get married like that. When she sees you living a Christian life, full of calmness and joy, she'll get jealous and she'll want to come closer to Christ of her own accord."
On the day that the Elder left for MtAthos, from which he never returned, I visited him with my niece who he loved very much. The following dialogue took place between them:
"Are you in pain, Elder?"
"Yes, I'm in pain." "Where does it hurt, pappoulf?"
"What shall I do to find happiness in my life Elder?"
"Read the Holy Scriptures, go to church, have a spiritual father, take communion; in other words become a good Christian. Then you'll find the joy that you're looking for. I'm now in pain, as you can see, but I'm happy. When you come a little closer to Christ, you'll also find joy in your life."
He always said that, "Let us love Christ." Once when I
visited him with my children he told us a very beautiful story.
There once was a shepherd girl who loved a young man who worked in another meadow. She would steal away at night, braving the darkness and defying the hedges full of thorns and all the other things in her way to join her beloved. "That's the way we should love Christ," he told us.
K.I.: That's beautiful, very beautiful. In finishing, may I ask you how you feel now that the Elder has gone.
H.H.: Without a doubt there is a great feeling of emptiness, especially when there are major problems and serious dilemmas. However, on such occasions I always remember him telling us that there was communication between the Church militant and the Church triumphant. He told us that when we call upon a saint to help us, he or she will help us at the very moment that we ask for it . When we say for example, "St. Nicholas, help me." St. Nicholas can help you and at the same time help all of those who call upon him, regardless of where they are.
So, I'm convinced that Elder Porphyrios is now able to help all of us together. I've seen wonderful things happen to his spiritual children after his passing. He helps them more now and with better results. May we all have his blessing."
____________Previous // Contents // Next
Article published in English on: 18-2-2009.
Last Update: 23-2-2009.