us respect the Desert
Elder Paisios «Epistles»,
by «Evangelist John the
Therefore we Monks
should avoid (as much as we can) resorting to modern means for the
operation of the Monastery, and show respect to the Desert by
adjusting ourselves to it, so that the Desert in turn may grant us
its blessed serenity and we be aided in ridding our soul of all
our passions. It is not proper to want to adjust the Desert to
our secular self, because it is a sin to dishonor the Desert;
modern-day Monk wish to do so, let him build a Monastery atop a
multi-storey condominium in order to secure all the comforts of the world that he
desires; to enjoy all the lights, or climb up to the third
heaven with an elevator; as long as he lets
the Desert be.
Source: http://pithlessthoughts.blogspot.com )
Unfortunately, several such Monks with all that secular mentality of
theirs tend to bring all of their secular spirit to the Desert, with
all the secular means, and they constantly preoccupy themselves with
changes and reforms, with external embellishments, with bricks and a
whole lot of pot plants, and yet have no idea what a prayer-rope is;
only fussing about, good food and bricks. All of this reveals
the kind of persons they are: carnal ones - who are merely bricks
(clay) and not spirits of God. (I
am not referring to the newly-built Monasteries that they strive to
build in order to house themselves).
Thus, when a Monk
does not find spiritual labours,
he is not guided by his Elder
and instead preoccupies himself only with external things, he will
of course become spiritually savage, and he will be unable to stay
in his cell, even if strapped down. He will always be fond of
contact with (visiting) people, provide guided tours, talk to
them about the domes and the archaeological items, show them the
pots with all the different flowers,
offer them a rich secular meal, thus comforting only superficial
people. If one were to examine what kind
of "comfort" that is, one will see that is it not true comfort; quite
simply, with all that preoccupation, the people (visitors) forget
their troubles for a while, but then return to their stress, because
the secular phronema (conscience) is like a woodworm that keeps gnawing away.
purpose of Monasteries is a spiritual one, and
should be no secular element therein, only the celestial one, so
that people's souls may be flooded with Paradisiacal sweetness.
We cannot compete against secular people when it comes to secular
matters, because, well, truth be told, secular people have far more
means. And therefore, what does this mean? The poor secular outsiders seek
something loftier from us; however, in order to attain that loftier thing, we need to
avoid all human consolation,
it is not possible to feel divine consolation (Paradisiacal
sweetness) unless we avoid the secular kind and unless we totally
mortify our secular
mentality. After the secular mentality has been mortified it must
become plant compost so that the divine mentality can develop inside
us, because divine pleasures are not born out of carnal pleasures
but out of carnal pains, which are acquired in struggles, with an
awareness and discernment of Christ's life by His sincere children
so that they can rid themselves of the "old" (secular) person.
The Benevolent Father will then sustain His children with
Paradisiacal foods, even while they are still on the earth,
and they will be leaping for joy - like a resurrectional day - but
of course only after they have gone through a Great Lent with
struggles, Good Friday at the Crucifix, and have been spiritually
resurrected and living the post-Easter period,
only now continually. In
other words, they do not celebrate the Resurrection only once a
year; rather, it is constantly Easter - the Lord's Easter.
Our Good Lord has made man's life very sweet (in its proper sense -
the spiritual one) but some of us turn it into hell with our
miseries, by not having discarded the secular mentality so that we
can confront matters spiritually. That is how we
strive to "sweeten" our
life (in the wrong sense) and we never want to die;
instead, the more the
years pass by, the more the "oh's" of our agony increase, filling
our soul with stress.
In other words, some of us poor wretches reach such a point, that we
actually strive to retain the soul inside our 100-year-old, exhausted,
intravenously-supported flesh and insist that "life is sweet" while
we tremble lest we die. Whereas, for one who is dead from a
secular aspect but resurrected spiritually, there is absolutely no
agony, fear and stress - ever - because he even awaits death
joyously, knowing he will be going to Christ and
will be rejoicing for
living once again, as he will be living near Christ and feeling a
part of the joy of Paradise while still on earth and even asking
himself if there is a greater joy in Paradise than the one he is
feeling here on earth.
This, therefore, is the sweet life - in its true and proper sense.
Even though true Monks understand that what they are enjoying in
this life is only a part of the joy of Paradise
- and that in Paradise it
will be even more - nevertheless, out of their bounteous love for
their fellow-man, they want to live on earth in order to help people
with their prayers so that God may intervene and help them.
Blessed are those Monks, and through their blessings, may the Lord
show His mercy on me, the unfortunately still wretched one. I
would truly like the Good Lord to make all us Monks who have
followed the Angelic life, to reach the measures of those Monks and
to incessantly say - day and night - "Glory to God because I am
alive! Glory to God, because I shall die!"
This is the Angelic life, which Monks begin to live while still on
this earth, when they put on the one and only Angelic Schema (habit)
- whether young or old - which Angelic Schema converts the two
genders into two Angelic wings and elevates souls to great heights
through pure love, and there no longer is any carnal
differentiation: "there is no longer male or female"
This is the life that Monks live while here, and the life that all
those who will become worthy of Paradise will live, because in
Paradise they will not get married but will be like the Angels -
which is what our Christ told the Sadducees (see Matth. 22:30).
That is why we Monks must thank and glorify God day and night for
the great honour He has given us by inviting us into His Angelic
Order and giving us every spiritual potential to become angels even
while still here on earth.
Keep all these things in mind, my novice brother, and try to achieve
that which you desire. Since you have begun well, pay attention to
all the things that I have mentioned, so that you also end up well.
benefits and pensions
"The Words of Elder
if the Hagiorites
(the monks of Athos - the Holy Mountain) don't speak out for fear of having their allowances curtailed, then
who is going to speak out?
I once said to a certain Abbot: "If they tell you that they
will cease paying allowances, you should say: "Then
we too shall cease
so that it will get them thinking." Theology professors etc.
don't speak up, because they say: "We are employees; we will lose
our salary and then how are we going to survive?" Meantime,
they have talked the monasteries into accepting pension plans.
Why don't I personally want to collect even that humblest of
pensions (of the Agriculture Organization Fund)? Because even
if they have insured a monk with an Agricultural Pension, it is
still not honest. To have him insured as a pauper, yes, that
will dignify him. But to have him insured under the
Agricultural Pensions Fund - why? A monk leaves behind
all large pensions, he departs from the world and he comes to the
monastery, to... again receive a pension ? And to reach
the point of betraying Christ for the
sake of a pension ?!
-We have Christ Himself
Who was crucified so that we may be resurrected, and yet we remain
indifferent! If the Church doesn't speak out, for fear of a
confrontation with the State, or if Metropolitans don't speak
out so that they can remain on good terms with everyone because they are
aided in philanthropic foundations etc., or
-Elder, of course you don't mean that if - for example - a nun has
worked in the past as a teacher for several years, she won't be
entitled to a pension?
-Well, I suppose in her case it is
But let me tell you,
if she were to give away her pension where it
would benefit someone
else, she would eventually receive a huge pension from Christ....
I can see what is waiting ahead of us, and that is why it pains
3. The secular
spirit in Monasticism
Source: "The Words
of Elder Paisios", vol.A,
by «Evangelist John the
there are many who say to us:
“You are living in Paradise”.
Well, you had better say a prayer to not lose the other Paradise.
I would be comforted, if secular people were impressed by your spiritual
development, without you perceiving it (on account of your spiritual
progress) and without you striving for it; instead, it should happen on
its own - internally and naturally. Try not to lose yourselves in
lost issues, so that you don't lose Christ. As much as possible,
try to attain a monastic conscience. Live spiritually like nuns;
don't forget Christ, so that He will remember you. I have no
intention of sorrowing you - only to help you, to support you. Try
to discern the secular spirit which, when it penetrates Monasticism
saddens Christ Himself, and discard it as a foreign spirit.
Unfortunately the secular spirit of the world has also entered many
Monasteries, because certain Fathers of our time are channeling
Monasticism through a secular channel and souls are not guided towards
the patristic spirit of Grace. I am seeing an anti-patristic
spirit prevailing in Monasteries nowadays;
they do not accept that
which is good, and patristic - that is, they do not live patristically
but instead, they flatten all the spiritual heights that are in the name
of obedience and the excising of one's personal will, and they obey
their respective secular wills.
way, they no longer make any progress, because they have invited temptation
- the secular spirit - as their coenobitic cell-mate. We have no
right to interpret God's commandments they way they suit us, nor do we
have the right to present Monasticism the way we want.
It is one thing to acknowledge our weaknesses and humbly ask for God's
but for me, the greatest evil is that
there are those who regard the secular spirit as "progress", when they
should be perceiving it as a fall and should be
vomiting it in order to be
cleansed spiritually, so that the Holy Spirit will come quickly. It
is the Holy Spirit Who sanctifies, informs and supports souls.
are also those who say: "We should present our
What Culture should we present? The secular
we as monks should present our spiritual culture - our spiritual
progress. Where is our spiritual progress? We shouldn't outdo
secular people in secular progress. Secular people are tormented
by that secular progress - monks even more so! We need to run much
faster "spiritually", so that secular people might do something also.
Even if we do what a very spiritual layman does, even that won't be of
any help, because people will merely have a very spiritual layman as
their example. We need to surpass them.
A monk shouldn't have secular progress as his objective. It would be
abusing Monasticism. A Monk who thinks in a secular manner has obviously
lost his path; although he had set off for Christ, his soul is turned
towards the world.
With secular development - which is regarded as progress - Monasticism
is led into spiritual decomposition. There are
things that have been lost in Monasticism also - the same way as in the world, when
honour and respect are lost and are regarded as mere conventions!
That's why it pains me and I feel I'm going to burst! I feel like
heading for the mountains! When a person has not experienced
something sublime, he doesn't worry all that much about the spiritual
life that he leads in his own manner. But for one who is forced to
live in that manner, have you any idea what kind of torture it is?
If Christ were to make me worthy of living the way I want - in isolation
- and dying bravely, I would consider it as dying on the war front. Now
it is worth dying, worth giving witness, worth offering a sacrifice, for
the sake alone of
having the Holy Fathers slandered...
Shouldn't we pause to think a little about the
Blessed Fathers whom we read constantly - where they lived and how they
lived? The Lord had said: "Foxes have lairs, but the Son of Man
has nowhere to rest His head!" What an
awesome statement! And have you noticed how they strived to
emulate Christ by living in caves? They could feel the joy of
Christ in everything, because they emulated Christ in everything.
All their attention was focused there.
Holy Fathers had made the Desert their spiritual polity, and yet today,
we are turning it into a secular polity.
flees to the Desert in
order to be saved, and we have turned the Desert into a secular polity,
such that people become scandalized and are not helped and have nothing
to reach out to. That is the immense danger that I can see in these
difficult years that we are living in. Even though we have more
reason nowadays to live more monastically - in order to have divine
strength - we are unfortunately being altered by the secular spirit and
are becoming weaker. In other words, we are driving away our
spirit, leaving only our empty carcass.
Nowadays there are monks who live Monasticism superficially: they don't
smoke, they live chastely, they read the Philokalia, they always refer
to the Fathers. This is similar to the secular behavior, where those who
refrain from telling lies, who cross themselves, who go to Church and
when they grow up, pay closer attention to moral issues, and think that
this is all that's needed.... well, this is what is happening in certain
Monasteries too, and laypeople are initially attracted; but when they
become better acquainted, they realize that those monks don't differ
that much from people living in the world, because they have preserved
the secular spirit in full. If the monks smoked, read newspapers,
talked politics, people would then avoid them, inasmuch as they would be
just like the secular outsiders and that way, Monasticism would not be
When a monk becomes weakened spiritually, with what can he sensitize the
secular person? If we leave a bottle of pure alcohol open it will
lose all its zest. It will not kill germs, nor will it ignite with a
flame. If you try to use it on a wick burner, it will ruin the wick. The
same thing happens with a monk, if he isn't careful: he will drive away
divine Grace, and he will be left with his monk's schema (habit) only.
He will be like the alcohol that has lost its zest. He won't be
able to "cauterize" the devil! "To
monks, angels are the light; to worldly people, monks are the light"!
Well, he won't even be a light afterwards. Have you any idea how
destructive the secular conscience can be? If that spiritual element
departs from Monasticism, there will be nothing left. Because "if the
salt loses its savour", it isn't even suitable
for the dunghill.
While garbage can become manure, salt cannot be used as manure; and if
you use it on a plant, it will wither it. Our time is an era when
Monasticism should be radiant. This present, rotting state is in
need of that "salt". If Monasteries do not maintain a
secular conscience but preserve the spiritual state, it would be their
greatest offer to society. They would not even have to speak or do
anything else, because their very manner of living would be "speaking"
for them. And that's what the world needs today.
Have you seen the point that Catholics
have reached? I remember years ago, when I was at the Stomiou
Monastery at Konitsa, someone brought me a newspaper clipping which
wrote: "Three hundred nuns protested, about not being permitted to
watch a movie at a cinema, and why their skirts had to be long and not
knee-length..." I became so exasperated when I read it, that I
exclaimed: "But, why did they ever want to become nuns in the first
place?" The news article mentioned at the end that they finally
discarded their nun's habits. Although, judging by their manner of
thinking, they had essentially discarded their monastic attire long
before. Another time, I had noticed a Catholic nun who was no
different to a woman of the world. She was supposedly on
missionary work, but was totally..... well, like certain very secular
young ladies. We must not allow that European spirit to infiltrate
us also; we must not reach that state too.
-Elder, it seems like a very difficult thing, getting rid of the secular
isn't difficult; you just need to be on the alert. Constantly remember
what Arsenios the Great had said: "For what did you exit (the world)?"
We tend to forget why we came to the Monastery. Everyone starts
off more or less well, but they don't end up well because they forget
why they went to the Monastery.
-Elder, you said that the secular spirit infiltrates Monasticism and
spiritual handling is lost. Will the true spirit of Monasticism be
-It is only a passing storm; God will not allow it.
-Elder, a thought crossed my mind: Do monastic
retinues who maintain a spiritual course still exist?
There are monks who live very spiritually,
noiselessly. There are souls in every Monastery, in every
Metropolis etc... It's those isolated souls that move God, making Him
Woe betide, if they didn't exist!
monk and modern facilities
Source: "The Words
of Elder Paisios", vol.A,
by «Evangelist John the
-Elder, how should a monk utilize modern facilities?
-He should make sure he always possesses less than what the person in
the world possesses. I am satisfied with using wood for heating, cooking
and for hand crafts. But, when they're going the way they are with wood
trading and ravaging the forests, thus making wood scarce, then I shall
use the lowliest means that the world uses: an oil stove, or I don't
know what else may be cheap and humble, for heating, cooking and
-How can one discern just how necessary something is, in a Monastery?
-If one thinks monastically, he can tell. If he doesn't think
monastically, everything will seem necessary and he will thus become
secular - even worse than secular. As monks, we should live at
least a bit below those in the world, or the way we ourselves used to
live in the world, and to not possess better things than we used to have
at home. The Monastery must normally be poorer than one's home.
That helps the monk internally, and it helps worldly people too.
God has arranged it thus, so that people do not find comfort in those
things. If laypeople are tormented by secular "progress", imagine
how much more it affects a monk! If I were to find myself in
a rich house and the host asked me "where would you like me to put you
up so that it pleases you? In the lounge with all the ceremonial
furnishings, or in the stable that I have, with a couple of goats?", I
can honestly tell you that I will feel far more comforted in the stable
with the goats. Because, when I embarked on being a monk, I didn't
leave the world to find a better house - to find a palace. I
set off to find something worse than what I had.
Otherwise, I would be doing nothing for Christ.
But with today's logic, it would be: "So, what's wrong with living in a
palace? How will it harm your soul? Inside the stable it will
stink, whereas in the palace there will be a pleasant fragrance in the
air and you will be able to do several prostrations."
There needs to be a spiritual sensor here. You see, a compass has a
magnetized needle, and there is another magnet that makes it gyrate.
Christ has a magnet, but we too must acquire some magnet in order to
gyrate towards Christ.
In olden times, how many arduous tasks Monastery life required!
I remember how there was a huge vat in the kitchen, and how they had a
manual winch for lifting it. They used wood to light a fire under
it in order to cook meals. Sometimes the fire was too hot, sometimes too
low, and foods would sometimes stick to the vat. Whenever fish
stuck to the vat during cooking, they used a steel scraping brush
afterwards to scrape them off. Then came the task of collecting the
cinders left over from the fire, placing them in an urn which had a hole
at the bottom, then pouring water into it so that the lye (clean ash)
would settle and then be used for washing the dishes. Our hands would
become a mess. And in the refectory, we used to hoist up the water with
Some of the things that are being done in the Monasteries nowadays are
In one Monastery, I noticed they were slicing
the bread with a slicing machine. That was not at all appropriate!
If someone is sick or weak and unable to slice bread with an ordinary
knife, well, I suppose he is justified. But to see a brawny man
slicing bread with a rotating wheel blade ? He was fit to work with a
jackhammer and yet he used a bread-slicing wheel to cut bread and
considered it a feat !
See that you stay ahead in spiritual matters. Don't feel delight with
such things - gadgets, conveniences etc..
If the spirit of asceticism leaves Monasticism, then there is no meaning
to monastic living. If we place convenience above monkhood, we
will not make any progress.
A monk avoids conveniences, because they do not
benefit him spiritually. In secular living, people have a hard
time with the excess of conveniences. For a monk, even if he did
find comfort in such things, convenience is not befitting to him. We
must not seek conveniences.
During the era that Arsenios the Great lived, there were no gas lamps or
anything else; there were the official oil lamps in the palace, with a
very fine oil. Couldn't he have brought such a lamp into the
Desert? He didn't. He had a wick or a strip of cotton, and
the oil was made from seeds - whatever was available at the time - and that's
what he used.
During our monastic chores we often justify to ourselves the use of
machines or other conveniences to get the job done quickly so that we
might supposedly dedicate more time for spiritual matters; however,
we only end up in living a life of many cares, with stress - like
worldly people, and not like monks. When certain young men went to
a Monastery, the first thing they did was to buy pressure cookers so
that it would leave them more time for spiritual chores, but then they
just sat idly around, chatting for hours on end.
In other words, they weren't going to use those conveniences in order to
gain extra time for contemplating spiritual matters. Nowadays,
time is indeed saved, thanks to conveniences, and yet, they find no time
-Elder, I heard them say that Saint Athanasius the Athonite was
For the Saint to be able to cater to those needs, he had acquired
two oxen for the mill... let them try to use oxen today! He was
compelled to build an oven - a modern one by the standards of his time -
so that he could supply all those people with bread. The
Byzantine emperors endowed Monasteries with entire fortunes, because
they functioned as philanthropical institutions. Monasteries were
built, so that people could be helped, both spiritually and materially.
That is why emperors provided them with donations.
sure, he was progressive!
He was as progressive as they are today!… [*]
They should read the life of Saint Athanasius! Ah, the monks had
reached eight hundred, a thousand in number at the time, and there were
so many people that went to them for help! So many poor and hungry
people who went there to eat some bread and be offered hospitality in
We need to understand that everything will ultimately disappear, and we
will appear before God in debt...
monks must not possess those things that are discarded by today's
people, but rather, those useless things that the rich used to throw
away, into pits...
note: the Elder was
commenting sarcastically here…
Orthodox Christianity and certain other Eastern Christian communities,
a Lavra or Laura (Greek: Ëáýñá) originally meant a cluster of
cells or caves for hermits, with a church and sometimes a refectory at
the center. The term originates from the Greek for "a
narrow passage" or "an alley".
purpose of Monasteries is a spiritual one
Source: "The Words
of Elder Paisios", vol.B,
by «Evangelist John the
monk is concerned with his own salvation and the salvation of all the
living and all the deceased. For a monk, true, divine love is
found in the pain that he feels for the salvation of his soul and the
pain for the salvation of the entire world. The dedicated soul of a monk
contributes towards the salvation not only of his kinfolk, but also of
his compatriots. This is why there used to be a fine tradition in Asia
Minor, whereby at least one monk out of each kin would intercede for
everyone. In Farasa, when someone was tonsured a monk, the entire
village would celebrate: "He will even benefit the entire village" they
Of course a
monk will never say "I will save the world", but he will pray for the
salvation of all the world, along with his own. And when the good Lord
does listen to his prayer and helps the world, again the monk will not
say "I saved the world", but instead "God saved the world". A monk
needs to reach such a state where he will say "My God, do not look upon
me, do not show mercy on me but on the world" - not because he himself
has no need of God's mercy, but because he has so much love for the
-Elder, to what degree must a monk abandon himself in order to benefit
-To the degree
that he can see those people are being helped.
If I abandon myself completely in the hands of secular people, I too
will become secular. When a monk - supposedly for the sake of
helping secular people - does things not befitting Monasticism, then
those people will not be benefited.
A monk can, for example,
do a great job as a
taxi driver: he won't charge any fare, he might also say spiritual
things to the customers, but that's not the monastic way.
Sometimes you may encounter monks with a secular spirit and secular
people with a monastic spirit. That's why Christ in the other life will
say to them respectively: "You - take off that monk's robe, and you
- put it
on...". When a worldly person covets the life of a monk he is
sanctified, whereas when a monk covets the secular life, he is
Can someone understand if he doesn't have
the proper stance? Even if he doesn't understand if something is
incorrect, he will not attain perfect peace - comfort - inside him.
In whatever does not befit Monasticism, his soul will also not find
comfort. And from the moment that his soul does not feel comfort,
he needs to find out what is to blame.
acquaintance of mine had been to a Monastery, and he afterwards
commented that: "It's
a workshop there; the abbess is good for the
flea market in central Athens, selling buttons. That's the kind of work
that suits her!"
In other words, the
Monastery was a workshop; then it will become an industrial unit, then a
supermarket, and then a franchise ! Those poor people want
something loftier from us monks; but in order for us to attain that
loftier thing, we need to avoid all human consolation.
The purpose of Monasteries is a spiritual one and there should be no
secular element therein; only the celestial one, in order for souls to
be flooded with Paradisiacal delights.
secular things we cannot compete with secular people, because, truth be
said, they have more means. When a monastery lives spiritually, do
you know how it intrigues people? It is when there is piety, a fear of
God, and there is no secular logic or a spirit of commerce. That is what
appeals to the layperson. But
unfortunately, the spirit of commerce is slowly creeping into the marrow
A monk came to my Hut at one time, while
knotting a prayer rope. "You give away prayer ropes
as blessings" he commented. "I can sell this 33-knot one for 5oo
Drachmas. And I don't make it the way you do. As soon as I've finished
all the knots, I cut off the ends and sew them together a little so that
the strands don't fray. I also use the thread that I cut off from the
embedded cross and I don't add any beads, and that way I make even more
profit." "And aren't you ashamed of
yourself?" I said to him. "Don't you see that you have a commercial
spirit here? I've been a monk since 1950, and this is the first time
I've seen such an attitude!"
- Elder, there are so few people who are spiritually
mature enough to be able to help the world!
unfortunately they are few! And what is the world expected to do
after that? Do you know how much I pray to God to present proper
people who can benefit the world? Poor souls... all they want is
to be shown a little compassion and to not be exploited. They don't want
anything else. In the world they are in constant war and they feel
insecure. When they go to a Monastery that lives correctly, they
are benefited because they are given a sense of security and that gives
them courage to continue with their struggles.
difficult times, people are not so much in need of material sustenance
as they are of spiritual sustenance. In other words, people are not in
need of bread (although even that will unfortunately be difficult to
provide), but of spiritual assistance. We need to help all the world
through prayer. For example, help a family to not break up, or a
mother to bring up her children correctly; to somehow support those who
6. Secularization on the Holy Mountain and the Theotokos' educational
Elder Paisios told me“, by
the devastating forest fire on the Holy Mountain, I had gone to visit
the Elder. He was «angry»
and kept shouting:
was a slap in the face by the Holy Mother. The
fire began on the first day of the fast and it stopped on the last day
(per the Old Calendar of Feast-days, as observed by the Holy Mountain).
They said the fire would be extinguished earlier because there was no
wind blowing, and yet, it was extinguished on the last day of the
fasting period, even though it was windy. It was as though a hand
was guiding the fire - it followed a roundabout course, where they least
expected it, and it bypassed the safety zones.
So, the forests were burnt! But was the secular conscience burnt?
-One of the monasteries asked for
they didn't have a single spiritual clue!
All they have is a secular intelligence. (Angered).
They become the cause for God's name to be
was raining everywhere, throughout all of Greece!! The only place
it didn't rain was the Holy Mountain!!
Making people say "Where is their Holy Mother?" Why doesn't She
help them?" How were people to know that it was a "slap in the
face" by the Holy Mother? There are some people who are in
agreement with God's wrath, who did not pray with a single prayer rope
for the cessation of the fire (he was implying himself).
Elder, you scare me, the way you say these things!
What do you mean? Are the monks also going to wage war against me?
Let them… I'm only saying what I say out of
you know what Fr. Herodion said, when they told him to say a prayer for
the raging fire?
- What did he
- "No praying for the fire. Too much greenery,
too much hullabaloo
by the monks.
Less greenery, no hullabaloo (idle talk)."
They have plans to create roads for
tourists to visit; the monks will then become exhausted with the
hospitality; so then they will say to them: "Let's build a hotel for you, so
that you don't tire yourselves too." "Yes", they'll say, "that's a
proper thing to do". Then they'll give money for the
maintenance of the temples. Then they'll say "Look, it's not
right to burn candles and incense; we have given so much money for the
restorations. Choose a spot that you like in the area of the
Monastery, for us to build you a church." Then they'll probably
install a guard, probably sporting a beard and a monk's robe, with a
wife in Ouranoupolis (trnsl.note: the township
situated on the border of the Holy Mountain province, which acts as a
gate to the Monastic territory and past which point no women are allowed
to enter)... they will turn us into a Museum...
saying that the Holy Mother will allow this; just that this is their
there are even some who want this!... in fact, they are monks - can you
imagine that?!… but
of course, the Holy Mother will have the last say. If
they don't mend their ways, they will get "another slap in the face".
The Announcement by the Sacred Monastery of Koutloumousion
of the Holy Mountain
In response to the persistent request
of many pilgrims and with full awareness of the evils of
our times, our Sacred Monastery has decided to break its
silence temporarily and announce the following general
estimations, on account of the scandalization that has
been persevering for a long time in the people's
conscience because of the turmoil caused by the Mass
Media regarding the activities of certain monks of a
Holy Mountain monastic institute. At a time when the
exploiting of institutions, principles and values is a
prerequisite for social rise and acceptance, it is with
sorrow that we realize we need to speak
of things that once used to be self-evident.
1. Monasticism is the renouncing of the world and all
things related to the world, which is why one of the
monastic promises is the rejection of ownership.
Regardless where a monk may find himself, he is obliged
to cultivate inside him the awareness that he possesses
nothing, that he is possessed by nothing, and that any
form of personal property constitutes a serious breach
of promise. A coenobitic monk with a personal bank
account for his own use constitutes a contradiction,
both in the terminology and in the essence.
2. A Monastery is either a small or a large institute,
which offers lifelong hospitality to possession-less
monks as well as to pilgrims. It provides them
with shelter, sustenance, clothing, covers,
hospitalization. As such, it is at the same time an
organized, autonomous, productive and economic unit,
whose objective is certainly not the incrementing of a
financial commodity, but the perfecting of its members
in productivity and in their offer of love. Its
financial basis merely secures its continuity through
time, in the same manner that the first apostolic
community of Jerusalem was maintained by a community
fund. On his own, a monk can remain a monk and
spend this lifetime anywhere: in the mountains, in
cities, as a beggar or with hospitality that may be
offered, or be a
cave-dweller. A monastery however that lacks a
steady financial basis and autonomy is condemned to
death, given that at a certain point it will cease to
support monks, it will turn into a museum, but even
until that point in time, it will be dependent on dependencies.
The emperors were well aware of this, which is why they
endowed the monasteries with lands, heirlooms and
letters of confirmation sealed with golden bulls. It is
wrong to want to impose poverty on a monastery, given
that poverty should normally be the personal virtue of
each monk. Our Monastery continues to this day to feel
the bitter aftertaste of deprivation that was inflicted
on it by predatory actions that were to its detriment; a
deprivation that endangered its operation and its
maintenance and utilization of a monastery's holdings is
a responsibility undertaken in every brotherhood. Of
course this utilization does not include any concessions
for business activities that can drive to a psychotic
state of continuous accumulation and investing of wealth
- something entirely contrary to monastic philosophy; and there is always the inherent danger that the monk
who is commissioned with the administrating will slide into
this kind of passion, because spiritual life - and
extreme monastic life - hangs from very fine silk
threads. The existence of the Mammon of injustice - of
money - is justified, only when it is utilized for the
needs of the beseechers.
4. Any form of
moral deviation whatsoever, whether of one monk or many,
offers itself as a springboard for the promoting of the
plans of the upcoming New Order. Everything appears to
be mobilized in a rigged, violent game, where every
malevolent system of pre-decided conclusions and every kind
of clever chicanery are being implemented. The New
Order, which is striving to shape a universal community
of terrorized people, is attempting to undermine
institutions and values that comprise the spiritual
foundation of a populace and the factor of its cultural
unity. The Holy Mountain, as a self-governed monastic
state that professes freedom of spirit - an axial point
of Orthodoxy - cannot be anything but an undesirable
dissonance in a homogenized and manipulated society
that will be at the absolute disposal of a small number
of potentates, who are presently accumulating capital
and every other form of power in their own hands.
In this planned course of events, the Holy Mountain must be
weakened; it must be sacked, from the inside and the
outside, with the contribution of many corruptive
powers. Whatever is not accomplished by money will
be accomplished by the misinterpretation of History, by
the withholding of the truth, by exploitation and
everything that is consecrated by populist propaganda.
5. The Church
(and a Monastery - which is a miniature of the Church)
follows a dramatic course in History. This means
it has its stumblings and its rises, its downfalls and its
flights; it approaches Paradise and it is also tossed
about by the devil. However, all the blows inflicted
throughout History pertain to the shell of the Church
and not to Her essence. And Her essence is the
Charismatic presence of the Holy Spirit which vitalizes
the members and the fibers of the Body of Christ and
produces fruits of holiness. And that holiness does not
disappear; not from the Holy Mountain, nor from the
world. Each crisis, each historical tribulation,
provides everyone with the opportunity for self-critique
and re-composition; for a painful cleansing and a return
to the essential and the true.
Mountain does not belong to anyone. To be exact, it does
not belong to anyone impious - whether he is a monk or a
secular person. It is the centuries-old fruit of
the collaboration of God and His saints, It
belongs to the Mother of God and to those who have
sanctified it with their lives, from the past, through to the
end. The true Holy Mountain is the invisible
quintessence of holiness that continues to exist to this
day, for the sake of the life of the world.
Therefore, if some of us want it alive and active, we
need to protect it, just as we would protect a glasshouse.
And even if today's monks are unworthy of its history,
we must protect it, for the monks who will come after.
Sacred Monastery of Koutloumousion,
Holy Mountain, 2009.