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Testimonies and Experiences
Elder Porphyrios' own accounts
Over the course of the ten years in which we had the divine blessing of meeting Elder Porphyrios, we had the great gift of hearing many accounts from his honorable mouth. Both in person and on the telephone.
We present a few of them here, just some simple indications of his divine gifts.
One day a lady went to get some advice about her children. She spoke to him about all her children and about the different problems she had with them. She had absolutely no problem at all, as she put it, with the youngest child. He was so good that everyone in the village said he should become a priest.
When the lady finished telling her story, Elder Porphyrios told her she should not be so sure about her youngest child. He saw that her biggest and most real problems would be created by that very child.
She flew into a rage. She started yelling at the Elder, accusing him of saying her child was something other than how she described him. Generally, she treated him in a very rude manner. (You'll allow us not to mention - besides, it is not necessary - the epithets that she applied to the Elder, as he himself told us).
Some time passed. One day, the Elder heard a lady outside of his room yelling, practically screaming,
"Let me see the Elder. Let me kiss his feet and maybe he will forgive me. May God forgive me for the terrible sin which I committed against him."
The Elder Porphyrios then asked a nun to escort the lady in. When she went into his room, she fell at his feet, wailing, asking again and again for forgiveness.
When she had come round she explained that the very same child about whom he had spoken to her, suddenly started to change from one day to the next and became unrecognizable. From being the studious child that he was, he stopped studying for his lessons. He had gotten mixed up with bad company and he was always away from home. One day he reached the point of throwing a heavy object at his father's head after he had made some remark to his son. From that moment he left the house and, despite the fact they had been looking for him for days, they could not find him anywhere.
His unfortunate mother was kneeling asking for forgiveness from the Elder. She pleaded with him to pray to God to enlighten her child to return to his home.
Elder Porphyrios told us this story during a conversation about relationships between parents and children. He gave the subject immense importance.
He also told us another story about his life that, as it seems, is known to many and evidently to others too. He himself told it to them because they had been told about it by a third party.
We put down our own experience here for one specific purpose. This account of the Elder's was in answer to a question we asked him. A question common to many people in our century. How can we, who live in the world, in the bustle, turmoil and schizophrenia of contemporary life, meet God?
Elder Porphyrios told us the following story, presented here in brief:
Shortly after he was appointed chaplain to the Church of St. Gerasimos in the Athens Polyclinic, by Omonia Square, he had a problem at the time of the Liturgy. Directly across the street from the Church was a store that sold gramophones and records. The shopkeeper played records on the gramophone in order to attract customers. He played them so loudly, however, that Elder Porphyrios could not bear it. He had reached the point where he thought of resigning even though he wanted the post very much.
In this situation, as throughout his whole life, Elder Porphyrios did not put his own wants first, but with much prayer and humbleness, asked God to show him what he should do.
Therefore, following three days of fasting and prayer he found a notebook that belonged to the son of a Church council member, in the corner of the Church. He was a student at the University. It was a physics notebook, -Lord, we always marvel at your works- which gave Elder Porphyrios the solution to his problem.
Leafing through the pages, he found some notes that referred to acoustic waves. Studying it, he had a thought. If you throw a pebble into a lake, the water is disturbed and circles form. If, on the other hand, you threw a rock into another section of the lake, new bigger circles are created which neutralize the first circles.
This was the answer from God that Elder Porphyrios was waiting for. The next day, he tried to concentrate all his spiritual and mental powers into the prayers and the acts of the Divine Liturgy. Thus, on the basis of the reasoning he had done about the lake, he formed circles in his mind and his heart that canceled out the circles that were formed by the gramophone. It no longer disturbed nor distracted him from the Divine Liturgy.
There was a priest who struggled to overcome the smoking habit. When he was just about to give up, temptation would defeat him and he was overcome again. He had tried to give up smoking often, using different methods. Each time he failed.
This continued until he visited Elder Porphyrios one day. They talked about different subjects. When they began talking about priest's family situation and about certain differences that he had with his wife. Elder Porphyrios told him that the real reason for the friction was the fact that, without the priest himself realizing it, he smoked.
"When you give up smoking," the Elder said to him, "you will see that your wife will love you more, your differences will end, and everything will be as you wish in your house. I'll pray for you and you won't smoke again. Now throw that pack of cigarettes you're holding out of the window immediately."
The priest was obedient. He threw away his cigarettes and did not smoke again. Even though he had been trying to give up smoking for years and always failed, this time he encountered no difficulties in the realization of his decision.
When he finished telling the story, Elder Porphyrios called one of the nuns to his room and asked her to bring in a priest who was outside with his wife. It was the priest about whom we were talking. There we heard the priest and his wife telling us how much suffering this habit had caused to their personal relationship. It was through Elder's intervention that everything changed and they both became different people.
Then Elder Porphyrios explained to us that in another situation he showed a spiritual child of his yet another method to stop smoking. You cannot suddenly give up smoking from one moment to the next, (as in the case of the priest who he advised to throw away the pack of cigarettes immediately). This new method was in stages. The specific advice in this case was to lessen the number of cigarettes by one every three days.
When we asked him why in one instance he suggested one way and in the other instance another way, he answered that for each person different things apply. One person can bear one thing and another person something else.
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Article published in English on: 3-4-2009.
Last Update: 3-4-2009.