Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew remembers the Elder Paisios
By Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
According to Orthodox practice, we cannot come to know our
deeper passions or console the inner heart without the
presence of another person. A spiritual guide, an elder or
confessor, is mandatory for the nurturing of the virtues and
the development of the soul. There is simply no other way.
The elder can take your soul into his soul and lighten the
burden that you carry. We all need such an advisor, a
confessor, before whom we can share our inner thoughts and
reveal our deepest concerns. For spiritual direction is not
some oriental status or eccentric luxury. While people
sometimes identify the spiritual director with the role of a
"guru", it is not exactly the same, because the spiritual
elder is part of a larger tradition and community in the
Church. In the Orthodox Church, spiritual direction is a
fundamental necessity for spiritual balance and health. It
is required not only of lay aspirants to the treasures of
the heart but of every person - male and female, young and
old, lay and ordained, deacon and priest and bishop alike.
This means that while the monks and the abbots of the Holy
Mountain sought to hear a word of advice from me, I, too,
was and am - like every Orthodox priest and bishop - obliged
to turn to seek a word of comfort from a spiritual father.
One of the elders was Father Paisios (1924-1994), a simple
yet profound monk. Born of pious parents in Cappadocia of
Asia Minor, Father Paisios was one of those responsible for
the rebirth of monasticism on Mount Athos, which was clearly
waning - perhaps not spiritually, but certainly from the
standpoint of physical resources and monastic population -
when we celebrated its millennial anniversary in 1963. After
a period of retreat on Mount Sinai, Father Paisios returned
to the Holy Mountain, from where he directed numerous souls
throughout the world. He would visit my predecessor,
Patriarch Demetrios, when I served as his personal
secretary; I was most impressed by his silence.
Anyone blessed to know a living saint knows the unique sense
of stillness that characterizes such a person; a saint
appears to live at once in this world and in the age to
come. What was most surprising about Father Paisios was that
he was utterly human, filled with spontaneity and far from
any pretense. God's light seemed to shine through the veil
of his soul in a splendor, which made his visitor feel
totally at ease and warmly welcomed. Later, I recall
visiting him in his cell, just as so many others have done
over the years. He would offer spiritual counsel as he
shared an apple or an orange that he had peeled. He was a
genuine missionary and professor of the desert. An
unordained monk hearing the inner life of an Ecumenical
Patriarch! And he did so without the least
self-consciousness. Spontaneity and sincerity are,
sometimes, the humble context within which the Church
functions most authentically.
From Encountering the Mystery: Understanding Orthodox
By Bartholomew I (Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople),
Full of Grace and Truth: Elder Paisios Canonized by the
Apolytikion in the First Tone
The offspring of Farasa, and the adornment of Athos, and the
imitator of the former righteous, equal in honor, Paisios
let us honor o faithful, the vessel full of graces, who
hastens speedily to those who cry out: glory to Him Who gave
you strength, glory to Him Who crowned you, glory to Him Who
grants through you healings for all.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
The most-famed ascetic of the Holy Mountain, and the
newly-enlightened light of the Church, let us praise him
with hymns with all our heart, for he leads the faithful
towards a perfect life, filling them with rivers of gifts,
therefore we cry out: Hail, O Father Paisios.
On the this day (July 12th), the memory of our venerable
Father Paisios the New, of the Holy Mountain, who reposed in
peace in the year 1994.
Paisios, the tree of Mount Athos,
You were shown to be full of fruit, O Most-venerable one.
On the twelfth, Paisios reposed.
Rejoice the communicant with the Venerable, the pride of
Athos, the adornment of Monastics, Rejoice the new teacher
of the Church, O godly-minded Paisios, our boast.