Oración , Preghiera , Priére , Prayer , Gebet , Oratio, Oração de Jesus

2666. Mas o nome que tudo encerra é o que o Filho de Deus recebe na sua encarnação: JESUS. O nome divino é indizível para lábios humanos mas, ao assumir a nossa humanidade, o Verbo de Deus comunica-no-lo e nós podemos invocá-lo: «Jesus», « YHWH salva» . O nome de Jesus contém tudo: Deus e o homem e toda a economia da criação e da salvação. Rezar «Jesus» é invocá-Lo, chamá-Lo a nós. O seu nome é o único que contém a presença que significa. Jesus é o Ressuscitado, e todo aquele que invocar o seu nome, acolhe o Filho de Deus que o amou e por ele Se entregou.
2667. Esta invocação de fé tão simples foi desenvolvida na tradição da oração sob as mais variadas formas, tanto no Oriente como no Ocidente. A formulação mais habitual, transmitida pelos espirituais do Sinai, da Síria e de Athos, é a invocação: «Jesus, Cristo, Filho de Deus, Senhor, tende piedade de nós, pecadores!». Ela conjuga o hino cristológico de Fl 2, 6-11 com a invocação do publicano e dos mendigos da luz (14). Por ela, o coração sintoniza com a miséria dos homens e com a misericórdia do seu Salvador.
2668. A invocação do santo Nome de Jesus é o caminho mais simples da oração contínua. Muitas vezes repetida por um coração humildemente atento, não se dispersa num «mar de palavras», mas «guarda a Palavra e produz fruto pela constância». E é possível «em todo o tempo», porque não constitui uma ocupação a par de outra, mas é a ocupação única, a de amar a Deus, que anima e transfigura toda a acção em Cristo Jesus.

Arquivo do blogue

quarta-feira, 29 de fevereiro de 2012

On illness by Elder Porphyrios

I thank God for granting me many illnesses. [1] I often say to Him: ‘My Christ, Your love knows no limits!’ How I am alive is a miracle. Among all my other illnesses I also have cancer of the pituitary gland. A tumour appeared there which has grown and presses against the optic nerve. That’s why I don’t see any more. I am in dreadful pain. But I pray, taking up the Cross of Christ with patience. Have you seen what my tongue is like? It has grown; it’s not as it used to be. That’s also a result of the cancer I’ve got in my head. And as time goes on, things will get worse. It will grow even more and I’ll have difficulty in speaking. I’m in great pain, but my illness is something very beautiful. I feel it as the love of Christ. I am given compunction and I give thanks to God. It is on account of my sins. I am sinful and God is trying to purify me.
I feel illness as the love of Christ
‘My Christ, Your love knows no limits!’

When I was sixteen years old I asked God to give me a serious illness, a cancer, so that I would suffer for His love and glorify Him through my pain. I made this prayer for a long time. But my elder told me that this was egotism and that I was coercing God. God knows what He is doing. So I didn’t continue with this prayer. But, you see, God did not forget my request and He gave me this benefaction after so many years!

Now I do not pray for God to take away from me the thing I asked Him for. I am glad that I have it so that I can participate in His sufferings through my great love. I have the chastisement of God: For the Lord chastises the one He loves. [2] My illness is a special favour from God, who is inviting me to enter into the mystery of His love and to try to respond with His own grace. But I am not worthy. You’ll say to me, ‘Don’t all these things that God reveals to you make you worthy?’ These rather condemn me. Because these are things that belong to the grace of God. There is nothing of my own. God gave me many gifts, but I did not respond; I proved myself unworthy. But I have not abandoned my efforts, not even for a moment. Perhaps God will give me His help so that I can give myself to His love.

That’s why I do not pray for God to make me well. I pray for Him to make me good. I’m certain that God knows that I am in pain. But I pray for my soul, for God to forgive my transgressions. I am not taking medicines, nor did I go for surgery, not even for tests, and nor will I accept surgery. I will leave God to sort things out. The only thing I do is to try to become good. This is what I ask you to pray for me. The grace of God sustains me. I try to give myself to Christ, to approach Christ and to be one with Christ. This is what I desire, but I haven’t succeeded — and I don’t say this out of humility. But I don’t lose my courage. I persevere. I pray for God to forgive my sins. I’ve heard many people saying, ‘I’m unable to pray.’ I haven’t suffered this. Only on the day that I was disobedient on the Holy Mountain did I suffer that.

It doesn’t concern me how long I will live or whether I will live. That is something I have left to God’s love. It often happens that you don’t want to remember death. It’s because you desire life. That, from one point of view, is a proof of the immortality of the soul. But whether we live, or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. [3] Death is a bridge which will lead us to Christ. As soon as we close our eyes, we will open them on eternity. We will appear before Christ. In the next life we will experience the grace of God more intensely.

I felt great joy at the thought that I would meet the Lord

Once I came to the point of death. I had suffered severe perforation of the stomach as a result of the steroids I was given in hospital when I went for an operation on my eye — which I lost in the end. At that time I was living in a little hut; the monastery had not yet been built. I was so exhausted that I didn’t know whether it was day or night. I came to the point of death and yet I survived. I lost a lot of weight and had no appetite. For three months I survived with three spoons of milk a day. I was saved by a goat!

I lived with the thought of leaving this world. I felt great joy at the thought that I would meet the Lord. I had a very deep sense of the presence of God. And God desired at that time to strengthen and comfort me with something very blessed. Every so often I would feel that my soul was about to depart. I saw in the sky a star which twinkled and emitted sweet rays of light. It was bright and very sweet. It was so beautiful! Its light possessed a great sweetness. Its colour was a light sky blue, like a diamond, like a precious stone. Whenever I saw it I was filled with comfort and joy because I felt that the whole Church — the Triune Godhead, our Lady, the angels and the saints — was contained in that star. I had the sense that in it were contained all the souls of all my loved ones, of my elders. I believed that when I would leave this life I, too, would go to that star through the love of God, not through my virtues. I wanted to believe that God, who loves me, revealed it to me in order to tell me, ‘I’m waiting for you!’

I didn’t want to think about hell and about tollgates. [4] I didn’t remember my sins, although I had many. I set them aside. I remembered only the love of God and was glad. And I made entreaty, ‘O my God, for the sake of your love, may I also be there. But if on account of my sins I must go to hell, may your love place me wherever it wishes. It is sufficient for me to be with You.’ For so many years I lived in the desert with love for Christ. I said to myself: ‘If you go to heaven and God says to you, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe? [5] What do you want here?” I’ll reply, “Whatever You want, my Lord, whatever Your love desires; place me wherever Your love wishes. I abandon myself to Your love. If You want to place me in hell, then do so, only don’t let me lose Your love.”’

I had an acute sense of my sinfulness, and that’s why I constantly repeated to myself the prayer of Saint Symeon the New Theologian:

I know, Saviour, that none other

has, as I have, sinned against You,

nor done the deeds that I have done.

But this again I surely know:

neither magnitude of errors,

nor multitude of transgressions,

can surpass my God’s great patience

and His love for man unbounded. [6]

What the prayer says are not our own words. We are unable to conceive and express such words. They were written by saints. But our soul needs to embrace these words written by the saints and to sense and experience them. I also like the other words of the prayer:

Neither tears shed in my weeping

nor the slightest falling tearlet,

O my God, escapes Your notice,

O my Maker, my Redeemer.

And my work yet unaccomplished

is to Your eyes already known

and all the things I’ve not yet done

are for You already written,

in Your book already entered.

Look down on my humbled being

look on my so great contrition

and forgive me my transgressions,

all my sins, O God of all things…

I repeated this prayer continually and intensely to escape from these thoughts. The more I repeated it, the more, up in the infinity of space, appeared the star, my comfort. It came all these days that I was suffering. And when it appeared, my soul took wings and I said to myself: ‘My star has come!’ It felt as if it were drawing me up from the earth towards it. I felt great joy when I saw it. I didn’t want to think of my sins, as I’ve said, because these would exclude me from this mystery. Only once, once only, did I sense that the star was empty, it wasn’t twinkling, it wasn’t full. I realized what it was. It was from the ‘contrary one’. I ignored him, and turned my mind elsewhere. I spoke to my sister about some jobs that were to be done. After a while I saw it shining brightly again. Joy came again even more intensely within me.

All that time I had fearful pains throughout my body. Other people saw that I was dying. I had given myself over to the love of God. I did not pray to be released from the pains. My desire was for God to have mercy on me. I had leant on Him, and I waited for His grace to work. I was not afraid of death. For I would go to Christ. As I’ve told you, I repeated constantly the prayer of Saint Symeon the New Theologian, but not in a selfish spirit, and not for my health to be restored. I sensed every single word of the prayer.

The secret in illness is to struggle to acquire the grace of God

We benefit greatly from our illnesses, as long as we endure them without complaint and glorify God, asking for His mercy. When we become ill, the important thing is not that we don’t take medicines or that we go and pray to Saint Nektarios. We need also to know the other secret, namely, to struggle to acquire the grace of God. This is the secret. Grace will teach us all the other things, namely, how to abandon ourselves to Christ. That is, we ignore the illness, we do not think about it, we think about Christ, simply, imperceptibly and selflessly and God works His miracle for the good of our soul. Just as we say in the Divine Liturgy, ‘we commend all our life to Christ our God.’

But we need to wish to ignore the illness. If we don’t wish to, it’s difficult. We can’t simply say, ‘I ignore it’. And so although we think that we are ignoring it and giving no thought to it, in point of fact we have it in our mind continually and we cannot find peace within ourselves. Let me prove this to you. We say: ‘I believe that God will cure me. I won’t take any medicine. I’ll stay awake all night and I’ll pray to God about it and He will hear me.’ We pray all night long, we make entreaty, we call on and coerce God and all the saints to make us well. We go to one place and another. With all these things don’t we show that we are far from ignoring the illness? The more we insist and blackmail the saints and God to make us well, the more acutely we feel our illness. The more we strive to get rid of it, the more we feel it. And so we achieve nothing. And we have the impression that a miracle will happen, and yet, in reality, we don’t believe it, and so we do not become better.

We pray and we don’t take medicine, but we don’t find any peace and no miracle happens. But you will say: ‘What do you mean that I don’t believe? Don’t you see I haven’t taken any medicine?’ And yet, at bottom, we have doubt and fear within us and we think to ourselves, ‘Will it really happen?’ Here the words of Scripture hold good: If you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘be lifted up and thrown into the sea’, it will be done. [7] When faith is real, whether you take medicine or not, the grace of God will act. And God acts through doctors and medicines. The Wisdom of Sirach says: Honour the physician with the honours due to him, according to your need of him, for the Lord created him. The Lord created medicines from the earth, and a man of sense will not despise them. And give the physician his place, for the Lord created him; let him not leave you, for there is need of him. [8]

The whole secret is faith — without doubts, gentle, simple and artless: in simplicity and artlessness of heart. [9] It is not a question of ‘will power’ or ‘mind over matter’. A fakir can display this kind of ‘will power’. It is a question of having faith that God loves us with infinite love and wants us to become His own. That is why He allows illnesses, until we surrender ourselves in trust to Him.

If we love Christ, all things will change in our lives. We do not love Him in order to receive some reward such as health. Rather we love Him out of gratitude, without thinking of anything, only of the love of God. Nor should we pray with any ulterior motive and say to God: ‘Make such-and-such a person well, so that he may come close to You.’ It is not right to point out ways and means to God. How can we presume to say to God, ‘make me well’? What can we tell to Him who knows everything? We will pray, but God may not wish to listen to us.

A person asked me a little while ago, ‘When will I get well?’

‘Ah,’ I told him, ‘if you say, “When will I get well?” then you never will get well. It’s not right to entreat God about such things. You entreat anxiously for God to take the illness from you, but then the illness lays even tighter hold on you. We mustn’t ask for this. Nor should you pray about this.’

He was taken aback and said, ‘Do you mean I shouldn’t pray?’

‘Not at all,’ I answered. ‘On the contrary, pray a great deal, but for God to forgive your sins and to give you strength to love Him and to give yourself to Him. Because the more you pray for the illness to leave you, the more it adheres to you, winds its tentacles around you and squeezes you, and becomes inseparable from you. If, of course, you feel an inner human weakness, then you may humbly entreat the Lord to take the illness from you.’

Let us abandon ourselves in trust to the love of God

When we surrender ourselves to Christ, our spiritual organism finds peace, with the result that all our bodily organs and glands function normally. All these are affected. We become well and cease to suffer. Even if we have cancer, if we leave everything to God and our soul finds serenity, then divine grace may work through this serenity and cause the cancer and everything else to leave.

Stomach ulcers, you know, are caused by stress. The sympathetic system, when it is subjected to pressure, is constricted and suffers harm and so the ulcer is created. With stress, pressure, distress, anxiety, an ulcer or cancer comes about. When there are confusions in our soul, these have influence on our body and our health suffers.

The most perfect way is not to pray for our health — not to pray to become well, but to become good. That is what I pray for myself. Do you hear? I don’t mean to be good in the sense of virtuous, but in the sense of acquiring divine zeal, of abandoning ourselves in trust to God’s love, and of praying rather for our soul. And we mean our soul as it is incorporated in the Church, whose head is Christ, along with all our fellow men and our brothers and sisters in Christ.

And I open my arms and pray for all people. When I am about to receive Holy Communion, as I am standing before the Holy Chalice, I open my soul to receive the Lord, and I bow my head and I pray for you, for this person and that, and for the whole Church. You should do the same. Do you understand? Don’t pray for your health. Don’t say, ‘O Lord, make me well.’ No! Rather say, ‘Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me’, with selflessness, with love and without expecting anything. ‘Lord, whatever Your love desires…’ Only in this way will you act from now on, loving Christ and our brothers and sisters. Love Christ. Become saints. Throw yourselves into becoming friends with Christ, into His love alone, into divine eros.

Isn’t perhaps this what is happening to me, since I feel this zeal and adoration? Even though I feel that my body has rotted away, I don’t succumb to my illness, not even to my cancer, I shouldn’t speak, but my love for you and for the whole world doesn’t allow me to remain silent. When I speak, my lungs remain without oxygen and that’s very bad because the heart is harmed. I have suffered something much worse than a heart attack. And yet I live. Isn’t that an intervention of God? Yes, and I am obedient to God’s will, to my illness. I suffer without complaint and… with annoyance at myself because no one is devoid of uncleanness. [10] I’m in a bad state. My spirit is also sick.

I say to a hermit with whom I am in contact, ‘Pray for me. I love you. Love me too and pity me and pray for me and God will have mercy on me.’

‘You’re the one who should pray,’ he says to me.

‘I’m beginning now to be unable to do all that I did for so many years,’ I tell him. What does the hymn say?

My mind is sorely wounded, my body has grown enfeebled,

my spirit is sick, my speech has lost its power,

my life is brought to death; the end is at the door.

And so, O wretched soul of mine, what will you do

when the Judge appears before you to investigate your deeds? [20]

This hymn reflects my present state. I think that if I hadn’t done this or that I wouldn’t be in pain now, I would be close to Christ. I say this about myself because I’m thoughtless…

If you want to enjoy good health and live for many years, then listen to what Solomon the Wise has to say: Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the counsel of saints is understanding; for to know the law is the mark of a sound mind, for in this way you will live long and years of your life will be added to you.’ [21] This is the secret: for us to acquire this wisdom, this knowledge, and then everything functions smoothly, all things are put in order and we will live with joy and health.


[1] The holy Elder suffered from the following illnesses: myocardial infarction (anterior diaphragm with lateral ischaemia), chronic kidney disease, duodenal ulcer (with repeated perforations), operated cataract (loss of lens and blindness), herpes zoster (shingles) on the face, staphylococcus dermatitis on the hand, inguinal hernia (frequently strangulated), chronic bronchitis and cancer of the pituitary gland. Cf. Dr. Georgios Papazachou in an article in the periodical Synaxis, 41 (Jan–Mar) 1992, 93.

[2] Heb. 12:6.

[3] Rom. 14:8.

[4] A theory that a soul after death has to pass through a series of ‘tollgates’ where it is interrogated about a variety of sins.

[5] Matt. 22:12.

[6] Prayers of Preparation for Holy Communion, Prayer 7.

[7] Matt. 21:21.

[8] Sir. 38:1, 4, 12.

[9] Wisd. 1:1.

[10] Cf. Job 14:4.

[11] Great Canon by Saint Andrew of Crete (1st troparion of the 9th Ode).

[12] Prov. 9:10–11.

From Wounded By Love: The Life and Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios, pp. 224-231, as edited from an archive of notes and recordings by the Sisters of the Holy Convent of Chrysopigi (Life-Giving Spring).

Testimony of Hieromonk Athanasios about ELDER PORPHYRIOS


Testimonies and Experiences

Conversations with Greek and Cypriot friends

Hieromonk Athanasios,
of the Holy Monastery of Vatopedi. Principal of Mt. Athos (1/6/91-31/5/92).
Now Abbot of the Holy Convent of Panagia Machaira-Cyprus.

K.I.: One of the most significant elders of our day, Elder Porphyrios, passed away on Mt. Athos, at Kavsokalyvia, where he began his monastic life. I would like to ask you, Father Athanasios, to tell us a few words about the last hours of the holy Elder's earthly life.

Fr. A: The Holy Skete of Kavsokalyvia is one of the most distant and remote Sketes of Mt. Athos, and Elder Porphyrios received the monastic schema there.

Having distinguished himself with his great gifts of grace, he also foresaw his death. This is why he returned to the Holy Mountain, so his life could end there.

Truly, on the evening of Sunday, 1st December 1991, his health started to worsen. He therefore called together his company of fathers and urged them to pray in order to help his life come to end and for him to surrender his soul to God.

All the fathers gathered together at one o'clock in the morning and began to read and pray the Service of the Departure of the Soul, as Elder Porphyrios had requested. Afterwards, he himself, as the fathers who were present told me, made a public confession before all of them. When the priest read him the prayer of forgiveness, at 4.31 on the morning of 2nd December 1991, he gave up his soul to God.

On that same day, he received Holy Communion and so was totally ready. Two days earlier, knowing that he was leaving the world, he asked not to be disturbed by anyone.

He no longer received visitors or telephone calls. The only ones present were the fathers who ministered to his needs.

K.I.: You said, Fr. Athanasios, that he knew about his death. How do we know that?

Fr. A: He would say to all the fathers who went to Kavsokalyvia to visit him that he was preparing to depart from the world. He asked them to pray that he might have a "good defense before the dreaded judgment seat of Christ." This was the phrase he specifically used. He bade farewell to all the fathers who visited him. He told them he was leaving this life and he sought their prayers. "Pray, pray", he kept saying to them. What concerned him was his appearance before God.

K.I.: We'll now talk about the great gifts that Elder Porphyrios received from God.

Fr. A: Elder Porphyrios, apart from everything else, had to a great degree both the gift of discernment as well as the gift of foresight. He could see into the soul of every person and what concerned them, the problems they faced and the specific purpose why they had gone to see him in order to get his advice. He also saw events that would happen in the future or that had happened in the past.
Just as he himself would say, God's grace would show him places, buildings, faces, things and events. He would see them all as if they were present. During the last years of his life, he was blind. He could not see with his physical eyes. He could only see with the eyes of his soul.

K.I.: I had the great blessing to have known Elder Porphyrios. I personally felt from my very first encounter with him, that this holy man really lived in two worlds, while still here in this life. So, when I was informed about his death, I knew he simply withdrew.

Fr. A: Elder Porphyrios like every grace filled person, had reached such a high degree of intimacy with God that he could die at any moment he wanted, just as they said about St. Basil.

I believe that the same thing happened with Elder Porphyrios. This is the impression he gave to anyone who approached him. It even happened to me. Every time I met him, I would say that I saw a physically dead man before me. Still, here was a man of amazing clarity and with a surprising ability for prophecy and foresight.

One gets this kind of_gift after much spiritual struggle and after a cleansing of one's life. One gets it after extreme humility and complete love towards God. Man then becomes an instrument in the hands of God. That person no longer has anything that would remind us of the fallen condition of Man.

K.I.: Is it possible for us to say, Fr. Athanasios, that Elder Porphyrios, having reached such a level of holiness, is now amongst the "cloud of saints"?

Fr. A:We certainly are able to say this because the catholic conscience of the Church has already said it. All those who knew him witness and confess to the holiness of the man. The abundance of miracles performed by him proclaim that he is a saint, one of the saints of our Church.

For every person who approached him, Elder Porphyrios was a revelation. This also happened with the non-Orthodox. I would like to tell you a very characteristic story.

Once, when we were at New Skete, we were hosting a Catholic monk who had come to Mt. Athos to learn more about how the monks live, the ascetic life and the general polity of Mt. Athos. We told him about Elder Porphyrios and when he went to Athens he went to meet him.

When Elder Porphyrios saw him, without asking him anything, he began to describe this monk's monastery in Italy and their way of life there. He even described a neighboring convent. He saw all the monks and nuns there and mentioned each one of them in specific detail.
The monk was literally dumbfounded because it was the first time in his life that he had met such a man. When he returned to Mt. Athos, he told us, "If someone had told me about these things; that he had seen and heard these things, I would never believe it. How is it possible for this person who lives in Greece to describe our monastery in Northern Italy in detail, to tell me all those details, to tell me about the monks, to tell me about the nuns, each one of them individually?" As this monk told us, when he asked Elder Porphyrios how he was able to see all these things, he answered him: "God's grace reveals the mysteries to us, the Orthodox."
K.I.: "Wondrous is God in His saints."

Fr. A: I had, as I told you, God's great blessing to meet him many times and to see events of his miraculous life up close. I'll tell you just one, as an example.

One day we went by boat to see the Elder at Kavsokalyvia. He was sick, so we only visited him for a short while. We hardly spoke, and then he asked us to leave. Since we had only come for his blessing, we decided to leave Kavsokalyvia immediately.

As we left his cell and walked down towards the main church (about a ten minute walk), we were joined by one of his monks. He thought that we were upset because the Elder had asked us to leave. At one point he said "Stay a little longer. It is morning, and usually the Elder does not feel very well in the morning. He feels much better in the afternoon. I believe that he'll be able to see you in the afternoon so that you won't have come for nothing."

As soon as he said this, the phone rang there where we were by the Church. The administrator answered it, and called for the Elder's disciple, who had, as I told you, joined us. Elder Porphyrios wanted him on the telephone. So, really, he went to the telephone and answered it. He heard Elder Porphyrios say, "Why are you telling the visitors to stay until the afternoon when I’ll feel better and will be able to speak with them, since I've told them to leave? The sea will be stormy this afternoon and they won't be able to leave." We naturally obeyed and left immediately. And, indeed, a little while afterwards the sea was so rough that had we been in the boat we would have been in great danger.

K.I.: This is one incident that shows the heights which Elder Porphyrios had reached. All this, so we can see how faith talks. "I believed that which I said."

terça-feira, 28 de fevereiro de 2012

Articles from or about Elder Porphyrios

Wounded by Love - (WBL)

Wounded by Love - (WBL)

Image 1
On Dispositions of the Heart
» On Illness

Elder Porphyrios On Problematic Spiritual Fathers

1. Take care which spiritual fathers you go to

A brother told me: Once, when my job was in a rural area, my wife had gone to a very strict spiritual father. When she had confessed a weakness of hers that she would have repeated, he berated her, he intimidated her and ever since that experience, it took her a very long time to decide to go to confession again.

"Do you see", the elderly Father said to him, "what excessive austerity can do? That's why I tell you, take care which spiritual fathers you go to for confession - both you and your wife as well as your children - and above all, be honest in whatever you say, because that way, God will forgive everything and you will move up, spiritually."

[Hieromonk Elder Porphyrios, COLLECTED COUNSELS, Published by the Sacred Nunnery Retreat The Transfiguration of the Saviour, 2002, page 337].
2. Some spiritual fathers commit a crime

Look, my child! Our God, in His desire to educate His children who believe, trust, love Him and worship Him, resorts to various ways, methods and plans. Among the plans of our God is also the imposition of rules, which of course always aspire to the salvation of our souls. The same applies in your case. We cannot change or delete God's plans. What is more, we cannot impose any on Him. But we can however ask of Him and beseech Him, and He, being the philanthropist that He is, can hearken to our prayers and shorten Time - or even dispense with it. Either way, it is up to Him. We ask for something, and He is the one who will approve.

Even so, these rules do not have the character of revenge or punishment, but of education - and they have nothing to do with the rules imposed by certain spiritual fathers during Confession, who, either out of excessive zeal or out of ignorance, exhaust the limits of punishment without realizing that in that way, they are committing a crime instead of doing any good. I always scold them and counsel them: No severe punishments, just sound advice. Because severe punishments will only supply the "other one" (the devil) with a large clientele; that is exactly what he lies in wait for, and always waits with open arms to receive them! He in fact even promises them impossible things....

That is why the choice of spiritual father demands extreme attention. Just as you would seek the best possible doctor, you should do the same for a spiritual father. They are both doctors - one is for the body, the other for the soul!

[Hieromonk Elder Porphyrios, COLLECTED COUNSELS, Published by the Sacred Nunnery Retreat The Transfiguration of the Saviour, 2002, page 337].
3. Pay attention to what you say to spiritual fathers

"Be careful what you say to the spiritual fathers that you have chosen for Confession. Because they don't know everything. They must be very wise, discerning and experienced. They must have God's spirit within them, in order to be able to solve your various problems."

It should be clarified here, that he was not referring to the simple, everyday sins that we all commit, but to the more profound meanings, like the prayer of the heart, the offensives of the wicked one, etc...

[Hieromonk Elder Porphyrios, COLLECTED COUNSELS, Published by the Sacred Nunnery Retreat The Transfiguration of the Saviour, 2002, page 342].
4. Some spiritual fathers can confuse you

"When you are a long way from the city", he said to a brother, "and you can't come here regularly, you should seek out a very good spiritual father there, to confess your sins. But whatever else preoccupies you with regard to the prayer of the heart or your thoughts, do not mention it to them, because some of them do not know everything and they can confuse you. You should come here and discuss the other issues with me."

[Hieromonk Elder Porphyrios, COLLECTED COUNSELS, Published by the Sacred Nunnery Retreat The Transfiguration of the Saviour, 2002, page 341].
5. Spiritual guides who are animated by a Papist spirit

I was discussing a related subject with him: It was about a certain "strict" spiritual father, who had refused to approve the wish of his spiritual child to visit the Elder Porphyrios and talk to him about a serious personal problem of his. This incident had made a painful impression on me and I told him about it. The Elder shook his head sadly and whispered: "What can I say? You see, he is also a spiritual father". The Elder was always very careful and lenient in his judgments of others - especially when it pertained to priests who made mistakes. In lieu of a characterization, he preferred to speak to me parabolically:

"You know, when a Papist missionary receives instructions for a mission, he gets onto a plane in Rome and when he arrives at the airport of an African country, that's where he opens a sealed envelope and reads what his mission involves - which he is obliged to execute, even if he disagrees with it. With us Orthodox it is not like that."

I understood - more or less - what he was trying to tell me. Besides, it wasn't the first time I had observed that there also exist in the Orthodox sphere several spiritual guides (fortunately few), who are essentially driven by a Papist mentality; who demand that their instructions be obeyed, in total disregard of the inner resistances of their spiritual children. They tend to cultivate a totalitarian mentality; because they themselves fear freedom they impose discipline, ignoring the fact that Orthodox obedience is the fruit of freedom. It wasn't long before that bossy compulsion brought on the inevitable results: That same spiritual child of the "strict" spiritual father eventually declared to his friends (who had exhorted him to go to the Elder Porphyrios) that he no longer desired to visit him. In one of my visits to the Elder, I said to him: "I think that the reason he doesn't come to you is not so much because he doesn't want to, but because he is showing obedience to his spiritual father."

The Elder surprised me, when he replied: "He is showing obedience, because the advice of his spiritual father satisfied his ego." It was the first time that I had ever heard the Elder speak so openly about a spiritual faux-pas. I knew he wasn't doing it because he felt personally offended. The Elder himself never invited people to visit him. (I knew of one exception only, and even that was on account of the fervent pleas by the friends of a certain prejudiced person who was suffering. It was essentially a response to their direct request for a meeting). The Elder did not seek to acquire followers; he simply helped out whoever sought his help at his cell. It is possible he spoke thus openly to me, because he wanted to reveal yet another example of deceitfulness by the devil, among the Christians. And it made me think: "So, the motive behind that person's obedience was the gratification of his ego."

[Hieromonk Elder Porphyrios, COLLECTED COUNSELS, Published by the Sacred Nunnery Retreat The Transfiguration of the Saviour, 2002, pages 387-389].

Elder Porphyrios: "We Ought Not To Fear the Antichrist Or 666"

One day Elder Porphyrios had told me:

"Father Athanasios (taking me by the hand tightly), I'm blind now, my eyes do not work physically because I have cancer of the pituitary gland, but I have spiritual eyes and see. Before you leave, I want you to tell me, what did Elder Aemilianos say about 666 and the Antichrist?"

This was in the days of Chernobyl. People were upset by this and went by the dozens every day, particularly to Elder Porphyrios near Athens, asking: "What will happen? Will the Antichrist come and stamp us with 666"?

The Elder asked me: "Tell me, my child, what did Elder Aemilianos say about 666 and the Antichrist?"

I told him: "He told us in a gathering a few days ago to not worry. We should be interested in having a vibrant relationship with Christ and not give much attention to the Antichrist, because then he will become the center of our lives and not Christ."

Immediately the Elder hit his hands against his bed and said: "What did you say, my child, what did you say?! Glory to You, O God, that I found a spiritual father who agrees with me! My child, these spiritual fathers here in the world, what have they done?! They have upset souls and created many problems psychologically and with families with the 666. People in the world cannot sleep and are taking psychiatric drugs and sleeping pills in order to sleep. What is this thing? Christ does not want these things, my child. And can I tell you something?"

"What Elder?" I said.

He told me: "For us Christians, when we experience Christ there is no Antichrist. Tell me something, on this bed I sit here, can you also sit on it?"

I said to him: "No, Elder."

He asked: "Why?"

I responded: "Because if I sit on you I will crush you."

He asked again: "Will you never be able to sit here?"

I said to him: "When you leave, Elder, I can sit."

He said to me: "Precisely, my child. The same happens with our souls. When we have Christ inside us, can the Antichrist come? Can anything opposite this enter our souls? For this reason, my child, today we do not have Christ within us and because of this we worry about the Antichrist.

When Christ is within us, everything becomes Paradise. Christ is everything, my child, and the Opposer we should not fear; this you should always tell people. And let me tell you something. If the same Antichrist came now with a device that shot laser beams and sealed me by force with 666, I would not be upset. You will tell me, 'Elder, is this not the seal of the Antichrist?' Yes, but even if he wrote 666 on me a thousand times with laser beams, indelibly, I would not be upset.

Why? Because, my child, the first martyrs they cast to the wild beasts, and when they did their cross the wild beasts became like lambs. They cast them in the sea, but when they did their cross the sea became like dry land and they walked on it. They cast them in the fire, but when they did their cross the fire was cooled. My blessed child, what have we become today? Do we believe in Christ? In our cross? Why did Christ come? Didn't Christ come to strengthen us in our sicknesses?

This is what you should say to the Elder, my child. And you should tell the people to not fear the Antichrist. We are children of Christ, we are children of the Church."

All this made quite an impression on me.

And he added: "Can I tell you something?"

I said: "Please, Elder."

"Patriarch Demetrios, how did he come to Athens?"

"With an aeroplane", I said.

"Well, yes, I know he came with an aeroplane. Did you think the man swam over? With what documents?"

"With a passport, Elder", I said.

"Greek or Turkish?"

"I don't know", I said.

"Well, you play the wise man. He came with a Turkish one. And what is the emblem of Turkey, you know?"

I said: "I don't know, Elder."

"Now you have overdone it, not knowing the emblem of Turkey? It is the crescent. And do you know what the Fathers of the Church called the crescent after the appearance of Muhammad?"

"No, Elder", I said.

Jokingly he said: "Well, I should take your degree and tear it up. What kind of a theologian are you?

The crescent is a symbol of the Antichrist. If the crescent is a symbol of the Antichrist and the passport of the Patriarch has a symbol of the Antichrist (and in their seals, how many seals do they put inside and out?), does this mean our Patriarch is the Antichrist?

No, my child, no! Do not restrict the Gospel message so much! Christ is not as narrow-minded as us people who want to defend our opinions.

This is what you should tell the Elder and this is what you should tell the people: We ought not to fear the Antichrist or 666."

Source: Ανθολόγιο Συμβουλών Γέροντος Πορφυρίου, σελ. 71, 72-75, δ΄ έκδ. 2003.

Translated by John Sanidopoulos

Elder Daniel Gouvalis Interviewed About His Elder Porphyrios

Elder Porphyrios

Testimonies and Experiences

Archimandrite Daniel Gouvalis
Theologian, writer.

K.I.: Fr. Daniel, you had God's great blessing to have known Elder Porphyrios very well for many years. I would like to ask you first to give us an outline of his personality, and then we shall see manifestations of God's grace within his person.

Fr.D.G.: Elder Porphyrios was a gift from God towards the Church. He sent us great light within the darkness in which we live, through Elder Porphyrios. We thank the Lord for giving us such a great gift in our times, indeed, keeping him in life for eighty-six whole years.

You felt comfortable next to Elder Porphyrios. He pressured no-one. He wanted whoever came to him to do it out of their own free will. He always told confessors that when we as spiritual fathers guide the life-journey of those who confess to us, we must always respect their freedom. He always stressed that Christianity is freedom.

He often referred to the event according to which Christ once said something that scandalized many people. The result was they all started to leave until only the disciples remained. In which case the Lord told them that if they too would like to leave, they were free to do so. He quoted the Gospel of St. John, word for word , "From that time many of his disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, 'Do you also want to go away?"'( Jn.6:66- 7)

Elder Porphyrios had a highly cultivated ecclesiastical awareness. He respected Church people and the Church hierarchy. He said "If I fall out with the bishop, if the bishop is angry with me, my prayer won't rise up to heaven."

He loved hymnography very much. He studied and paid attention to the Canons for the great feasts, both of the Master and of the Mother of God. He carefully studied the meaning of each and every word of the Canon.

He frequently liked to talk about love. He said, characteristically, that hate soils the soul. He also said that when our brother has a problem we should gather many of us together and say a common prayer about it.

He constantly spoke about love towards Christ. "When we love Christ" he said, "our soul is freed from fear." He frequently used the words of St. John the Divine "Love casts out fear."

Elder Porphyrios never allowed himself to be occupied with negative things; he wanted everything to be bright and positive. He typically told us, "You find yourself in a dark room and you wave your arms, trying, in that way, to drive away the darkness. The darkness doesn't leave like that though. Open the window so that the light can come in, and the darkness will leave by itself. The light will drive away the darkness. We should study Holy Scripture, the lives of the saints, the Fathers; that's the light that'll drive away the darkness." He used the image very often.

K.I.: Is there something Fr. Daniel that has moved you particularly?

Fr.D.G.: One day, during the German Occupation, Elder Porphyrios was walking towards the vicinity of Lykavittos. As he was walking along he came across an unpleasant scene. A German soldier had intentionally driven a young girl into a corner, by the basement of some house, and wanted to dishonor her. She looked like a little bird that had fallen into the claws of a hawk. You could see the horror etched on her face. She let off some weak cries of struggle and pain from her mouth. The German tried to calm her down with sweet words. The entire neighbourhood had heard the commotion, and were now looking out of their windows and doorways to see what would happen. They saw a priest walking towards the scene.

When Elder Porphyrios found himself facing this scene he felt great internal anguish. He had to find a way of saving the girl. Ignoring the danger he was in from the brutal German, the Elder directed his footsteps towards him. He prayed silently and intensely for divine strength to manifest itself. As soon as he got close enough he raised his hands up high. It looked like he was either appealing to the German or that he was asking God to show His mercy.

The sight of a priest with his hands raised high, the bright countenance of his face, and what's more the divine strength that he had hidden within him, worked its miracle.

The German softened, abandoned his intentions and let the girl free. As Fr. Porphyrios continued on his way the people who had followed events from their houses demonstrated their applause for him. They cheered as much as they could for as long as they could in those difficult times.

K.I.: What do you have to tell us about his gifts of discernment and foresight?

Fr.D.G.: Both of these gifts of his would always leave us speechless. There are countless incidences. We'll talk about just a few examples.

At the time when Elder Porphyrios was at the Polyclinic, he asked someone, who had gone there for confession, where he came from. He told him he was from a village in Eleia . He then asked him if he had a house out in the fields. When the man said yes, Elder Porphyrios told him that a river flowed underneath the property, where that house could be found. The man was lost for words, he never suspected anything of the like.

Many years afterwards a foreign company went to that area with the aim of drilling to find oil. When the drilling had reached four hundred meters deep, a huge river of water shot up. If they hadn't caught it in time, the whole area would have been flooded.

K.I.: So much

Fr.D.G.: Yes

I'll also tell you this story. A student who did his military service at a base near here where I live, asked me to take him to see the Elder.

As soon as we got there the Elder asked him where he came from. The student replied that he came from a village in the Western Peloponnese. Then the Elder said to him "What strong winds blow in those mountains by your village!" And the student said "Do you know what the villagers call those mountains? They call them the Wind Mountains."

K.I.: That's wonderful

Fr.D.G.: Once I went to his cell. It was the 19th of October, late in the afternoon, I interrupted him without wanting to, because at that hour he could be "found" in Cephallonia, at vespers for the feast of St. Gerasimos. He saw, as he told me, the priests, the bishops, countless people and heard the chanting. He described to me in exact detail what was taking place at that hour at St. Gerasimos on Cephallonia.

Once he telephoned Brussels where a spiritual child was serving in the navy there on a NATO submarine. He told him that there was a shoal-reef there where the submarine was circulating under the sea, and that they ought to be careful. The officer checked the spot that the Elder had pointed out, located the reef, and gave orders for the submarine to avoid that spot.

K.I.: The gifts of Elder Porphyrios are really so many and so surprising that one doesn't know what to mention first and which are the most wonderful!

Fr.D.G.: On the 15th July 1974 he was traveling with some spiritual children of his to Macedonia, Northern Greece. On the car radio they heard that a coup d'etat had taken place in Cyprus and that Archbishop Makarios had been murdered. He turned around and said to his spiritual children "That is a mistake. Archbishop Makarios has not been murdered." And in truth, with the next newscast they learnt that Archbishop Makarios was still alive.

K.I.: That's astonishing.

Fr.D.G.: The incidents that demonstrate his gifts of foresight and discernment could fill whole volumes, alone.

When I first met him on Mt. Athos he told me that in my village of Panourgia in the Phokhidos Parnassian mountains near Amfissa there are some caves where people lived during the Turkish Occupation. He also told me that in my village there are three country churches. He saw my village in its past, present, and future phases, because when he spoke to me there were only two churches; today there are three. On the other hand, he saw that in the past, during the the Turkish Occupation, men-of-arms and klephts had lived in the caves near my village.

He often happened to tell me something which at the time appeared puzzling and 1 couldn't understand it or interpret it. One day, as we were walking, he said, "Many people will listen to you." I thought that we would have some kind of festival, we would put up some loudspeakers, and lots of people would hear me. When, however, years later, two church radio stations went on the air with a large audience, only then, having taken on some of the programs, did I understand what the Elder meant.

Personally, I had the feeling that I had a prophet before me, like the prophets in the Old Testament, and that he had the Holy Spirit within him.

Whatever he heard, whatever was said to him, he was always completely calm. Just like the calmness of St. Anthony.

When people who were facing difficult problems came to me, I took them to the Elder and he gave them perfect advice. His advice was always faultless and perfect. I'll give you one such example.

A gentleman once visited us who came from a village in Corinth. He had a large property and was in a dilemma as to whether to plant olive trees or lemon trees. He didn't know which was best and he couldn't arrive at a decision. We took him to the Elder; note that this took place at the end of the 1970's.

The Elder told him about the needs the countries of the EEC would have regarding such produce in the future: that a method would be found for the quick harvesting of olives and so there would be an overproduction of olives. He advised him to plant lemon trees; lemons would always be in demand in those countries and in the countries of the north. That, as events proved, is what actually happened.

K.I.: The impressive thing is that Elder Porphyrios was interested in everything, in all kind of problems that concerned people.

Fr.D.G.: Very true.

K.I.: How did he himself deal with those gifts of his?

Fr. D.G.: First, we must mention that he acquired his gift of discernment at Kavsokalyvia when he was only seventeen years old. It is a surprising case because these gifts
as a rule are only acquired after many decades of ascetic practice.

Elder Porphyrios, speaking about the gifts that God had given him, said that for the Church to function, God gives different gifts to some people at times for the good of the Church. He felt that his gifts were an ecclesiastical function.

He kept these gifts until the end of his life. Others have also at times been given various gifts. Afterwards however, they were found unworthy and deprived of them.

Figures like Elder Porphyrios appear within the Church once every hundred or two hundred years. The things that we read about in the lives of the saints that amaze us, happened next to us because the Elder was a living saint. And now we're informed about miracles that he performed after death.

K.I.: Fr. Daniel, from what I know, you have many direct experiences of Elder Porphyrios' healing gift. Could you give us a few indicative examples?

Fr.D.G.: Personally, I knew different people that had cancer and were cured after a prayer and blessing from the Elder.

One high-school teacher had a breast tumor and was scheduled for surgery. She went to the Elder, who blessed her, and the tumor disappeared without needing an operation.

One other young girl in the Athenian district of St. Paraskevi had decided to commit suicide because she was severely reprimanded at home. She had bought some strong weed-killer and was going to drink it. Suddenly, Elder Porphyrios appeared before her, took the weed-killer from her hands, and said to her, "Don't be afraid. Everything will be all right. You'll marry, you'll have children and you'll be fine." That's just what happened.
K.I.: "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see

Fr.D.G.: Occasionally the Elder used to visit stores where business was not going too well. He gave a blessing and customers started to arrive immediately, one after the other, and indeed, to shop for things in bulk.

K.I.: What did he say about politics?

Fr.D.G.: I'll tell you this one characteristic thing, as we shouldn't get into details. He said, "When a country is in a lot of sin, then its political life, instead of being straightforwafd, will be crooked."

K.I.: Elder Porphyrios, from what I understand, had a concern for married couples, Fr. Daniel?

Fr.D.G.: Very much so. He helped countless couples whose problems were so great that their marriages had started to dissolve. He helped them with his gifts and he restored their relationship.

I remember one moving incident when he was traveling in a taxi. He had the following conversation with the driver:
"Do you have a wife?" "Yes, I do."
"How many years have you lived apart?" "Five."

The conversation continued and the ending was a happy one. The taxi-driver was so impressed with what this unknown priest had said to him that he immediately went and found his wife and re-established their marriage.

With his gifts the Elder knew what each situation required. For example, he said to one married lady, "When your husband finds himself in a difficult situation, do not say a word. Pray and ask others to pray. Because otherwise you'll make things unpleasant for him. He won't find warmth and happiness near you, and he'll start looking around." He would, each time make recommendations according to the situation which contributed to the peace of that particular family.

He talked about "mixed-up" children; children who have psychological problems because their parents have a bad relationship with one another so there isn't a good atmosphere in the home.

He talked about "mixed-up" children of "mixed-up" parents. Indeed, it happened that I myself took some of these parents of children with problems to see the Elder. He said that these children already had problems, this "mix-up", from the womb. When the child's mother was pregnant she didn't try to put her life in order, to be calm, peaceful, to pray and to partake of the Sacraments of the Church.

I remember that he once advised a mother of five children to stay away from her house for a month. Her behavior was such that her children would fight amongst themselves every day. They couldn't reason with their mother so they would take their anger out on one another.

Because of his great discernment he would treat each situation accordingly. He didn't deal with people uniformly; the Elder knew what advice each person could bear. Ten people could ask him about the same matter, and he would give them ten different answers. This is called pastoral individualization.

K.I.: He carried out his pastoral work with discernment because he had exactly that manner about him.

Fr.D.G.: Elder Porphyrios used the word "mixed-up" which I mentioned earlier, a lot, when he wanted to say that someone had internal problems. Indeed, he used that word when the subject of heresies was brought up. He said that all the "mixed-up" people join heresies.

K.I.: How did he deal with people’s external appearance, the way they dressed?

Fr.D.G.: Elder Porphyrios didn't concern himself with people's external appearances. This was confirmed by all the people who went to see him without, let us say, the proper attire. He would look to the deeper cause within the soul. He knew that if man is sorted out on the inside then the outside will sort itself out automatically.

K.I.: What other features of his personality would you like to tell us about Fr. Daniel?

Fr.D.G.: Something fundamental, that characterized Elder Porphyrios is that whatever passed through his hands he wanted it to be perfect. Just to give you one example, when he was about to build the convent at Milesi. He was concerned about the passage of the sun, so that in winter those who lived there would not have sunless rooms. He also looked into the matter of dampness, wind direction etc., so that everything would be perfect. He wanted, as much as possible, completeness and perfection.

He spoke about the work of St. Gregory of Nyssa, "Whatever St. Gregory has written is very well constructed; his words, his concepts, his paragraphs." He added, "Just like a builder who puts down strong foundations, he lays the bricks evenly, he builds the ground floor first and then goes on to the second floor. St. Gregory of Nyssa, having taken care of those things that belong to the first paragraph , then goes on to the second paragraph and then the following one."

K.I.: Personally, I have a passion for studying the works of that great Father of our Church, who, in the words of that distinguished poet of Byzantium, George Pisidis, was the "the most mystical."

Fr.D.G.: Elder Porphyrios advised me to study St. Gregory of Nyssa's works a great deal.

K.I.: Your words have filled me with enthusiasm Fr.

Fr.D.G.: Something especially impressive about Elder Porphyrios was that he admired and exploited technological inventions. He was amazed by the fact that God had given Man the ability to make such discoveries, and he advised his spiritual children to make use of technology. "Should it be allowed," he asked "for God to help Man make so many discoveries, then for the devil to use them and us Christians not to use them?"

K.I.: That's very good.

Fr.D.G.: He made use of the telephone a lot. He spoke to his spiritual children and others by phone on a twenty-four hour basis. Not only in Greece, but also abroad, on all the continents. He helped untold numbers of people through the telephone.

K.I.: The telephone, in the hands of Elder Porphyrios, really was a gift for all those who needed it.

Fr.D.G.: He loved the Church radio. He said that through it the wish and prophecy of St. John Chrysostomos was fulfilled, "I will rise up high to speak about Christ and all the world will hear me."

K.I.: Truth will be shouted from the rooftops.

Fr.D.G: Elder Porphyrios was very hard-working. He loved hard work and always spoke out against indolence. He characteristically said, "He can't even pick his feet up off the ground, and he comes to me for advice on how to be lifted to the heights of spiritual life." He always stressed that when we pray we ought to also pray with our body making full prostrations .

Studying both the Old and the New Testament we see that each time the Lord called a prophet or an apostle, he called them while they were working. One was called while he was shepherding sheep, another while plowing, another while threshing, yet another while mending nets etc.

He wanted people to be busy, to be constantly using all the limbs of their body, not to be idle. He would in no way accept indolence and laziness.

K.I.: We would like you to tell us, Fr. Daniel, about the Elder as priest?
Fr.D.G.: He liked his work at the Polyclinic. He comforted the sick. He heard their confessions. He gave them communion. He did serve as a consoling, guardian angel.

The liturgical life of the St. Gerasimos' Church also developed beautifully. The church had a choir, and the voice of the priest had to correspond with the singing of the choir and to avoid being musically offensive. This is why he went to a school of music where he made notable progress. He completed a course of studies. He also learnt to play the piano. However, as a musical instrument, he loved the organ the most.

Later, the place of the choir was taken in the church by the official cantor, Spyridon Peristeris, who was destined to become the chief cantor in Athens as First Cantor at the Metropolitan Church. Their harmony was excellent. If on occasion somebody at the lectern made a mistake, or said something irregular, the Elder didn't speak and didn't ruin the atmosphere of the Divine Liturgy. Once when a visiting priest took his place a great confusion was created. He started to say to the cantors "Not that apolytikion , the other one. Look for the other one." They looked for it and couldn't find it. What a commotion! This unfortunate incident made that the cantor and his helpers appreciate the politeness and tact of Elder Porphyrios.

The Alevizatos brothers were university professors. There were many university people in their circle. All of them went to church at St. Gerasimos'. Professors from the Theological School also went there, like that great religious expert Leonidas Philippides, who revered the Elder immensely. A whole University congregated in the church of St. Gerasimos. The Liturgy was truly uplifting. The Elder delivered the Gospel reading with special grace and life. Indeed, during Holy Week, at the Service of the Passion, the reading of the Twelve Gospels had that special something that remains unparalleled. Fr. Porphyrios, with the grace that he had, saw Christ suffering and was shaken. Filled with emotion, his voice would often break and he had difficulty in continuing the reading. Once he couldn't bear anymore, and he stopped reading. Then he wiped his face that was washed in tears, sought forgiveness from the congregation and making a great effort, he continued. It is needless to say what moving emotions were conveyed to the Christians present. It was like they found themselves at Gethsemane, at the Praetorium, at Golgotha, they followed the divine drama with bated breath. One certain time, he had a priest of his own with him at the Service of the Passion. He was a spiritual child of his and he had told him to be ready. If he was forced to stop reading the Gospel, then the other priest should take over.

When the time came for St. John Chrysostom's Catechetical Homily, during the Paschal Liturgy, unprecedented emotion and pious enthusiasm were created.

He recited the text from memory, slowly, solemnly, and most beautifully. He loved all of St. John Chrysostom's sermons, but he especially loved this one. He said it quietly, elegantly, little by little, without holding a book, holding only the paschal candle. The height of this grandeur was when he said, "Hades was embittered when below he met You face to face. He was embittered, for he was set at naught..." and the people repeated, "He was embittered." Unrepeatable spiritual emotions.

He adored every Church prayer, every reading from a sacred text. They had to be said in the most suitable way. Throughout his life he helped countless priests, monks, cantors and lectors to chant and to read in the best possible way, in a way worthy of God.

K.I.: One could talk with you, Fr. Daniel, for hours on end about Elder Porphyrios. Unfortunately, a radio program, as you well know, has its time limit. Of the great number of stories and examples that you didn't manage to tell us, which one would you like to end with?

Fr.D.G: At the end of his life, he asked me to bring him Holy Communion after the Divine Liturgy. During the time when he was preparing to receive the divine gifts a heavenly state prevailed; such was his love and his longing for the Immaculate Mysteries. Once he spoke to me about the aroma of Holy Communion; I understood it to mean that he sensed a fragrance in the Holy Communion.

He always urged Christians to participate actively in the sacraments of the Church.

He said that with the sacrament of Confession, whatever has fallen down is raised up again. He told us the moving story of a monk who had gone to the Holy Mountain in his youth. He had so many gifts that he felt like he lived in Paradise. One day he was disobedient to his elder. All that gracious state left him. When his elder returned, he heard his confession and read the prayer of forgiveness. The gracious state that he had lost returned to him immediately.

Elder Porphyrios always stressed that when we are within the Church, when we participate in the sacraments of the Church, then we are in Paradise. Also, as much as we participate in the sacraments, we are that much more in eternal life. That is why he always reminded us of the Lord's saying, "He who believes in the Son has life eternal."

K.I.: What did he say about our departed brethren who can now be found in the Church Triumphant?

Fr.D.G.: He said that we are all one and we should pray as much for the living as we do for the departed. He stressed that we shouldn't say, "Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on so-and-so" or "have mercy on us," but that we should say "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me." As he explained, since the Christ's Church is one body, within the "have mercy on me" are included all the living and the dead. And if prayer is not extended to all people, then it is not ecclesial.

He told us that whenever he went to holy places, to Mount Sinai, to the Cave of the Apocalypse on the isle of Patmos or to Jerusalem he had indescribable life experiences. He always stressed the sanctity of the places, that the places can sanctify, that they are saturated with God's grace.

He characteristically told us that when he struggled at a certain place in order to reach a certain spiritual state through prayer, he needed a quarter to a half of an hour of struggle. But when this happened at a sanctified place things were different. "I enter, for example, a holy cave," he said, "like the caves of St. Niphon or St. Neilos on the Holy Mountain, or the Cave of the Apocalypse, and I don't even begin to pray and immediately that sanctified place lifts me up."

He said again and again that, "God is everything" and he stressed that without praying to God nothing is accomplished. "Prayer," he said "is the mother of all good things, provided that it is always done with humility, without any egotism, and with love towards Christ."

K.I.: We thank you very much, Fr., Daniel, for all the manna from heaven, that, you've had the goodness to share with us.

Fr.D.G.: May we have the blessing of Elder Porphyrios and let us give thanks to God, Who sent us such a gift in the twentieth century.

Holy Humility is Complete Trust in God – Elder Porphyrios

From the Elder Porphyrios, Wounded by Love.
Complete trust in God – that’s what holy humility is. Complete obedience to God, without protest, without reaction, even when some things seem difficult and unreasonable. Abandonment to the hands of God. The words we repeat during the Divine Liturgy say it all: ‘Let us commend our whole life to Christ our God.’ The secret prayer of the priest says the same thing: ‘We commend our whole life and hope to You, O loving Master, and we entreat You and beseech You and supplicate You…’ To you, O Lord, we leave everything. This is what trust in God is. This is holy humility. this is what transfigures a person and makes him a ‘God-man’.
The humble person is conscious of his inner state and, however unsightly it is, he does not lose his personality. He knows he is sinful and is grieved by the fact, but he does not despair and does not annihilate himself. The person who possesses holy humility does not speak at all, that is, he doesn’t react. He accepts to be criticized and rebuked by others, without getting angry and defending himself. He does not lose his equilibrium. The opposite happens with the egoist, the person who has a sense of inferiority. To begin with he seems humble, but if he is goaded a little, he immediately loses his calm and is irritated and upset.
The humble person believes that all things depend on Christ and that Christ gives His grace and in that way he makes progress. The person who possesses holy humility lives even now in the earthly uncreated Church. He always has the joy of Christ, even in the most displeasing circumstances…..source
Elder Porphyrios

This is the way we should see Christ. He is our friend, our brother; He is whatever is
good and beautiful. He is everything. Yet, He is still a friend and He shouts it out, "You're
my friends, don't you understand that? We're brothers. I'm not...I don't hold hell in my
hands. I am not threatening you. I love you. I want you to enjoy life together with me."

Christ is Everything. He is joy, He is life, He is light. He is the true light who makes man
joyful, makes him soar with happiness; makes him see everything, everybody; makes him feel
for everyone, to want everyone with him, everyone with Christ.

Love Christ and put nothing before His Love. Christ is Everything. He is the source of life,
the ultimate desire,He is everything. Everything beautiful is in Christ.

Somebody who is Christ's must love Christ, and when he loves Christ he is delivered from
the Devil, from hell and from death. source

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    Testimonies and Experiences

    Elder Porphyrios – Prophet of our time

    Panagiotis Sotirchos
    Journalist, writer

    K.I.: Mr. Sotirchos, you had the good fortune to know Elder Porphyrios. We therefore ask you to talk about his personality and his holiness.

    P.S.: The whole of Greece mourned the passing away of Elder Porphyrios, not just geographically, but universally, throughout the whole world. It's not only my personal opinion. All his spiritual children believed that. Elder Porphyrios is a holy person of great spiritual height, a true saint. All those who had the opportunity to know him well saw his sanctity in his silence, in his words and in his actions. I don't say Elder Porphyrios is a saint because I believe it but because I feel it. I can't help saying it. I can't put it any other way, because he had all the characteristics of a saint.

    We've already been honored by God with signs of Elder Porphyrios' sanctity, not only while he was alive but immediately after his passing too. I give the following testimony.read...

    The Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios

    The Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios

    In the Church we are all one and Christ is the head

    The head of the Church is Christ and we humans, we Christians, are the body. The Apostle Paul says: He is the head of the body, of the Church. (Col 1:18)

    The Church and Christ are one. The body cannot exist without its head. The body of the Church is nourished, sanctified and lives with Christ. He is the Lord, omnipotent, omniscient, everywhere present and filling all things, our staff, our friend, our brother: the pillar and sure foundation of the Church. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the basis - everything. Without Christ the Church does not exist. Christ is the Bridegroom; each individual soul is the Bride.

    Christ united the body of the Church with heaven and with earth: with angels, men and all created things, with all of God’s creation with the animals and birds, with each tiny wild flower and each microscopic insect. The Church thus became the fullness of Him who fills all in all, (Eph. 1:23) that is, of Christ. Everything is in Christ and with Christ. This is the mystery of the Church.

    ELDER PORPHYRIOS Testimonies and Experiences

    Testimonies and Experiences
    By Klitos Ioannides
    Translated from the 5th Greek (revised) Edition
    Published by the Holy Convent of the Transfiguration of the Saviour - Athens 1997
    (With the kind permission of the Holy Convent to post the book in electronic form)