To be for fifteen years `at the feet` – to use a suggestive expression – of a kind of Elder who appears in the Church once in two hundred years, it is a great blessing from God. But even for us it is a blessing to find out, even if only partially, some of the numerous happenings mr. H.M.P, spiritual son of pious Porphyrios collected in his memory for fifteen years.
We use only his initials because of his wish to remain anonymous due to spiritual reasons. We respect his choice and we thank him from the heart for the memories he decided to share with us.
H.M.P.: Father Porphirios was a short man, with blue eyes, very joyous and with a nice smile. He was a person in whose presence you felt so good that you could ask him any question. He admitted that he had the gift of clairvoyance. One day he told me: `God gave me this gift to make me a kinder person.` Being at a very high spiritual level, he felt deeply his sinfulness, thing which happens with all the saints.
He was visited by university professors who realized immediately what kind of man he was. They stayed and listened to him as the students listen to their teacher. I witnessed such meetings when I accompanied some academicians and professors to father Porphyrios. Although he studied for only four years in school, he attracted famous intellectuals and sometimes he even corrected them if they made a mistake and they had a great respect for him.
Once talking about holiness he said:
`There are three degrees of holiness. On the first level is the saint who after he prays for a quarter of an hour is visited by the holy grace. At the more advanced saints, the grace comes immediately after they raise their hands for prayer. And there is one more kind of saints – those who have the grace dwelling in them permanently.
Another time speaking to me about holiness, he told me that the saint is that man who doesn’t do sins and prays day and night with his arms raised in the air to God being able to have a radical influence in certain situations. For a better understanding he gave me the following example:
`Imagine a city with five hundred people who live in sin. In a monastery there is a monk who raises his pure hands to God and prays to Him not to punish those men who had sinned. I can assure you that for the sake of this hermit God does not punish 500.000 people.
K.I.: What you are telling us is amazing.
H.M.P.: He also told me: `Know that nothing is impossible for the saints of God. They can ask something from the Creator and receive what they wanted. The power of the saints is great.`
It is something special the fact that pious Porphyrios communicated with the other world.
K.I.: With the triumphant Church.
H.M.P.: Yes. I’ll tell you something which impressed me extraordinarily.
Once I visited elder Porphyrios with one relative of mine to tell him about the death of another relative of ours one week before that and about the death of someone else from our family who died at less than 48 hours before our arrival. So we asked elder Porphyrios to pray for the souls of those two persons without giving him any information about them.
Four days later we went back to elder Porphyrios who told us:
`You told me to pray for this woman.`
`Was she a nun?`
`Did you tell me this?`
`This nun had been married before. She became a nun after her husband died. And her husband was a good man. But one thing is to be a monk and another one to be a layman. But for the second person you told me about we must pray.
K.I.: Amazing! The father saw the souls of those persons and saw in what condition they were. This thing proves that he saw not only what happens in this world but also in the other.
H.M.P.: Once I took a monk from the Holy Mountain to elder Porphyrios with my car. Their conversation which I attended myself was about prayer. The monk asked elder Porphyrios how we should pray. And the elder asked that monk how he prayed. The monk answered: `Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on me the sinner.` He asked me how I prayed.
`I pray in the same way`, I said.
Then the father said:
`When I pray and I say these words I add a slight hue. I utter the words one by one, I pronounce them slowly and I stress the words `have mercy on me`. Why? Because Christ is a person too. And when you speak with him, you must be aware that you don’t speak in vain, to an abstract being or situation. You are speaking to Christ Who listens to you.
And he added:
`When you speak with your father you don’t cry for instance: `Give me this sum of money.` Because he won’t like the way you address to him and he will tell you:
`Why are you speaking to me on this tone?`
But if the son tells him: `Please, father, give me this sum of money because I need it` his father will tell him: `Why giving you only this much? Since you are a good child I will give you five times more.
K.I.: This example is very good.
H.M.P.: Elder Porphyrios always made a connection between the spiritual struggle and the problem of gluttony. He said that if the man succeeds to eat with moderation in a rational way, God compensates his flaws. He also said that the devil could take the man out of heaven because of gluttony and now God summons the man to fight to take back the kingdom he lost saying:
`Struggle with him to take back the power he took away from you.`
`Then I told him: So the struggle against gluttony is extremely important. And he answered in the following way:
`This struggle is so important for the spiritual evolution that the Fathers of our Church when they prepared their food used to pour over that a glass of bitter juice so that they would not feel any pleasure in tasting it.`
`And what comes out of this?`
`What comes out of this? Let me explain it to you: when the man struggles in this way he doesn’t have the time to raise his hands in the air and the grace of God descends over him.
K.I.: But there is another chapter which refers at the majority of the people and this is family life with its numerous problems and difficulties. From my own experience I know the fact that elder Porphyrios was very fond of maintaining some correct relationships between husbands and he was also fond of the holy institution of family. His constant care was focused on the raising of the children in a healthy atmosphere, full of peace and love.
H.M.P.: You are perfectly right. Elder Porphyrios was especially concerned about the relationships between husbands and between parents and children. When he was visited by a married man who didn’t have a very good wife or by a married woman who didn’t have such a good husband and in both cases these people bore their crosses with patience, he called them saints.
Once he was visited by a married man who was not a good husband but who was raising a church. He said to the father:
`Father, I am raising a beautiful church.`
`Why are you raising this small church, my blessed son, after you destroyed the big one which is your family?`
K.I.: `How nicely he said it`…
H.M.P.: `He always said to the parents to avoid quarrelling in front of their children because the children when they hear their parents quarrelling feel that their house falls on them.`
K.I.: `It’s true.`
H.M.P.: `He said this : `The children must grow with both parents and the father must not be very tough. And if he ever has to punish the child, he has to do it carefully and moderately so that he would not traumatize the child.
Once he related to us the following story: `One day I took a lot of candies and I went to an orphanage. I gave the candies to the orphans and their souls were hungry and inhibited so they could not smile. I left that place and went to take the bus. When I got in the bus I saw some passengers had an argument: `Go away from this place. Go and sit there! Don’t stretch your legs` They shouted at each other and cursed each other. Then I thought: `Those children are orphans of their earthly father and these are orphans of their Heavenly One.
And elder Porphyrios continued :
`Because the men are orphans of God Who is joy they don’t know what to do and they get mad. But if the man comes back on the path of God and of the Church and begins to know his heavenly Father then he doesn’t behave like an orphan anymore and is full of joy all the time.
What is stress if not this condition of an orphan who misses his heavenly Father?
Once he told me:
`You are a pious man and you want to impose your piousness and faith to those around you. But do you think that you will obtain something in this way? You act in a wrong way because the man has the tendency to oppose resistance. You say something to someone and he doesn’t do that thing because you told him to do it. But if he sees you doing a good thing maybe he will do it too because he will think: `If this man does this I will do the same.` But if you pray all the time to Christ and say to Him: `Lord Jesus Christ, please enlighten and guide that man`, then He will begin to send good thoughts to him. Everytime you say for instance: `God have mercy on my child`, your child receives a good thought from Christ. And the more you pray, the more good thoughts your child will receive. And if now your child is like an unripe orange, little by little he will become mature and will be as you want him to be. I tell you from my own experience that this is the best way for a man to solve his problems regardless of their nature. The other methods the men use from instinct fail most of the times.
K.I.: `I suppose you know a certain happenstance which sustains the words of elder Porhyrios.`
H.M.P.: `Yes. I asked him myself to give me different examples for a better understanding of his words. In relation with what I said before he told me about the case of a couple whose daughter estranged from the path of God. The behavior and the way of life of that girl generated such a situation that her father was mad. He was furious because of her and he wanted to kill her and many other things of this kind. Kin the end he accepted to go with his wife to elder Porphyrios.
The elder said to the father:
`Don’t you understand what’s going on here? The devil is on the back of your daughter. Now he does what he wants from her and leads her wherever he wants. Nothing good comes out if you behave in this way with her. It is necessary to pray. You and your wife must begin to pray together for your daughter and stop rebuking her. When she comes back home late as she usually does tell her:
The food is in the fridge. Go and eat.` Then your daughter will have a shock and will think: `Where does this politeness come from at my barbarian parents?
You, in the meantime, don’t stop praying. And know that your daughter will break her relation with the person who leads her to bad things. And when she comes to you and tells you that she broke off her relation with those friends, tell her:
`Very well, you’ve done a good thing.` But pretend you don’t care much about that as if you told her: `We don’t know anything about this situation. You know better.`
And this is what happened indeed. One day their daughter told her parents that she had broken off her relationship with her friends. From that moment on she went on the right path and she was saved.
K.I.: This is how with the grace of the Holy Spirit, elder Porphyrios could help the people and lead them to salvation.
H.M.P.: In what regards the gift of clairvoyance I will tell you a story about a captain of a military ship I met very often at the elder and with whom he became very good friends.
Once after this captain hadn’t visited elder Porphyrios for a long time he finally went to him and told him he had been on a mission and they landed in a secret place and nobody knew where they were. Then elder Porphyrios said:
`Let me ask you something: there where you stayed hidden, when you looked to the top of the hill didn’t you see there a small church?`
The captain was amazed seeing that nothing remained hidden for the Holy Spirit.
Another time an acquaintance of mine who was in an European town called the elder and asked his advice about a problem he was facing. Then the elder said:
`I see you in this moment. There where you are is the sea and the place is surrounded by small blocks of flats. Among those blocks there is a high one and behind that is a high mountain.
K.I.: For someone who didn’t know elder Porphyrios it’s hard to believe such a thing.
H.M.P.: Once someone called him from a mountain region of Cyprus. While talking the gentleman told the elder that on the same day he had gone on a trip to a small church beside a river. Then they had the following dialogue:
`Very well. Look to the West, high, on the mountain. What’s that thing which is surrounded by a wall?`
`Do you refer at the church of saint George?`
`Yes. Very well. Now let’s follow the path which goes from this church and what beauty do we see on the right side?
`Are you talking about the church of saint Paraskevi?`
K.I.: ”I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15, 5).