An old hermit said :
A brother obeys piously, without asking questions. Later he thinks, which destroys obedience. He examines through the eyes of logic.
Christodoulos, the hermit who was under the guidance of father Calinic who was full of vigilance used to tell us every time we visited his cell :
In our days it is absolutely necessary to try harder to reach patience. In the past the saints struggled hard for this virtue. We are not capable to equal their ascesis but at least we must struggle to have some patience, obedience and humbleness.
When we arrived in the Holy Mountain I thought I reached God. But after I met father Daniel, I realized how far was God of me – said A.Moraitidis, a writer who later became monk Andronicus, disciple of elder Daniel, who was so full of discernment.
In 1968, I went with elder Daniel, my companion of ascetic struggle, to Karulia, the most isolated part of Athos to see the wonderful hermit Zosimas who was making baskets. His disciple, father Seraphim, who knew a little Greek, was with him. He took us to their chapel, dedicated to saint George. In that desert we were offered three passages from the Holy Scripture as spiritual refreshments:
`I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. `(John 17, 6). Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1, 12). `and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.` (Matthew 28, 20).
Elder Seraphim told us :
`We are living in hard times. Antichrist will come soon. He will be of Jewish origin. We visited elder Andrew as well who was very poor and sick. He suffered of vertigo but he was very patient. Here are two things he told us:
`We must apply in practice the teachings of the Holy Scripture, not just to read them. In our prayers our mind and heart must be united. Abstinence is an essential condition for the pure prayer. Don’t judge your neighbor for anything. Show patience and obedience towards those who are younger than you. If you are 90 years old listen someone who is 18 years old. Elder Bartholomew received us gladly after much insistence. Here are some of his sayings:
Every time we have tears during prayer we are in connection with God.
We resemble God by our virtues. The Jesus prayer unites us with Him.
Look how the things are, brothers:Alas, I lost the blessing of communal life!
Obedience leads to humbleness, sadness, tears, purification and enlightenment.
After he treated us with figs and rain water from his tank, he told us about the pious elder Isaac of Dionisiou and his virtues.
Not long ago I had a discussion with one of the elders of a skete about the patience and obedience of the mules used by the monks at carrying the heavy things on the abrupt and rocky paths of Athos.
These animals are good teachers for us, brothers, he said. They never cry and always wait patiently to obey, without opposing any resistance.
Another pious monk who took care of the animals of the monastery said: `The mules make their duty without complaining. They carry heavy burdens of wood on rainy and cold weather. If they are fed or not, they don’t complain. I was taught by these noble animals. I often cried while feeding them comparing my impoliteness with their amiability, my disobedience with their obedience.
The great hermit Daniel of Kartounakia corrected and calmed once a brother who was desperate because of the quarrels and upsetting happenings from the monastery. He said to the brother: `Endure the quarrels, son, nobody is perfect.`
A humble monk said :
`We asked Theotokos, who is the defender and protector of the Holy Mountain if she approved the building of roads in Athos, to be used by cars and motors and produce great noise in this monachal centre. Is it possible to ignore Theotokos and all her promises for the Holy Mountain?
A hermit from our times said :
In our days there is much flour to make dough for bread, but there is not enough yeast to make it swallow.
An Athonite word sounds like this :
Be cautious in bringing a stranger in your monastery as you would be in adopting a stray animal.
A brother asked elder Auxentius Grigorite whose life was divided between the Jesus prayer and the akathists to Theotokos:
`Tell me now when I be ordained, to what things should I focus my attention first?
Be humble and avoid quarrels.`
Elder Nikander from Konstamounitou was asked once:
`If we read the biographies of the pious saints and monks and we make our canon, why don’t we become like them?
When a worker who processes metals wants to apply an alloy on copper first he cleans the copper and then burns it into fire. Until the rust is not removed the alloy doesn’t stick on the copper. The same thing happens with us. We enter a monastery to become monks but we bring with us the rust from the world. Thus until we remove it the grace of God doesn’t make us shine.
The abbot from Konstamonitou, Modest, said:
`Try not to look at the mistakes of the others.`
The Athonite monks usually say :
`It doesn’t matter the place where you live, but the way you live. This will save you.`
`Elder Gabriel, I have one wish in my heart: to come and stay in the Holy Mountain` said father Cyril to a famous hermit of Karoulia.
`Take heed to what I am saying to you. You can come here indeed but now as long as you live in the world go home, close the door of your house, draw the curtains, fast, read, pray and you will be in the Holy Mountain.`
`When he spoke his words were like fire and his face had a waxen bright color.`
This is the way a coeval of elder Nicephorus spoke about him.
Elder Nicephorus lived in Simonopetra Monastery. He said without cease the Jesus prayer and he accepted to be ordained only for being under obedience but he always prayed to be released of other duties of priesthood. His prayer was listened being released when he lost his sight.
Elder G was ruthless with the idle. He advised the monks to work in order to resemble the hermits from the old times. Some of them made baskets, others made bales in the field, others oil from seeds and others picked flowers for tea.
An elder said:
Our salvation doesn’t depend on chance but on assiduous toil. The Kingdom of God comes to those who have zeal.
From the Athonite Patericon