Elder Paisios and the painting

By priest Nectarios Savidis

An athonite monk, who went very often to see starets Paisios, has recently related me a happenstance he witnessed himself and that’s very useful for soul.

Once a painter visited starets Paisios in his cell.

The starets, with his remarkable, educational sense of humour, asked him:

“My son, would you be able to make me a painting representing a theme I’d tell you about?” “I’d like to hang it in my cell.”

“I’d be glad to do it, gheronda”, the painter answered with great delight. “This is my job”. “What would you like to be painted in it?”

“Could you paint some mountains?”

“Very easily”, the painter said.

“Could you also paint some trees I’ll tell you about?”

“Of course, gheronda.”

After the starets told him some other things he wanted to have in the painting, asked him in the end:

“Could you also paint a fountain with water flowing from it?”

“Of course, gheronda, this thing is not difficult at all for me”, the painter answered plainly.

Then the starets asked him:

“But from that painted fountain could anyone drink water to quench his thirst?”

“No, gheronda.”

“You see, that much differ the things of men from those of God!” the starets told him. “If someone cannot quench his thirst with the water from a painted fountain, the less he would quench it with the things of men.” “Human life thirsts only after the things of God Who gives us “the living water”.

These wise words spread the fragrance of the Holy Spirit! Therefore let’s go back to the words of our elders, so that our soul would quench its thirst in our “waterless” times.

 

Love – the echo of life

Being on a trip in the mountains a young family stopped at a chalet from the edge of a valley. The youngest boy, angry with his brother, went behind the chalet and cried: I hate you! But immediately a loud voice answered: ”I hate you, I hate you!”

Scared the child ran inside and told his father what happened, saying that outside there was someone who cried that he hated him. They went together to that place and the father asked his son: ”Were you here when you heard that someone hates you?”

”Yes! ”

”Now say that you love him!”

”I love you!” the boy cried and immediately the valleys answered: ”I love you! I love you!”

”Remember that in life it’s the same: if you are a malicious man, you will find only malice, but if you are kind and behave nicely with the others then you find only love at every step. And even if you wouldn’t be always loved by people, God’s love will always be with you. Don’t forget this.”

Source: http://www.ganduridinierusalim.com

 

About fasting

Fasting is a special virtue. It appeases carnal impulses and confers power to the soul for fighting against its intoxication through senses and gives it the remedy for this intoxication.

Fasting purifies the mind, withering any sinful thought and brings divine health to thinking, this being proven by holy thoughts. They enlighten the mind and this being enlightened gives more spiritual zeal to the soul.

Fasting, prayer, abstinence, vigils, attract divine grace, the grace of the Holy Spirit. The grace of the Holy Spirit is manifested in many ways and the feelings brought by it are many and various. The Holy Spirit through the high accomplishment of prayer and watchfulness gives the gift of tears, of joy, of farsightedness, of teaching, of longsuffering, of divine comfort, of hope, of divine love, of contemplation, of rapture.

Let us strive fasting according to our power, keeping a physical, mental and emotional abstinence, fighting with all our might against the enemy of our soul. Watch your senses, my son, especially your sight. The eyes are like the tentacles of the octopus that catch everything is moving around and they are affected by the temptation of sin faster. Through sight many spiritual towers fell down and got lost. David, because he did not guard his eyes, came to crime and fornication, although he was a great prophet of God.

 

We should get satisfied with a little

Gheronda these times are dominated by economic problems. We all aim to increase somehow our family incomes and when we succeed, we see that’s still not enough. The economic problems will always remain without solution.

Archimandrite Epiphanios: We have economic problems because we are insatiable. If we were satisfied with a little, there wouldn’t be any problem of this kind.

Greed generates a hopeless economic situation. We don’t get satisfied with what we have. We want more and more. What other better solution might be for the economic problems than getting satisfied with a little?

There’s a story saying that once an eagle saw floating near Niagara falls the carrion of an animal. The eagle swooped down on it and started to eat voraciously. The more it ate, the nearer it got to the waterfall. Then it suddenly noticed the danger. It tried to fly…But the water was icy and its claws had frozen, getting stuck in the carrion. The waterfall dragged the eagle into the depths and drowned it. Because of its greed to eat more, the eagle lost its life.

We usually chase or try to grab what seems more to us. But our Lord warned us:”Be on your guard against any kind of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12-15). Human life doesn’t depend on so many of the things that exist. We should learn to get satisfied with a little, according to the word of the Apostle: ”But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” (I Timothy 6-8)

Only two meters of land will be needed at the end of our life. And even if someone were rich, powerful and handsome, what would he get more than two meters of land? In the best case it will be built a very imposing grave for him. This will be his only gain!

Christianity does not create any damage at all for the economy, but even more than this, it offers the best solution. If all men listened to what Apostle Paul says and limited themselves to their bare necessities, without wishing a lot of unnecessary things, there would be no more economic problems. The best solution is given by the word of the Gospel. We should get satisfied with the bare necessities.

Nowadays, if it were posible, we’d like to have a house with swimming pool in the yard and a lot of dishes when it is organized a festive dinner. Why do we want such things? This waste of money for useless things, when other people are starving, is a big sin. But it’s also a waste of time; time that we could use for something better – for reading religious books, for visiting a sick person, any other thing that might please God. There are so many things we could do and we could give the saved money (of course by avoiding a pointless waste) to those who can hardly cover their basic vital needs.

Excerpt from – Archimandrite Epiphanios Theodoropoulos, Let us commend whole our life to Christ our God, Predania Publishing House, Bucharest, 2010

The two disciples and love

Once lived a hermit who had two disciples. The old man tried hard to help them progress spiritually and become better people, but he had a deep inner concern, not knowing if they had really made any spiritual progress and if they were prepared for the Kingdom of God. He was waiting for a sign from God for them, but did not receive a thing.

One evening he was to attend a vigil in the church of another hermitage, that was at a distance of many hours of walk from their cell.

Because the way was through the desert, the old man sent his two disciples since morning in order to get there early and he was to go later, in the afternoon.

His disciples walked a long way and all of a sudden they heard some moans. Approaching they saw a severely hurt man who was asking for help.

”Take me with you, please”, the injured one told them. ”Here’s desert and  nobody passes by.” ”Who would help me?” ”You are two, please lift me up and carry me to the next village!”

”We cannot”, the monks answered. ”We are in a hurry for the vigil.” ”Our starets asked us to get the church ready for it.”

”Please, take me!” ”Don’t leave me die!” ”The wild beast  will eat me.”

”We cannot.” ”There is nothing we can do for you, we have to go to our duty.”

And they left. In the afternoon the starets left for the vigil too. He went on the same way as his disciples. Reaching the place where the injured man lied and seeing him, asked him:

”What happened to you, man of God?” ”What’s the matter with you?” ”No one saw you here?”

”In the morning two monks passed by and I asked them to help me, but they didn’t want, saying they were in a hurry, going  for the vigil.”

”Don’t worry.” ” I’ll take you”, the starets said.

”You cannot.”  ”You are old.” ” You won’t be able to lift me up.”

”No, I’ll take you, I cannot leave you here.”

”I told you, you cannot lift me up”, the injured man insisted.

”I’ll bend down and you’ll climb up my back.” ”And little by little I’ll take you to the nearest village.”  ”An inch today and another inch tomorrow and we shall finally get there.”

The old man took him in his back with difficulty and started to walk with wavering steps on the sand. His sweat was flowing down on him like a river. He thought to himself: ”Even if it took me three days, we would get there in the end anyway.” But while walking, he felt that his burden became lighter and lighter, till he didn’t feel anything anymore. Then he turned back to see what was happening. He got stunned seeing an angel before him, who told him:

”God sent me to let you know that your two disciples are not worthy of the Kingdom of God, because they don’t have love.”

Source> www.tokandylaki.blogspot.gr

Pure love

Once there lived a believer who was renowned for his austere life. One day standing before the altar, he called God, saying:

”God, I would be ready to do anything, absolutely anything out of my love for You.” ”Try me by any means you like and you will see that I am saying the truth.”

”Take a vessel, fill it with oil, put it on your head, cross the market, then the city, street by street, and come back, but beware not to waste any drop of oil”, an angelic voice told him.

The man filled the vessel, put it on his head and started walking, with his arms stretched for proper balance, repeating at every step: ”no drop should be wasted!” It was market day and the man crossed the entire city, street by street, without wasting a drop of oil. Content, he turned back and put the vessel in the church. He took the icons as witnesses of his accomplishment, but there was complete silence. And in the next days the icons continued to stay mute.

Overwhelmed by despair, the man with his head on his knees, was bitterly crying and repeated through his sobs: ”And yet no drop was wasted.”

Then a voicewas heard again:

”What do I need your oil for, man?” ” What can I, your God, do with a vessel of oil?” ”How many times while you were carrying the vessel on your head, how many times you thought of me? Never!

And the man had only the oil in his mind, indeed.

”You would have better dropped the vessel down and thought about me, lovingly.” ”Leave aside all the trials you are renowned for and love me truly.”

I have no sin

A proud and unfaithful man was always bragging that he didn’t need God since his soul was like a white sheet of paper. Therefore he could live his life honorably and nicely without Christ.

One day, going on a trip with many other people, reached a very secluded monastery, in the middle of the forest. There was living a monk renowned for his wisdom and the proud man wanted to talk for a while with the old hermit. When he got in the monk’s cell, the monk told him about God and sin. The haughty man refrained as much as he could, but at his departure he said:

I don’t need any God, as long as my life and soul are like a white sheet of paper.

The monk nodded and said smiling:

Well, well, I’ll say the same like you. But then mind your eye so that the devil won’t write his name on it!

The haughty man kept silent but getting out of the cell, he mused and walking on his way was wondering:

Is it so white as I say about it? And thinking deeper about his deeds he saw his numerous sins. Then coming to his senses, he realized the sins he had committed and felt an acute need for God’s help!

The monk’s wisdom

Once a ruler renowned for his brilliant mind heard that far away, in a secluded monastery, was living an old monk of a rare wisdom and wanting to see for himself the truth of this rumour, he went to that holy place and asked to see the monk. When the man came, humble and submissive, the ruler wanted to try him in an unusual way and said:

“Father, can I ask you something?”

“Sure, your grace, ask me!”

“You see, I’ve already asked you.”

“And I’ve already answered.”

“What did you answer me?”

“But what did you ask me?”

Seeing his wisdom, the ruler spent a lot of time since then with the old monk that was always appreciated and sought  by nobles and common people as well, who came from afar for his useful advice, springing from his faith and wisdom.

“Wisdom is a fountain of life.” (Holy Scripture)

Does everything slip through your fingers?

My brother, I heard you saying that everything is slipping so easily through your fingers:

Time

Situations

Relationships with the others

Your dreams

Thoughts

Feelings

And so many other things…

I understand you cause I’ve lived the same thing myself. Do you want me share a secret with you? Three motions…Put your hands afront, stuck together…Then join your fingers. Hold your hands tightly closed. Now nothing can slip through your fingers anymore. They are guarded by your prayer…

 

A piece of chocolate

This story was sent to us by the mother of a nun and referred to her own family.

 

During the German occupation we suffered a lot. We saw days when in our house there was nothing else, but water. Then our father took us by the hand and climbing the mountain that rose near our village, we picked up lupin. My poor mother boiled it for a long time but the herbs didn’t lose their bitter taste. However, we tried to relieve our hunger with them, but our eyes were burning cause of their bitterness. Besides this, our elder sister was sick. And my two brothers who were working and were in their period of growth didn’t have what to eat either.

Once my mother, have no idea from where, got a piece of chocolate. Maybe an English soldier might have given it to her? Or she might have got it from a charity organization? I don’t know. But my dear mother didn’t eat a bit of it. She brought it and furtively gave it to my sick sister, hoping that if she ate it, she would get better. But it didn’t happen so, because after some time my sister died. God took her to Him. My sick sister didn’t eat the chocolate either. Hearing that the next day my mother and I were to go in town with the donkey for some important matter and we had to walk for at least 8-10 hours, she called me stealthily and told me: ”Take it and eat it,  sister, to strengthen yourself, cause tomorrow you have a long way to walk.”

I took it and kept it for the next day’s journey. In the morning my kind mother put me on the back of the donkey and she walked beside it. At a certain moment I asked her to climb on the donkey too, but she didn’t want. She felt sorry for me, cause I was small. Then I took the piece of chocolate out of my pocket and gave it to her saying: ”Take it and eat it, mother, so that you would strengthen yourself, cause you’ve been walking for so long.” Before she had the time to refuse it, I put it in her hand. Then she stopped for a while and looked and the chocolate with tears in her eyes. The piece of chocolate was back in her hands.

A family suffering of hunger and sickness proved such morality, love and self-denial!

Let us always remember it and follow its example.