When the love of our Lord inflames the soul of man, one like this is not conditioned by limits anymore, but goes beyond his limits. That is why he gets rid of fear. Either he writes or speaks he tends to be unstoppable. But in the moment of grace, anything he would say, everything he says is trifling comparing with the brightness of the divine love. Then after the heart narrows itself and the cloud will leave to its own reign, then measure will intervene and will seek to distinguish everything according to measure.
Thus the aim of all these I wrote to you is only one : to warm up your soul, to urge you to have desire and zeal for our Most Sweet Jesus; like the generals from the army do when they tell the soldiers the victories of the brave, urging them in this way to fight bravely. But the aim of the saints, whose lives and words were written and left to us, is the same. For the soul – as it was created by God – if it doesn`t hear many times these elevate and wondrous things is overpowered by drowsiness and recklessness. And only with these, with fit readings and histories draws away oblivion and renews the old house.
When I came in the Holy Mountain I found many elders who spent their time in work and contemplation, elders who were saints.
One of them was elder Calinic, a perfect hermit. He lived as a recluse for forty years. He spent his time with the work of his mind and he nourished himself with the honey of divine love, also becoming a guide for others. He had many times been worthy to be raptured in contemplation.
Lower than this one lived elder Gherasim, a faultless hesychast who was originating from Chios. He practiced the Jesus prayer. He reached the age of ninety years old.
He spent fifteen years on the summit of prophet Elijah, fighting with the devils and leaving himself be blown by storms, remaining an unwavering pillar of patience. He had ceaseless tears. He ended his life without worries delighting himself by uttering the Name of Jesus.
Higher was elder Ignatius. Many years he was blind. He was a confessor for a long time and reached the age of ninety five years old. He said without cease the Jesus prayer for which reason from his mouth was coming such a strong fragrance that anyone was glad to speak near his mouth.
There was another wonderful one at Saint Peter the Athonite, the hieromonk Daniel, a follower of saint Arsenios the Great
He spent his time in seclusion in perfect silence, serving the holy liturgy daily. In sixty years he had never thought to quit the Divine Liturgy. During the Great Lent he served the holy liturgy of the previously sanctified gifts every day.
He lived till the end of his life, till a very old age reposing without having been sick a single day.
His liturgy always lasted three hours and a half up to four hours for he was unable to utter the ekfonises because of humility. He always watered the earth with his tears and for this reason he didn`t want to receive any stranger at the holy liturgy so that no one could see his state. But he received me, because I asked him insistently Everytime I went – I walked for three hours at night to witness this amazing divine view – he told me a word or two when he went out of the holy altar and then immediately hid himself till the next day. He had the Jesus prayer and all night vigil as his occupation for his entire life.
I took this typicon from him and I found a great benefit. He ate a few grams of bread every day and he was like a feather when he served the liturgy. He didn`t begin the liturgy until he made mud on the floor before the Holy Table.
There were many others who had foresight but I didn`t have the chance to know them because they had died one or two years before. Their wondrous stories were related to me by others as I was preoccupied by these things. I wandered all over the mountains and caves to find such ascetics
As my elder was kind and simple, after I prepared his meal, he gave me the blessing to seek these places useful for my soul. After I buried him, I searched all the Holy Mountain.
There was one in a cave who cried seven times a day and he also spent his night crying. This was his preoccupation. His pillow was always wet because of his tears. He had a disciple who went two or three times a day to him as he didn`t want him near all the time to interrupt his work. Once I asked this elder:
`Geronda, why are you crying so much?`
`My son, when the man contemplates God from the love he has come out his tears and he can`t control them.
There were other smaller ones as hieromonk Cosma and also other greater ones, if someone wished to write about, he needed a lot of paper. All these reposed here and they live there in eternity.
Today there is no account of such things as many worries and material concerns caught the people.
They generally despise the niptic work, so that many of them don`t want to search, to find out and practice these, but more than this, if they hear someone speaking about these, they rise with hostility against him. And they consider him a fool, mocking him, because his life is not like theirs.
Today it happens something very similar with what was during the pagan times. Then if you insulted the idols they hit you with stones and in the worst case they killed you. IN the same way now any passion takes place of the idol. If you condemn the passion you see that possesses each one, all of them cry `hit him with stones as he offended our gods!`
Ultimately as I don`t receive anyone, without exception and don`t want to hear how the laymen or monks live or what they do, I am always slandered. But I never stop praying for the brothers and say they are right because they see with the eyes God gave them. Won`t I be unjust and blameworthy if I say: Why don`t they see how I see?`
May God of all men have mercy of all for the prayers of the pious and God bearer Fathers.
Excerpt from Testimonies of the monachal experience– Pious Joseph the Hesychast, Evanghelismos.