Orthodox Byzantine Chants
Holy Mount Athos
The monk Moses the Athonite
One morning, at the break of dawn after we had finished the early Liturgy, we heard a light knock on the door. While I was going to open it, I wondered who could come so early. When I opened, I saw starets Paisios standing in the door slightly hunched.
”How did you manage, blessed man?” he asked.
Skinny, short, in scant attire, he was standing before me smilingly. I was so glad for his unexpected visit. He entered unobtrusively, climbed the stairs to worship in the small church, then descended in the big room from downstairs. At that time it was almost empty. Just two chairs and a table. I offered him some refreshment.
”Have patience!” he told me.
He spoke to me about the old elders of that cell. They were hard working, fond of church services, virtuous.
”This morning I had two experiences”, he said. ”A middle aged man came to me to accept him as a disciple.” ”I asked him if he had a family and he said that he had one and he had two children in primary school.” ”Then I told him: After they would graduate primary, secondary and high school and college and you would marry them, you could come back to tell you where to go to became a monk, cause I don’t keep monks here.” ”This is what some men do, make children, then leave them and go to become monks…”
”The second case is worse than the first one.” ”Another one came and told me: Gheronda, I found a woman who is of a much higher spiritual level than my wife and I came to you to ask for your blessing…” ”The world has gone crazy.” ”They speak nonsense.” ”I came to see how you are.”
He didn’t stay long, but I was so glad. He brought me blessing, joy, peace. Like then, at the monastery Simonos Petras, when he stayed for two days and nights near my cell and gave me his knitted yarmulke, before I had the time to ask him for it as a blessing, when I went to his cell. On the second night my cell was disturbed by an unexpected visit. He came in the middle of the night and knocked on my door supposedly to ask me what time it was, after how long the service would start, to comfort me.
The next day he told me why he had come. Tangalaki didn’t sleep. I always remember about the synaxis that tells us about God’s elders, seers of the uncreated light, about the charismatic monks, about long and painful struggles, tears and vigilias, icons, holy relics and miracles. Nobody reached God without effort, as abba Isaac says. We must eliminate the wordly spirit from monachism. Sweat is the monk’s bath and chrism…Prayer is his basic work, above the missionary work and philanthropy. Prayer confers eternal rest to the departed. Let us pray more for our reposed ones. May their memory be eternal! The righteous one will be eternally remembered. Hallelujah!
From the book: ~Athonite Midnight Office~