“Christ is wholly love, goodness and consolation, and never suffocates. He has an abundance of spiritual oxygen.” (Elder Paisios of Mount Athos)
Elder Paisios is perhaps the most well-known of all contemporary Elders from Mount Athos. “Elder Paisios, perhaps more than any other contemporary elder, has captured the minds and hearts of the Greek people.” This bastion of Orthodoxy in our days was born in 1924, hailing from Farasa, Cappadocia in Asia Minor. At his roots, this man was another beloved Cappadocian. However, he and his family were forced out of Turkey by the Turks when little Arsenios was barely a month old (this was his name before he entered a certain stage in the monastic life). This was the time period of the Christian genocides in Turkey and the expulsion of the remaining Greeks from Asia Minor. Elder Paisios’ family settled in Konitsa in Epiros.
There is so much to say about the Elder and so much to read. His life was one of love of God and neighbor, one of continual service and sacrifice and of uncompromising faith. So many things stand out about him. Before he entered the monastic life, Elder Paisios had served in the Greek army during World War II and was always willing to put his own life at risk in order to help his fellow soldiers, especially for the many who had wives and children.
Once he entered the monastic life, Elder Paisios was at several monasteries on the Holy Mountain, but his final home was at the hermitage Panagouda, which belongs to the Monastery of Koutloumousiou. It was here that he became very well-known as an elder. While a monk on Mount Athos, Elder Paisios’ life was one with many difficulties. He had respiratory problems and suffered from a serious hernia and hemorrhaging. At the end of his life, he was diagnosed with cancer. Yet, the Elder had this heavenly joy about him. He was down to earth, yet experiencing the divine, was immersed in his prayer life, and had a sense of humor.
The Elder’s life and counsels are moving and touching. To get just a glimpse of the way he thought, he would pray to God that He would send him sicknesses so that he could alleviate the sicknesses of others he knew were suffering. This holy man has helped thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people and so many have come to love him. Elder Paisios reposed in 1994, and although not officially canonized, is without any doubt whatsoever a modern-day Saint of the Orthodox Church, a living image of Christ, someone who showed and continues to show so many of us that, in this day and age, it is still possible to live a life in Christ. He is buried at the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian in Souroti outside Thessaloniki.
See Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit: The Lives & Counsels of Contemporary Elders of Greece by Herman A. Middleton
ΓΕΡΟΝΤΟΣ ΠΑΙΣΙΟΥ ΑΓΙΟΡΕΙΤΟΥ, ΛΟΓΟΙ Δ’ “ὉΙΚΟΓΕΝΕΙΑΚΗ ΖΩΗ”, Εκδοτικού Οίκου ΙΕΡΟΝ ΗΣΥΧΑΣΤΗΡΙΟΝ “ἙΥΑΓΓΕΛΙΣΤΗΣ ΙΩΑΝΝΗΣ Ο ΘΕΟΛΟΓΟΣ,” ΣΟΥΡΩΤΗ ΘΕΣΣΑΛΟΝΙΚΗΣ