On Compunction and Tears

The ever memorable hegumen of Dionysiou, Archimandrite Gabriel, used to say that the monk Gerontios, who was the typikaris1 at St. Panteleimon, spent most of his time day and night in the church, with compunction as his constant companion. All of his free time was spent in the narthex, using his left hand to do his prayer | rope and his right to wipe away the tears which were streaming down his face. For this he used a cloth which he would wash in the sea.

He came originally from Kydonia in Asia Minor where | he had killed a Turk who was assaulting a young Christian woman. No one knows whether or not he meant to kill him while he was wrestling with him. Ever since that event, Monk Gerontios had lived in the Russian monastery quietly and peacefully, more harmless than a lamb.

In 1911, on the Friday of the fifth week of Lent, the novice Dionysios (later to become Hegumen Gabriel) was in the Russikon church during Orthros of the Great Canon, which takes place there as a vigil. That mystagogical service remained unforgettable in his heart. He saw, he says, "as in a vision," the venerable elder Gerontios wiping his tears while chanting, "Where can I begin to lament for the deeds of my miserable life?" And when he chanted the ode's last Theotokion, his heart was at such a height of compunction that, lifting his hands towards her holy face with tear-filled eyes and the familiarity of a son he chanted, "Panagia, the hope of those who pray to you with great emotion: lift the heavy yoke of my sins from me."

When this ever memorable elder started to read the biography of St. Mary of Egypt, Hegumen Gabriel continued, it was a unique and unforgettable scene of fifty or more elder monks, Russian speaking, who were gathered closely together around the typikaris' analogion, some of them kneeling, and others, very old, sitting on the floor with crossed legs, listening without blinking an eye which was focused on the typikaris' lips, not understanding a lot, I thought, but captivated by the reader's compunction and his wonderful manner of reading. As he kept on reading with unsurpassed emotion, the warmth in his voice increased and his inner spiritual contrition became more and more apparent . . . and as he reached that great emotional point of the dialogue between Father Zosimas and St. Maria, the one asking 'tell me, holy woman of God' and her answering Abba Zosimas ....', the sweet elder was unable to control himself from bursting with emotion. He broke down into uncontrolled sobbing and tears, thus spreading this emotion to the entire congregation.


"You cultivated with your outpouring of tears the barren desert of St. Basil and the Karmilion peak, and you became a luminary, our father Gerasimos." Indeed hesychastic elder Gerasimos became a champion labourer of tears and a transmitter of light with noetic prayer. For seventeen years he did his ascetic labours on the Karmilion peak of Prophet Elias, west of Kerasia, beneath Athos' peak. It was an heroic existence, battling constantly against nature's elements wind, thunder and lightening, rain and snow and against the full guile of demons. He slept in the Lord at the age of ninety.


An elder said: "A heart cleanses itself with a sigh in response to God's grace. We should soak our soul in tears; but one deep, painful sigh is equal to two basketsful of tears."
There were monks who lit the oil lamps in St. Anne's skete, and in the cenobion, who during their sacred obedience before the holy icons had eyes brimming with tears.


: He came to the Holy Mountain from Cyprus. He was known for his cleansed mind and simple heart. He was graced with tearful prayers and a hesychastic life. He would leave his meal to withdraw into his cell in order to weep. Such was Elder Dionsios of St. Anne's.


The eyes of the Russian hermit Father Tychon were always full of tears. He would wipe them constantly with a wet handkerchief which he carried always in his hand. His stole was usually damp with tears, and the wooden cross he used to bless with, was worn out. He would often say that we ought to wash Jesus' feet with our tears all the days of our lives, and wipe them with our hair while prostrating ourselves before Him. In his own cell, the wooden cross before which he prayed was soaked with his tears.


Father Daniel, the hesychast who lived in St. Peter's G celebrated the liturgy daily for sixty years, using the liturgy of St. Basil in order to experience the service more intensely. He had such compunction that he always soaked the ground with his tears. And immediately afterwards he would'.' draw in solitude so that he might not lose his compunction.


Of strong constitution and called "the Faster," Andreas ascetic from St. Anne had come originally from Epiros was robust and rugged. Full of love, he was always eager help and comfort those who were climbing up the hill CARrying a heavy load from the shore to the monastery 'scrub; He lacked formal education, but he has God's wisdom; he was granted the gift of pure, ceaseless prayer. He prayed continually to the Theotokos, shedding rivers compunction ate tears, full of heavenly love.