Elder Paisios

Wondrous events

Father Paisios always wished for the grace of God to function in his life, and for this reason, he humbled every single one of his wills. As a result, divine grace, which abided in the Elder’s soul since the day he was baptized, was activated and worked miracles.

The Elder always tried to hide from people the energy of divine grace hidden inside him. When divine grace was functioning within him and was perceived by some people, Father Paisios humbly admitted that he himself did nothing; for he had very well understood –since he was very young- that it was impossible for any authentic spiritual energy to come out of him.
Most of the times, he covered up the energy of divine grace, so people could not detect it. There were times, however, when people needed a “divine push” instead of human assistance in order to believe in God and thus correct themselves; then, he was forced to disclose the energy of the divine grace.

A series of volumes is required in order to present, even to the slightest degree, whatever was overflowing from the spiritual activity of the Elder. The following are only a few indications of wondrous events witnessed by priestmonk Christodoulos, who is the author of the book “Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain” (1998).

One afternoon, I went to see Father Paisios. During these days, I was possessed by a certain haughtiness which was derived from the lack of warmth in my poor prayer life. When I began to control my unrestrained mind, I started seeing things more lucidly. However, as I did not have a humble attitude, I thought I had reached a certain spiritual state and I was bragging about it.
I went to see the Elder to confide in him my thoughts, which were imbued by the sense of haughtiness I just described. Father Paisios listened to me and without saying anything in specific, started telling me the following story:

-Yesterday, a monk visited me and told me something which made me recall the incident I am about to tell you.
One night, I was in my cell at Katounakia saying the Jesus prayer and gradually I was possessed by a heavenly joy. Simultaneously, my cell, whose darkness was interrupted only by the trembling flame of a candle, was filled with a beautiful white-blue light. At the beginning, the light was very strong. I felt that my eyes were also “getting stronger” in order to withstand the glow. It was the Uncreated Light! I stayed in my cell for many hours, losing sense of all earthy things and living in a spiritual world, very different from this one.
While being in this state of the Uncreated Light and heavenly experiences, I lost all sense of time.

At one point the Uncreated Light started fading away and I was back to my old state of being. I began to feel hungry, so I took a piece of bread to eat. Then, I was thirsty and had some water to drink. I was getting tired and I needed to sit down and get some rest. I felt like an animal and I deplored myself for it. The change from one situation back to the other gave birth to a natural humbleness. Having experienced the difference between the spiritual state I was found in and my earthly needs, there was nothing left for me but to despise and blame myself for it.
Further down from my cell, another monk was residing. I looked outside and had the impression it was still night with a full moon. I went out and asked him:
-What time is it? It seems that dawn hasn’t broken yet this morning.
The monk looked astonished and asked me:
- What did you say, Father Paisios? I didn’t understand.
Only then, I realized what had happened. It was ten in the morning and the “full moon” I thought I had seen was the sun. The Uncreated Light was so strong that it made daylight and the sun look like a night with a full moon. The difference between the light of the sun and the Uncreated Light was like the one between night and day.
When the Elder finished his story, he told me to go, as there were other people waiting to see him. I made my way back to my cell only slightly realized my beastly state of being.

After the Turkish invasion in Cyprus, a Cypriot deacon monk went to visit the Elder, as he was feeling very sad about the terrible destruction and great loss of lives. (He had also lost some of his relatives).
Father Paisios was fond of him because he was a very pious and kind man and asked him to spend the night at his cell.
- In the morning, the priest will come to serve the Divine Liturgy. I will wake you up early, so we can chant the Matins service and read the prayers of the Holy Communion service.
The deacon went to his cell and the Elder to his own, where he prayed all night. A couple of times, he went to knock on the deacon’s door and jokingly said:
- Father, did you, by any chance, have a vision? Did you see an angel?
Around two o’ clock in the morning, Father Paisios woke him up to start the Matins service. At one point, the Elder began to read the service of the Holy Communion. The deacon was watching the way Father Paisios was reading, and how his face was full of compunction and piety.
When he reached the hymn of the fifth ode which says: “O Mary, Mother of God, the sacred tent of fragrance, through your prayers, make me a chosen instrument that I may partake of the holiness of your offspring”, something extraordinary happened:
The little chapel was filled with a white-blue light and the oil lamps, whose red flames became light-blue as well, began to move in a slow rhythm. At the same time, the whole chapel was permeated by a heavenly fragrance beyond description.
The deacon was astonished and could not understand what was going on. He interrupted the Elder, whispering to him:
- Father, what is happening?
He made a signal for him to keep silent and told him:
- Say the Jesus prayer and do not talk, because the Virgin Mary is visiting us.
For quite some time, the Elder and the deacon remained with their heads on the ground, until the white-blue light faded away taking along with it the sorrow and grief from the deacon’s heart. In their place, there was joy, hope, faith and love for God, but also gratefulness towards the Elder who was the recipient of the grace of God. Later on, the priest came to serve the Divine Liturgy. In the morning, the deacon left with a feeling of admiration for the spiritual boldness Father Paisios had before God.

Father Paisios was going through a very difficult phase. A problem was created in the Church at that time and many bishops had gone to him to ask for his help. However, it was a very complicated problem and even if he wanted to, he was unable to assist; as he said, no matter from which side you look at the problem, you come face to face with a spiritual impasse. So, he decided to turn his efforts to solve the problem into prayer. During that time, Father Paisios constantly prayed for God to give solution to the Church’s problem; especially, he prayed to St. Ephemia:
- St. Ephemia, you who miraculously solved the serious problem the Church was facing then, take the Church out of the present impasse!
One morning, at nine o’ clock, when Father Paisios was reading the service of the third hour, he suddenly heard someone discreetly knocking on his door. The Elder asked from inside:
-Who is it?
Then, he heard a woman’s voice answering:
- It is me, Ephemia, Father.
-Which Ephemia? He asked again.
There was no answer. There was another knock on the door and he asked again.
-Who is it?
The same voice was heard saying:
-It is Ephemia, Father.
There was a third knock and the Elder felt someone coming inside his cell and walking through the corridor. He went to the door and there he saw St. Ephemia, who had miraculously entered his cell through the locked door and was venerating the icon of the Holy Trinity, which the Elder had placed on the wall of his corridor, on the right hand side of the church’s door.
Then the Elder told the saint:
-Say: Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
St. Ephemia clearly repeated those words and immediately Father Paisios knelt and venerated the saint.
Afterwards, they sat and talked for quite a while; he could not specify for how long, as he had lost all sense of time while being with St. Ephemia. She gave the solution for all three matters he had been praying for and in the end he said to her:
- I would like you to tell me how you endured your martyrdom.
The saint replied:
-Father, if I knew back then how eternal life would be and the heavenly beauty the souls enjoy by being next to God, I honestly would have asked for my martyrdom to last for ever, as it was absolutely nothing compared to the gifts of grace of God!

When the Elder was still residing at the cell of the Holy Cross, one night, as he was saying the Jesus prayer, suddenly the roof of his cell was removed and in its place he clearly saw the Lord. His face was so bright that he could not look straight at Him and wondered how it was possible for some people to once split on it.
After this incident, the Elder gave instructions to the nuns of the Convent of St. John the Theologian, who were painting icons, to paint the Lord just the way he had seen Him that night. During the whole time they were painting the icon, he was by their side guiding them.
Father Paisios said that the face of the Lord and the Virgin Mary had the color of ripe wheat.

Father Paisios had already dug his grave next to his cell, Panagouda, and his mind was always set on the day he would depart from this transient world. Due to his deep sense of humility, he constantly felt unprepared for his last journey. However, a vision he saw filled him with joy.
While he was praying, he saw that he was in a place, which looked like an airport, where people departed for their journey to heaven. There were many people, some of whom were assigned to check if the travelers had passports and tickets with them, so they could travel; if either one was missing, they stayed behind. When it was the Elder’s turn, he realized he did not have the necessary documents. Suddenly, the Virgin Mary appeared dressed in gold like a queen. Her appearance was exactly the same as on the icon of the Virgin Mary of Jerusalem. She said to the inspectors:
- He is my own servant. Let him pass for I have all his documents ready.
She took them out of her pallium and after showing them to him, she put them back in their place. So, they let Father Paisios go through.
Father Paisios once told us:
- The Virgin Mary looks a lot like the one on the icon of the Virgin Mary of Jerusalem. She is exactly the same. I have seen her many times and I don’t know of any other icon resembling her so much.

Once, while Father Paisios was praying with his Komvoschinion (prayer rope), he experienced a divine visitation. Suddenly, he heard footsteps coming from the corridor of his cell. He went to the door and looked at the corridor facing the door of the chapel. He saw the Virgin Mary, walking like a queen. When she reached the door of the chapel, she went in. St. John the Theologian followed behind her. After they both entered the chapel, they disappeared leaving behind them a white-blue light, the Uncreated Light, which after a while faded away. Father Paisios’ soul was overflowing with gratitude and humbleness. He was crying because the Virgin Mary had visited him, even if he himself felt that he was the most sinful person in the world.

Father Paisios had a funny way of informing us of the weather report. Father David was the gate keeper at Koutloumousiou Monastery. When one of the monks or novices were returning to the monastery, after having visited Father Paisios, he used to tell them:
-Tell Father David to get off the almond tree, because it will snow.
(He said that because righteous David of Thessaloniki did his spiritual exercise by living on an almond tree and this way he was sanctified.)
Whenever he gave that message to Father David, it always snowed a few days later. So, we knew when to expect snow and were able to prepare ourselves for it.
In December 1992, Father Paisios sent a message to Father David “to get off the almond tree” and “climb on it” again after Christmas. The holidays went by and he sent another message telling him “not to climb on the almond tree” yet, but to wait until he notified him. On St. Anthony’s day (17 January), the weather was very bad and it snowed. A few days later, he told him that he could now “climb on the tree”.
Thus, we always knew when it would snow through Father David, for the Elder “informed” him accordingly.

Six fathers and I were sitting on the grass outside the Elder’s cell listening to him talking. All of a sudden a young man, who looked like an anarchist with long hair and a scarf around his neck, arrived. He asked somewhat impolitely:
-Where is this Paisios?
The Elder stood up, went close to him and told him:
-What do you want him for, young man?
-I want him, he replied.
The young man had a pack of cigarettes in the left pocket of his shirt. Father Paisios pointed at it and asked him:
- What do you have in here, the Gospel?
- No, cigarettes, he replied, and offered him one.
-Do you want one?
Since we were all looking at the Elder laughing, the young man understood that he was Father Paisios. After confirming it with us, he turned to him and asked:
- I want you to tell me what is my name.
The Elder, scratching his head pretending to be bewildered, said:
- What is your name…, let’s see. How do you call the traffic lights, the red and the green ones that regulate the traffic? (Greeks have named the green and the red light after men’s names, Grigoris and Stamatis respectively).
-You mean Grigoris and Stamatis, the others replied.
- Well, yes. This is how you are called.
His name was indeed Grigoris and when he heard it, he was astonished and immediately asked to see the Elder in private. He took the young man aside so the two of them could talk.
After six months, he went again to Mount Athos and I met him outside Koutloumousiou Monastery. He no longer looked like an anarchist. His change was so dramatic that I was not sure if it was the same person, so I asked him:
- Excuse me, you remind me of someone. Are you the young man who visited Father Paisios about six months ago?
-Was the person I remind you of rude to the Elder?
- Yes, in a way.
- It was me the idiot, Father. Pray for me so I can correct myself.

The Elder was sitting outside his cell talking to a group of pilgrims. Father E. was watching him talk, and was wondering with admiration:
-How is his soul related to divine grace and how pure it must be in order to allow the grace of God to function?
While he was having these thoughts, Father Paisios interrupted the discussion he was having with the others, and said to him:
- Are you wondering how it looks like inside? It is full of dirt and stench.
And he then continued his discussion. The pilgrims did not understand what the Elder meant by these words, but Father E. was astounded.