Dormition of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Church in Oakmont, PA
 

Elder Paisios
of the Holy Mountain
Part Two

Having provided for his sisters' future, he was free to begin his monastic vocation and arrived on Mt. Athos in 1950. He spent his first night at the cell of St. John the Theologian which belongs to the Great Lavra Monastery situated close to Karyes. Then, he went to the Skete of St. Panteleimon at the cell of the Entrance of the Holy Theotokos, where Father Cyril resided (the future abbot of Koutloumousiou Monastery). Father Cyril's efforts in fasting and long vigils greatly benefited young Arsenios, who wished to stay by his side for the rest of his life, but circumstances did not permit and he was sent to the Monastery of Esphigmenou.

Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain After four years (1954) at the Monastery of Esphigmenou, Arsenios was tonsured a monk. His new name was now Averkios. He was a conscientious monk, finding ways to both complete his obediences (which required contact with others) and to preserve his silence, so as to progress in the art of prayer. He was always selfless in helping his brethren, unwilling to rest while others worked (though he may have already completed his own obediences), as he loved his brothers greatly and without distinction. In addition to his ascetic struggles and the common life in the monastery, he was spiritually enriched through the reading of soul-profiting books. In particular, he read the lives of the Saints, the Gerontikon (a collection of brief stories and wise sayings of the desert Fathers), and especially the Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian. He always kept his book by his bedside, under his pillow. When Averkios completed his task (assigned by the monastery), he did not go to his cell to rest, but helped the rest of the monks to quickly finish their own tasks. He could not tolerate the privilege of enjoying the peace and quietude of his cell, while the others were still working late.

Soon after his tonsure, monk Averkios left Esphigmenou and joined the (then) idiorhythmic brotherhood of Philotheou Monastery, where his uncle was a monk. He put himself under obedience to the virtuous Elder Symeon, who gave him the Small Schema in 1956, with the new name Paisios, in honor of Archbishop Paisios who also came from the town of Farasa in Cappadocia.

Fr. Paisios dwelt deeply on the thought that his own spiritual failures and lack of love were the cause of his neighbor's shortcomings, as well as of the world's ills. He harshly accused himself, pushing himself to greater self-denial and more fervent prayer for his soul and for the whole world. He cultivated the habit of always seeking the "good reason" for a potentially scandalous event and for people's actions, and in this way he preserved himself from judging others.

In 1958, Elder Paisios was asked to leave Mount Athos and go to Stomio, in Konitsa, to assist with the protection of the area against protestant proselytism. As he felt that this was truly God's will, he left for Stomio where he stayed at the Monastery of Nativity of the Holy Theotokos. With the help of God's grace, he offered assistance to many people. Afterwards, in 1962, he left to visit Sinai where he stayed for two years at the cell of Saints Galaktion and Epistimi and spiritually nurtured many people in the area. The Beduins loved him very much. He used to work many hours carving wooden articles and after selling them, he used the money he received to buy them food.

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Continued (Part Three)


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