Elder Paisios and the Boiled Milk during Great Lent

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Have a good Lent everyone!

Kαλή Σαρακοστή!

At Panagouda, the Cell of Elder Paisios.
An instructive story in English and Greek.
There are two visitors from Thessaloniki. They stand, leaning on the chestnut tree. Both in their fifties, pale and cantankerous. They seem to be from a ‘quasi/pseudo-ecclesiastical’ (1) organisation, because they are looking reproachfully at the Elder, and are making comments to each other quietly.
The children are playing, making noise – at which Paisios turns and says quietly:
“Do not make noise, because beside here, beneath the earth (2), Americans are hidden and we will wake them, and they will come to interrupt our silence.”
The children stop, and instantly become silent, puzzled.
At the opposite end, John is leaning sideways against the rock, atop his sack. He is lighting a cigarette. The two visitors, who appear to be harsh pietists, continue to look at the Elder with disapproval as he is boiling milk and is taking care not to spill it over. One of them can’t stand it anymore and turns to the monk:
“Elder Paisios, we are in the first days of Great Lent, we have a strict fast, and you are boiling milk to drink?”
The Elder is silent. He does not respond. He grabs the pot and lowers it, since the milk is boiled. He then goes into his Cell, brings six small, old china cups, puts them next to each other, and carefully pours the milk into each one. He waits a bit for it to cool off, while everyone looks at him with amazement and silence. The two pietists observe this with disgust, thinking that since there are six visitors and six cups, perhaps the monk will dare to offer even to them milk, during these strict days of the fast.
Elder Paisios takes the full cups one by one, places them on a wooden tray, and carries them seven meters away, where he places them down on the dirt, at the edge of a bush.
He places them there in order, then he comes, sits next to us, and begins to do something with his mouth silently, an eery whistling, while looking towards the bushes. Not a few moments pass, and over there, from the bushes, comes out a viper, very carefully, with five small snakes  – her children. I hold my breath.
The snakes are coming, all of them approaching, one by one, slithering, passing right next to us, and they go slowly to the cups, and begin drinking calmly, slurping their morning milk …
By George Skambardonis 

(1) For such organisations in Greece and the charges against their “Westernizing” of Orthodox Christianity and their “Pieticism”, go here and here (The Orthodox ChurchBy Kallistos Ware (Bishop of Diokleia)

(2) a reference in jest to the two hemispheres of the Earth: people in Greece seem to be “upside down” from the US, and when they are awake in the morning, it is night for the Americans and they are fast asleep!
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Γέροντας Παϊσιος: Ζεσταίνοντας γάλα εν μέσω σαρακοστής


Παναγούδα, το κελί του Γέροντα.
Πιο εδώ είναι δυο επισκέπτες, κι αυτοί από τη Θεσσαλονίκη. Στέκονται όρθιοι, ακουμπώντας στην καστανιά. Πενηντάρηδες κι οι δυο, χλωμοί, στρυφνοί. Φαίνονται να είναι από κάποια παρεκκλησιαστική οργάνωση, γιατί κοιτάζουνε αυστηρά, κάπως επιτιμητικά τον γέροντα και σχολιάζουνε μεταξύ τους χαμηλόφωνα.
Τα παιδιά παίζουνε, κάνουνε φασαρία –οπότε γυρίζει ο Παΐσιος και τα λέει ήρεμα:
«Μην κάνετε θόρυβο, γιατί εδώ δίπλα, κάτω απ’ το χώμα, είναι κρυμμένοι Αμερικανοί και θα ξυπνήσουν και θα ‘ρθουν να μας χαλάσουν την ησυχία μας».
Τα παιδιά σταματούνε, σωπαίνουνε παραξενεμένα.
Ο Γιάννης, απέναντι, γέρνει πλάγια στο βράχο, πάνω στο σάκο του. Ανάβει τσιγάρο.
Οι δυο επισκέπτες, που φαίνονται σκληροί ευσεβιστές, συνεχίζουν να βλέπουν με αποδοκιμασία τον γέροντα που προσέχει να μη φουσκώσει και χυθεί το γάλα. Ώσπου ο ένας δεν αντέχει και λέει στον καλόγερο:
 Ταίζοντας τα πουλιά στο κελί του…
«Γέροντα Παΐσιε, είμαστε στις πρώτες μέρες της Σαρακοστής, έχουμε αυστηρή νηστεία, κι εσύ βράζεις να πιεις γάλα;»
Ο γέροντας σωπαίνει. Δεν απαντάει. Πιάνει και κατεβάζει το κατσαρόλι, γιατί το γάλα έβρασε. Μετά πάει στο κελί, φέρνει έξι μικρά, παλιά, πορσελάνινα φλιτζανάκια, τα βάζει μερακλίδικα στη σειρά κι αδειάζει με προσοχή το γάλα μέσα σ’ αυτά. Περιμένει λίγο να κρυώσει, ενώ όλοι τον κοιτάζουνε με απορία, σιωπηλοί.
Οι δυο ευσεβιστές τα βλέπουνε όλα αυτά με αποστροφή, γιατί σκέφτονται ότι αφού είμαστε όλοι εδώ οι επισκέπτες, έξι και τα φλιτζανάκια, άρα και σ’ αυτούς θα τολμήσει ο καλόγερος να προσφέρει γάλα, τέτοιες μέρες σκληρής νηστείας.
Ο γέροντας Παΐσιος παίρνει τα γεμάτα φλιτζανάκια ένα-ένα, τα βάζει σ’ ένα ξύλινο δίσκο, τα κουβαλάει και τ’ αφήνει σε απόσταση εφτά μέτρων, στο χώμα, στην άκρη ενός θάμνου.
Τ’ ακουμπάει όλα εκεί, στη σειρά, έπειτα έρχεται, κάθεται δίπλα μας και αρχίζει να κάνει με το στόμα του κάτι σιγανά, παράξενα σφυρίγματα, κοιτάζοντας προς τους θάμνους.
Δεν περνούνε λίγα λεπτά, και πιο εκεί, μέσα από τα τσαλιά, βγαίνει πολύ προσεκτικά μια οχιά και ύστερα πέντε μικρά φιδάκια –τα παιδιά της.
Κρατάω την αναπνοή μου.
Τα φίδια έρχονται, πλησιάζουν όλα, ένα-ένα, σέρνοντας, περνούνε δίπλα μας, πάνε σιγά-σιγά στα φλιτζανάκια, κι αρχίζουν ήρεμα να πίνουν, να ρουφούνε το πρωινό γάλα τους…
Πηγή: ΓΙΩΡΓΟΥ ΣΚΑΜΠΑΡΔΩΝΗ, Επί ψύλλου κρεμάμενος (Κέδρος 2003)
(1) For more information about such organisations in Greece and the charges against their “Westernizing” of Orthodox Christianity and their “Pietisticism” go here and/or study Kallistos Ware ‘s (Bishop of Diokleia) analysis in his book The Orthodox Church, here 
(2) A reference in jest to the two hemispheres of the Earth, where Greece is apprarently “upside-down” to the United States, so that when Greek people are awake and at work, Americans are fast asleep, and our noise might wake them up 🙂

The Arrogant Hieromonk Who Invited Disaster


“A demon-possessed person was taken to a monastery, and the abbot there instructed the fathers to go to the chapel and pray for him with their prayer ropes. In that monastery, they also had as a holy relic the head of Saint Parthenios, Bishop of Lampsakos; this had the demon “cornered” quite a bit. At the same time, the abbot assigned the reading of exorcisms to a certain hieromonk. This monk was pious outwardly, but inside he was secretly arrogant. He was a fighter and a stickler in everything he did. He used to counsel the others, because he was also scholarly. He himself however would not receive help from anyone, because out of respect, they would hesitate to tell him whenever they saw him doing something incorrectly. He had created illusions inside himself that he was the most virtuous one in the monastery, so the evil one grabbed the opportunity that day to harm him. The demon implemented its wickedness and made him think that he was driving it out of the demon-possessed person.

So, as soon as he began to read the exorcisms, the demon began to cry out, “You’re burning me! Why are you sending me away, you cruel one?” – which made him believe that the demon was being burnt by his exorcisms – when it was the praying by the other brethren that was pressuring the demon. So, he replied to the demon, “Come to me.” These words had been uttered by Saint Parthenios to a demon, but he was a saint: Once, when a demon was crying out “I’m burning, I’m burning, where should I go?” the Saint replied “Come to me.” But during that incident, the demon replied to the Saint: “Your name alone burns me, Parthenios!” and immediately departed from the possessed person. Well, that monk attempted to act like Saint Parthenios, but became possessed himself. From that moment on, the demon controlled him for years on end, and he couldn’t find rest anywhere. He was constantly on the move – sometimes outside, in the world, and other times on the Holy Mountain. How that poor soul was tormented! That terrible state had caused weariness to his soul, as well as physical fatigue accompanied by tremors. And you know, even though he used to be a good priest, he could no longer minister. See what the devil can do?'”

A story told by St. Paisios

Source: Daimonologia: Hallowed Entries About Dark Culture & Thought, the Fantastic and the Supernatural, By John Sanidopoulos

The Silent Angel


Elder Dobri is the subject of a 2015 documentary, “The Silent Angel,” which features interviews with his family, relatives, and friends, and also with Bulgaria’s last King and former Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

An icon of charity, Dobri Dimitrov Dobrev,  was born on July 20, 1914 in the village of Bailovo. His father died in World War I and his mother raised the children. He married in 1940, when Bulgaria was participating in the Second World. A shell fell near him during one of the bombings in Sofia, depriving him of nearly all his hearing. He had four children with his wife, two of whom he outlived.

Over the years, the elder became more and more detached from the material aspects of life, devoting himself entirely to the spiritual life. Around the year 2000, he donated all of his belongings to the Orthodox Church and began living in a small and modest addition to the Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church in his native village. It is also about that time that he began to collect money towards the restoration of churches and monasteries throughout Bulgaria.

He came under the spotlight when it was revealed that for years he had walked more than 12.5 miles to reach Sofia from his home in the village of Bailovo to beg for money and then donate it for charity.

After spending years at the entrance of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, with a plastic cup in his hand, he collected about BGN 40,000 ($24,700 today) for the cathedral in Sofia, BGN 10,000 ($12,350 today) for the Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church in Bailovo, and BGN 25,000 ($31,000 today) for the restoration of the Eleshnishki Monastery of the Mother of God located to the east of Sofia, and the local church of the Gorno Kamartsi village.

His spirit of utter selflessness and sacrifice earned him the popular title “The Saint of Bailovo.”

Yesterday, Elder Dobri Dobrev (Grandpa Dobri), reposed in the Lord. He was 103 years old. He reposed at the Monastery of St. George in Kremikovtsi, to the northeast of Sofia.


+ Dobri Dobrev — Memory Eternal


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“We are sorry to report that Dobry Dobrev passed away at the age of 103

We regret to announce, at the age of 103, today the beloved of all grandpa good died.
Tomorrow the body of grandpa good will be exposed to a pilgrimage to the church of his native village of Bailovo. His funeral will be on Thursday.”

He Invited a Demon to Possess Him

Once there came to Bishop Parthenios of Lampsakos a man who was possessed by a most malicious demon, and no one knew of it, not even the possessed one himself. The Saint, however, recognized the demonic possession, because he was inspired and enlightened by God. When that man greeted him, the holy one offered no response but kept silent as if he were mute. The demon was angered at the bishop’s conduct. The demon then, with haughtiness and pride, addressed the meek Parthenios in a wrathful tone:
“We have a true desire to see you, and have journeyed a long way to greet you; but you do not even condescend to speak to us at all?”
The Saint replied: “Behold, you have seen me.”
The demon retorted: “I have seen you and been constrained to speak the truth.”
The blessed one answered: “If you know who I am, then depart from the creation of God.”
The demon rejoined: “I have dwelt in this man for a long time, ever since his childhood, and no one has learned of it, save yourself. If you should cast me from this dwelling place, I know not where I shall go!”
The Saint replied: “I will give you a man. You may dwell in him – if you so wish it.”
The demon then departed from the longtime sufferer, but he asked the Saint to keep his promise. The holy one suddenly opened his mouth and declared: “Behold, I am a man, enter into me and dwell!”
And the demon, as if he were consumed by fire, fled crying and shouting aloud: “Woe is me, wretch that I am! If the sight of you alone inflames me, how shall I dare enter into you?”
As the demon said this, he fled. As for the formerly possessed man, he became whole and gave thanks to Saint Parthenios.
+Feast Day – February 7
Source: Daimonologia by Sanidopoulos

A Caress from Eternity

On Thursday, February 8, 2018, at 5:30 AM, the renowned elder and spiritual father Nektarios Vitalis, the elder of Saint Athanasius Monastery in Kouvaras, reposed in the Lord. I wrote about his holy life in a previous post. Today I would like to share with you a miracle which took place on the day of his funeral, February 9 at the Monastery of Saint Athanasius, sealing a life full of heavenly visitations. The Youtube video which follows, shows, from 1:38 onwards, how his corpse is not stiff (ie. rigor mortis) but shows signs of flexibility, as if he were only sleeping. Pay attention to how a spiritual child of his fondly kisses and gently caresses his Gerondas’ hand, seeking his final blessing. God is glorified in His Saints!
Father Nektarios’ ‘flexibility’ is the first supernatural event to occur after his demise and has been a great consolation to everyone.
May we have his blessings……!!!
He was known for his simplicity, purity, faith and deep connection with St. Nektarios of Aegina. In 1980, the sacred Elder had an astonishing conversation with St. Nektarios, and during this, he was healed of an incurable illness… A few days later, the general director of the Cancer Hospital “St. Savas” was astonishingly informed him that his cancer had disappeared. In Kamariza the bells rang joyously at the joyous news of the miracle.

Icon of St. Nektarios embracing and healing Fr. Nektarios Vitalis, along with the two women bearing witness to this to the left, and the doctors confirming the miracle to the right. The icon is from the Chapel of Saint Nektarios in Aretaieion Hospital.

Before this, in 1965, he suffered a stroke, and his situation was dire, but Saint Nektarios the Wonderworker granted him healing. As soon as he became well, he moved to Lavro. A short time later, he again saw Saint Nektarios in his sleep, who asked him to build his “house” in Kamariza, Lavro [a famous pilgrimage of the saint, where many miracles have occurred], and who informed him that he would help him.
Excerpt from a short encomium written by Mr. Manolis Melinos, who wrote several books on St. Nektarios, his life and miracles, and spent 30 years together with him:
The sweet, the simple, the father,
The brother, the fellow man,
The consoler, the humble one,
The child among children, the great one among the great, the elder among the elders, in other words, the child-elder, reposed today, February 8th, 2018 at the age of 88. Now he is an intercessor for us at the heavenly Altar, together with St. Nektarios, near the Great High Priest Christ, to Whom he gave everything! 
Manolis Melinos,
Orphaned of a “Father” 
The Memorial Service and the Burial:



+ Fr. Nektarios Vitalis — Memory Eternal


+ February 8, 2017

Fr. Nektarios Vitalis is at long last with our Saviour Christ and his beloved patron Saint, St. Nektarios. May he pray for us! His was a life full of visions, visitations and miracles with his patron saint, even near-death, after-life  experiences! Miracles and signs of Holiness even during his Memorial Service and Funeral!

Καλό Παράδεισο, Γέροντα! Καλή αντάμωση στην Αιωνιότητα!

Greek traditional wish for the departed: “A Blessed Paradise, Gerondas! Until we meet again in Eternity!

Below follow Fr. Nektarios’ recalling of his miraculous healing of cancer by St. Nektarios, a few youtube videos where he tells of St. Nektarios’ visitations to him and his near-death, ‘after-life’ experience, and his final will, testament and tomb.

Miracle of Saint Nektarios: The Healing of Fr. Nektarios Vitalis of Cancer

Fr. Nektarios Vitalis, well-known in Lavrio [a city in Attika, Greece] for his deeds and his sympathy to the poor and those written-off by the world in these difficult times, retells the following incident from when he was dying from cancer. What is said below has been told elsewhere, repeatedly, including in the book I talked to Saint Nektarios (Athens 1997, by the renowned writer Mr. Manolis Melinos).

Fr. Nektarios Vitalis recalls:

“I was suffering from a serious form of cancer. My chest was an open wound that was continuously running blood and pus. I would tear my undershirts from the pain. It was a tragic situation, and I was headed directly to death. So you understand, I had even prepared my grave clothes….

“On the 26th of March 1980, in the morning, I was talking in my office in the basement of the Church with Sofia Bourdoy (the church care-taker [a woman who cleans the church]) and the icon painter Helen Kitraki, when the door suddenly opened and an old, unknown man entered. He had a snow-white beard, was short and was slighty bald. He looked exactly the same as St. Nektarios appears in photographs. He took three candles without paying and lit only two. He venerated all the icons of the church, but passed over the icon of St. Nektarios without venerating it. He did not see me where I was. I had terrible pains when they pulled aside the curtain of the office and went to see the old man. He faced the Beautiful Gate [the Royal Doors in the Holy Iconostasion], crossed his palms and without looking around he asked: ‘Is the Geronta [Elder] here?’

“The church care-taker knowing my disease wanted to protect me…: ‘No, no…he is at home with the flu….’

“He replied: ‘Never mind. Pray, and have a Good Resurrection,’ [the traditional Orthodox greeting during Great Lent in anticipation of Pascha ‘Kali Anastasi’] he said as he left.

“The church care-taker came running to me and said ‘Father Nektarios, the old man who just left resembled St. Nektarios himself! His eyes flew flames. It seems to me that was St. Nektarios and he came to help you….’

“I thanked her thinking that she said this to console me. But deep down something was wrong. I sent her along with the icon painter to find the unknown man and quickly bring him back. I walked into the sanctuary and venerated the Crucified One [the icon of Christ on the Cross in every Holy Altar] crying, and once again asking Christ to heal me. Their footsteps stopped: ‘Father, the Elder has come!’

“I tried to kiss his hand, but out of humilty he did not let me. He bent and kissed my own! I asked him: ‘What is your name?’

“‘Anastasios, my son,’ he said, relating his baptismal name that he had before he become a monk….

“I led him to venerate the holy relics. He took out a pair of glasses with only one arm, and as soon as we saw them we were amazed! They were the same glasses of St. Nektarios that we had in the case with the holy relics. They were given to me by the old Gerontissa [Eldress] Nektaria of the monastery in Aegina.

“‘Belief is everything!’ said the stranger, as he put on his glasses.

“He began with reverence to embrace all the holy relics as the church care-taker showed, except for the relics of St. Nektarios, which he passed over….

“‘Geronta, forgive me,’ I said, ‘but why don’t you venerate the miraculous Saint Nektarios?’

“He turned and looked at me smiling. I asked him: ‘Where are you staying Geronta?’

“He showed me the ceiling, where we were building the new church [dedicated to St. Nektarios], saying: ‘My house is still not ready and I’m worried. My position does not allow me to live here and there….’

“‘Geronta, I must confess, you were told a lie earlier. I have cancer! But I want to get well, to make the Holy Altar, to finish the Church first, and then I can die….’

“‘Do not worry,’ he told me. ‘I’m leaving now. I’m going to Paros [an island in Greece] to venerate St. Arsenios and to visit Fr. Philotheos [Zervakos],’ he added, starting to leave and passing by the big icon without giving it a second thought….

“I stopped him and put my hands to his face.

“‘My Geronta, my Geronta, your face looks exactly like St. Nektarios who is honored here in our church….’

“Then, tears rolled from his eyes. He crossed me and embraced me with his hands. Taking courage I opened my hands to hug him. But when I spread out my hands, and while I was watching I could see him before my face, my arms closed back to my chest! The hairs then stood up on my arms and I crossed myself!

“I said again: ‘O my Geronta, I beg you, I want to live to do my first Liturgy. Help me to live….’

“He left from being close to me and stopped in front of his icon and said: ‘Oh, my child Nektarios, don’t worry. It is a passing trial, and you will be well! The miracle which you are asking for will happen, and it will be told to the whole world. Don’t be afraid….’

“Immediately he left us by walking through a closed door….

“The women ran to catch up to him. They reached him at the bus stop. He went inside and disappeared before the bus left!”

This story is always told by Fr. Nektarios Vitalis, a respected and reliable person, in the presence of witnesses. Fr. Nektarios eventually became well – to the amazement of doctors, radiologists, and forecasters of death. Because above all is Christ, our living God, and our intercessors before God, the Saints, plus our Mother the Panagia!

For “where God wills, the laws of nature are overcome….”

~From Mystagogy: The Weblog of John Sanidopoulos,(http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2009/06/miracle-of-saint-nektarios-healing-of.html).