Back to Greece, for yet another long pilgrimage. And yes, Greece can be foggy like England.
Our pilgrimage starts at a historic monastery, dating back to the 12th century, located one kilometer from Promahi village (Aridaia, Greece), founded by St. Hilarion of Meglin (Feast Day – October 21).
St. Hilarion was born of eminent and devout parents in that same village of Promahi, in the late 11th century. His childless mother had long prayed to God that He grant her a child, and in accordance with her prayer, the Most Holy Theotokos appeared to her and comforted her with the words: “Do not grieve, you will give birth to a son and he will turn many to the light of truth.” When Hilarion was three years old, the hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth!” was constantly on his lips. He was well-educated, was tonsured a monk at age eighteen, and founded this monastery dedicated to the Holy Apostles, based on the Rule of Saint Pachomios.
These days, the monastery is an austere women’s monastery with 5 nuns under the obedience of Hieromonk Paisios, a spiritual child of St. Paisios. Vespers here is otherworldly in its beauty.
Saint Hilarion of Meglin’s lifelong struggle and contribution to the Orthodox Church was against the Bogomils. Because of Hilarion’s prayers and exhortations, many of the Bogomils abandoned their teachings and converted to Orthodox Christianity. It is noted in the thirteenth century Markianos Code, Codex 524, that during his burial service, myrrh streamed continually from his eyes and that he later appeared on many occasions in visions to the monks of the monasteries to strengthen them in their monastic duties.
O Venerable Father Hilarion, intercede with Christ God to save our souls.
I discovered Saint Savas and his monastery during my recent pilgrimage to Kalymnos. It is an awe-inspiring place , a place one step below heaven. Iconography beyond aesthetic, historical and religious value and the Saint is so alive! The patron saint of the island, Agios Savvas, has performed miracles and has blessed homes all over the world.
Inside his cell
For two episodes from his life and his special relationship with Saint Nektarios, go to my previous blog post, Holy Father Savvas the New of Kalymnos
This angel on earth and a human in heaven was born in 1862 Herakleitsa, Eastern Thrace, Ottoman Empire and reposed in our Lord on 7 April 1947 (aged 85). He lived as a monastic and practiced the arts of Iconography and Ecclesiastical Music in the Saint Anna’s Skete (Mount Athos), the historic Monastery of Saint George Chozeba, the Convent of the Holy Trinity (Aegina), the monastery of St John the theologian and Evangelist (Patmos) and the Convent of All Saints (Kalymnos) and a number of caves and hermitages all over the world. His feast day is 7 April (25 March), The Fifth Sunday in Lent and was canonised in 1992.
1.Cultivate the Jesus Prayer and a time will come when your heart will leap with joy, just as it does when you are about to see a person who you love very much.
2.Do not neglect evening prayer. Pray with eagerness like those who are going to a feast. They are awake and feel joy alone. Thus, since you are going to speak with your Bridegroom, do not listen when the Tempter tells you various things in order to hinder you, because you know there is someone who cares for you.
3.-“Elder, how must we picture Christ?”
-“We must always bring to Christ to mind with love. We could be holding the photograph of someone in our hands, but since we do not know them, we do not love him, we are not moved. Whereas, when we pick up a photograph of our mother, our soul immediately leaps and cries out with love.
4.A person can be raised up above the earth by two wings, one is simplicity and the other is purity of heart. You must be simple in your actions and pure in your thoughts and feelings. With a pure heart you’ll seek God and with simplicity you’ll find Him and be glad. A pure heart passes through Heavens gate with ease.
5.Self-denial must be cultivated with discernment, otherwise we reach the point of suicide.
6.We are on the high seas of life, sometimes there are storms and at other times calm. God’s grace does not leave us. Else, we would have sunk, if he had not held us up.
7.The saints always look to the other life. It is the grace of the remembrance of death.
8.God guards us from temptation. He does not allow us to be tempted beyond our strength. He allows everything for our good.
9.When spirituality increases, even sleep will have been fought off.
10.Prayer is grace. God gives it when zeal and humility exist.
11.Fight the Hater of Good, who envies you, bravely suffer whatever befalls you with fortitude, patience and faith.
12.Do not allow your soul’s enemy to wage war against you. He appears in sheep’s clothing, supposedly wanting your soul’s benefit.
13.Trust in the Lord always and he will nourish you in time of hunger. … Spiritual bonds become unbreakable when they come across a child-like spirit, innocence and sanctity.
14.With a good word for your neighbour, supporting him, you buy paradise.
15.Repentance must occur, not from fear of punishment but because we have sinned before God. Sweeten your thoughts with words of consolation and hope. Warm your words with the warmth of your love towards your Bridegroom and remember His Passion, which he underwent for you, so that you would remain firm, devoted and humble. Give your whole self completely over to the protecting veil of the Panagia.
16.Love giving hospitality, my child, for it opens the gates of Paradise. In this you also offer hospitality to angels. “Entertain strangers so that you won’t be a stranger to God.”
17.The saints submitted to whatever God sent them, with childlike simplicity, “That’s the way You want it. Let Your will be done.”
18.Hospitality… the greatest of virtues. It draws the grace of the Holy Spirit towards us. In every stranger’s face, my child, I see Christ himself.
19.Sorrow is pleasing to God, in as much as it doesn’t take away our courage to fight.
20.It is necessary and beneficial for a general self-examination to take place from time to time, remembering all former sins. … Our deeds, dear sister, will not save us; God’s infinite mercy will.
21.Leave all your concerns to the hands of God. Ask for whatever you want, like a child asking from its father. … Prayer is a gift from God. Always ask with hope.
The nunnery of Evangelismos “The Annunciation to the Mother of the Beloved One” was built in 1613 from a Cretan monk of the Monastery, named Nikiforos. It is southwest of Chora. It consists of the temple of the Evangelistria (Our Lady of the Annunciation) of the side chapel of St. Luke and from a three-floored fortified tower with the side chapel of St. Antonio. The foundation of the monastery is dated from 1936, from the monk Amphilochios Makris, a great spiritual figure. He worked hard for the foundation and the development of the nunnery. The icons in the church date back to the 15th, 16th and 17th century. The sisterhood is home to over 40 nuns who apart from praying, occupy themselves with social welfare, gardening, beekeeping and Byzantine embroidery called the”spitha” (spark). The same stitch was used to make embroidery for aristocratic Byzantine families from the time of Hosios Cristodoulos.
Spiritual Counsels and Sayings Translated by Marina Robb.
All material is copywrited to Evangelismos Monastery, Patmos.
At the nunnery of Evangelismos “The Annunciation to the Mother of the Beloved One” in Patmos
1.When you cultivate prayer the Tempter’s blusterings will not trouble you. Prayer diminishes his strength, he cannot do anything to us. (February 1965) .. The spiritual life has great pleasures. You fly, you leave the world , you don’t consider anything. You become children and God dwells in your heart.
2. The end of my life draws near I ask you to live a holy life, to walk along holy paths, so that you may help both our Church and Greece. … Your hearts are young and want to love. You must have our Christ alone in your heart. Your Bridegroom wants you to love only Him. 1/1/1968
3.Remaining faithful to Monasticism is considered to be a martyrdom. … We must have our gaze fixed on heaven. Then nothing will shake us. …Take communion regularly, pray warmly, be patient and you will see a strong hand holding you.
4.Christ often comes and knocks at your door and you invite him to sit in the living-room of your soul. Then, absorbed in your own business you forget the Great Visitor. He waits for you to appear and when you are too long in returning, he gets up and leaves. At other times, you are so busy that you answer him from the window. You don’t even have time to open the door.
5.You are royalty, destined for the heavenly bridal chamber. …. Christ is near us even if we don’t see Him. Sometimes, from his great love, He gives us a slap too.
6.We you see a person who is spiritually tired do not burden him any further, because his knees won’t be able to bear it. … A person who suffers from egotism attracts no-one. And if he does attract someone he will soon go away. When one comes across a childlike spirit, innocence and holiness the bond becomes unbreakable.
7.Love the One, so that even wild beasts will love you. … Do you know there is an eleventh commandment not recorded in the Bible, and it says, ‘Love the trees.’ Those who do not love trees do not love Christ.
8.True wealth, for me, is to see you in the Kingdom of Heaven. [to his spiritual children]
9.When the flame of love exists, it consumes whatever evil approaches. … The person who shouts has no strength.
10.The person who loves spiritually, feels prayerful, that he can be found within God and his brother. He is saddened when his brother is not advancing well and prays for his progress. Whoever has Christian love never changes.
11.Hold the banner of Christ up high, so that you’ve always got your elder’s telephone number no matter where you are. … The Grace of the All-Holy Spirit makes a person send out rays. However, other people must have a good receiver in order to realise this. 1/1/1968
12.Christ is the same, yesterday and today, but we have closed our eyes and look into the darkness. It is because we carry on like this that some fall in the mud and others are killed.
13.I beseech the Lord to sanctify you, so that I may see you in Paradise. This is the dowry which I seek from the Lord for you.
14.For God’s grace to come during the Liturgy you must be concentrated and untroubled.
15.The more a person loves God, the more he loves other people. He loves them with holiness, respect and refinement, as images of God.
16.When a person lacks inner warmth, he will be frozen and cold, even in summer.
17.When your heart does not have Christ, it will contain either money, property or people instead.
18.Please put this commandment into practice. Cultivate love towards the Person of Christ to such an extent that, when you pronounce His name, tears fall from your eyes. Your heart must really burn. Then He will become your teacher. He will be your Guide, your Brother, your Father, and your Elder.
19.Love your Bridegroom Christ with all your heart and then everyone will love you and take care of you.
20.I desire the rebirth of Monasticism, because in my opinion, monasticism is the evzone [elite military unit] battalion of the Church.
21.God’s protection diminishes temptation. … Innocence is greater than genius.
22.Because of widespread corruption, people cannot understand that spiritual love exists.
23.Let us look upon everyone as our superiors, however weak they may appear. Let us not be harsh, but always bear in mind that the other person also has the same destination as us.
24.We must have Love, even if they do us the greatest harm, we must love them. We will be able to enter Paradise only with love.
— “Elder, I want to flee to the mountains, far away from the world, and find a cave to hide so that neither I tire anybody nor I get worn out”.
— “Try, my dear child, to enter Jesus’ cave, and once inside there, everything will be put right.”
* This recently canonised Saint awaited the little city hermit, ‘called’ him through his spiritual father and eventually ‘adopted’ him during his recent trip to Patmos. Glory to God for all things!!! “I think he would not have called you to visit him if it was not for this blessing” [Abouna]. Yet the Saint’s reassurance was sobering: “You should be glad. Jesus holds an artist’s chisel in His hands. He wants to prepare you a statue for the Heavenly Palace.” May St. Amphilochios teach the little city hermit to submit, like all the saints, to whatever God sends him, with childlike simplicity: “That’s the way You want it. Let Your will be done.”
“Worldly people tire you, because whatever is stored up inside them comes at you like waves of electricity. We must be people of grace so much so that whoever comes to us may find rest.”
-“How do you manage to have such patience and perseverance in everything?”
– “The grace of God helps. I always believe in the power of God, my child, Who alters and adjusts everything for the benefit of our soul.”
“When I see a person who is irritated, I don’t listen to what he is saying, but pray for God to pacify him. That’s why I don’t get distressed. When they calm down, when the time is right, I talk to them because they are then in a position to comprehend their foolishness.”