Archimandrite Methodios Alexiou
I went to the Monastery of Stavronikita to look for a saintly person, who would have a living connection with God so that he could show me the way to salvation. When I was discussing with the Igumen (i.e. abbot), he said to me: ”Near us lives a monk, who has great personal experience of God. Usually he does not receive guests. Go to him with some monk of our monastery, and God will have His ways to help you.”
It is an afternoon in spring. We go uphill and turn left. Then we go downhill into a pit and again go uphill. There is great excitement, fear and longing of the soul inside of us. I exchange only few words with the monk accompanying me. We approach. My heart is beating hard. The knees tremble from lack of strength and feeling of unworthiness to meet a holy elder. I imagine being blinded by light and falling down to the ground on the power of his love. I have a feeling that at the hut I will meet God and this experience will change my life. But am I looking for something that is too great for me, or perhaps my coming here is impudence? Now I have no time to ponder the fact or turn back. We are here.
When we arrive I have a feeling that everything happens in a another level. There is everything what is needed and nothing frightens nor impresses by its maginitude. In front of the court there is a small gate made out of old boards, a bell to call the Elder and a can with Turkish delights with the writing: ”Take as a blessing”. Around us there is total silence. No sound can be heard. Cool air which blows through the olive tree and cypress makes a heavenly sound that welcomes you friendly. Further away can be seen a low and ascetic cell with metal roof. There are four or five steps downwards which lead to a small door.
"Elder, bless," shouts the monk and my excitement reaches its peek. After a while I see infront of me a face where human characteristic are combined with divine light. In them one can see humility and tiredness caused by ascetic life but at the same time they are full of joy, light and love.
”Bless, Father,” answers Elder Paisios to the monk and at the same time whispers: ”Glory to You, o God.” Deep sigh rises from his heart. He turns his face towards me and smiles in a way that is more pure than a smile of a small child when he sees around himself angels – like the Elder used to sometimes say. Then he says: ”Come in. Welcome! What are you looking for?” I can answer nothing to his question. Suddenly I notice that the monk who accompanied me has left and I am alone with the Elder. I start crying profusely. I am quiet and look at him. Its seems to me that I have already received my answer and I have no need to say anything to him. He bows his head and continuously repeats: ”Lord have mercy” and ”Glory to You, o God.”
After this meeting I met the Elder many times. I always felt the same indescribable joy within myself. My questions found their answers before him even before I had time to ask them. Tears coming from joy and inner consolation were my words to him. There, new him, I felt that I was in totally different world. If the Elder saw that a person did not approach things with reason – which he considered to be an obstacle in encountering God – he would truly receive the person and take him totally elsewhere. He would expect only one thing from you: that you give yourself humbly and lovingly into the hands of God. And while praying to God with pain of heart He will feed you and give you drink, so that your whole being will be nourished.
Seminary in the Lay Academy of Valaam,
”Athosvuoren vanhus Paisios, aikamme tunnettu hengellinen ohjaaja” 17.09.2004;