Dear Parish Faithful,
"I am not afraid of death. Not, of course, because of my works, but because I believe in God's mercy." - The Elder Epiphanios of Athens
I would like to continue with sharing some of the wonderful "Counsels" of the elders found in the book I am currently reading: Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit. (I initially wrote about this book and the practice of eldership on July 5).
The second (Greek) elder covered in the book is Elder Epiphanios of Athens (1930-1989).
It was said of him: "As a child of two he would tell people of his desire to become a priest, and donning a sheet, would play priest. From the tender age of five he attended all the services of the local church, fasting and preparing for Holy Communion in the same way as the Church prescribes for adults" (p. 63).
The elder was indeed ordained as a priest later in life, and for the most part served the faithful in the city of Athens. He wrote twenty-two books and numerous articles during his ministry. He founded a monastery later in life a few hours away from Athens. Having prepared for his funeral he died in 1989 at the age of 58.
Here are some of his Counsels:
- "When I study the Holy Scripture and the patristic books, I leave the earth and go to Heaven.... I don't manage to write my thoughts in time, for I am flooded as with flakes of snow. I feel as though my pen has wings."
- "I want whoever is near me to feel that he has room to breathe, not that he is suffocated. I don't call anyone to me. I don't hold onto to anyone. I don't chase anyone away. Whoever wants comes, whoever wants stays, whoever wants leaves. I don't consider anyone a supporter or a follower."
- "True love is like the flame of a candle. However many candles you light from the flame, the initial flame remains unaffected. It doesn't lessen at all. And every freshly lit candle has as much flame as the others do."
- "Parents should love their children as their children and not as their idols. That is to say, they should love their children as they are and not how they would like them to be - to be like them."
- "Whoever fears God doesn't fear anything else."
- "God appointed the salvation of the world to His Son and not to us.... We must first look at our soul and if we can, let's help five or six people around us."
- "Don't sit glued to the television ... Guard yourselves from the means of mass blinding."
- "I have made an agreement with God: I will empty my pockets in almsgiving and He will fill them. He has never violated our agreement. Will I violate it? May it never happen!"
- "When someone is free, he has rights and responsibilities. When he marries, he has few rights and very many responsibilities. When, however, he has children, he doesn't have any right at all, but only responsibilities."
- "My heart only has entrances. It doesn't have exits. Whoever enters remains there. Whatever he may do, I love him the same as I loved him when he first entered into my heart. I pray for him and seek his salvation."
- "My worst hell is to realize that I have saddened a beloved person."