Father Paisios of the Holy Mountain
Arsenios Eznepidis was born to pious parents in the town of Farasa, Cappadocia of Asia Minor on July 25,1924. Arsenios’ name was given to him by Saint Arsenios the Cappadocian, who baptized him, named him after himself, and predicted Arsenios’ future as a monastic.
Soon after his baptism, the family was forced to leave Asia Minor due to the Peace Treaty of Lausanne. Saint Arsenios led his people on a 400-mile journey to Greece. The Eznepidis family put roots down in Konitsa in Epirus in northwestern Greece. Arsenios learned carpentry as a young boy.
During the civil war in Greece, young Arsenios was a radio operator. Others recognized his bravery, self-sacrifice, and moral righteousness. He took care of his sisters financially, and when they were provided for, he entered monastic life. Arriving on Mount Athos in 1950, he was tonsured a monk in 1954. He was given the name Averkios. A pious monk, he endeavored to create balance between helping others and remaining silent in the art of prayer.
Soon after his tonsure, monk Averkios left Esphigmenou and joined the Philotheous Monastery, where his uncle was a monk. He was obedient to the Elder Symeon and given the small schema in 1956, with a new name of Paisios. Father Paisios took his vows very seriously and spent long hours in prayer. He believed his own spiritual failures were the cause of problems in others. Continuing his journeys from 1958 to 1968, he spent time at his home village, the Sinai, and Thessaloniki. He suffered some health problems but eventually he came to live at Panagouda, the Holy Mount Athos.
It was there that many sick and suffering were drawn to him. He dedicated himself to them all day and gave himself to God at night. He slept very little. Elder Paisios continued to suffer from health problems but even when he was hospitalized, he continued to receive visitors and counsel them. He was the epitome of grace at all times and would say that God was greatly touched when a person was in great suffering and did not complain but instead used their energy to pray for others.
Elder Paisios left the mountain for the last time on October 5, 1993. He had only planned to be away for a short time but was diagnosed with cancer and needed treatment. After surgery he spent some time recovering then returned to the monastery at Souroti. His last days were of suffering but also of the joy of the martyrs. He gave his soul to God on July 12, 1994.
The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople glorified elder Paisios on January 13, 2015. He is commemorated each year on July 12. Many books have been published on his teachings. The monastery at Souroti has taken on the task of organizing the Elder’s writings. Thousands of pilgrims visit his tomb each year.
While researching Father Paisios, I found many references to his teachings for the family. In an online article entitled “Prayer as a Means of Educating Children”, the author John Sanidopoulos says the following:
“The most effective method in the parental education of children is to use as few words as possible, and educate through example.”
Elder Paisios the Athonite, in his Epistles, writes: “Blessed are the parents who do not use the word ‘don’t’ with their children, but they put a brake on evil with their holy lives, which children mimic, and they follow Christ with spiritual chivalry joyfully.”
I have a five-month-old granddaughter and a fifteen-year-old grandson. I believe with my whole heart that our children and grandchildren will do as they see us do and not always as we tell them to do. I look forward to reading many more of Father Paisios’ writings.
Sources: Orthodox Wiki and Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
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