Elder Iosif Vatopaidinos, a Man of Abounding Paternal Love (2)

Elder Iosif Vatopaidinos, a Man of Abounding Paternal Love (2)

188 views
0

Chrysostomos Papadakis, Archimandrite of the Ecumenical Throne

 

1. The call through a divine vision
In his fifteenth year, while he was on a hill at Paphos, floundering in the dark void because of a sense of the pointlessness of it all- he’d watched a documentary with scenes from World War I and the Asia Minor Catastrophe- the Lord appeared to him perceptibly, in a transmundane light. He was full of love and said to him: ‘Sokratis, this is why I made human beings. People are immortal’. Even he himself was never able to put into words the miracle which occurred in his adolescent soul. What he did realize, however, was that everything to do with his divine calling began then. The kindling of his heart with love for Christ was such that it remained forever ‘burning’, as was the case with Luke and Cleopas when the Risen Lord appeared to them on the road to Emmaus [2]. His whole-hearted and lifelong devotion had its beginnings in that vision. It rekindled his zeal. He lived and died remembering it… Then Jesus ‘opened his mind, so that he could understand the scriptures’[3], as happened with the illiterate Apostles after the Resurrection.

Sokratis had left school after the third class of primary school. A year after the divine vision, during which he was showered with divine love, he went to the Monastery of Stavrovouni. His physical labours now seem incredible, yet, at the same time, and despite his previous difficulties with reading, he was now able read, understand and learn the holy Scriptures and Patristic works in the original. Over time, he became a formidable interpreter and analyst of these sacred texts. The root of his theological gift was in the divine vision, which Blessed Iosif the Hesychast saw as a sign of revelation. This is why he not only permitted him [Sokratis] to join his brotherhood but also gave him his own name.

The divine love which had pierced his heart would, at the end of his life, become a compelling desire to leave this world. ‘Son, I’m waiting for the train but it isn’t coming’, he said to Fr. Efraim. He desired now to see eternally the ‘the ineffable beauty of the face of Christ’.

Over the centuries, many people have been called as a result of a divine appearance, a manifestation of a saint or some great sign from God. The list in our Lives of the Saints is long, so we shall refer to only two of our modern saints, whose experience helps us to evaluate that of Elder Iosif.

Saint Paisios was also fifteen years old, ‘distraught with confusion, caused by thoughts of doubt’ [4] when he was deemed worthy of a divine vision. Some friend of his brother’s had explained Darwin’s theory to him, with the aim of shaking his faith. Christ then appeared perceptibly to him, in transmundane light, holding a Gospel book opened at ‘Those who love me will live, even if they die’[5]. He also said these words to him, with great love [6]. The vision of Christ and His love not only dispelled the confusion of his thoughts, but also made his heart burn, throughout his life, with divine love, and he became Saint Paisios.

Gerasimos Mikrayiannanitis [belonging to the skete of Little Saint Ann’s], later Hymnographer of the Holy and Great Church of Christ [Ecumenical Patriarchate] was a young monk of twenty-two, alone in the house of the Honourable Forerunner, in the then forbidding Skete of Little Saint Ann, having been abandoned by his elder, who, in the year 1925, out of unbridled fervour, joined the Zealots and left the Holy Mountain to fight on the side of the Old Calendar schism. Gerasimos suffered harsh temptations and was attacked by demons. Then he, too, saw Christ perceptibly, shining, in his own words, brighter than the sun. The Lord said to him: ‘What’s the matter, son? I haven’t abandoned you, I’m here with you. I tested you and now it’s all gone’[7]. And the great Gerasimos said: ‘Since then I’ve experienced great joy in the Lord and I strive to save myself’. On another occasion, when he was relating this story to his spiritual sons, he revealed a remarkable detail: that the Lord appeared to him them with the imprints of the nails and the wound in His side. The symbols of the Passion were of great significance. It was at this time that he was given the sumptuous gift of hymn-writing. His first hymnographical manuscripts date from that year, 1925, and were discovered by his disciples after his demise.

Thereafter, many divine signs ‘in dreams and visions’ followed in the life of our blessed Elder Iosif: divine insights in the course of which he was cured of debilitating illnesses; warnings of temptations; or consolation on his path of suffering.

(to be continued)
[2] Luke 24, 32.
[3] Luke 24, 45.
[4] Salutations to the Mother of God
[5] Jn. 11, 25.
[6] Hieromonk Isaak, Βίος Γέροντος Παϊσίου του Αγιορείτου, Holy Mountain 2004, pp. 50-51.
[7] Monk Theoklitos Dionysiatis, Γεράσιμος Μοναχός Μικραγιαννανίτης, Thessaloniki 1997, pp. 76, 83, 159.

Read the first part here

Source: pemptousia.com

 

 

ABOUT THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN NETWORK

Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is a 501(c)3 and an official agency of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops of the United States of America . It is a recognized leader in the Orthodox Media field and has sustained consistent growth over twenty-two years. We have worked to create a community for both believers and non believers alike by sharing the timeless faith of Orthodoxy with the contemporary world through modern media. We are on a mission to inspire Orthodox Christians Worldwide. Click to signup to receive weekly newsletter. 

Join us in our Media Ministry Missions! Help us bring the Orthodox Faith to the fingertips of Orthodox Christians worldwide! Your gift today will helps us produce and provide unlimited access to Orthodox faith-inspiring programming, services and community. Don’t wait. Share the Love of Orthodoxy Today!

OCN has partnered with Pemptousia. A Contemporary post-modern man does not understand what man is.  Through its presence in the internet world, Pemptousia, with its spirit of respect for beauty that characterizes it, wishes to contribute to the presentation of a better meaning of life for man, to the search for the ontological dimension of man, and to the awareness of the unfathomable mystery of man who is always in Christ in the process of becoming, of man who is in the image of divine beauty. And the beauty of man springs from the beauty of the Triune God. In the end, “beauty will save the world”.

About author
avatar

Pemptousia Partnership

Pemptousia and OCN have entered a strategic partnership to bring Orthodoxy Worldwide. Greek philosophers from Ionia considered held that there were four elements or essences (ousies) in nature: earth, water, fire and air. Aristotle added ether to this foursome, which would make it the fifth (pempto) essence, pemptousia, or quintessence. The incarnation of God the Word found fertile ground in man’s proclivity to beauty, to goodness, to truth and to the eternal. Orthodoxy has not functioned as some religion or sect. It was not the movement of the human spirit towards God but the revelation of the true God, Jesus Christ, to man. A basic precept of Orthodoxy is that of the person ­– the personhood of God and of man. Orthodoxy is not a religious philosophy or way of thinking but revelation and life standing on the foundations of divine experience; it is the transcendence of the created and the intimacy of the Uncreated. Orthodox theology is drawn to genuine beauty; it is the theology of the One “fairer than the sons of men”. So in "Pemptousia", we just want to declare this "fifth essence", the divine beaut in our life. Please note, not all Pemptousia articles have bylines. If the author is known, he or she is listed in the article above.