Professor Fr. Vasilios Kalliakmanis of the Theological School of the University of Thessaloniki answers the question ‘Are there any people like Patro-Kosmas today? The talk was given at a conference to mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of Saint Kosmas Aitolos in 1714.
“I think lots of things are happening, but there’s so much noise that people can’t hear. If the words of wise and spiritual people are to be heard, there’ll have to less noise in general. And I’m afraid we’ve become part of this social noise. That’s the first thing.
About a month, a month and a half ago, Elder Porfyrios Kavsokalyvitis was canonized. He’d lived his saintly life near Omonia Square, at the hospital, right next to some very shady places. Nothing stopped him. Let me tell you two incidents from his life, since it’s recent. Listen to how he interacted with the people of his time. He was illiterate. I’m not saying that. He said it himself. He said ‘I was a dunce, as far as education’s concerned’. He says as much in the introduction to his book. Please read it and you’ll see. Just listen and see how he dealt with circumstances as he found them once. He said we should benefit from everything, that we should profit from everything. So, he went into an archaeological museum. He saw an archaeologist there with a group she was showing around. The archaeologist was saying to the group: ‘I can’t stand priests’. He stayed calm. He said nothing and listened to what was going on. Soon after she said, ‘But there’s something different about him’. This encouraged him to say ‘Mind if I join you?’ ‘Certainly’ the archaeologist said. And so the old fellow followed the guided tour of the Archaeological Museum in Athens. In the middle of Athens, next to Omonia Square where he was living his saintly life. The archaeologist was saying her piece, and they stopped in front of a statue of Zeus. He was holding a thunderbolt in his hand, all right? She was still doing her thing. Then she said ‘I’ll needle the priest a bit here. Father, what do you have to say about this, then? Isn’t it a work of art?’ And Elder Porfyrios answered, ‘I don’t know what to say. I don’t know much about things like this, but the way I see it, Zeus’ face is serene and tranquil“.