"Blessed is the kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto the ages of ages", said the Elder every time he began the Divine Liturgy. His melodious, deep and soft voice seemed to come from a higher plane, trying to break the barrier between time and space in order to bring to people the eternal, inconceivable, uncreated, life giving and deifying grace of the Holy Trinity. He especially loved this exclamation, during his life on earth. However, we believe that he now blesses the Lord's Kingdom even more fervently and unceasingly by partaking fully of the grace and presence of the compassionate and affectionate Father, of the ever sacrificed Son, and of the Holy Spirit who grants all good things into our hearts. We also praise God for giving us the Elder and for continuing to grant His Church holy people.
By writing this book we want to honor our Elder, even in this minor way. As St. John Chrysostom says "To honor a saint is to imitate the saint". But, since our actions betray us, we should at least remember his life and teachings, so as to have the chance to relight the zeal for God in our hearts, which is in danger fo fading. If some of our brethren draw strength and wisdom for their spiritual struggle and progress in God, let them pray for us, the humble writers, as well.
We know very well that it was not the Elder's wish that we should write about him. Still, he had the foresight and wisdom not to commit us to any of the teachings he handed down to us. Thus, he gave us the opportunity to consult other fathers as well and publish this book, containing his biography, his teachings and some of his letters.
He would often say: "You will receive as much as you have" or "You will talk and express yourself according to your spiritual state". In our attempt to write the Elder's biography in Part One of this book, we know for sure that no matter how hard we try we will still leave out many facts. For how can we express the state of grace and contempilation of his praying mind that was filled "with sighs too deep for words" (Rom. 8:26)? How can we ever express them since we scarcely understood them due to our poor spiritual state, whenever he reveales them to us? We could not perceive them, either because he would not mention them to us out of humility, or because we were also accustomed to living with him, or due to our indolence. However, whatever we heard, saw, experienced or apprehended being near him, we have tried to record here, asking for the readers' indulgence.
In Part Two, we present taped excerpts from his teachings, divided into chapters. His spoken words are recorded without any interventions by us, except on some, very few, obscure points.
In Part Three, we publish some of the Elder's letters that he sent to his relatives, friends, acquaintances and people in sorrow. There are also some other written texts, which are not letters but speeches delivered on various occasions or some of his spiritual thoughts. The Elder was never careful with correct spelling and always wrote his letters in such a way so as to point out the most significant meanings. We have maintainted the layout of the text. We have also kept the capital letters in some specific words, exactly as he wrote them. However, we have corrected the odd spelling mistakes and errors in punctuation. In some cases, we include a few necessary explanations before the texts.
The explanations given in parenthesis and the quotations from the Scripture have been added afterwards. The quotations are written down exactly as they were said or written by the Elder himself.
In Part One, we write the word Elder by capitalising the first letter only when it refers to our Elder. This is done in order to avoid any confusion with other elders mentioned in the book.
We thank all the brothers who helped us prepare this book, either with their written memories or with their accurate critical remarks, and we evoke the Elder's prayers for them.
On behalf of the brotherhood