With the help of God, and afterthe work of a great many years, our Sisterhood, propelled by our sacred obligation toward the Saint, who for twenty-eight years had guided and benefited us in so many ways, presents the publication of the Biography of Saint Paisios the Athonite.
We also had the great blessing of gaining some insight into the immeasurable love the Saint had for God, his monastic exactitude, his absolute self-denial and the power of his fervent prayer. Having lived in such close proximity to him, we personally experienced his holy simplicity and his profound humility, his God-illumined discernment, his noble love for each person, but also his deliberate efforts to conceal his virtues.
We therefore deemed it our obligation to utilise all the materials - both information and knowledge bequeathed to us in order to compose, to the best of our ability, the biography of the saintly Elder. The contents of this Synaxarion stem primarily from our communication with the Saint - from the notes we had kept during the gatherings of the Sisterhood and the private conversations we had had with him; from his letters not only to the entire Sisterhood but also to each Sister; from the numerous verbal and written testimonies, which had been entrusted to us by clergy, monks and laypeople who had met the Elder; as well as from information that had been gathered from the on-site research we had conducted in some of the areas where the Elder had lived and struggled. Umderstandably, it was impossible to include the ensuing material in its entirety, as it amounted to thousands of pages, and we wanted to avoid an overly extensive volume of biography. As a result, it became necessary to carefully shift through all the collected testimonies and documents and proceed with a rigorous selection and classification process, in accordance with the chronological periods in the life of the Saint and the places where God each time, had guided his footsteps. Given the vast number of testimonies provided, the selection process was a very arduous one, and the testimonies not included far outnumber those that have been included in the biography. This was not because they were not deemed as significant -every communication with the Saint was significant- but rather because there were many similarities amongst them.
Naturally, no matter how much material we were able to gather on the life of the Saint, it has proven to be quite limited, as Saint Paisios kept his spiritual treasure safeguarded in the treasury of God. The life of the Saints "is hidden with Christ in God" (Col 3:3). Thus, the inner spiritual work of the truly Christ-bearing Saint Paisios remains a secret, known only to God. Since we remain unacquainted with his more refined and profound inner labour, we must be very cautious, lest we misinterpret some external expression and behaviour of his or even attempt to imitate it indisceetly. To do so would be unjust to the Saint and cause double harm to ourselves.
Ever since he was a child, Saint Paisios had had Heaven as his objective; with amazing precision, he remained focused on that goal throughout his life. Having as his unique concern obedience to the commandments of God and to His divine will, he became "an instrument of God, a rational instrument ... tuned and struck by that skilful artist, the [Holy] Spirit" (Saint Gregory the Theologian, Oration 12,1). He undertook struggles that exceeded human measures; poured out both sweat and tears; performed "spiritual experiments upon himself, like a good botanist", "embittered himself by the trials he conducted", and passed on his "spiritual recipes" with which one can find his own spiritual health. The spiritual inheritance he impared to us is repentance and confession, love and humility, prayer and patience, good thoughts and the spirit of sacrifice.
Although he continues to effect many miracles, even after his blessed repose, we did not include them in the biography, having in mind what he himself had written in the biography of Saint Arsenios: "The Grace of God is not a cistern whose water having been depleted then dries, but an inexhaustible spring. It is natural for the Saint to help more now than he did when living on earth; for he is now close to the Heavenly Father. With the boldness he had acquired from before, he can, as His child, take boundless joy in going directly to those who are suffering in order to assist them by providing the appropriate therapy" (pp. 138-139). Even when we had been occasionally asked to publish some miracles Saint Arsenios had effected after his having fallen asleep, Saint Paisios had advised us that it would be better if the people who had benefited from those miracles related them, unto the Glory of God.
Saint Paisios the Athonite, and evermore-fellow citizen of the Angels, is a benefactor for all people. The Great Church of Christ of Constantinople, motivated primarilly by the "universal ecclesial consciousness of the faithful regarding the sanctity of this chosen man of God", decided on January 13, 2015 -twenty years after his blessed repose in the Lord- to include him among the Saints of the Orthodox Church.
May Saint Paisios grant his blessing abundantly upon all those who have helped us in various ways in the difficult work of composing his biography, and for which we warmly thank them. We owe particular gratitude to those who assisted us with the gathering and cross-checking of information, who were patient with our often overbearing persistence, as well as to those who laboured with us in conducting local research. We also thank those who read the text and facilitated its improbement with their observations and suggestions. The contribution of all was truly valuable.
We pray that the reading of the Life of Saint Paisios will ignite the zeal in all of us to undertake spiritual struggles with a sense of philotimo, so that we may not resemble, as the Saint used to say, those who merely watch the struggling athletes. Instead, we should make a start in repentance, and undertake "a good struggle", keeping before us also the example of one Saint, who, just a few years ago, was struggling next to us - right beside us- who is now, again, with us and helps us by interceding to the trial-allowing God, to Whom is due all glory, honour and worship unto the ages of ages. Amen.
The Abbess of the Holy Hesychasterion
and with me, the Sisters in Christ
Pentecost Sunday, 2015