Continuing our work, with God's help, on the translation into English of the books by the blessed Elder Paisios the Athonite († 1994), we now offer our English-speaking Orthodox friends the third book in the series: Athonite Fathers and Athonite Matters.
It is, one might say, a small Gerontikon. It deals with the lives or some particular circumstances in the lives of Athonite fathers who were vessels of divine grace and lived approximately in the period from 1840-1980.
As a conclusion to the book, the author offers a distillation of his own experience and God's wisdom, with the title: "Return to God from Earth to Heaven."
Elder Paisios, as a beginner, but also later on in his monastic life, was blessed in being able to associate with many righteous fathers, "athletes" of Christ, in the Garden of the Mother of God, or to hear others tell of them. He was deeply impressed by their holy simplicity, their unshakeable, genuine and unadulterated faith; he was moved by the generosity of spirit in which they struggled; he admired their self-denial unto death and their devotion to the ascetic ideal; he tasted and was sweetened by the honey of their virtues; and, being animated by the same combative spirit, he imitated their godly achievements.
He later undertook to record as much as his memory and heart had retained out of reverence and a sense of sacred duty towards the holy fathers, and also out of love for his fellowmen, because every day he was painfully aware that in the spiritual life of people today -lay people and monastics- logic rather than faith prevails.
The lives of the Athonite fathers, as described in these pages, help us all to understand how much we have deviated from the genuine line of thought of the fathers of the Church and how we are to return, so as to find the true meaning of our own lives.
We extend our warmest thanks to all those who have assisted us and laboured to complete this translation. May the Good Lord reward their generous-hearted efforts in the way He knows best.
Through the prayers of our righteous Athonite fathers and the Mother of God, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy upon us. Amen.
of the Evangelist John the Theologian
June 29, 1999
The Feast of the Holy Apostles Paul and Peter