Saturday, September 27, 2014
WISDOM OF FATHER TIKHON OF MT. ATHOS, THE SPIRITUAL FATHER OF ELDER PAISIOS
The two stories that follow are taken from the life and works of the Russian Elder Tikhon. Father Tikhon was the Elder of Father Paisios and they enjoyed a very close spiritual relationship. During the last ten days of Elder Tikhon’s life, he asked for his disciple Father Paisios to care for him. Elder Paisios writes the following about these last ten days: “Those last ten days were God’s greatest blessing, because, since I had the chance, for a little while, to live so close to him and to get to know him better, I was helped more than any other time. On the last night he had his hands on my head for three hours straight, and then he blessed and embraced me for the last time.” After foretelling his death, he fell asleep on September 10, 1968, having prepared his own grave himself. To his good disciple, sweet Paisios as he called him, Father Tikhon left his blessing, and he promised to visit him every year. He also said, “We will be united by love unto the ages of ages, my child.” These stories from the life of Elder Tikhon emphasize the reality that God is the sovereign of all that we are. In the first story that he tells us about the obese layman that came to him, the Elder counseled him to turn to God in fasting and prayer in order to defeat the demons of obesity and carnal passions that were destroying his life. In the second story the Elder shares with us, he makes it very clear that God is the Landlord of our lives and our universe. And God is our Landlord we should begin everything we do in life by first invoking His blessing upon us.
+Fr. Constantine (Charles) J. Simones
The Elder would get very upset when he would see a well-nourished young man. He would get even more upset when he encountered a well-nourished monk since being obese was not compatible with the Angelic state of monasticism. One day a layman visited him on Mt. Athos. He was very obese and he said to the Elder: “Elder, I am having a fearful battle with my passions. I am constantly having dirty, unclean sexual thoughts and they do not ever give me any peace.” Father Tychon responded to him: “If you, my child, are obedient to my recommendations and with the help of the Grace of Christ, I will be able to transform you into an Angel. I want you, my child, to repeat the Jesus Prayer, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, forgive me a sinner.’ You are to eat only bread and water every day and on Saturday and Sunday you are to eat a little food with olive oil. I want you also to do one hundred and fifty genuflections every night and read the service of supplication to the Holy Mother. In addition to this, I want you to read a chapter from the Gospel and read the list of the saints that are commemorated on each day in the Church calendar.”
Six months later, when the obese layman visited Mount Athos again, the Elder did not recognize him because he had lost all of his excessive fat. He was now able to easily fit through the narrow door that led into the Church. The Elder asked him: “How are you now, my child, dealing with your life’s problems?” The young man responded: “I now truly feel like an Angel because I no longer suffer from sexual passions and feel a sense of relief that I have lost all that weight.”
COUNSELS OF THE ELDER TIKHON
Before I begin with the counsels of Elder Tikhon, I would like to share with you that the Elder had the habit of beginning everything he did with a prayer. He would always call upon the help of the Holy Spirit to enlighten him. He also advised all other people to use the same prayer. He would say: “Dear Lord, allow the Holy Spirit to enlighten us because He is the Landlord of our world. This is why our Church begins its prayers with: “Heavenly King, Comforter, the Spirit of truth, everywhere present and filling all things, Treasury of blessings and Giver of Life, come and dwell in us; cleanse us of every stain and save our souls, o gracious one.” While saying this prayer, his face would be transformed and the pious people around him would see this change in his appearance. The Elder said: “A monk once visited a monastic cell that was very clean, well maintained and pleasant to see. This monk then said: “As clean as the Elder’s heart is, this is reflected in the cleanliness of his cell.” This monk went to another monastic cell that was completely disheveled, filled with cobwebs and in disarray. The Elder then said: “This monk is a good monk because he is always concerned with spiritual things and he does not bother himself with worldly pursuits.” Because the monk who visited these monastic cells was filled with such goodness he looked upon everything that he saw as beautiful. The moral of this story is that whatever you are as a person is what you see in other people and whatever you desire is what you find.