God's action in creation and creation's role in our journey towards God culminate in the gifts of bread and wine which are brought forth to be consecrated to become the Holy Body and Blood of Christ. In the Eucharist, man, as the priest of creation, offers creation back to the Creator and then receives it back sanctified and transformed into the very God to Whom it was offered. In this photo, a moment from the Divine Liturgy of St. James, the 'Brother' of Lord which is held in the middle of the Vatopaidi's Katholikon by the Abbot Ephraim.
The purpose of our life on earth is not to attain worldly achievements, but rather to attain the eternal crowns of virtue which will magnify us eternally. Death is not something to be feared, rather a simple separation of the temporary body with the undying soul. In the afterlife, our soul will remember all of its existence on earth and will rejoice with the good acts and will suffer for the evil committed. For this reason, we must never ignore our consciences and carry out a transgression, no matter how small it may seem, so we can avoid an eternity of regret later on. Remember, our just Lord immediately forgives all sins and transgressions through an honest and clean confession to our spiritual father. Those who bravely confess their sins, take courage for you will become masters of eternity! All ye who fain from the burden of a clean confession, take heed for you will become a slave of an eternal failure. We must be victors over the civil war of our self-pleasures in this emptied world … and what is civil in a war anyway? In this photo a hermit monk bears a handle of the funeral bier of the recently deceased elder Ioakeim.
The sickness of human nature is the failure to reach personal perfection. The diagnosis concerns every person, independent whether he is Christian or not. Orthodoxy is not bounded within the narrow boundaries of religion that is only interested in her followers, but like God, is universal. Because of its human-divine nature, Christianity must remain eternally unchanging – but not frozen in letters – in no way being dependent on or guided by the spirit of each age. Instead, Christianity is meant to govern and direct the spirit of the age for anyone who follows its teachings, but not in a tyrannical manner. Based on St Theophan the Recluse, Protopresbyter George Metallinos (University of Athens) In this photo the Abbot Ephraim is pouring wine in the Holy Chalice at the beginning of Divine Leiturgy of St. Ap. James, the "brother" of Christ. Being the oldest complete Leiturgy still in use, it is held in the middle of the church, outside of the Holy Altar.
The young are in need of experience and the old need someone to assist their ageing body. This is one of the reasons why children should always have great respect for their parents. Based on St Paisios the Athonite, Elder Arsenie Papacioc In the photo is depicted the pilgrim who won the Cross at Vatopaidi at the feast of Theopany in 2015. He is swiming together with a child with whom fought together for the Cross.
The mystery of holy unction provides both physical and spiritual healing with holy oil blessed by the Holy Spirit and is of great comfort to the faithful. The oil carries God's grace both to renew the body and to cleanse the spirit. The service follows the apostolic tradition mentioned in the New Testament: "...let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven" Based on James 5:14-15 In this photo is depicted the moment of the blessing of the holy oil at Vatopaidi. In middle, Abbot Ephraim surrounded by priest-monks.
How do we choose a spiritual father? A good spiritual father is not one who simply forgives sins in confession. All spiritual fathers absolve sins by virtue of their ordination. A good spiritual father is one who first of all by his personal example and then by his instruction helps us to not fall again, or at least to progress spiritually. In this photo, Elder Ephraim of Vatopaidi giving advices with love to one of his monks. A candid shot in the Chapel of St. Demetrius. Another disciple is listening on the left.
How do we prepare for a big feast? Everyone thinks that a big feast as an occasion of joy and to catch up with loved ones. However, in order to really feel the real happiness one must prepare himself/herself, beyond of preparing food, gifts, decorating house etc. First of all, we must remember that joy is a virtue from God. It isn't a psychological state. That's why in order to prepare ourselves before the feast to receive the God's grace, we must keep fasting (according with the respective ascetic guidelines), confess, go to church and read spiritual texts in accordance with that feast. We must take into consideration that before and after a major event such as Christmas, New Year, one's Birthday, Easter and so on… the devil tries to ruin the joy that is spread from the festive season so one can feel upset, saddened, hate. Take care and let God do His works. Through pray all can be managed. Before the beginning of the day, events, gatherings etc, say a little prayer so God can be present to protect from any evil harm. In this photo, monks from Vatopaidi are at the kitchen preparing fish, the main meal for the feast.
Before our spiritual baptism, we’re enslaved by the evil one as a result of the Fall of Adam and Eve and we’re subject to demonic influences. After baptism and re-birth, the evil one is driven away, and we’re filled with the Grace of Christ. This is why in the Orthodox Church everyone is baptized in infancy. Based on St. Justin Popovich
Our true birth isn’t when we emerge into to the world from our mother's womb, but occurs when we’re re-born for eternal life through Holy Baptism. So our real mother is Baptism and Resurrection through Christ.
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:27-28
Love is the greatest virtue. Love is greather than a saints' martyrdom. And see why: without a martyrdom, love saves us. Without love, the martyrdom is useless. A brothers shares his joy with a new great schema monk at the entrance in Vatopaidi's main church.
Gate to Eternity One of the most impressive services is the burial service. Everyone is gathered around the dead body and prays for his soul. The fact that the soul of the departed one is an eternal existence that needs help through prayers is more evident in this service than everywhere else. Everyone has a candle in his hands as a symbol of resurrection, proof of the eternal nature of the soul.
It is impossible, someone says, impossible to spend the present day devoutly unless we regard it as the last of our whole life; and it is truly astonishing how even the pagans have said something of the like, since they define philosophy as the meditation on death. Remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin.
To the degree of your love for your Elder, God will grant you His grace. Our spiritual fathers doesn't need our love, neither does he demand it with selfishness. However we need to love them in order to save our souls. In this photo a young monk lamenting at the side of the recently deceased elder Joseph of Vatopaidi.
The scope of the humanity is to become like God, to become holy, to acquire the grace of the Holy Spirit. When a man comes close to God and becomes a saint, his grace is so great that it remains in his relics even after his soul departs after his death. This is why the church is nothing more than a “factory” which produces holy relics. This photo depicts a few of the holy relics of the saints of Vatopaidi placed on the Holy Altar.
If one prays with great desire, love and tears of a pure heart, then he sees God Himself in his heart just as in a mirror. In this photo a monk while praying during one of the services.
The sakkos is a vestment worn by bishops, originally worn by the Emperor as an imperial vestment, symbolizing the tunic of disgrace worn by Christ during his trial and mockery. In the official dressing ceremony, the bishop continuously blesses with his both hands uplifted in the form of a Cross, symbolizing the crucifixion of Christ. He is helped by the deacons who symbolize the dedication and the love of the saints, particularly Mother of God and St. John Theologian which are depicted also in the Icon of Crucifixion. In this photo is the Archibishop Theokletos of Ierissou is wearing his sakkos at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy at the feast of the Saints of Vatopaidi.
The critical significance of death isn't the end of ones life. Mans immortal soul continues existing after death. The implication of death lies in the fact that afterwards the soul cannot help itself anymore to improve its existential state in front of God. Consequently, one's soul relies on the prayers and good acts of faith done towards the benefit of their name from the others which are still behind in man's earthly existence which is called "life". The Church has special prayers and services for the departed ones which portray church's global love for everyone as well as the acknowledgement that we all are alive. In this photo, a priest reads a prayer for the departed in front of the icon of Christ while blessing the koliva.
Mans' inner hell isn't a consequence of sin but a result of the lack of repentance. To sin is human. To not sin is divine. To persist in your mistakes is diabolical.
To really help someone you must not think about their problem rather but pray for them. instead of talking with them about their problem is much better to talk with God about them. In the Divine Liturgy through God's Grace and through our prayer we are as one: alive and departed souls. This unity is real 'oneness' even if it isn't immediately observable with the eyes of our body. This photo depicts a priestmonk at Vatopaidi commemorating names and taking out crumbs for the living and the dead in Liturgy of Preparation (Proskomedi). The Liturgy of Preparation is done quietly before the public part of the Divine Liturgy begins and symbolises the "hidden years" of Christ's earthly life.
Heaven’s Joy During the festal services, there are specific moments when the chandeliers are set into motion by the monks. The effect is quite stunning since the church is illumiated only by the "flying" candles. Simultaneoysly, the jouyful Athonite chanting proceeding from both the left and rifht choirs accompanied by the subtle ringing of the deacons bells as they are censing the church, culmiante all of the senses into one great, majestic spiritual moment, a moment which foreshadows the eternal kingdom. In this photograph, the aforementioned moment is captured during which the chandeliers are being set into motion and the monk who will announce the verses of the canon awaits the blessing from the Patriarch of Alexandria Theodoros the 2nd who sits on throne. The photo is taken at Feast of the St Gerasimos at Vatopaidi.
Jesus said: "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life". So, who is the one which will receive the uncovered and heavenly fire in his heart and won't ignite and won't shine? Pictured above, Elder Ephraim praying during the Divine Liturgy - Chappel of St. Demetrios at Vatopaidi.
The tonsure, which is reminiscent of the Vow of the Nazirite, is a symbolic act of the consecration of one's life to God by cutting off and forsaking ones self-will. There are three types of these dedications: baptismal, monastic, and clerical. In all cases, the hair is allowed to grow back; the tonsure as such is not imposed as a required hairstyle on the candidate. The newly tonsured aspirant will put in practice and exploit the gift of grace which he received from God according to his conscience and zeal.
The lives and praises of the saints are like the stars in brilliance. Because of their number, we do not know the names of all the saints; still, they amaze us by their radiant majesty, as do the stars, which while fixed in their position in the heavens, illumine all that is below. Based on St. Dimitry of Rostov In this shot is Patriarch of Alexandria Theodoros the 2nd praying in front of the miracle-working icon of Vimatarissa at Vatopaidi.
Offering Incense Incense was used from the most ancient times during the services and symbolizes the prayers of the Saints rising to heaven as well as the Grace of God that embraces all. Incensing is seen as an act of love and respect towards God and His saints. The photo above depicts a respected hermit offering incense to Vimatarissa, a miracle working icon of Mother of God at Vatopaidi.
In the measure to which a man cuts off and humbles his own will, he proceeds toward eternal success. But insofar as he stubbornly guards his own will, so much more does he bring harm to himself. Christ shows us this path of obedience to the Father. He is the light of the world.
Happy is the man in whom there is love for God, for he bears God within himself. The one in whom there is love is with God, above all things. Whoever has love in himself does not fear. He never gets angry with anyone, nor does he exalt himself above anyone else. Whoever has love fulfills the will of God. In this photo a monk from Vatopaidi voices the ancient Easter greeting with 'Christ is risen!' to a child from Romania dressed in a traditional ethnic costume.
A firm beginning will certainly be useful for us when we later grow slack. A soul that is strong at first but then relaxes is spurred on by the memory of its former zeal. And in this way new wings are often obtained. When the soul betrays itself and loses the blessed and longed for fervor, let it carefully investigate the reason for losing this and let it arm itself with all its longing and zeal against whatever has caused this. For the former fervor can return only through the same door through which it was lost. In this photo deacons are shown while censing at Easter. Vatopaidi monastery.
The Holy Chalice This is a rare photo with Holy Chalices in the Byzantine Style in the Eucharistic preparation room next to the Holy Altar. The middle one is an exact replica of a famous Holy Chalice given to Vatopaidi by Thomas Preljubović or Thomas Komnenos Palaiologos, the ruler of Epirus in Ioannina. The original, dated around 1370, is found in the Sacristy of the Monastery. This chalice (as well as the others) is distinguished by the astonishing number of small pearls, together with many other jewels and byzantine enamel – fashioned with high quality craftsmanship, considering especially that the object is more than 700 years old. These holy vessels are in stark contrast to the monks’ poverty and simplicity of life – the most precious things are for God, not for themselves.
The perfect communion Holiness is pure interpersonal communion. The passions and egoism are shed through this process of deification. This is the only real way to achieve communion beyond the borders of nationalities and languages. The photo was taken at Vatopaidi – Easter 2014. In front are seen (left to right): Maurice from Nigeria, Michel from France, Dionys from Russia, Pavel and Nicolae from Romania in their national costumes. Around are other pilgrims from the United States of America, Australia, Brazil, England, Moldova, Cyprus, Greece, Russia, Germany, Lebanon, Finland and other nations.
Christians, rejoice always, for evil, death, sin, the devil and hell have been conquered by Christ. When all of this is conquered, is there anyone in the world who can bring our joy to naught? You are the lord of this eternal rejoicing as long as you do not give in to sin. Joy burns in our hearts from His truth, love, resurrection, and from the Church and His saints. A deacon pouring perfumed water symbolizing the myrrh of the Myrrh Bearing Women at the Lord's tomb. Easter at Vatopaidi.
Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. The photo shows a moment from a vigil in the main church (catholikon) at Vatopaidi monastery.
While praying in one's heart, one is united with God and transcends the barriers of time. He experiences the reality [mystery] of eternity, free of time and all constructs of this world. He draws himself away from the distractions of this world and collecting himself refinds his original ontological state of unity between mind and heart. This is the solution for everyone living in our contemporary society, [difficult, but not impossible].
Christ is Risen! We celebrate the most important fact of the vast history of the entire universe: that God, as man defeated death for us. As Adam practically fell into death from life so Christ practically rises from His death into Life, for all the sons of Adam. In as much as we commune with and become one with God, so much so are we granted life in His Ressurection. Victory in His victory; Life in His Life; ressurection in His ressurection. Elder Ephraim tossing Bay Leaves into the congregation accodring to the Orthodox tradition during the Bright Week services.
True knowledge is to experience eternal life. Eternal life is to know by experience the only true God which is the light of the world. Hence, the one who doesnt know God doesnt know anything at all and this spiritual darkness can be eternal too. In the photo is a hieromonk at the end of the Divine Liturgy in the chapel of St. Nicholas, Vatopaidi.
Our problems arent solved by contemplating them. The solution to all our problems is found through praying about them. In order to be powerful and effective, prayer must arise from within a pure heart. Oil and salt are seasonings for food; and tears and chastity give wings to prayer. In this photo Abbot Ephraim of Vatopaidi Monastery is depicted reading the Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos in front of Her Miracle-working icon in the Holy Altar of the Katholikon of Vatopaidi.
The humble one sees all others as better than himself and rejoices at the virtues that he sees in others, which in reality they might not even have. The proud one sees others as worse than himself and is constantly irritated about others' mistakes which often don't even exist. A humble hermit while looking inside of Vatopaidi's main church during an all-night vigil.
In the same manner in which Christ sacrificed himself for our sins once for all mankind when he offered himself up on the Cross, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of Gods mercy, to offer yourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God this is your true and proper worship. In this photo, a priest-monk is serving the Divine Liturgy in the chapel of St. John the Theologian at St. Prokopios' cell on the territory of Vatopaidi monastery.
There are three things which may allow for an icon to be miracle-working: it is painted by holy hands it is venerated by holy people the faith of the people. This photo depicts the miracle-working icon of Paramythia in her chapel at Vatopaidi.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. One of the Vatopaidi fathers during the worship service.
Humility consists in considering oneself to be nothing in all circumstances, cutting off one's will in all things, accusing oneself of everything, and bearing without confusion that which befalls him from the exterior. Such is true humility, in which vainglory finds no place. A monk censing his brothers with a katzion while exiting the refractory after the common meal. Vatopaidi monastery.
God can be truly known only through the Grace of the Holy Spirit. This is because real knowledge of God is not intellectual but experiential; becoming like Him and uniting with Him as much as we can. That's why the degree of true knowledge stems from the degree of love: the more perfect the love, the more perfect your knowledge will be. Elder Efraim of Vatopaidi while serving the Divine Liturgy in the main church (catholicon) with the cross of St. Constantine the Great in front of him.
Countenance is the portrait of the soul, and the eyes mark its intentions. Pilgrims during a pensive moment in the worship service.
"He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: He that cometh from heaven is above all." In the photo, the archbishop, which is the highest degree of ecclesiastical power on earth, humbles himself under the aer which symbolizes the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Divine Liturgy. This peacefully touching moment occurs in the Holy Altar while the faithful in the congregation recite the Creed of Faith. In addition, the waving of the aer during the Creed symbolizes the earthquake which occurred during Jesus resurrection from the dead (Matthew 28:1-2). The priests stop the waving of the aer at the exact point in the Creed which reads, and on the third day He rose according to the scriptures. This photo depicts the aforementioned moment with Archibishop Joseph of Prikonisou (center), Abbot Ephraim of Vatopaidi (right) and one of Vatopaidi's hieromonks (left) during the recitation of the Creed of Faith.
Jesus lifted up His hands and blessed his disciples. While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. This was the last gesture which our Lord made for us on earth. In the same way the bishops, which are the class with the highest rank of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, bless and bestow upon us God's grace. The officiator announces "Peace be unto you" and the Holy Spirit truly makes this a reality, however, it depends upon us if we are ready to receive and exploit this peace or not. In this photo the metropolitan Josef of Prikonisou is blessing at the feast of the Myrrh Bearing Women at Vatopaidi.
Pride and envy are the greatest of evils which threw even angles from the Heavens to Hell. Hence, humility and love are the means which bring us from our inner hell to the Heavens. In order for man to experience his personal resurrection, God had to become man and die through the cross; otherwise no one would believe that paradise came only through the pain of the cross. This is the light which we all seek, but no one can find alone.
I will sing unto the Lord throughout my life, I will chant to my God for as long as I exist. May my words be sweet unto Him, and I will rejoice in the Lord. Truly remarkable is this mystery of earthly worhsip when contemplated with the eternal nature of mankind.
Many rich and powerful men would pay dearly to see the Lord or His Most Pure Mother; but God does not appear in riches, rather to the humble of heart. Transversely, the poorest of men can be humble and come to know God. It needs neither money nor reputation to come to know God, only humility. In this photo a candid moment from the reading of the Holy Gospel at service of the Holy Unction at Vatopaidi.
Prayer is the core of spiritual life; it is communication with God or, better yet, life with God. Hence prayer is man's way to directly communicate with God, stemming from the human need for completeness. There was a time when man sought God in external things; but through grace the divine encounter with God occurs within the human being. Finding God in himself, man finds himself and succeeds to be God-like, acquiring the mindfulness of the emperor of creation. A candid shot from Divine Liturgy in the Vatopaidi's main church. A deacon from a central part of Africa while saying the prayers.
A true shepherd is proven by his love. In the name of love, the Great Shepherd was crucified for mankind. The Patriarch of Alexandria, Theodoros the 2nd, while leaving from Vatopaidi Monastery.
Show God the faith in your heart that you have in your spiritual father and the honest love you have for him. God in ways unknown will urge him to be well-disposed to you and fond of you, just as you have shown your good disposition towards him. In this photo a monk sharing a heartfelt moment with his elder.
In the same way in which Son of God took up the human body as his vestment, we must also wear the grace of the Holy Spirit which is the illumination of the hypostatic light of Divinity in the human soul. In this photo, the Metropolitan Nicholas of Mediterranean Sea offers the Holy Gifts to a deacon before the great entrance of the Divine Liturgy. Chapel of Paramythia, Vatopaidi.
Contrast In order to abide in the love of God it is essential for anger and hate to attain their maximum intensity and directed against the sin that lives in me, against the evil active in me in me, not in my brother. In this photo a priest from Congo during the annual procession of St. Elias which journeys around the whole monastery.
The proof that someone has a charisma and uses it according to God's will is that he doesn't want to keep it for himself only, neither does he want to impose something on others, but when he is asked he gladly responds, helps and shares his knowledge. In this photo a well-known chanter from Mount Athos, Elder Daniil of Katounakia (right) came to Vatopaidi with his disciple (left), to teach byzantine music at brotherhood's request.
Blessed is he who mortifies his will to the very end and who leaves the care of himself to his elder in the name of the Lord. He will be placed at the right hand of he who was Crucified. He who refuses to accept criticism, just or not, renounces his own salvation, while he who accepts it, as hard as it it may be, will soon have his sins forgiven. A monk prepares himself for a life of struggle, pain and toil in the name of Love in Jesus Christ. He walks forward to his own tonsure knowing full well that he is embracing the life of the cross and discovers the endless joy of Life in He that was Crufied.
"The second baptism" "The wedding with God" The mystery of the great schema tonsure cannot be explained in words. The one who dedicates himself to be a great schema monk has a very concrete experience of these two things but he cannot express it to others. Like any other experience of God's grace one must live it in order to understand it. It is one thing to talk about honey, to describe its sweetness; and another to actually taste it. In this photo a brother becomes a great schema monk after some years of being a plain monk.
Find your internal peace and silence and an entire crowd will find their salvation while near you. In this image a monk moments before his great schema tonsures
The mystery of great, holy, and angelic schema contains the greatest degree of Grace which one can undertake. It is a second baptism in which all the sins of the new candidate are forgiven; an experience which the tonsured one feels in the depth of his being. Many holy men have seen the grace of baptism present during the great schema service. It is a marvelous mystery of life within God and with God within you; impossible to describe in words.
The festal outdoor processions are well known for their joyful and social nature while embracing all the members of a local church community. Moreover, the importance of a procession consists in the prayers of the participants as well as the sacred, miracle-working objects - usually icons and holy relics - which are exhibited during the procession to sanctify the environment. This is a candid shot from the procession of the feast of Prophet Elias in the surroundings of Vatopaidi where the miracle working icon of Vimatarissa passed by on Her way around the monastery.
You must see the man with the utmost respect but also with the deepest compassion. You must see him with trust but also with prudence - to see him like a child who is able to do the most pure and kindest of acts but also irreparable mistakes. In the photo, Abbot Ephraim of Vatopaidi with a child surrounded by his deacons and monks at the Procession of Saint Elias.
The Lord loves all people, but He loves those who seek Him even more. To his chosen ones the Lord gives such great grace that for His love they forsake the whole earth, the whole world, and their souls burn with the desire that all people might be saved and see the glory of the Lord. He gave us everything He had: his soul, his flesh, his blood. Everything for us. The photo depicts a moment from Divine Liturgy in the Holy Altar of Vatopaidi. On the left is Metropolitan Paul of Glyfada. On the right, a hermit-monk from a cell of Vatopaidi. In the middle the holy chalice with the holy gifts: the precious body and blood of the Lord.
Let us lift up our hearts to the Lord. This can be achieved if our mind is oblivious to outside distractions, internally focused, and united with our heart; from there it naturally turns to God. This photo depicts Metropolitan Pavlos of Glyfada, in the Divine Liturgy at the feast of the New-martyrs.
Praying for others Prayer is understood as the ontological and spiritual bridge between ourselves and others; between us and God. In this photograph monks from Vatopaidi are silently reading names which pious pilgrims send from all over the world. This tradition of responding to prayer requests takes place daily throughout the year.
Prayer by reason of its nature is the converse and union of man with God, and by reason of its action upholds the world and brings about reconciliation with God; it is the mother and also the daughter of tears, the propitiation for sins, a bridge over temptations, a wall against afflictions, a crushing of conflicts, work of angels, food of all the spiritual beings.
Do not fight to win the war but fight to win the peace. Then you'll have the necessary light in order to give to others. Theofilos, the Mitropolitan of Lefkadas, is pictured giving his liturgical candles to the deacons during the Divine Liturgy at the feast of Saint Ioakeim of Vatopaidi and Saint Gregory Palamas.
Adam and Eve, before their fall, were in full accord and of common spirit with one another at all times. Having sinned, alienation was immediately sensed. Justifying himself before God, Adam blamed Eve. Their sin divided them and continues to divide all of mankind. Emancipated from sin, we approach God, and, filled with His grace, we sense our unity with the rest of mankind. Such unity is very imperfect and lacking, since in each person some portion of sin remains. Only in the coming Kingdom of God there will be perfect unity, mutual love and concord. The photo depicts a moment from the Vespers entrance at the feast of St. Gregory Palamas - Vatopaidi.
A smile from eternity One of the most beloved contemporary Elders of the Holy Mountain, Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi reposed in the Lord on his birthday, July 1st 2009. At his death, a miracle occurred shortly after his departure which left a sign of hope for all of us who "await the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come". He smiled more than 45 minutes after his death. Elder Joseph's mouth had remained open for a long time immediately after his passing and despite all their efforts, the present monks were unable to close his mouth. According to the Athonite custom, the Elder's Body was wrapped in his monastic mantle which was then sewn up. After a while, according to Abbot Ephraim's instructions, the body was placed on a bier, and a hole was cut in the mantle to expose his face and another to expose his right hand for veneration. To the astonishment of all, Elder Joseph's mouth had not only closed but face was now beaming miraculously with a smile! Not only his lips, but his eyes and cheeks, and even the color had returned to his lips and face!
The power of Virtue Even if he was destroyed by the metastasis of his cancer and by the chemotherapies which he underwent, his dignity and bravery in preaching God's justice will be never forgotten, neither on Earth neither in Heaven. The only thing which remains after our death is our virtue. A tribute to the Metropolitan of Austria Michael, photographed here at the Feast of the Holy Belt at Vatopaidi in 2011. It was his last feast.
The most important thing in our life is to receive light from God. For this we must first humble ourselves and follow a virtuous way of life in order to enlighten our souls and our hearts and not to become necessarily more intellectually knowledgeable. This is especially true for bishops, because as Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos said, the spiritual life of the entire flock is a parallel to the spiritual life of its bishop. Below is a candid shot taken in the Holy Altar of Bishop Cyrillos of Avvidon during the Feast of the Holy Belt of the Virgin Mary.
The Next One to Pass Away Elder Ermolaos of Vatopaidi looks at the koliva (the traditional food made in remembrance of the departed ones or saints). The photo was taken at the Feast of All the Saints of Vatopaidi. Shortly after, he reposed and went to those who had gone before him. The next koliva made would be for his own repose.
Holy Communion is the central mystery in the life of the Church. Oftentimes, unfortunately, we disregard this ultimate mystery of unity with God, and infrequently choose to receive this great gift making use of various excuses and justifications. This discrepancy is a confirmation of our distance from the center of the church which is Christ. Oddly, we dont seek to meet Christ who is constantly waiting to grant us life but rather we continue to crucify him daily through our sins. Here we realize the impact of our human distortion.
The more clearly the heart sees God, the more love it tastes from Him and the more love one gives to his neighbor. This photo depicts Archbishop Gerasimos of Zugdidi (Georgia) immediately after he ordinated a deacon at Vatopaidi.
The Experience of the Elders The experience of the elders and the monastic tradition are revered on the Holy Mountain and serve to guide the lives of the monks. In return, the young monks lovingly tend to the elders, particularly in the difficulties that come with age. In the photo above, taken in the refectory of Vatopaidi, Elder Evgenios shares a smile with one of the young monks of the monastery.
Eclipse Keep your mind in hell and do not despair. One of the Vatopaidi fathers during the services.
The Joy of the Resurrection The monks experience spiritual states of joy impossible to describe. One needs to experience this in order to understand it. In the photo above is Elder Ioakeim, with tears in his eyes, celebrating Easter.
Two are better than one, as they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. This photo depicts a heremit monk with his disciple. They have been together a long time and came to celebrate Easter at Vatopaidi.
The Purity Within A Ukrainian monk of Vatopaidi Monastery at prayer during the services. The inner life of each monk can be intense with deep experiences, only a small part of which may observed by others.
We must overcome the trials and sorrows in our lives through patience and prayer. The ones who tries another way is not only unsuccessful but gets caught deeper and deeper in the abyss of worldly difficulties.