Christians, always rejoice, for evil, death, sin, the devil and hell have been conquered by Christ. But 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. Joy burns in our hearts all because of sufferings for Him, mockings for Him, and death for Him, insofar as these sufferings write our names in heaven. There is no true joy on earth without the victory over death, but the victory over death does not exist without the Resurrection, and the Resurrection does not exist without Christ. The risen God-Man Christ, the founder of the Church, constantly pours out this joy into the hearts of His followers through the Holy Mysteries and good deeds. Our faith is fulfilled in this eternal joy, insofar as the joy of faith in Christ is the only true joy for human nature. Based on St. Justin Popovich In this photo, the Elder Ephraim is incensing in the middle of the crowd at Easter. Vatopaidi, 2015.
The greatest pain for any man is to lose his spiritual father. When the loss occurs unwillingly, then we trust that the Lord will protect both the disciple and the spiritual father from all harm. Here we see Elder Ephraim, the abbot of Vatopaidi, allowing himself to be arrested as he peacefully approached the awaiting policemen at the main entrance of the monastery, just before Christmas in 2011. He was sent to the infamous Korydallos Prison, but was freed three months later as a result of the public outcry over the grave injustice.
The skete of Saint Demetrios belongs to the Holy Monastery of Vatopaidi. It is located in the mountains in a quiet and beautiful location and is at a half hour’s walking distance from the monastery.
The self-controlled refrain from gluttony; those who have renounced possessions, from greed; the tranquil, from loquacity; the pure, from self-indulgence; the modest, from unchastity; the self-dependent, from avarice; the gentle, from agitation; the humble, from self-esteem; the obedient, from quarrelling; the self-critical, from hypocrisy. Similarly, those who pray are protected from despair; the poor, from having many possessions; confessors of the faith, from its denial; martyrs, from idolatry. Do you see how every virtue that is performed even to the point of death is nothing other than refraining from sin? Now to refrain from sin is a work within our own natural powers, but not something that buys us the kingdom. Based on Abba Mark The fathers in Vatopaidi's refectory are preparing the grapes
A disciple asked an elder, “Elder, why are you happy all day long?” The elder replied, “Because all night long I weep for my sins before God.” In the photo, Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi
Humility will end any war. This is because humility is a necessary precondition to love. And if highest achievement of mankind is love then humanity cannot progress without humility. Based on Elder Ilarion of Kalamitsi In this photo, His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch (center) has a loving chat with Elder Ephraim, Abbot of Vatopaidi (left) about Father Parthenios (right) who was tonsured a monk and received his name from the Patriarch’s Spiritual Father, Elder Parthenios of St. Paul’s Monastery on Mount Athos.
For the whole array of passions, wrath and fear, cowardice and impudence, depression as well as pleasure, hatred, strife and merciless cruelty, envy as well as flattery, brutality together with brooding over injuries, they are all so many despotic masters... You really, really, really need to clean them up. Don't be afraid and do it! Okay, if you're afraid, be afraid and do it anyway! Based on St Gregory of Nyssa
Pride is the mother of all the passions and sins. If humility is characterised as the queen of the virtues, pride is the queen of passions. Pride is the greatest illness of the soul; the worst part being that one who suffers from this passion finds great difficulty in discerning it within. The principal therapy of pride is our own condecension, in other words constantly lowering ourselves, placing ourselves under our brother in every situation. In this photo, a pilgrim wanted to see what's happening at the procession of Blessing the Waters at Theophany, Vatopaidi 2015. He was (almost) the only one which succeeded to see from that area.
A disciple once asked an elder, “From the time of Adam until Christ have there been exactly 5508 years?” In reply the elder said, “Son, if this is the thing important to your salvation, then I will personally find out the answer”. There are plenty of difficult questions and mysteries in the Holy Bible (and in other spiritual works) that would be interesting to research. While this kind of study is not forbidden, the highest monasticism has always focused on what is most important: our deification through God’s grace. This requires great labor in order to cleanse our sin-laden souls, thus purifying our spiritual intellect and vision. Only after this are we able to tackle such mysteries. Moreover, if a humble person reaches, by God’s grace, a state of illumination, then Grace itself reveals the key to such mysteries to him, though he is unable to express in in words what he is experiencing. In this photo, two school boys from Athonian Academy are asking something one of the Elders from Vatopaidi.
Many times I regretted that I spoke; I have never regretted keeping silent. Stop and hear what the Lord God is saying within you. Based on St. Isaac the Syrian
...But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. Based on Luke 15:20-24
You will not labour many years, son, in search of blessed inner peace, if in the beginning you surrender yourself with all your soul to indignities. After that, perhaps God will give you glory, but this will not harm you. Based on St. John of the Ladder In this photo, the Mitropolitan Panteleimon of Veria incensing the pilgrims at the feast of Theophany in the Katholikon (main church) of Vatopaidi.
For those who give everything to God, God will give everything to them. For those who try to cheat God, God will “cheat” them. This is why those who labor for God are joyful, while those “cheat” Him are unhappy. In this photo two members of the Friends of Mount Athos are shown clearing the footpaths of the Holy Mountain.
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.
Why do we believe in Christ? The easy answer would be to say that He was revealed as Christ and Savior in the words of the Bible; but words are not enough. We believe in Christ because of the effect His deeds and words have had upon us and our world. The history of the past two thousand years bears witness to this profound effect on humanity, but more importantly we see this effect within us on a personal level as we seek to follow His commandments and live according to His words. As we put His words into practice and embrace, paradoxically, the way of His cross, His eternal joy and peace takes root in us until it finds its completion in the everlasting happiness of His Heavenly Kingdom. In the photo a heremit hieromonk during the Divine Leiturgy at Vatopaidi.
The Archangel The purity of angels comes from their obedience to God. Like any other rational being, they had the opportunity to disobey Him. Some of them did, but some of them kept themselves under the light of obedience to God. Obedience requires power, wisdom and liberty. It is not slavery. It is exactly the opposite. In this photo a monk from Vatopaidi while patiently standing at attention with his katsion at the end of a long festal service.
“The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one”. Material things with their worldly light distract from the ultra-brightness of the dark abyss of the Deity. Consequently, the holy fathers struggled to escape from the allure of material things in order to be free to partake in the joy of God’s grace. For this reason the Church is reserved and treads carefully in the face of today’s rapid technological developments. Indeed, our genuine material needs are few; the Church, however, does not indiscriminately press its members with rigid limitations but takes into account the weakness of the soul, while at the same time encouraging it to embrace the struggle according to its spiritual strength. Based on 1 John 5:19, St. Dyonisius the Aeropagite.
How to control the wandering of the mind First of all you cannot stop the wandering of the mind. But you can fight to control it and then God's grace will grant the victory. First, you must place at the gate of your heart strict and unsleeping guards. In fact one of the most essential things in this life is a vigilant heart. To achieve this, you need prayer and obedience. Constantly wrestle with your thoughts, and whenever your mind wanders, bring it back to prayer. God does not require from those who are beginners under obedience prayer completely free of distractions. Do not despond when your thoughts wander, but remain calm, and unceasingly recall your mind. Unbroken recollection is proper only to an angel. Based on St. John of the Ladder In this photo is depicted a monk praying in front of the icon of the Mother of God at a vigil in Vatopaidi's Katholikon.
One who does not fight and defeat the passions and ignorance knows no peace. In order to see and to fight this war one must return to himself. Based on Valeriu Gafencu A pilgrim during a candid moment in the services.
The main duty of the spiritual man is to keep his mind clean from intrusive thoughts. This is necessary because devil ceaselessly seeks the mental accord with his prey. Consent of just one thought is enough pretext for him to obtain the necessary power to mentally battle someone. And any mistake which we make in actually has before it a mistake in the world of our thoughts.
The first stage of tranquility consists of silencing the lips when the heart is in turbulence. The second consists of silencing the mind when the soul is still troubled. The goal is a perfect peacefulness even in the middle of the raging storm.
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.
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.
God's creation has a natural tendancy to turn away from sinful distortion in an effort to eradicate the evil. This is why many times animals instinctivly attack when they sense impurity within man. Contrary, when in the presence of a pure soul, nature is often calm, helpful and tame towards its symbiotic counterpart. In this photo, the beekeeper monk is depicted harversting the fruits of the monastery's beehives without a second thought for bodily protection.
God made all his creation from pure love. God doesn't depend on anything or anyone in order to be perfectly happy. He simply wanted to make a creation to also enjoy this omniscient bliss. The crown of His creation is the human being which is a 'created god'. However, humanity threw away this perfection, taking along the entire created world into distortion. Consequently, God became man in order to save His creation, even unto death for Himself, as much as it is possible for an immortal God. This was (and is) the biggest anomaly ever: the immortal and perfect God, the Creator, to be murdered by His creation which is destined to be like Him.
The world is like a circle with God as eternal creator in the middle. All beings are like radii which travel towards God, the giver of existence, and in the center they are perfectly united, but just a short distance away from it they are separated, and the greater their distance from the center, the greater their separation, and the closer they are to the center, the more they are united to it and to one another. True unity, true contact between two existences is realized only through God. There is no direct path which ties two beings. Unification comes only through God.
The image of the polite man is admirable when you see him because mirrored within this icon is the beauty of the divine icon. In this photo one of the gardeners from Vatopaidi is shown giving a flower.
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.
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.
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.
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].
The man who has come to hate the world has escaped sorrow. But he who has an attachment to anything visible is not yet delivered from grief. For how is it possible not to be sad at the loss of something we love? We need to have great vigilance in all things. In this photo, a monk is collecting some loquats which are later offered at the common meal.
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.
An iconographer should ideally have a powerful ascetic life since their internal state will be reflected in manifestation of their icons. More generally speaking, any artist will express his internal world through his external art. That's why any man, but especially an artist, must see with his internal eye the beauty of Paradise and not so much the pain of Hell. This photo depicts an iconographer from Vatopaidi's workshop painting a copy of the miracle-working icon of Paramythia.
According to the degree of which a man suffers undeserved shame from another in the name of Christ's truth, he will be rewarded thousands of times over and will be mysteriously glorified by countless crowds of men. True love is tried and tested through man's controversies. This photo depicts the end of a "photo session" at the Skete of St Andrew (Karyes) requested by the father Job (on the left, in wheelchair) from the Abbot Ephraim (right) who was present at the skete's main feast of St. Andrew.
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.
For the Holy Spirit, sweet and gracious, draws the soul to love the Lord, and in the sweetness of the Holy Spirit the soul loses her fear of suffering.
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.
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.
There are things which one cannot explain but can only live. Every spiritual experience is an ultimate mistery. Failure is not to fall; Failure is to stay down and not get up again.
Regardless of the place or time, humble people will always express the truth. They know that everyone who fights against the truth is like that worthless slave who slapped our Lord in the face. Based on Abba Mark In this photograph, Bishop Chrysostomos of Rodostolos among the much younger Vatopaidi monks.
"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.
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.
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.
It is impossible to know truth without God allowing us to experience trials. Those who don’t wish to endure these trials for the sake of truth will endure greater hardships from the sickness of their soul. Based on St. Isaac the Syrian, Abba Mark This photo shows Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Rodostolos (centre) together with a young student from the Athonite Academy (left) surrounded by fathers from Vatopaidi.
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.
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.
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.
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.
An Old Wing of the Monastery at Night The East Wing of Vatopaidi Monastery consisting of monks’ cells - 3:30am. The first sections of the wing were built before 1450. Monks pray and study late into the night and early morning, often struggling against the need for sleep in an effort to compensate for the lack of prayer in the world.
Sing with wisdom, rhythm and good zeal and you'll be like a baby eagle which flies to the heights. Elder Ephraim is depicted chanting together with his spiritual children in front of the miracle-working icon of Panagia Pantanassa.
Farewell before the journey A priestmonk reads the prayers of the unction service several days before the departure of Elder Ermolaos. He is preparing along with all the brotherhood for the closing of this life and the journey into the next. On the Holy Mountain death is the celebration of the separation of soul and body. Whilst the body decays into its physical organic corruption, the soul continues its existence, aware of itself and remembering the life it lived: its joys, sorrows and all the other events of its life. For this reason we strive not to act in a way that will leave us in humiliation and shame for all eternity.
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.
At times Im speechless; other times Im happy, and Im happy when Im speechless in front of the delicate beauty of nature and not in front of blind human brutality. He was very beautiful, gentle and delicate. We talked in silence for about half an hour. He was very kind and allowed me to take many photos of him. We shook hands and he left to his paradise. In awe, I wondered how much this fragile creature resembled the soul of a saint departing in peace.
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.
The Need for a Cross Many times we need to pass through sorrows. Many times we’re left alone in front of a trial. We must undertake a certain task by ourselves– not because the others necessarily dislike us, but because this is the way it is. Taken at the end of a harvest of potatoes, at which one monk stayed behind the others in order to gather the remaining potatoes.
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.
Tradition is the guiding light on the way to becoming saint. Live near a man who already became a saint and do as you see. Observe and mimic his behavior and with the light of his personal example you will became a saint also. In this photo one of the Vatopaidi monks is maintaining the forever burning candle of the miracle-working icon of Mother of God Vimatarissa.
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.
Man, being God's image, is corrected and guided much better through love, patience and understanding rather through anger, wrangle and hate. The first victory against anger is to keep the mouth shout when you're mad. After the wave of anger will pass and the eye of the mind will clean up and will you will see again without error, only then give explanations. And you'll see that in vast majority of cases there is no need of explanations anymore because the things will fix up by themselves. In this photo two brothers sharing a spiritual moment together during a short rest.
Acquire sweet lips and everyone will be your friend. The humble ones reckon that they themselves aren't sinless and hence don't expect their friends to be without sin either. In this photo the Elder Silouanos, during a short pause from making prayer ropes, is captured in a friendly chat with the father Silouanos the newer of Vatopaidi.
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.
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.
God is pleased more in ones humility having been provoked by an unjust bout which he suffered rather than in ones pride which stems from a good thing which he accomplished. Moreover, He fills us with great joy if we keep our faith in Him and reject the sinister thoughts against the ones who unjustly wronged us. This photo is an emergency "identity card" shot for the Elder Silouan, a very poor hermit from Mount Athos, after he was looted by thieves which took all of his belongings (including his identity papers) leaving him only with his old work garment as pictured.
Divine Liturgy Experiencing the grace of God is the beginning of an internal apocalypse. The very first revelation which one encounters is inexpressible joy, peace, love, serenity and a sure feeling of fulfillment. Sometimes, as His grace grows, this internal spiritual light encourages the one who bears it to express his newfound joy and gratitude not only internally but also externally. This is a truly impressive spectacle for those who have yet to experience this sweet mystery.