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.
If the man doesn't cope with his own sins, devil will make him cope with other's. Based on St. Paisios the Athonite
Help in finding a good spouse. Note: This text was written for women, but can equally be applied by men. First of all, pray about it. Our Lord and His holy Mother are the primary source of aid for such matters. Then ask yourself, can I see him as the father of my children? You should find that this narrows it down to perhaps one or two. Now, imagine him as an old man with a wrinkled face and stooped over. Would you want to be at this man’s side? If so, then indeed there something of God’s hand in this relationship. Next, observe him around girls or women with whom he is not interested in having a relationship, like a sister or feeble or old women. How does he behave around them? Here you will see his true character. Finally, make sure he is someone who is fighting to overcome his passions and to correct his defects, no matter how large or small they may be. Make sure he is someone who is a true Christian. Based on St. John Chrysostom, St. Paisios the Athonite, Father Dumitru Staniloae
The Sunday of Orthodoxy We hate heresy because heresies misguide souls away from God and towards hell; this is the chief reason behind the anathema on a heresy and its creators and promoters. Despite this, we love the heretics themselves and do not say that they will necessarily end up in hell, since there is a power that is able to save them from their delusions; this power is their conscience. Plus it is not always possible to know the secret workings of Grace that may be going on within a particular soul. Within the Church today, believers who fail to make this distinction between the heresy and the heretic tend to fall into one of two errors. The one group, in order to accept the heretic in the name of “unity” and “love”, glosses over and fails to condemn and reject the heresy. This is the error of ecumenism. The other side, in their effort to rightfully condemn the heresy, also rejects and condemns the soul under the spell of the heresy, the heretic. This is the error of hardhearted legalism. Just as the true Christian must hate the sin and love the sinner, he must also condemn the heresy and love the heretic. This true path may be seen in the tradition of the Holy Fathers, as it is typified so beautifully here in the service of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, on the first Sunday of Great Lent.
A sad man is a man with the lights turned off. So, let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Based on father Arsenie Boca, Colossians 4:6 In this photo a friendly and spiritual chat between a monk from Vatopaidi and an engineer.
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.
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.
He who gives life to a son is called father. Since the soul is far more important than body, a true father is one who gives real life to the soul of his child, dragging him out from the darkness of his sin. Fathers, do not neglect to lovingly raise the souls of your children!
...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
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.
Those who have come to love the Lord are at first unceasingly and greatly disturbed by the thought of detachment, as if burning with divine fire. I speak of separation from their own, undertaken by the lovers of perfection so that they may live a life of hardship and simplicity. But great and praiseworthy as this is, yet it requires great discretion; for not every kind of exile, carried to extremes, is good. It is not from hatred that we separate ourselves from our own people or places (God forbid!), but to avoid the harm which might come to us from them. In order to see clearly, each one of us must detach from our daily 'reality'. Based on St. John of the Ladder This photo depicts the Monastery of Vatopaidi with the surrounding wilderness of the Holy Mountain.
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.
My child, people separate because of their sensuality and their selfishness. Nothing else. All other reasons are fabricated afterwards in order to justify themselves. Based on Elder Paisios the Athonite
This Nativity night bestowed peace on the whole world; So let no one threaten; This is the night of the Most Gentle One – Let no one be cruel; This is the night of the Humble One – Let no one be proud. Now is the day of joy – Let us not revenge; Now is the day of Good Will – Let us not be mean. In this Day of Peace – Let us not be conquered by anger. Today the Bountiful impoverished Himself for our sake; So, rich one, invite the poor to your table. Today we receive a Gift for which we did not ask; So let us give alms to those who implore and beg us. This present Day cast open the heavenly doors to our prayers; Let us open our door to those who ask our forgiveness. Today the Divine Being took upon Himself the seal of our humanity, In order for humanity to be decorated by the Seal of divinity. - St. Isaac Syrian, Nativity Sermon
God said ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’. We also know that God is love. Hence love is the way, the truth and life. Based on John 14:6, 1 John 4:16 This photo shows a candid moment in Vatopaidi's courtyard.
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.
The eternal end The monk praying in the sunset is a silent lucidity in a busy world, a light of hope in the labyrinth of logic, a gate to heaven in a material world.
We must do our tasks quickly and with discernment. Idleness is the mother of all evil. Although God has no need man's toil, it is of great importance in His eyes as it is a practical application of one's love for his neighbour. The brothers come together as one work force at the vineyard of Vatopaidi monastery to collect the grapes at the time of harvest.
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.
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.
Obedience is necessary not only for monks, but for all people. Even the Lord was obedient, unto death on the cross. The proud and self-regarding do not allow grace to live within them, and therefore they lack spiritual peace, while in the obedient soul the grace of the Holy Spirit enters easily and brings great joy and peace. Whoever bears even a little grace in himself joyfully submits himself to all direction. He knows that God directs everything from the heavens to the netherworld, himself and his business, and everything other thing in the world, and therefore he is always at peace. Monks in the old Vatopaidi kitchen while preparing fish to serve at the common meal.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Be filled with the Spirit; Speak to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; This photo depicts a rehearsal session of Vatopaidi's byzantine choir.
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.
Joyful obedience! The monk finds gladness in his willing sacrifice of his entire self for the Love of Christ. This is not a phychological trick or some facade of a blinded existence but a powerful experience of the gift given by the Almighty and Righteous God. For this reason, he who lives a spiritual life gives himself wholeheartedly and with great effort first and foremost for the Love of Christ and on that path finds that great joy, which is His abundant Grace.
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.
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.
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.
If you cover a transgression, you seek love; but if you spread it about, you separate yourself from your friends. It’s a great advantage to understand that true spiritual friends in Christ differ from those who praise us, even if they mean well. For those who want to know more: we’re all brethren - our friends are the saints and angels in Heaven. Based on Proverbs 17:9, St. Photios the Great
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.
It is one thing to speak about work and another to work practically. It is one thing to speak about pain and another to feel the pain. It is one thing to speak about honey and another to have the experience of its sweetness. The same stands for the spiritual matters: One thing is to speak about heavenly events and another to feel the Holy Spirit's energy in one's soul. God's grace comes when one implements acts of virtue. With words alone, his faith is dead. In this photo a member of the Governing Council of Vatopaidi Monastery is hard at work cleaning up one of the monastery's springs.
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.
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.
We must imitate the work of the wise bee which with much skill harversts from each blossom everything which is usefull. The fathers from Vatopaidi speaking with Mr. Georgios Mantzaridis, one of the most renowed theology and ethics professors from Grece and abroad.
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.
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.
God abides in each commandment by His gracious power. "God is hidden in His commandments", says St. Mark the Ascetic. God helps everyone who strives to keep His commandments. That God abides in us we know by the Spirit which He has given us. This means that a Christian is never alone, but that he lives and works together with the Thrice-Holy God. In this photo are depicted fathers from Vatopaidi's refectory while preparing grapes for the pilgrims of the feast of the Holy Belt of the Virgin Mary.
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.
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.
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.
Cooking on Mount Athos Cooking on Mount Athos is done in the traditional way almost all of the time. Monks are quite reserved and careful when faced with innovations, especially those that may impact the critical areas of their life. In this photograph Father Joseph from Vatopaidi is seen cooking on a wood fire oven for the mass of pilgrims expected at the Great Feast of the Lord’s Resurrection.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Awe Before the Sacred The awe shown before the sacred is an expression of love and joy and not one of fear. The monks does not venerate the wood, paint or craftsmanship of the icons; rather their love and respect is directed towards the persons or sacred events depicted in the icons. In the candid photograph above, a monk from one of the other nineteen monasteries of Mount Athos expresses his love, gratitude and respect for the Mother of God. Depicted here is one of the miracle-working icons at Vatopaidi Monastery that helped him spiritually throughout his entire monastic life.
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.
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.