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.
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
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.
Washing dishes is a lowly task, both in the world and in the monastery. It may be seen either as a chore to be done (or even avoided, if possible) or as one more opportunity for spiritual progress. In order for such tasks to be of spiritual benefit they must be approached with humility and diligence. These virtues, however, require a fair amount of effort and struggle to acquire. As you labor to honestly know yourself, you acquire humility, which eventually becomes a permanent part of your character. The struggle must be to understand who you really are rather than who you imagine yourself to be. Based on the teachings of Saint Paisios the Athonite and Elder Joseph the Hesychast In this photo monks of Vatopaidi are seen washing the dishes
The higher level man reaches in spiritual life, the lesser are his rights; Spiritually mature man doesn't have any rights. Based on St. Paisios the Athonite
World War III: why and when? A pilgrim asked a monk, “When will the Third World War happen, and why?” The monk replied, “What is most important is the ‘why’. The greatest problem in the world today is not sin – even though indeed the sins are greater and more numerous that in the past. The greatest problem is that what is sinful is regarded as virtuous, and what is virtuous as sinful. This prevents us from repenting of what is truly sinful and consequently we can no longer improve our character. “God, therefore, as a loving Father, seeks to stop this movement in the wrong direction. He first tries to do this with wise words of instruction and admonishment, but since today no one (or perhaps very few) listen to His words or follow them, He must enter very dynamically into history. This doesn't mean that God makes the war happen but rather than war is the inevitable outcome of man’s rejection of His grace, which is the only thing that is able to keep hatred and evil in check, including the disastrous wars. And the great suffering that we already see is only the beginning. “This is why you should not be too concerned with “when” and other such details; rather repent and pray for peace because, nevertheless, the time indeed is drawing near.” Today’s photo is from the Vespers of Forgiveness, the last service before Great Lent and the prime service of joyful repentance in the Church year.
The Creator and Ruler of the world called Himself meek and humble of heart. Therefore, to be a true Ruler of this world we must also be humble and meek in our hearts, with a deep respect for our neighbor and for all of creation. This photo shows the small port (arsanas) of Zographou Monastery.
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
He who has become aware of his sins has controlled his tongue, but a talkative person has not yet got to know himself as he should. The friend of silence draws near to God, and by secretly conversing with Him, is enlightened by God. The silence of Jesus put Pilate to shame, and by a man’s stillness vainglory is vanquished. Based on St. John of the Ladder
Rule #1 of programming: If a program works perfectly, the pleasure goes to users. If something is wrong, the programmer is to blame. This leads us to think about God who gives in the end justice for all. So, do not despair. In this photo, one of the chefs preparing the food for the Vatopaidi's refectory.
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
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 Seraphim The first group of angels consists of those who are in God's presence and are said to be directly and immediately one with Him: the Seraphim with their six wings, the many-eyed Cherubim and the holiest Thrones. An angel, then, is an intelligent essence, in perpetual motion, with free-will, ministering to God, having obtained by grace an immortal nature. It is not susceptible of repentance because it is incorporeal. For it is owing to the weakness of his body that man comes to have repentance. They are secondary intelligent lights derived from that first light which is without beginning, for they have the power of illumination; they have no need of tongue or hearing, but without uttering words they communicate to each other their own thoughts and counsels. Based on St. John of Damascus In the photo, a candid moment from Divine Leiturgy near to the Holy Altar at Vatopaidi.
Each one of us has a saint who protects him with great care, even if we don't feel this in every moment. Based on St. George Karslidis In this photo two monks praying in the Chapel of St Gregory Palamas (Vatopaidi) having in their background the icons of St Gregory Palamas (right) and his elder - St. Nikodemus the Hesycast
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.
Analyses of the person are essential, because within this framework we can solve the social problems as well. A society cannot exist without man. Man is making our society and all the social institutions ill. A person who is ill creates various disturbances and is a divisive factor. The mask is what destroys the unity of society. If a man is not a real person, he cannot live in love and freedom. Societies automatically become dominated by tyranny and hatred. Based on Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos In this photo is shown a spiritual discussion between some pilgrims and a monk at Vatopaidi, near to the thomb of Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi
People who work for Christ, but with pride, stink out their virtues with their pride. It’s like if you’re frying eggs and you get bird droppings in them. You have to throw the whole lot out, including the frying pan. That's why the monks seek always the humbleness. Based on St Paisios the Athonite In this photo is depicted the chef monk from the St George's Cell at Kolitsou, near Vatopaidi, preparing the grilled fish for the feast of St. George in an empty barrel which was used as stove.
If you want to go to sweet Paradise, you have to eat a lot of bitter things here, so that you’ve got your passport of trials to hand. Trust in God’s a continuous, mystical prayer that softly brings God’s powers to where they’re needed and when they’re needed. Based on St Paisios the Athonite In this photo are depicted two Monks from Vatopaidi outside in cold and among dense vegetation trying to collect olives from trees for the Monastery.
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.
Don’t wind the clock too tightly or the spring may break. This is the way it is with children, as well; when they are starting to feel forced, let off on the pressure. Based on St. Paisios the Athonite In this photo a Vatopaidi monk adjusting the Church's main clock.The clock was received in the Monastery in 1805 from Vienna, althogh the clock is believed to date much earlier from around 1700-1750.
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.
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.
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.
To judge sins is the business of one who is sinless; who is sinless except God? It is not right to judge others even if one sees evil with their own eyes. One may only judge the sin and not the sinner. There exists an entire world within the every person that cannot be judged, except by God. The quality of each person is given by the quality of their thoughts. Have good thoughts for a good life; bad thoughts for a bad one. Based on St. Gennadius of Constantinople The photo depicts a small resting place near to Chapel of Prof. Elijah which belongs to Dochiariou Monastery.
We are taught to bear the spiritual infirmities of our brothers gladly, without annoyance; and everyone is our brother. When someone is physically ill, we not only show patience, but do our very best to make them comfortable; the same should also apply in cases of spiritual illnesses. Monks in the laundry room separating and ironing sheets for the pilgrims' rooms in the Guesthouse of Vatopaidi monastery.
How to overcome the war against yourself When someone wages war against you, take example of Crist's crucifixion. Don't fight fire with fire. It makes you look ridiculous. Instead make a little path in order to let the light of Christ's example and His teaching enter and then the darkness will go away by itself. One needs faith, courage and patience in order to accomplish this. But without a cross to bare, there is no resurrection. Based on St Porfyrios of Kavsokalivia In this photo is depicted the Metropolitan Amphilohios of Adrianoupoleos raising the Cross with his hands at the Divine Liturgy. Vatopaidi, the feast of the Holy Founders.
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
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.
If God is slow in answering your request, or if you ask but do not promptly receive anything, do not be upset, for you are not wiser than God. And, in fact, the act of praying is already a small victory against your passions. Based upon St Isaac the Syrian A moment from the small entrance of Divine Liturgy at the Cell of the Mother of God's Nativity. The cell's occupant is hermit Elder Nektarios (on the left with candle).
How to fit the pieces Today many of us wonder, "How do we fit so many people in an organization?". Orthodoxy solved this problem more than 2000 years ago. The problem isn't so much the organization but the people themselves. The leader must be capable to raise the spiritual level of his flock through his prayer and his personal example: talk and act in such a way in which he can correct, guide and inspire his followers without damaging the employer-employee relationship. The leader (employer) must recognize and respect one's virtues and abilities as well as his weak points. Do not allow your passions to fit the pieces but always ask what God will do in your place. In this photo a Vatopaidi monk is at garage trying to fit a new clutch on to a car.
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.
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.
He who exposes every snake to his spiritual father shows that he has real faith; but he who hides them will wander in trackless wastes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If we can endure the lack of the material objects and our hearts aren't enslaved to these entities, then God will grant them to us a hundred times over. Even if in His divine wisdom He does not fulfill our mundane desires, it is for the benefit of our souls. Often God doesn't grant material requests from the beginning because within the pretext of our supplications exists the danger of forgetting the spiritual things for the material concerns. In any case, we must be thankful always for that which God grants us!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The light of the monks are the angels. The light of the laymen are the monks. In the same manner in which the sunlight attracts the sane eye, the knowledge of God attracts the clean mind through love. In this photo, a monk guides a group of laymen which help to clean up the footpaths of the Holy Mountain.
Countenance is the portrait of the soul, and the eyes mark its intentions. Pilgrims during a pensive moment in the worship service.
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.
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 Joy of Sacrifice For more than 30 years now, Elder Germanos has been a “mularas” – the one who takes care and leads the mules through the mountains. With much labor, he brings wood from the mountain to the monastery, fulfilling an essential need for the daily life of the brotherhood. Till recent years, there was no electricity, and other kinds of fuel were not widespread, hence the woods were the basis for almost everything: cooking, heating, construction, furniture, etc. Now Elder Germanos is a member of the Governing Council of Vatopaidi Monastery and is occupied with other duties, but he still finds time to take a picture with the mules.
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.
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.
One of the first buildings which a newcomer encounters when entering the monastery is the guesthouse. His spiritual metamorphosis begins once he realizes that the world which he exited is radically different from the world which he is stepping into, regardless of seemingly exterior similarities of the two worlds. This photo depicts the Vatopaidi courtyard with the Tower of Metamorphosis on the left and the monastery guesthouse on right.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Perhaps it is a little bold what I'm saying but it is better to quarrel with God rather than with your spiritual father. If you are at odds with God, your spiritual father will reconcile you with Him. But if you are separated from your elder, who will reconcile with your spiritual guide?
After the Fire One of the greatest physical dangers for the monks and monasteries throughout the years has been conflagrations. The age of the buildings, the immense wooded areas which surround the monastic settlements and the numerous wood stoves provide a continuous threat. Similarly, the spiritual life of the monk is no exception. He is under continuous threat from the internal spiritual fires which are a part of his everyday life. The art of monasticism is to fight and ultimately overcome these fires within, constantly progressing towards the true light from above. This is why monks seek to maintain their serenity and peace, even during the most critical moments of their life.
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.
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.
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.
The most powerful weapon of the devil is desperation. He doesn't rejoice so much when we sin compared to when we despair. This is because the last and definitive victory of the devil is when he succeeds to put the soul into despair. That's why we must remember that God always has an open door, an open window for us. Always. All we have to do is keep on walking towards his countenance .