ATHONITE FATHERS AND ATHONITE MATTERS
This book deals with the lives or events in the lives of Elders of Mount Athos who lived in the period between 1840 and 1980.
The author, Elder Paisios, was blessed in being able to associate with many righteous Athonite fathers, "athletes" of Christ, or to hear others tell of them. He was deeply impressed by their holy simplicity, their unshakeable, genuine faith; he was moved by the generosity of spirit in which they struggled; he admired their self-denial unto death and their devotion to the ascetic ideal; he tasted and was sweetened by the honey of their virtues; and, being animated by the same spirit of Christian struggle, he imitated their godly achievements.
"The Elder’s countenance was luminous; he was enveloped by the grace of God. Just looking at him was enough to make you forget every care; he spread joy with his inner kindness. His external clothing, his patched old habit, was worse than the clothes that gardeners use to make scarecrows to keep the birds away. If anyone happened to give him something good, he gave it at once to someone else."—Elder Paisios, on Elder Augustine of Mount Athos
Elder Paisios later undertook to record as much as his memory and his heart had retained out of reverence and a sense of sacred duty toward the holy fathers. He also wrote this book out of love for his fellow men, because every day he was painfully aware that in the spiritual life of people today—lay people and monastics—logic rather than faith prevails. The lives of the Athonite fathers described in these pages help us all to understand how much we have deviated from the mind of the fathers of the Church and how we are to return, so as to find the true meaning of our own lives.
As a conclusion to the book, Elder Paisios offers a distillation of his own experience and of God’s wisdom, with the title "The Return to God from Earth to Heaven."
"Now that conveniences have exceeded all bounds, they have become inconveniences. Machines have multiplied; distractions have also multiplied and man has been made into a machine. Machines and iron order men around, which is why their hearts have become as hard as steel."—Elder Paisios, from "The Return to God from Earth to Heaven"