Saturday July 12, 2014 marked the 20th Anniversary of the passing of the late Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos. Elder Paisios’ life and teachings touched the life of thousands of people around the world and continues to do so to this day. In 1977, with the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos, Australia was blessed to have been visited by Elder Paisios.
Our monastery was also blessed to have been visited by the Elder and in particular to our then newly established church in Sydney, “The Transfiguration of Our Lord” which is now functioning as a Parish Church. Since that time the Elder showed special interest and spiritual concern for our monastery. On many occasions he expressed his paternal concern for us through his ongoing spiritual advice and other gestures of support including holy relics and other religious items. We have included below a photo taken of him on this visit.
To celebrate his memory we present the following excerpt from ‘Spiritual Awakening’, one of six-volumes published to date containing spiritual counsels given by the late Elder to the nuns at the Holy Monastery of St. John the Theologian, Souroti, Greece, which were recorded and later transcribed. This particular counsel focuses our attention on our personal spiritual struggle. One may easily fall into the trap of “helping” other people with their faults before confronting and dealing with their own.
When can we be of help to others?
If you want to help the Church, it is better to try to correct yourself, rather than be looking to correct others. If you manage to correct yourself, one small part of the Church is immediately corrected. Naturally, if everyone did the same, the body of the Church would be in good health. But, today, people concern themselves with anything but themselves. You see, judging others is easy, whereas working on yourself takes effort.
If we work to correct ourselves and look more intently towards our “inner” activity rather than our external, giving precedence to divine help, we can in turn be of greater and more positive help to others. We will also achieve an inner serenity that will quietly help the souls of the people we encounter because spiritual serenity reflects the virtue of the soul and transforms souls.
When someone applies himself to external activity before having polished his spiritual inner state, he may struggle spiritually, but he will be fraught with worry, anxiety, lack of confidence in God and frequent loss of serenity. If he does not improve himself, he cannot say that his interest for the common good is pure. When he is liberated from the old self and all things worldly, then he will receive divine Grace and be not only at peace with himself, but also able to bring peace to everyone else. But if he has not received the Grace of God, then he can neither govern himself nor help others in order to bring about a divine effect. He must first be immersed in divine Grace and then utilise his resulting sanctified powers for the salvation of others.
Source: Spiritual Awakening (Spiritual Counsels of Elder Paisios)