Elder Ephraim of Katounakia (1912-1998)


Elder Ephraim of Katounakia, Mt Athos, is one of the greatest and most memorable elders of the twentieth century. He was a giant of Athonite hesychasm, renowned for his obedience and his gifts of clairvoyance. The Elder began his life on Athos in 1933 at Katounakia, the desert of Mt Athos, and remained there until his repose in 1998. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1936. Even though he did not live in the brotherhood of Elder Joseph the Hesychast, Elder Ephraim was wholeheartedly devoted to Elder Joseph.

His own elder, Elder Nikiphoros, was an extremely severe and simple monk who could not offer the young Father Ephraim guidance in the frequent spiritual states he was experiencing. Father Ephraim found the water he had long thirsted for in the teachings and guidance of his beloved Elder Joseph. He found answers to all his questions, receiving direction in the patristic tradition. Elder Joseph taught him about the Jesus prayer, about the fruits of obedience, about the life of divine Grace, and opened for him the doors to an earthly paradise. But what a dilemma for Father Ephraim! He lived in a brotherhood of elders ignorant of the treasures he had discovered.

He had thoughts of leaving to join the brotherhood of Elder Joseph, but the wondrous fruits of spiritual progress were to be won through the life of absolute obedience and so, he remained with Elder Nikiphoros. Elder Joseph once whispered to him: “I know your thoughts and your entire spiritual state. Don’t be afraid; I’ll never leave you alone”. Such words sufficed to comfort the young priestmonk. Thus, a life of obedience saw this holy man receive gifts beyond belief. He became a luminary for the entire Holy Mountain and the Orthodox faithful who made the journey to receive his blessing. From lived experience, Elder Ephraim repeated to all who would listen that “obedience is life; disobedience, death”.


Source: Lychnos October / November 2016