Epistles by Saint Paisios

This book contains a collection of six letters written by Elder Paisois (now St Paisios) to the Sisters at the Monastery of St John the Evangelist in Souroti. The letters were written between 1971 and 1975 to assist the Sisters in their spiritual struggle. However, they also have a more universal relevance and application to our lives.

The writing is in St Paisios’ classic simple and engagingly direct style, whose gems can be seen in these three extracts.

Firstly, in speaking about the danger of being indifferent because we have not committed any ‘major’ sins, the Saint writes:

‘Those who neglect their spiritual duties without excuse and show indifference to their minor sins will very soon be levelled like the trees that are brought down suddenly from an army of worms and not from a single axe.’

Secondly, in speaking about the importance of being under the guidance of a spiritual father, and avoiding the aim of ‘over-spiritualising’ ourselves with false zeal, the Saint writes:

‘For the unripe melon does not become ripe by squeezing it, but rather ripens in its own time, and then its ripeness is revealed by the aroma alone. Those who struggle egotistically, with selfconfidence, are tortured and then blown up by the mine of self-confidence.’

Thirdly, when explaining how to acquire humility, the Saint writes that we should aim to imitate the Earth as:

‘It accepts with joy anything we throw away, good fruits as well as dirty trash, converts them quietly into vitamins and, with its fruits, offers them plentifully to both good and evil people without discrimination.’

The lessons in the book are not exclusively for monastics, although there are portions that are more directly targeted to those. Even in those instances, however, the reader can clearly see a strong underlying spirit of love and humility. In this sense, the book is much more than a mere educational experience, but rather provides an uplifting insight into the mind of a Saint.

Source: Lychnos April 2022 /May 2022