Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit: The Lives & Counsels of Contemporary Elders of Greece
By Herman A. Middleton
Published by Protecting Veil, 3rd edition, 2011.
“Read a lot so that God might enlighten your mind.” – St Porphyrios
Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit describes the lives and teachings of eight important Spiritual Fathers of modern Greece.
The book gives a biography of each Elder along with a selection of their teachings and counsels in the style of ‘The Sayings of the Desert Fathers’.
The Elders described are: Amphilochios of Patmos, Epiphanios of Athens, Iakovos of Evia, Joseph the Hesychast, Paisios the Athonite, Philotheos of Paros, Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia and St George of Drama.
Some of these Fathers have been canonised as Saints: Elders Paisios and Porphyrios (after the book was published), as well as St George of Drama. The other Elders are similarly distinguished by their holiness and teachings. For example, Elder Philotheos (1884 – 1980) undertook many missionary travels to towns and villages to preach to the people and hear confessions, contributing to a restoration of the Orthodox faith amongst the various islands of the Dodecanese. An extraordinary example of the Elder’s virtue is described, taking place during the German occupation of Greece:
“At one point Elder Philotheos interceded with the German commissioner of Paros for 125 innocent young Greeks condemned to death. The commissioner, unwilling to back down, finally gave in when Fr. Philotheos offered to be executed along with them.”
Some of the teachings of the same Elder Philotheos, as recounted in the book, include:
“If a man builds a house and leaves it without a roof, this house can’t be used at all. In the same way, if a man acquires all the virtues but not love, the house remains useless and is of no benefit at all.”
“In order for the nation to be straightened out, evil habits and sin must cease.”
Many more edifying examples and sayings fill the pages of this book.
Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit is a significant resource for any Orthodox Christian seeking guidance on faith, holiness, and wisdom in our contemporary time; each Elder being a vivid, modern example of the true life in Christ.
Source: August-September 2015 Lychnos Edition