Monday, June 30, 2014

The Translation of the Relics of the Holy Elder Fr. Gervasios Paraskevopoulos

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary since the repose of the Holy Elder Fr. Gervasios Paraskevopoulos, the teacher and spiritual father of the city of Patras. Yesterday, 29 June 2014, His Eminence Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Patras presided over the translation of the relics of Elder Gervasios at the Anaplastiki School in Patras, which was founded by the Elder and where he was buried. Following Great Vespers for the Holy Twelve Apostles, his sacred relics were transferred to the Church of Saint Paraskevi at the Camp of the School in a special reliquary, with great celebration. The church and youth camp were also founded by the Elder. When the Clergy, Monks and faithful beheld with tears the uncovering of the sacred relics of the Elder, they cried out the same thing that was said at his Funeral on July 1, 1964: "He is a Saint!"

Fr. Gervasios Paraskevopoulos, the Man of God: 
50 Years After His Repose

By His Eminence Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Patras

Fifty years have passed since the man of God, the ever-memorable Fr. Gervasios Paraskevopoulos, raised the sanctified white flag in the sacred fight for his pious leadership and allowed his soul to fly into the bosom of the heavenly Father.

Crowds of people sent him off to eternity with tears in their eyes, because their spiritual father was departing, who had taught them the word of God, supported them in their pain, rejoiced in their joy and illumined like a bright star the course of their lives.

He was born in 1877 in Granitsa, todays Nymphasia in Gortynia, at the holy soil of hero-bearing and saint-bearing Arcadia, and having eaten the bread of the pain of orphanhood, he arrived with toil and suffering to the city of Saint Andrew, which then was pastored by Hierotheos (Mitropoulos), another bright star whose origin was from Arcadia in the next town from where the late Fr. Gervasios saw the light of life.

In Patras he tasted the love and paternal affection, and experienced the flame and burning zeal of the wonderful and intense Hierarch Hierotheos, who struggled with passion against heresies and masonry, and left this life pained towards that which was incompatible with the sacred beliefs of the Greek Orthodox tradition, that he kept as the apple of his eye.

Thus Fr. Gervasios came with the zeal of Elijah to the sacred Vineyard of the Lord, as a monk then as a Deacon and Presbyter of the Church of the Slain Lamb.

The ever-memorable one truly shined brilliantly "as a torch on the lamp of the luminous throne of the Lord, radiating illumination, dogma and action", as St. Isidore of Pelusium says.

He had a prophetic form when conveying the message of the one true God, of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church as the only body of salvation by which man can be saved.

With passion of soul he rebuked sin and apostasy from God, like another prophet, and was an unerring guide of the people with a biblical, patristic and strict hand, exuding love to all people.

His words were clear, like the starry water he drank for the first time in the rugged mountains of Gortynia; his life was like the brilliant sun, radiating and shining the luminance of the virtues.

He was an immobile rock of the revealed truth of God and in teaching the faith, never considering falsifying the alabaster of precious spiritual myrrh, namely the sacred Orthodox tradition, always having in his ears, or what am I saying, always having in his heart the words of the Holy Apostle Paul: "And even if an angel preaches a different gospel from what I have preached to you, let him be anathema" (Gal. 1:8).

As a Liturgist of the Most High, he was seen to elevate between heaven and earth and lived the moving experiences of the Saints of God. The Divine Liturgy for him was a divine mystagogy. Wedded perfectly to the Sacred Mystery, full of awe and solemnity, modest, with simple garb, he gave the impression of a heavenly being and guided souls to spiritual heights, to true elevation, according to the testimonies of many Clergy and Laity who lived these wonderful experiences near him.

As a spiritual father he was untiring, his zeal unabated, his love exemplary, his patience admirable. Neither his age nor his many years of service burned out his sacred enthusiasm for the salvific mystery of confession, from which thousands of people were reborn spiritually and found the way of salvation through their hearts being crushed with sincere repentance.

He particularly loved children and was the founder of Catechetical Schools for the Church of Greece. "Take care of the lambs of God", he would say about the children, who ran to be near him feeling the purity of his heart and sanctity of his life.

He was distinguished for his fighting enthusiasm, like that of Joshua the Son of Nun, who even stopped the sun to win the battle (Josh. 10:12-14).

He was without comparison when performing his duties, in whatever position he served. This especially was seen when he served as Chancellor of the ever-memorable Archbishop Chrysanthos of Athens.

He also showed himself to be a flag-bearer when the Lord miraculously revealed to him the mark of the Honorable Cross within the pine tree, which the Elder planted in the location of the campground.

I remember a typical conversation I had with my Elder, the ever-memorable Metropolitan Theoklitos of Mantinea and Kynouria, who by the witness of Elder Gervasios became a Sacred Cleric. On the desk of the late Theoklitos was located by itself a photograph of the Elder, as well as a photograph depicting the inside of the tree with the mark of the Life-Giving Cross. "He was a sanctified man", said the ordained Hierarch about Fr. Gervasios. "He was in a state equal to that of the angels, and I exhort you paternally and beg you to be like him, walking in his footsteps."

The years passed, the Metropolitan departed for heaven, and the Lord sent me to Patra as a Hierarch. One of my first concerns was to perform a memorial at the grave of the late Elder Gervasios and embrace the tombstone, beneath which was kept the venerable and sanctified Relics of the fervent worker of the Sacred Gospel and luminous Liturgist of the Most High.

My visit with many of the pious faithful of Patras to his birthplace in Nymphasia of Gortynia, the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in the Sacred Church of the Holy Trinity, the memorial service at the place he was born, were experiences that were spiritually moving.

Fifty years have passed since the time Fr. Gervasios departed for heaven, on 30 June in 1964, the day of the Synaxis of the Holy Apostles. But his spiritual presence in Patras continues. He never forsook us. We feel his breath, his love, his blessing, his intercessions.

We have a sacred debt and holy duty to the spiritual father and teacher of Patras, to whom all our sacred Clergy and pious People bow reverentially, who guided us to receive the decision for the translation of his sacred Relics, glorifying God because He gave us Fr. Gervasios and gratefully honoring the memory of the late and brilliant Priest.

But the promise, after a long discussion, with the other diamond of Patras, the student and spiritual child of the ever-memorable Fr. Gervasios, the late Metropolitan Hierotheos (Tsantiles) of Hydra, Spetses and Aegina, guided our hearts to the above decision, so that his holy soul may have rest, by our promise and our spiritual commitment.

On the evening of Sunday the 29th of June, after Vespers that will take place at 5:30 in the Sacred Church of Saint Paraskevi at the Camp of Sychaina, which Fr. Gervasios himself founded, the translation of his relics will take place, that we may kiss his sanctified skull and by this bless the city of Patra, which the Elder loved so much, as well as its people, for whom he struggled till his last breath, in order to appear as an excellent shepherd before the throne of God.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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