Friday, December 5, 2014

Saint Gregory Palamas at the Hesychasterion of Saint Savvas

Hesychasterion of Saint Savvas

After 5 years of a peaceful life in Beroia, there began frequent attacks from the Serbians, so St. Gregory Palamas was obliged to move again to the Holy Mountain to Great Lavra Monastery in 1331, but he did not stay in the main complex but nearby in the solitary Hesychasterion of Saint Savvas the Sanctified. His cell was high above the Lavra clinging to the steep flank of Mount Athos. It took about an hour of arduous climbing to reach.

He went to the Monastery only infrequently and would receive his rare visitors on Sundays and feast days. Going on from that contemplation which is still outward, Gregory then attained to the vision of God in the light of the Holy Spirit and to the deification promised by Christ to His perfect disciples.

One day in a dream, after three years at the Hesychasterion, he saw that in his hands was a vessel full of a milk from heaven which, as it overflowed, changed into wine and emitted a wonderful fragrance. Radiant youth appeared to him who said:

“Why do you not share this overflowing and wonderful drink with others? Why have you let it to pour out to no use? Do you not know this is a gift from God and that when poured out it is inexhaustible?”

Gregory asked:

“What if there are no people who worthily seek it or even ask for it?”

The angel answered:

“Though presently there are none that seek this with desire, nonetheless, you shall do your duty and not speculate in thought nor neglect to distribute it. You must render unto the Master the talent entrusted to you. Do you know the command and the talent that was given to the unprofitable servant and what became of him!”

The angel departed leaving Gregory enveloped in light.

This was a sign to him that the moment had come to teach his brethren the mysteries that God revealed to him. He wrote several ascetic treatises at this time, and, in 1335, was appointed Abbot of the Monastery of Esphigmenou. But the two hundred monks who lived there understood neither his zeal nor his spiritual expectations so, after a year, he returned to his Hesychasterion.

It was there, on Pentecost of 1337, that he read the erroneous theological treatises of Barlaam of Calabria. From this time on Gregory occupied himself with defending the hesychastic tradition of Mount Athos, leading him to become a Champion of the Orthodox Faith.

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