July 4, 2009

The Relationship Between Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi and the Theotokos

This icon depicts Elder Joseph offering a small church to the Panagia Pantanassa

In this video Elder Joseph describes with emotion how he received the keys to Vatopaidi Monastery from Christ Himself and the Theotokos. Below is an English translation of this lecture.

"And if I do not manage, don't misunderstand me, because my memory is weak. It doesn't keep much. However, I don't stop praying. This, I promise to you. Due to the fact that I can't offer you anything else, and you do good to me, I pray whenever I'm free and all by myself. I'm not bragging. I'm not boasting. But, I confess to you. I insist, though many times with laudable audacity:

'All-Good One, I beg you! You attracted me, you made me wear these rasa. I beg you All-Good God! Don't abandon me! Help! You called me and you brought me here and you gave me the keys of the Vatopaidi Monastery. You, Yourself! The Son of the Living God!'

When I was begging Him to show me His will through Elder Porphyrios, He talked to me. Himself! God the Logos! He gave me the keys of Vatopaidi. And, I used these keys to open Vatopaidi and what you see now took place. God the Logos Himself came, His affectionate Mother came, His Mother, our Mother, our consolation, and She spiritually renewed Vatopaidi. And She put us on the path of the terminοlogy of the Holy Fathers. I'm not denying anything.

She gave us the ability to write, to write with details the whole terminology of the Holy Fathers. Have consolation in the continuous future. All these things, and I kindly invoke your love, your kindness, to accept them with humility and obedience, to continue your path with self-denial and the love of persistent effort.

The first beginning is obedience; after obedience is the Prayer, unceasing prayer, that should never stop; after unceasing prayer, humility and obedience come. After humility and obedience, love of persistent effort comes. And then the person learns how to resist the various excuses of false needs: to succumb to selfishness and egoism. We stand by the meaning of the love of persistent effort. We will not succumb to anything that's prohibited in our life."

Panagia Pantanassa (All-Praised)

This holy and miracle-working icon of the All-Holy Virgin was brought to the Vatopaidi Monastery by the Blessed Elder Joseph from New Skete. The first record of the icon's miraculous powers is from the testimony of Elder Joseph.

One day a young man from Cyprus went to visit and entered the church. At that point, the Elder witnessed a glowing light radiating from the face of the Theotokos and an invisible power pushed the young man down to the ground. When the young man had recovered from his fall, he began to repent and weep and confessed that he did not believe and was a participant in the black arts (the occult). He changed his life and became an Orthodox Christian. This icon is also known for working many miracles, especially healing people with cancer. There are many recent records of people who have been healed from cancer after participating in the Supplicatory Canon to the Pantanassa at the Monastery.

Below is a poem written by Elder Joseph to the Panagia Pantanassa:

Εις τα άγια ανετράφης των Αγγέλων τη προνοία,
πού προώρισεν ο πλάστης για την θεοκοινωνία.
Έπεσε το πρώτο πλάσμα στην φθοράν και συνετρίβη,
μά η θεία παναγάπη ουδαμώς δεν απεκρύβη.
Εις το πλήρωμα του χρόνου η Παρθένος των αγίων,
ανεδείχθη η διόπτρα των αρρήτων μυστηρίων.
Ο παρθενικός της βίος κι η τέλεια αγωγή,
έπεισαν τον Κυβερνήτην προς ημάς να κατεβή.
Ο υπέραγνός της τρόπος, εκ των κόλπων του Πατρός,
είλκυσε τον Θείον ΛΟΓΟΝ με αξίαν της Μητρός.
Στής παρακοής το σφάλμα, όπου ο νόμος της φθοράς,
η Υπέραγνος Παρθένος έγινε διά της αγάπης η αιτία της χαράς.
Το απόρρητον εν πάσι των αρρήτων μυστηρίων,
έλυσεν η θεία ΚΟΡΗ με τον ΤΟΚΟΝ της κυρίως.
Σύμπαντος του κόσμου άρχει, και διέπει η Τριάδα,
αλλά στην Παρθένον ΚΟΡΗ εσαρκώθη η Μονάδα.
Το αχώριστον στην φύσιν της Τριάδος μένει πάντα,
καί τον Λόγον η Παρθένος απεγέννησεν εις άνδρα.
Ακατάληπτον θα μείνη το μυστήριον του Τόκου·
πώς Παρθένος και Μητέρα; ανερμήνευτου του τρόπου.
Της Τριάδος δευτερεία επροικίσθης Παναγία,
καί το πώς δεν ερμηνεύει πάσα η Θεολογία.
Μυριώνυμος η κλήσις και αρμόδιος ο τρόπος,
κι ό,τι κι αν σε προσφωνήσουν είναι χρέος, κι όχι κόπος.
Ως Παντάνασσα, σοί πρέπει ότι πάντων κυριεύεις·
παντός πόνου και ανάγκης εις την ίασιν πρωτεύεις.
Στών παρθένων ταίς χορείαις, και γυναίων και ανδρών,
μετατρέπεις τη στοργή σου πάντα κόπον εις φαιδρόν.
Έστησας του ήθους μόνη, την ανάπλασιν κυρίως,
κι ο παρθενικός σου βίος εφαρμόζεται οσίως.
Ικετεύω χάρισαί μου, ό,τι είχα και μου κλάπη,
καί αυτό δεν είναι άλλο, παρά μόνο η αγάπη.
Έν σου βλέμμα μόνον στρέψε, ικετεύω σε, Κυρία,
καί βεβαίως θα μου έλθη διά σου η σωτηρία.

Another beautiful hymn by Elder Joseph sung by the choir of the Monastery of Vatopaidi to the Panagia Pantanassa.