January 13, 2011

"Mount Athos Is On Fire!"

Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol relates below an extraordinary experience of an Athonite elder he knew personally:

"One day after vespers were over the elder went to his cell to continue praying on his own. While doing that, he marvelled at the thought that everybody - all two thousand or so monks of the entire Athonite peninsula - was praying during that very moment. Then, he wondered what the Holy Mountain looked like under such intense prayer.

At that very moment he experienced himself being catapulted by the Holy Spirit high up in the air. It was as if he were looking down from an aeroplane. From that high point, he saw the Athonite peninsula spurting out flames like an active volcano, as if the entire mountain was on fire. Some of the flames went straight up to heaven. Others seemed weak, like the flame of a small candle, while yet others were flickering and barely visible. Yet, there was one, this elder claimed, that was like a fiery river that went straight up. He then overheard a voice coming from heaven saying:

'What you have witnessed is the Holy Mountain and these are the prayers of the monks that go up to God.'

Then the elder asked: 'And whose prayer is this great river of fire?'

God replied that it was the prayer of a certain abbot of a certain monastery, whose name cannot be revealed since this abbot is still alive."

Excerpted from Gifts of the Desert: The Forgotten Path of Christian Spirituality by Kyriacos C. Markides, pp. 222-223.