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December 16, 2013

The Venerable Old Man Panais (2 of 5)

Holy Scripture and the Lives of the Saints were the basis of his words and advice and it was thought that he walked together with God. In the church and at his home he created a teaching circle, where groups of men and women came to hear his words and advice for their spiritual edification tirelessly for hours. He lived God in his heart and transferred to everyone the grace of the Holy Spirit. He did not belong to the office of the Priesthood, but he transferred priestly blessing and sanctification to the soul by grace. He was a Venerable One, as Saint Gregory of Nyssa makes mention. When a person renounces that which belongs to them, when they lift their cross and follow Christ and offer themselves as a burnt offering on the altar of God, when they love their brethren so that they give their soul for them, when they battle to the point of death for righteousness and truth, when they live in asceticism and are crucified for Him and like Him for the world, and offer themselves as a sacrifice on the altar of God which is the Church, then they become a priest of the same sacrifice, because they are transformed with the constant invocation of the Holy Spirit for their brethren. This was Old Man Panais in his life, a type of Christ and a man of piety, goodness and sacrifice.

Old Man Panais was a man who taught that a person outside the Church, in as much as the Church is a communion of people, will be found to be a prisoner, weak, desperate and alone, and he always wondered who would lift up such a person if they fall. He saw with the eyes of his soul and the wisdom gifted to him by God the rise of the period of individualism, pleasure and the absence of love, and he thought of gatherings that enabled people to converse with each other, to listen to readings and solve their queries. In these he was an excellent interpreter of theology and a liturgical teacher and doer. God, he said, asks for love, because He Himself is love. According to John the Evangelist, "Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them" (1 Jn. 4:16). He had such a mindset, where it was not possible for God to not be with us, near to those who call upon Him with prayers, and to be, he would say, evil, since He is good and loves His creatures.

Such were the ways he lived and his fruits were nothing but that which the Apostle Paul refers to in his epistle to the Galatians: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These his soul brought to fruition and these were radiant in his life, giving people an inexhaustible source of refreshment. His words refreshed souls and healed psychic trauma by giving security to divided souls. He would say to those who felt tortured: 

"Do not insist on knowing why such a thing is happening to you and why you have fallen. Rise up, find a spiritual father, purify your soul and stand on your feet. We must have falls in order to have experiences and be humbled that we may feel a need for God. The shame of condemnation is always heavy in the word of the Lord. Do not judge that you may not be judged. When you judge, you will fall and be condemned by your conscience, because by judging you accept the abandonment of God and temptation finds the opportunity to push you to fall."

How beautifully he would take images from life and gave understandable examples to build people up and for their salvation. He would say: 

"Let us do an electrical installation in our soul that we may have energy in our time of need, that we may receive light, power and air at the push of a button." 

We have need for such a facility for the energies of God, and by this he meant our union with prayer, which should be a basic principle of our spiritual life. He would say more strongly:

"Two things the Lord our God asked us to have: 'Learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls.' Are not egoism and anger more difficult?" 

Like a Psychologist he analyzed the psychic situations of people and their war with temptations. He said:

"Man has the Logical, the Spirited and the Appetitive parts of the soul, three human situations. These accept the war with the passions. The Logical has doubts regarding faith in God and His condescension, the Spirited has riots of anger and egoism, and the Appetitive the various desirable passions of the flesh." 

The weight of his strength he always gave to the love of God through the Mysteries of Confession and Divine Communion along with prayer. "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has life eternal," said the Lord, and "whoever does not partake thereof, has no life in them." These things he transferred to everyone, heavenly grace, because he lived God in his heart.

He entreated God with supplications and all-night prayers for mankind, for each person's needs and especially for the salvation of their souls, which is and should be, he said, the first concern for us. 

"At this stage of our short life we must each struggle for our salvation, for as long as God gives us life. I think that if I live a few more years, even if I am deprived of the strength of my body, even if I lose my sight, I will hurry now that I am well, since I can see and walk, to do something and bring violence to myself. Our self requires violence for spiritual things. This is why the Lord said: 'The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.'" 

Such violence he had in his life and he taught us to have this for the love of God. This is how he lived until the end of his life which testified to the experience of holiness and he completed his life as a venerable personality of our times, amid many who honored him near and far, clerics and monks and a crowd of faithful.

Therefore we request his intercessions now before God, taking courage in his boldness, and we call upon all to walk according to the teachings given to us together with the beautiful experiences of Venerableness which his holy life left us.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.