January 16, 2014

The Last Days of Elder Anastasios of Koudoumas (2 of 5)

Elder Anastasios in the Hospital

The end of Elder Anastasios was approaching, his path to the Jerusalem above.

Not long ago Elder Anastasios had terrible pain from gallbladder stones. Before he went to the hospital due to this pain, while he was walking in his small cell, he suddenly fell and broke his hip. He was admitted to the hospital for hip surgery, and then the gallbladder stones had to be addressed.

When he entered Venizelio Hospital in Heraklion, Crete he manifested once again his theological existence. Despite his physical pains, he spoke of God, of the Light, of noetic prayer of the heart, etc. I will quote some of what he was saying.

Though he was in much pain, his face was hesychastic:

"I'm in unbearable pain. Persistent and merciless pain. But we must pull our minds from there and have it on Christ. Tell the Holy One of Nafpaktos and the Nuns, thank you from my heart for their love and for their prayers. They must teach me also how to pray. May the will of the Lord take place at all times, in all and through all. And for me and for all. And for the angels and for mankind. And in heaven and on earth and under the earth. And in the Holy Great Church of Christ. Everything and all things in Christ."

"Whoever matches their will with the holy will of God will not see anything in their life as bad. They do not distinguish what occurs to them as between what is pleasant and unpleasant. All is pleasant. And the unpleasant is even more pleasant. It comes from God's all-encompassing love and it aims at the realization of 'in the likeness'."

"Easy ways do not save. It would not have been better if I did not have the fracture and go through unbearable pain. No. Because it is important what is good for the soul. Our spiritual wholeness. This is why we must remove our gnomic will and acquire a natural will. To perfectly match our will with the holy will of God. He knows what medicine suits each of us. The important thing is to unite with Him."

After the surgery on his hip, he told Fr. Antonios:

"My child, the chorus of the Holy Fathers passed through. Many Fathers passed through...alive, at the blink of an eye I saw them all - Anthony the Great, my beloved John Chrysostom and Gregory Palamas, the Venerable Parthenios and Evmenios of our Monastery, and all the rest, Saint Panteleimon, Saint Paraskevi, and so many others. This was taking place at the Monastery also, more intensely these last days, before I suffered the injury.

I thank my much-beloved Metropolitan Hierotheos, Abbess Silouani and her Sisterhood. I understood the prayers of all. I thank all of your spiritual children. I pray the best in the Lord for all. And when they come and visit me I am glad, and at rest. And when I'm here alone, I have another companion. The patience is not my own. Nothing is mine. 'What do you have that you have not received'. A thousand glories to the All-Holy God! From the bowels of the earth to beyond the heavens."

At one point he said to the Abbot:

"Do you see, do you see the heavens! The choruses of the Prophets, the Apostles, the Martyrs, the Venerable, the Righteous, the Archpriests, the Priests, the Monks, the Laity - how many there are there. His love wants to save us all. He wants to put all of us inside. We need a little philotimo, a little struggle."

He then went completely silent. Then he only blessed.

These words are very important, and remind us of the end of Abba Sisoes the Great, as it is written in the Gerontikon. This is the same spiritual experience in the 21st century.

Generally, what he said during his time of pain is amazing, because he theologized during this difficult moment of his life, at a time when most cannot even speak.

Translated by John Sanidopoulos.