February 9, 2015

The Proposal of Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos for the Canonization of Saint Paisios the Athonite

This photo of St. Paisios was taken by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos in 1977.

A little over a year ago, when St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyva was canonized, Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos revealed that he was the one who made the official proposal to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the canonization to take place. Among the things he wrote were the following:

It was recently announced by the Ecumenical Patriarchate that Elder Porphyrios of Kavsokalyva has been canonized, and is now officially a Saint of our Church.

This gives me special joy, because ten years ago I proposed the process for his canonization. Possibly others did this as well, but I did it officially and I followed the path through the Sacred Synod of the Church of Greece.

Specifically in 2004 I sent to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, through the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, a letter by which I requested the canonization of Elder Porphyrios together with other blessed and sanctified Elders.

The Patriarch then sent me through the Sacred Synod of the Church of Greece a very important letter, which I keep in my file as a presumption of the highest honor and in which he thanked me for the "informed decision" of my suggestion, and expressed his joy about it, putting forward his belief that they are "potentially" saints of the Church and he would consider it a great honor for their canonization to take place during his Patriarchate. However, as he wrote, we would have to wait a little while longer in time, something which began to manifest itself.

My suggestion for their canonization was based on theological criteria.

In Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi (Ecclesiastical Intervention), the monthly publication of the Metropolis of Nafpaktos, they recently published the similar proposal of Metropolitan Hierotheos for the canonization of Saint Paisios the Athonite, based on theological criteria. Because it is filled with patristic quotations and is written in a puristic style, I will not translate it at this time for lack of time, but I did want to bring it to the attention of people. It can be read in its entirety in Greek here.

To summarize the letter, which was written on 30 July 2004 and addressed to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, it begins by stating that the purpose of man, who is created in the image and according to the likeness of God, is to achieve theosis by the grace of God. Then quoting from the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Church Fathers he makes the case that man was made for and called to sanctification and holiness. And when the grace of God dwells in a person, then the Holy Trinity works through them and testifies to the presence of God within the individual through miracles, showing them to be earthly angels and heavenly citizens. He reminds the Patriarch that according to St. Symeon the New Theologian, who was heavily criticized for treating his own spiritual father St. Symeon the Elder as a saint following his repose, it is a heresy to believe that in our own days a person cannot keep the commandments of God and become a saint.

With this he brings up Elder Paisios, and briefly recounts the life of this blessed man of God, showing that from the time of his birth he had the grace of God, enduring and persevering in the grace of God throughout his life, ascending from glory to glory. He says that "Elder Paisios showed himself to be on the same level and in the same state as the ancient ascetics and saints, in asceticism, humility, landlessness, exile, quietude and vision of God, being adorned with rare virtues, and filled with the Grace and energy of the All-Holy Spirit, expressing this through the gift of perpetual prayer, on behalf of both the soul and body, for those who are in distress and for the departed, as well as through his clairvoyance and foresight and healings, and many other such gifts." Metropolitan Hierotheos calls Elder Paisios a "living embodiment of Theology, Christology, Ecclesiology and Eschatology", who successfully struggled against demonic powers and the passions by putting to death the flesh through prayer, fasting and many vigils, and who beheld Christ in His glory, together with the Theotokos and the saints whom he conversed with and tasted of their gifts and graces, as well as with angels and his guardian angel. And because he was both a lover of God and a lover of man: "Whatever took place with the saints, took place with the ever-memorable Elder Paisios." He was an Athonite monk who became a universal father, by the grace of God, and for this he proposes his canonization to the Ecumenical Patriarch. Included with his proposal was the book Elder Paisios of Mount Athos by Hieromonk Isaac.