August 1, 2015

Approaching the Panagia on a Daily Basis According to Saint Paisios

Saint Paisios, when he wanted to go pray to the Panagia, would cut a few flowers from outside his hut and would take them to her icon.

"How can I go empty-handed to supplicate her?" he would say.

The Holy Elder wanted us to bring offerings to the Panagia, whatever a person had. He would even bring up someone who went to Iveron Monastery to venerate the Panagia Portaitissa. This icon is full of coins. This certain pilgrim was scandalized by this, and said when he was leaving: "My Panagia, I wanted to see you simple and not with coins." On his way out, however, such strong pain came over him that he stayed there, in the middle of the road, asking help from the Panagia. "My Panagia," he said, "make me well and I will bring you two coins." Then the Panagia appeared to him, made him well, and said to him: "This is how they brought me coins, without me asking!"

The Holy Elder Paisios wanted us to be akin with the Panagia. And we are akin with the Panagia, he would say, through humility, because the Panagia was humble.

Just consider: When the Archangel Gabriel told her she would give birth to the Son of God, the Messiah, she called herself the "servant of the Lord". "Behold, the servant of the Lord," she said to the Archangel Gabriel, "be it done to me according to your word." And she further magnified the Lord, saying: "For He looked down upon the humility of His servant." Because of her humility, the Panagia holds second place to the Holy Trinity.

Saint Andrew of Crete says in one of his hymns about her: "Rejoice, the god after God, having second place to the Trinity!"

My Christians, we must pray to the Panagia, opening our hearts to her, speaking freely, because she is our Mother. For, along with this heartfelt prayer of ours, we must also say to the Panagia the prayers and hymns composed by the Holy Fathers for her. The best prayers to the Panagia are in her Supplication (Paraklesi) Service and Salutation (Akathist) Service.

The Holy Elder Paisios very much urged Christians to read daily the Theotokarion. The Theotokarion is a large collection of 62 Canons to the Most Holy Theotokos, brought together by Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite from Athonite manuscripts. The hymns of these Canons are wonderful, my Christians, and they very much help our soul by reading this collection, as much as we could, daily.

Saint Paisios told a certain nun: "Read the Theotokarion every day. This will help you very much to love the Panagia. And then you will see what the Panagia will do for you! She will give you great consolation!"

"And when should I read the Theotokarion," the nun asked him. "At night or in the morning?"

"The morning hours are best," responded the Elder, "so that what you read you can have in mind throughout the day. The Theotokarion helps a lot. It brings warmth to the heart and touches it."

And the Holy Elder Paisios would commemorate the Athonite Father Cyril, Abbot of Koutloumousiou Monastery, who could not contain his sobs and tears whenever he read the Theotokarion!

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.