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April 12, 2016

Sayings of Saint Akakios the New of Kavsokalyva

By Archimandrite Ioannikios

On the Wondrous Interventions of the Mighty Right Hand of Divine Providence

When our Holy Father Akakios of Kavsokalyva was struggling ascetically in an unbearably lonely cave, his biographer Hieromonk Jonas from Kavsokalyva, an eyewitness to his life, says that every morning a beautiful bird would come and sit on a tree outside the cave warbling an exquisite melody. As the holy one listened to the bird, he would be filled with an ineffable pleasure, freeing him from the boredom and sadness which sometimes attacks hesychasts. Perhaps that bird was an angel of the Lord sent to console him in that inconsolable desert.

This St. Akakios was blessed with the gift of peacemaking. As soon as anyone tormented by inner thoughts would look upon the holy one's joyful face, he would become peaceful and free of anxiety.

On Myrrh-flowing Relics and Their Fragrance

A Christian once had read in the biography of St. Akakios of Kavsokalyva, that while he was passing by the graveyard of St. Anna, he smelled a fragrance of myrrh coming from one of the father's relics. Remembering this, the Christian, who was sitting in the skete's graveyard, said: "I wonder if the are still such relics like those in St. Akakios' days." Immediately after he had thought this, he smelled a fragrance coming from the graveyard! He got up, searched all around, and found a skull which had a fragrant scent, which was inscribed "Hieromonk Philimonos, from the Dormition of the Theotokos Hut, near the St. Eleftherios vouleftirion." He thought to call the others, but at that thought he started shaking, for he realized that the deified father would not want him to tell about the fragrance coming from his relic.

On Unknown Saints and Hermits

The biographer of St. Akakios, the Kavsokalyvites Father Jonas, at the end of his work writes about the holy martyrs contemporary with St. Akakios: "These martyrs are like precious jewels, departed to the Lord." Such was the blessed Euphrosynos, who shone like another sun in the Holy Monastery of Iveron. Because he had a simple manner and was clairvoyant, he would speak figuratively and be capable of revealing anyone's hidden inner state of being. His relics were not found in the tomb on the day set aside for their translation. And still living on Mount Athos are monks like him.

On Vigils

When the venerable Akakios, who did his ascesis in a desolate Skete of Kavsokalyva, was asked to speak on sleep and vigil, he replied: "Half an hour of sleep is enough for a true monk!" He himself either stood up all night long or knelt, praying and chanting with great courage, in spite of the fact that he suffered from a hernia and was very old. He would sleep very little in the mornings, sometimes leaning on his arm or on anything else, long enough not to lose clarity of mind from extreme sleeplessness. He viewed sleep as a treacherous and undermining enemy of the soul. He said that nothing increases sinful desires more than excessive sleep. And nothing subdues them as much as sleeplessness.

On Ascesis

During one very cold winter in which snow fell heavily, our venerable and God-inspired father Akakios of Kavsokalyva lit a fire to warm himself. But as he drew nearer the fire, he felt colder. Then he realized that it was abnormal to feel cold by the fire, and that the cold must be caused by demonic influence. So he put out the fire, went out of his cave and, naked, fell into the snow, whereupon he immediately felt very warm, as if he were in a steam bath. We were amazed and surprised each time we visited this Saint's cave and saw his bed, which is preserved to this very day. It was made of thick, untrimmed branches nailed in such a way that wide spaces remained between them. It would have been impossible for anyone to rest well on them.

From AN ATHONITE GERONTIKON: Sayings of the Holy Fathers of Mount Athos. Publications of the Holy Monastery of St. Gregory Palamas. Kouphalia- Thessaloniki- Greece.