April 28, 2016

The Last Two Days of Holy Week With Saint Paisios the Athonite

A nun told Elder Paisios the following:

"Elder, on the night of Holy Thursday, after the Service of the Passion, I do not remain in the church."

"Too bad, and I thought you had a little reverence! So none of you remain in the church on the night of Great Thursday? You leave the Crucified One alone and go off to your cells?"

"Most of the sisters, Elder, remain in the church, but because I have wandering thoughts and I cannot concentrate, I keep vigil in my cell."

"If it's like that, good. You should have in your cell an icon of the Crucifixion and say: 'Glory to Your Holy Crucifixion, Lord' and 'Most Holy Theotokos, we venerate the Passion of your Son.' At the same time you should do as many prostrations as you are able. One must have a living experience of this day.

On Great Friday I lock myself in, to have a living experience."

From Counsels of Elder Paisios: On Prayer, vol. 6 (in Greek).

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In order to participate more in the Passion of Christ, the Holy Elder Paisios would read the Gospels of the Passion.

From the arrest of Christ until the time when He was taken down from the Cross, that is, from Great Thursday night until the evening of Great Friday, he never sat, he never slept and he never ate. He would even say that it is better to starve ourselves during these two days (Great Friday and Great Saturday) rather than the three days (of Clean Week). He only drank a little vinegar, to remember the Despotic vinegar.

During these days he never opened the door to anyone. He remained locked up in his cell and neither did his heart sing. "First time I felt such a state," he said lately in Panagouda.

From Elder Paisios of Mount Athos, by Hieromonk Isaac (Greek).

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Since it is customary to paint the eggs red on Holy Thursday, we will include the following question that was posed to the Elder:

"Elder, some children have asked me why we paint the eggs red."

"Do not allow children to get deadlocked in things like this, because their interests will always go there and they will not go deeper. Only tell them that just as the red egg is round, it symbolizes the earth which was stained with the Blood of Christ and the whole world was redeemed from sin."

From Counsels of Elder Paisios: On Prayer, vol. 6 (in Greek).

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Elder Paisios also said:

"If we live Holy Week with reverence and solemnity, we will live with spiritual jubilation and divine joy the Holy Resurrection."