January 11, 2021

What My Grandmother Taught Me


By Archimandrite Gregory the Archipelagitis,
Former Abbot of Docheiariou Monastery on Mount Athos

My grandmother taught me with her life and her words the reverence of our forefathers: "Fasting, my child, is the basis of all physical asceticism."

Every Great Lent my grandmother and her entire household went without oil.

She taught me to light an oil lamp, to cense, to light a candle in front of icons, and to pray morning and night.

She taught me to do prostrations as prayers that are accepted by God.

She taught me that if I didn't hear the Six Psalms three Sundays in a row, then we cease to be Christians. "Get up, my child, the priest passed by, he is going up to the Church of the Panagia; don't forget that last Sunday we missed the Six Psalms." She taught me to listen to them while standing and with reverence, bowing forward.

At the time when the Gospel was being read she would put a candle on the candelabra, because she believed the Gospel was the testament Christ left for the world, and when the testament was being written and read, which always took place in the evening, everyone held a candle in order for the writer to see.

She taught me that the "Glory to the Father" is the greatest doxology and while standing I should cross myself.

She taught me that during Great Lent, when I entered the church, to do three prostrations, on behalf of the presanctified Bread that was on the Holy Altar.

She instructed me, when passing by every church, to cross myself and to call upon the Saint of the church.

And wherever I was, on the day of Theophany, to honor it as if it was Pascha Sunday.

I was told that many pious people saw the uncreated light in the early hours of the Feast of the Transfiguration.

She pointed out to me that on Sunday I should not to kneel, because the Holy Kollyvades had taught them that Sunday is Pascha.

She taught me to offer the well-kneaded prosphoron to the church, not with my bare hands, but on a white clean towel.

She taught me when I make the kollyva, to have a candle and incense going.

She pointed out to me in the Sanctuary where I serve, that my clothes should never touch the Holy Table, because - as she said - it is the throne of God.
And so I give condolences to all the grandparents who told me: “Be careful of the educated. God will destroy the world by them." "The extremes are of the demons," said Saint Amphilochios of Patmos. Enlist others into the army of God and God will guide and teach them. No big mouths. We live by what we were taught by our ancestors, that the Orthodox Church is the services, the oil lamp and the incense and the candle that is lit in front of the holy icons. And I do not go further. If He wants, let God take me.

Lord, help. The waters are cloudy and we do not see the beauty of the seabed. Lord, restrain the great intellectuals. Put a break on the evil that has befallen us in recent years. And we, your adorers, to be untransferable and immovable.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.