February 27, 2021

Synaxarion of Saint Ephraim of Katounakia


By Dr. Haralambos Boussias
On this day [February 27th], the commemoration of our Venerable and God-bearing Father Ephraim, who just now lived in asceticism in Katounakia.
Obedience, prayer and harsh training,
In these you excelled, O Ephraim, in Katounakia.

Our Venerable and God-bearing Father Ephraim, who lived in asceticism in Katounakia of Athos in a God-pleasing manner, was born on December 6th, 1912 in Ampelochorio of Thebes. A child of parents with four children, John and Victoria Papanikitas, he received in holy baptism the name Evangelos.

From childhood, he loved Christ and was raised beside monks and nuns, desiring to imitate their way of life which was equal to the Angels. In Thebes he came to know his later spiritual fathers Ephraim and Nikephoros, and he became their grace-filled novice in the Hut of the Venerable Ephraim the Syrian in Katounakia. He struggled from childhood spiritually with ceaseless prayer of the heart, the bending of the knees, fasting and utter obedience, towards the perfection of virtue and theosis.

On September 14th 1933, the youth Evangelos left the world and proceeded to Holy Mount Athos to live the angelic way of life beside his spiritual fathers Nikephoros and Ephraim. After six months he was tonsured a monk of the small schema with the name Longinos. In 1935 he was tonsured a great schema monk with the name Ephraim, and was later ordained a Priest of the Most-high God. Through divine grace and the blessing of his Elder, he was spiritually united with the Venerable Joseph the Hesychast, who helped him on his ascetical path.

After the repose of Elder Nikephoros in 1973, who was truly harsh in his training, while the Venerable Ephraim was obedient to him willingly and without grumbling, he continued in his brotherhood. This teaches us that all things come from utter and true obedience to spiritual guides out of love for Christ, and is the only way to escape the assaults of Belial. He was made worthy of revelations of God in ecstasy during the Divine Liturgy, beholding unspeakable states. He richly received from God the grace of discernment, and was shown to be a preserver of the traditions of the Fathers, having a true Orthodox mindset, and having fled the honors and glory of men.

Venerable Ephraim, from youth had the thorn in his flesh of vision problems, and needed stronger corrective lenses over time. After a stroke in 1996, he remained bed-bound until his repose on February 14/27th 1998, and he was buried in the garden of his cell. His honorable and myrrh-gushing relics were uncovered and are treasured in his hut named after the Venerable Ephraim the Syrian, and have been shown to be a spring of healings.

Through his holy intercessions, Christ God, have mercy upon and save us. Amen.

Apolytikion in Plagal of the First Tone
O newly-shining lamp-lighter of noetic prayer, as a dweller of Katounakia and a light of the Holy Mountain, who illumined all with the light of your virtues, O most-divine Ephraim, who proceeded to the heights of theosis, dispassion and nepsis: Do not cease to entreat Christ for us.

Kontakion in Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Let us praise the hard-working, prayerful and sober ascetic of Katounakia, who was lifted up from every baseness of the nous towards the virtues through purification, as one equal to the Angels, let us mortals praise him with psalms and divine hymns, crying out: Rejoice, O most-divine Father.

The Angels were astonished, beholding your feats in Katounakia, O Ephraim, and the chaste citizens of Athos beheld the grace that dwelt in you through your monastic way of life, and they cry out these things with compunction in soul:

Rejoice, bodiless one bearing flesh,
Rejoice, inheritor of Heaven.

Rejoice, defender of dispassion and nepsis,
Rejoice, fellow-dweller with non-possessiveness and grace.

Rejoice, unassailable foundation of prayer of the heart,
Rejoice, greatly-varied stream of perfect obedience.

Rejoice, you who were a disciple at the feet of Joseph,
Rejoice, you who showed to all the virtue of your heart.

Rejoice, godly offspring of Thebes,
Rejoice, goodness by canon and knowledge.

Rejoice, dweller of Katounakia,
Rejoice, protector of those who approach you.

Rejoice, O all-venerable Father.

Rejoice, you who lived the life surpassing nature in asceticism in Katounakia, and approached Heaven through your vigils, prayers and nepsis, O spirit-bearing Ephraim, the pride of Athos.