June 22, 2021

The Gift of Tongues is Repeated in the Lives of the Saints Till This Day (Metr. Athanasios of Limassol)

Metropolitan Athanasios of Limmasol made the following comments in a talk he gave:
We are talking about the gift of tongues, about this gift that the Holy Apostles had on the day of Pentecost. When the Apostle Peter spoke in Hebrew and the people each heard their own language beneath it. To be precise, the Apostle did not speak Arabic, Greek, Hebrew and so on but spoke in his own language and the others heard the language they knew.

It had an automatic translation, that is, from the Holy Spirit!

This gift is a gift of the Holy Spirit - speaking in tongues - which is often repeated in the Church in the lives of the Saints. We have many instances of Saints who spoke by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and those who listened to them listened in their own languages.

We are told, as an example, in the lives of the Saints: Someone went to Anthony the Great, who did not know Greek but only knew Egyptian - ancient Arabic that is. And the Saint spoke Egyptian while the other listened to Greek. At the same time the other spoke Greek and the Saint heard in Egyptian.

This is what happened in our own days to the modern Saints: With Elder Porphyrios and Elder Paisios. Someone I know who we had in our monastery [at Mount Athos], a French teacher, had come and wanted to go and see Elder Paisios one night. But the abbot did not allow the hieromonk who knew French very well to accompany the French professor because we were having a vigil in the monastery, it was a great feast, and the abbot decided that the monk could not be absent from the vigil and accompany the French teacher to Elder Paisios. And so he did not go with him, but said to him:

"Sorry, I cannot accompany you."

The French professor, however, wanted to leave the next morning and went alone to Elder Paisios and stayed the night there with him. In the morning he came back to the monastery.

When the vigil was over we asked him:

"How did it go?"

"Very well!" he said.

"Did you find Elder Paisios?"

"I found him!"

"How did you communicate?"

"We talked all night," he said.

"But how did you talk?" I asked him. "He doesn't even know English! So in what language did you talk?"

"I do not know," he said, "in what language. I talked to Elder Paisios all night and he answered my questions and told me many spiritual things and I stayed with him for the night."

The man was being very serious, of course, but he did not understand, perhaps, what was happening in the cell that night.

Then I went down to the hut of Elder Paisios and asked the Saint himself. I asked him:

"Elder, was the Frenchman here last night?"

"Yes," he said, "he drove me crazy all night! He was here and we talked all night!"

I said to him: "Well, what language did you speak?"

"French!" he said to me.

"Elder, do you know French?!"

"How can I not know? I know!" he said.

I said to him: "Why not tell me a word?"

"Thak you," he said.

Not even "Thank you" but "Thak you"! He made it into a joke, of course; he was also a funny man!

And that was his French!

Nevertheless, the Saint spoke Greek, of course, but the Frenchman listened to French. The Frenchman spoke French and the Elder listened to Greek.

The Holy Spirit did the automatic translation, with the Elder's prayer, of course! We cannot do it. If we try to do it we will hear Gibberish, we will not understand anything!

Even though this miracle seems so dazzling, it is not a Great Miracle! The miracle is not great, the charisma is not great. The greatest gift, says the Apostle Paul, is love!

Because, he says, if I can speak all the languages of men, that is, know all the languages of men, and I can speak them either with the gift of the Holy Spirit or with my mind, even if I could speak the language of the angels - which is an even greater gift - "If I do not have love, it is like a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal."

They once asked Elder Sophrony when he was a monk on Mount Athos - Father Theophylaktos told us this, who was with us in New Skete and was the monk who went to the cave of the Holy Trinity and liturgized with the Elder, that is, he chanted during the liturgy while Saint Sophrony of Essex liturgized. He once asked him:

"Elder, how many languages do you know?"

He (Saint Sophrony) spoke Russian, French, English, Greek.

The Elder said to him: "Father Theophylaktos, if it is possible for a person to forget even his mother tongue!"

That is, if it is possible for man to forget his mother tongue, he ought to speak the language of love and the language of God! 

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.