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December 25, 2022

When Saint Porphyrios Experienced Christmas on the Holy Mountain in Spirit

Elder Porphyrios revealed the following wonderful experience one Christmas:

I’ll tell you another secret now. At night I speak on the telephone to a monk on the Holy Mountain. He studies the Fathers a lot and explains many things to me. We talk about spiritual matters. A crazy thing happened, what can I say? … This happened again early this morning, that’s to say three o’clock at night. The bells were ringing at the time we were talking. For half an hour we spoke about really wonderful things. Honestly, I felt great joy; greater than I can express. Glory to God. While we were speaking about these spiritual matters, he said to me:

"The bells are ringing for church. I have to go."

I said to him: "Elder, don’t leave me."

"Gladly," he replied.

"Come and let’s go to church together, to see the majesty of God, the grace of Christ. Come on, there is no distance in Jesus Christ our Lord. No distance."

And I went with him to church. I read all the Hours with him. I saw all the holy icons, the candles, the icon lamps flickering. I saw the priests celebrating. The church was full of monks, all of them with great joy within them and singing: "Come, you faithful, let us see where Christ was born" … "Your nativity O Christ our God" … "Today the Virgin" … "Christ is born, glorify him."

At "With the fear of God…," he went to take communion. I was beside him, by God’s grace, and very moved. Forgive me for telling you this. I saw all the brethren praying. I felt great elation. Whatever they saw, I also saw. It was a spiritual banquet, that liturgy with the holy monks, the joyful souls who felt everything, who experienced the feast of Christmas. They really experienced it.

How I wish you had been there, to hear the words they were saying. I’m always very happy when I hear somebody confirm that what I’ve told them is really so, because I realize that this knowledge can come only from God. Let me tell you what I mean. I often ask you to read me a paragraph, for example, from one Father or another and I say: "Look at page ten, paragraph two, in the middle of the page and you’ll find what I said to you." You open the book and right there, on that particular page, you read what I said. It’s written exactly the same. You don’t understand why I’m so happy about this, so I tell you: "I didn’t know that. It’s the first time I’ve heard it." Yet I had just quoted it to you verbatim. It’s the truth; I wouldn’t lie. I really didn’t know because I had never read it before. At precisely the moment I was telling you about it, divine grace, the Holy Spirit, manifested it within me. But I still heard it for the first time when you read it, because I had never read it before. It made an impression on me and I was happy when you confirmed what divine grace had shown me. Do you understand?

There are other eyes - those of the soul. With the eyes of the body, you can see limited things, but with those of the soul you can see even behind the moon. You see with the eyes of the body. I see the same things, by grace, better and more clearly. With the eyes of the body you see things externally. With the eyes of the soul you see more deeply. You see things from the outside; I see what they are like on the inside. I see and read the souls of other people. When, by God’s grace, I "see" something by God’s grace, I’m overjoyed with joy in the Lord. When the grace of God visits me when I look at and read the soul of another person, through divine grace, at that moment grace produces a surge of excitement within me. This excitement is the expression of divine grace, which brings with it a kind of friendliness, familiarity, fraternity and unity. This union brings joy so great that my heart comes close to bursting. But I’m afraid to make it apparent. I see, but I don’t speak, even though grace assures me that all this is true. But when grace tells me to speak, then I do so. I say a few things that God illumines me to say out of my love for others. So that everyone can feel the embrace in which Christ holds all of us.

[…] I’m telling you a lot that’s deep, internal, personal. Some people might be wary towards me for not keeping my experiences secret, what God’s revealed to me and I’ve spoken so much about. They might say I’m an egotist, talking so much about what I’ve experienced. I do it out of my great love for you, my children. To encourage you to take this same path yourselves. What does wise Solomon say? "Neither will I accompany consuming envy; for it shall have no share in wisdom." And also: "I shall not hide secrets from you." […] "Transmission" means that you have received something and you pass it on, out of love. You don’t believe you have anything of your own. It’s God’s and you pass it on. This is true humility… And when I sometimes see that someone’s walking towards disaster in their life, there’s nothing I can do. I can show them a little, but they don’t understand. I can’t interfere overtly and restrict their freedom. It’s not an easy thing.