Elder Paisios: Passions and Virtues
The Holy Hesychasterion of the Evangelist John the Theologian in Souroti, Greece, has released the fifth volume in a series on the teachings of Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos. As in previous volumes, this one is written in the question/answer format and contains the Elder’s wisdom along with colorful and practical examples from everyday life.
Here is a brief outline as contained in the book’s Introduction:
Passions Part 1: Self-love (the ‘Mother of all Passions’)
Part 2: Pride (the passion which cast man out of Paradise)
Part 3: Judging Others (from pride, which is distorted and full of injustice)
Part 4: Envy, Anger and Sorrow
Virtues: Part 1: Humility (the exalted virtue on which all others depend)
Part 2: Love (for God, our fellow man and all creation)
Part 3: Nobility and philotimo [thankful and selfless love for God and others]
Part 4: Simplicity, faith, spiritual joy and discernment
Of the virtues discussed, spiritual joy stands out in that is effects ourselves and others and motivates us to struggle even harder for the Lord:
“In order to reach the state wherein you cannot contain the joy, nor express it, you need to be vigilant about three things: act simply; don’t overly occupy yourself with others; say the Jesus Prayer. If you do these things, the time will come when you will feel so much joy you will tell me ‘My Little Grandpa, I have gone crazy…what is this I’m feeling?'”
Because Elder Paisios draws on his experiences of living ‘in the world’ (carpenter, military radio operator) as well as what he learned from his interaction with people ‘living in the world’ who came to him for help, his words are easy for us to understand and accept. His style is disarming and practical, not ‘preachy’, intellectual or distant. He does not try to make everyone a monk but rather a humble, spiritual person who loves God and strives to know and keep His commandments.
If you have benefited from ‘With Pain and Love’, ‘Spiritual Struggle’, ‘Spiritual Awakening’ and ‘Family Life’, this volume is necessary spiritual medicine from the Elder. The book is available in English on Amazon:
Passions and Virtues