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Author Topic: Selected Letters of Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi  (Read 1352 times) Average Rating: 5
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« on: February 26, 2010, 02:27:38 AM »

A letter of Elder Joseph on fasting, temperance and diet
11/9/1988 Vatopaidi Monastery

My esteemed Mrs M., our Christ’s Grace be with your spirit.
I have received your letter and read the contents carefully. The issues you raise are not as worthy of praise as your good will and decision to live a more meticulous life in Christ. In this, I wish you to have never-ending progress.
The issue of diet, my devout lady, as the most necessary duty and element of our lives, is something which preoccupies – if not captivates – everyone, due to the particular extravagance that characterizes our generation. Right now, it is neither beneficial for us nor praiseworthy to stop eating, especially abruptly, one of the main types of foods under the pretext that perhaps we may have lost control over it. Neither do the Fathers approve of or praise such a move, but, in my opinion, the middle road is the best. Which road is this? To restrict its consumption, so that health is not affected, and to prevent people making a fuss that “M. is not eating meat”, which will create for you a useless struggle to avoid haughtiness and pride. The same applies to sweets, since they too are useful to a certain extent to preserve a normal and balanced life.
It is only in this way that temperance as a necessary rule of life can be applied, in order to cause prudence and balance in our lives. The entire psychosomatic manner and condition of our lives lies in the balance created by this general temperance in our diet, and a healthy balance of both body and soul is formed as a result.
Consequently, restless sleep is normalized, harmful thoughts and assaults to the mind disappear and an increase in eagerness and zeal is born. This is, therefore, what you must do without any further excesses, and if you do not succeed sometimes, you must start again and again, and finally, with the Grace of Christ, you will certainly prevail.
You are a social person even in difficult and unhealthy times, and you cannot apply monastic rules to your life, which even the monks today cannot keep.
With prayerful wishes and affection in Christ,
lowly Joseph the monk
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« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2010, 03:34:44 AM »

The same applies to sweets, since they too are useful to a certain extent to preserve a normal and balanced life.

I don't know that I would entirely agree with the sentiment. Sure, sweets have the potential to enhance the enjoyment of life if used in moderation (which with sweets means sparse use). However, I do not think that they are at all necessary to maintain a "normal and balanced life".
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ozgeorge
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« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2010, 07:21:59 AM »

I don't know that I would entirely agree with the sentiment.
Thats nice but its not up for discussion. I am merely translating the Elder's letters.
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« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2010, 07:25:07 AM »

I don't know that I would entirely agree with the sentiment.
Thats nice but its not up for discussion. I am merely translating the Elder's letters.

Oh hrm. Yeah, I see. I haven't been in this forum much yet. Sorry.  Embarrassed Tongue
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ozgeorge
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« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2010, 07:31:51 AM »

What can we say about trials?
Ελλινικά

Nea Sketi 21/1/1987

To my beloved child, I fatherly pray that Christ’s Grace be with your spirit.
I have received your letter, which was just a little smaller than a newspaper, though it could even be as big as that! Fr. Athanasios and Fr. Theonas are about to leave for Thessaloniki to see some doctors and to sort out the book, and they will perhaps speak with you there. I was very pleased to hear about X; it is good for him to have his own family nest, since time passes and then everything seems like drudgery.
What can one say regarding trials and temptations? Are we talking about the present or the future ones? The present ones, whether past or still active, are less fierce than those to come and, therefore, we must realize that it is essential that we be better prepared for them than those we have faced so far. We too have entered a cycle of trials here which has so far been unknown to us. The priest, for instance, has gone out again. Let’s wait and see where all this will lead us. These are the times foreseen by the Fathers when all the living will be tested. For the time being, we must show patience; both now and throughout the future. Amen. “All who desire to live a godly life will be persecuted” ; and truly, “we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” .
These are the things that characterize the unjust world we are living in today. And these are not even the beginning of all that is coming in the near future in order to rectify social justice! Therefore, in the future, do not wonder why this, or why that. You need to be concerned about something else: how to confront with patience and prayer – and with perseverance – the things that are to come. Everything has a purpose: that we should love our Christ and comprehend the meaning of the Cross, which nowadays is something we especially need. Everything human turns and goes through changes and is altered, and, unfortunately, we remain the same and many times we blame everything else!
As for me, I am getting stiff; my legs especially have become totally useless. But in general we have many infirmities. The telephones are now out of order and we have some peace at last. Unfortunately, they will be repaired again soon and the “circus” will start up once more!
Every day, you hear of trials, illnesses, divorces, life escapades; and it makes your heart ache continuously. What has the world come to without the presence of God! It’s a jungle – human carnage! May the Lord have mercy on us!
With all my love and affection, I pray for all of you,
Your father, lowly Joseph
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« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2010, 06:32:24 PM »

I remain with you in spirit
Ελλινικά

Nea Skiti 28/2/1985

My dearest child, I send you my fatherly embrace.
I am pleased because you seem to sense my spiritual affection and love, so that you feel some comfort. I remain with you in spirit and I follow all your movements. I was so moved by the manifestation of your own affection that, if I could, I would come to see you in person, if even for a short while. But this affection is not the result of my own doing, since I am unworthy and insignificant, but of both your own faith and purity and that of my beloved son, who quietly fulfills all the conditions and rules of respect and obedience.
My daughter, my delight, do not be shaken by the events which happen around us, the so-called peirasmoi (trials, temptations), since there is no practical Christianity without them. You must learn that our lives are like a sphere which continuously turns round. In its path we find all the obstacles, and we, like students during exams, are called to the struggle. The sphere turns round and, therefore, we are waiting to see what the first manifestation will be, and then the next. If we are prepared for this game, just this discipline will open the way for the triumph, or at least it will minimize the impact of the clash. This is the chapter of the Sayings of the Fathers which they have entitled “If you wish to take your brother’s fault upon yourself, be ready to face temptation until your last breath”.
Nothing more and nothing less is going to happen except for that which our Christ orders for each one of us for our training and our benefit; the burden becomes greater only if we grumble. The person who believes in God must continuously struggle when various temptations strike, in order to convince all people, both the righteous and the unrighteous, that “he truly loves God and rightly detests the devil”. The only difference is that one day he will finally succeed.
The struggle, however, will last for the rest of our lives. The fact that the struggle continues is not a defeat, my dearest child, but an indication of one’s willingness to struggle. God’s Grace does not take away the struggle and the battle, so that the contestant may be glorified and exalted. Don’t you see how harshly our fathers have been tempted and struggled, beyond causes and reasons, even though they had been most pure in their intentions and their minds?
Every member of the Church is obliged to live for others as well, whether they are present or yet to come. Therefore, his conduct serves as a motive and example to future generations and he becomes a clear witness to them about our Church: that it is possible to practice Christianity, and that our Jesus is not just someone ”in those days”, but He is the same today and always.
As for us, our “adventures” have increased but unfortunately our commitments are never ending. In about a month we have the ordination of Fr Thomas to the diaconate in the main church of our Skete, and we must also complete the restoration of our buildings etc., etc., without end. However, we are used to being patient. Besides, we are now also realizing a palpable economic stability, thanks be to God.
So, even though you may accept me as foolish, being yourselves wise in all things, allow me to express my affection and love to my true children, whom , though Christ, I love so much.

Humbly, Joseph
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« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2010, 07:05:41 PM »

May God bless you, ozgeorge, for providing these translations!


The Letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast made a massive impact on my conversion to Orthodoxy, so it is great to be able to read the letters of his disciple.
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ozgeorge
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« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2010, 03:14:13 PM »

Where I was born.
Ελλινικά

"I had a dream that I went back to my village where I was born. And I didn't go to my parents house, but I went to the Church. I entered the Church, and proceeded into the Temple. There I saw the font, there where I was Baptised, there from where Grace came. I knelt and embraced it, and kissed it, and kissed it, and kissed it with many tears."

Elder Efrem Katanoukiotis
« Last Edit: February 27, 2010, 03:21:13 PM by ozgeorge » Logged

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ozgeorge
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Hoplitarches
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« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2010, 04:33:49 AM »

Concerning Judgement.
Ελλινικά

"Judgement is a great nonsense. God the Father never judges anyone and He has given Judgement over to His Son, Christ. However even the Son did not come in order to judge the world but in order to save it. One time only will Christ judge the world at His Second Coming, because He is also Son of Man. Therefore from where do we claim the right, or rather, the insolence to judge continuously our fellow men? And it should be realised that with this supposedly 'small', 'insignificant' sin we are deprived of the Grace of God, His Blessing and His Love."
« Last Edit: March 28, 2010, 04:47:14 AM by ozgeorge » Logged

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