*This is the same Light that Moses experienced on Mt. Sinai when he encountered the Burning Bush. It is referred to in Orthodox Theology as The Uncreated Divine Light
Since we are discussing some new found information about the supernatural experiences of the Elder Porphyrios, I would like to first share with you what happened to him on Mt. Athos when he was a young monk. This is taken from one of the books that I translated about his life entitled “Testimonies and Experiences of the Elder Porphyrios.” This was published in 2007 by the Monastery he built in Malakasa, Greece. As quoted from this book: “We should not find it strange that Divine Grace should rest upon this young monk who was filled with fire for Christ and gave everything for His love. He never once considered all his labors and struggles an imposition upon his life.
The first sign of these gifts was when his Elders were returning from a journey and he was able to see them coming from a great distance. He saw them where they were, even though they were not within sight. He confessed this to Fr. Panteleimon, his Elder, who advised him to be very cautious about his gift and to tell no one about it. He followed this advice very carefully until he was told to do otherwise.
More gifts were revealed to him. His sensitivity to things around him became very acute and his human capacities developed to their fullest. He listened to and recognized bird and animal voices to the extent that he knew not just where they came from, but what they were saying. His sense of smell was developed to such a degree that he could recognize fragrances at a great distance. He knew the different types of aroma and the makeup of them. After humble prayer he was able to see the depths of the earth and the far reaches of space. He could see through water and rock formations. He could see petroleum deposits, radioactivity, ancient and buried monuments, hidden graves, crevices in the depths of the earth, subterranean springs, lost icons, scenes of events that had taken place centuries before, prayers that had been lifted up in the past, good and evil spirits, the human soul itself, just about everything. He tasted the quality of water in the depths of the earth. He would question the rocks and they would tell him about the spiritual struggles of ascetics who went before him. He looked at people and was able to heal them. He simply touched people and made them well. He prayed and his prayer became reality. However, he never knowingly tried to use these gifts from God to benefit himself. He never asked to be healed of his own ailments even though he had many of them. He never tried to get personal gain from the knowledge extended to him by Divine Grace. (Editor’s note: He truly became Christ-like).
Every time he used his gift of discernment (διάκρισις) the hidden thoughts of the human mind were revealed to him. He was able, through the Grace of God, to see the past, the present and future all at the same time. He confirmed that God is all-knowing and all-powerful. He was able to observe and touch all creation, from the edge of the Universe to the depth of the human soul and history. St. Paul’s phrase: “One and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills” (Cor. 12:11) certainly held true for the Elder Porphyrios. Naturally, he was a human being and received Grace which comes from God. This God, who for reasons of His own sometimes did not reveal everything to Him, Life lived in Grace is an unknown mystery for us. Any more talk on the matter would be a rude invasion into matters we do not understand. The Elder always pointed this out to all those who attributed his abilities to something other than Grace. He underlined this fact, again and again, saying “It’s not something that is learned. It is not a skill. It is GRACE.”
These are the things that happened to him at the beginning of his monastic life. Now we share with you what happened to him as he was preparing to depart this earthly life and to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. These things that I am sharing with you are taken from a talk that Monk Akakios gave in November of 2010. He lived with the Elder for the last twenty years of his life and was at his bedside when the Elder gave up his soul. Akakios tells us the following marvelous things about Porphyrios. He experienced the Uncreated Light in his cell at the Monastery in Malakasa, Greece which is about one hour outside of Athens. That particular day, he was talking to Akakios about spiritual issues. He was able at that time to still get up from his bed and walk a few steps. He got up and walked a few steps toward me and suddenly I saw him levitating above the floor. At the same time he started to exude a very bright blue Light—his clothing, his face and everything about him was reflecting this bright blue Light.
I tried to look at his face but my eyes could not stand the brightness of that Light. I turned away for a while and then I looked at him again. I could not get enough of that Light that was shining from him. Again I could not stand the brightness and I turned away. I do not remember how long this phenomenon lasted. But slowly, slowly the brightness started to diminish and he slowly was lowered to the floor. I had never experienced anything like that and I did not have the courage to ask him about it. They say that Light is the Wisdom and Power of God. A few days later, during the summer I was alone in a cell at St. Demetrios in Kerasia dealing with some very serious personal spiritual issues. The power of that Light that I had seen envelope the Elder accompanied me there at Kerasia and helped me to overcome fierce and difficult temptations of Satan.
After some time, when I returned from there and I was doing spiritual exercises under his direction, he spoke to me and said to me to locate in the Bible I Kings where it says, “I live, God lives, do not forsake me.” To Elijah this is in reference to his preparing to ascend to heaven and the young Elisha followed him and he said to him “I am going a little further ahead before I die and he said to him “my soul lives, my God lives, do not forsake me.” The Elder asked me what this expression meant. I said that is an oath that his soul will never abandon his Elder until the end of time. The Elder said “come closer so that I may explain it to you in my own words what this means. As I approached him, I was overwhelmed with awe because I was enveloped in a bright red Light.
This is now an aside from what we are talking about. I once was talking to the Elder Paisios who told me about the Uncreated Light, an experience of a red Light. He said do not let anyone tell you that the Red Light is not Divine Light because the chariot of Elijah was enveloped in red light. I tell you this because there is a false opinion circulating that the red color is that of Satan. That is not true.
Now let us come back to our original topic. I approached him. He caressed me, he kissed me on my face, on my head and he put his lips to my ear and said “my God lives, my soul lives, do not forsake me. The time has come for me to say to you in my own words;
“είναι εύκολότερο ό ίδιος νά ζήση παρά ήμάς τούς δυό ψυχρότης νά μάς χωρίση.” (It is easier for me to live than for bitterness to separate us.)” At that very moment I was overwhelmed by that Divine Fire. I was then told that I would be with my Elder until the end of his life when he would leave for his heavenly journey.
The time was getting near for us to leave for the Monastery of Kavsokalyvia on Mt. Athos in order to prepare for the holy demise of the Elder. He said to me, “Come and let me teach you how to pray to the Παναγία (The All-Holy Mary). I got him up, because by this time he could not get up alone and walk. We moved to the icon of Παναγία (the Holy Mother) that was in his cell. It is a large icon of the Theotokos that he is often pictured with.
He lifted up his arm in order to make a genuflection. In doing this he was forced to lean against the table and because I grabbed to support him he scolded me for being so concerned about him. He proceeded to make two genuflections and on the third one he raised up both his arms and he was raised one meter above the floor and he began to reflect a very sweet Light. The Elder loved the Holy Mother very much and he had many icons of her in his cell. He would say to me, “look here, here and here there are icons of the Holy Mother everywhere.” At that moment, the face of the Elder disappeared and he began to speak through the White Light. Even the icons were enveloped in this Light. The image of the Holy Mother could not be seen. The Light was very sweet because she is our sweet Mother. I could not understand what he was saying so I got even closer to him. I then took hold of his hand or rather it was the hand of the Holy Mother and I do not remember how long we were in that moment of ecstasy. Then slowly I felt that the hand of the Holy Mother was the hand of the Elder. I then saw the face of the Elder and again he was walking on the floor. He slowly removed his hand from mine and allowed me to help him return to his bed. I stood amazed before that brilliance of the Elder. I feel unworthy to talk about the Elder in these words. You may ask me why I feel unworthy to talk to you about these experiences and why I feel humbled by them. No, I am not humbling myself. I tell you the truth. When the Elder fell asleep, a little later I suddenly realized that every moment that I was close to the Elder was a spiritual experience. In this way, if we spoke for a thousand hours about the Elder, they would not be adequate to describe his greatness and his many miracles.
After the Elder fell asleep I went to the Monastery Katounakia to have a cassock sewn for me. As I was ascending the path toward Katounakia, I saw Fr. Ephraim on the left side of the foot path. Fr. Ephraim was doing some work. I greeted him. Fr. Ephraim said to me, “Do you know what I am doing now; I am preparing these steps so that I can go down below and prepare my grave. I am also preparing myself to leave this world.” We had a discussion and then he looked at the sea and said to me, “Do you see the ocean?” I said, “Yes Elder.” That is the way Porphyrios was. It was a unique Grace that he had. If I send you to the ocean to fetch me a little water, how much water could you bring me?” I said, “as much as my little container can hold.” “Bravo,” he said to me, that is what it is. That is all you can bring me. Do you understand the meaning of what I am saying?”
The Elder had three great Christian virtues; άγάπη, humbleness, and patience. The love of the Elder toward God was not simple love, it was divine love. He had love for his sweet Jesus. Like iron is melted in a fire, so also was the Elder melted by the love of God. He became a flame and reflected the Uncreated Light of God. His love of Jesus was defined by the allegory of the shepherdess and her love for the shepherd. It was this divine love that he had acquired at the age of thirteen that inspired him to pursue severe ascetic struggles. His Elders were very strict with him. He called them tyrants but he also said they were holy. He would not allow himself to sleep at night. He would do hundreds of genuflections along with his prayers. During the winter months he would strip himself to the waste in order to emulate the severity of Siberian winters. He later admitted that his severe asceticism compromised his health. When I asked him how his Elder allowed a fifteen year old boy to abuse himself in such ascetic struggles, he said, “when you fall in love with Jesus Christ, you do not ask anyone what you should do” He would often repeat the words of St. Paul in reference to Jesus. Ζώ δέ ούκ έτι έγώ ζεί έν ήμίν ό Χριστός. (I no longer live for Christ lives in me.).
In Malakasa one night the nuns were awakened from their sleep by the weeping and wailing of the Elder. When they reached his room, they heard him saying through the door, “Lord give me his sickness. I will die in place of him. He has seven children. He must live in order to raise his children.”
At the end of his life, he was so weak that simply by speaking to people he would be in danger of dying. When I first met him I did not know all these things and when he finished talking to visitors I would hasten to him in order to receive his blessing. Once when I did this, he said to me, “I am tired and I cannot give you a blessing.” I responded, “I just need to kiss your hand.” He then raised his hands and said Νά ρέ. (Here then). He crucified himself like Jesus. The nuns were often criticized for telling people to go away when they saw the Elder so weak. He would die every day for his fellow man. The Elder Sophronios from Essex, England said that the humblest man in the world was the Elder Porphyrios.
A young man who had psychological and drug problems was sent by the Elder to Mt. Sinai to recover. But instead of the young man going to Church at night he would go to the Burning Bush and sleep under it. The monks of the Monastery would look for him everywhere and could not find him. One night, the young man saw the Elder Porphyrios standing before him and the Elder ordered him to get up. He then proceeded to slap him so hard that he fell down. This miraculous event of course happened while the Elder was still physically in Malakasa, Greece.
When the Turks invaded Cyprus in 1974, the military in Greece could not communicate with the military in Cyprus. The Greek military officers knowing the supernatural powers of the Elder went to visit him at Malakasa. The Elder’s supernatural powers allowed him to see all the moves of the Turks and he revealed this to the Greek military in Greece.
He was able to speak to people in their native language. He knew all the sciences and he was able to discourse with scientists of all the different sciences. He completely understood the scientific terminology they used.
At the end of his earthly life, they went to Kavsokalyvia for the last time. While at the Monastery, Fr. Akakios would care for him for twelve hours and Fr. Panteleimon would care for him for twelve hours. He said, “I have come here to prepare myself to die. I will not go back to the world. If something should happen to me and I should desire to go back to the world, do everything you can to stop me.” He asked me to read the service of those who are being tonsured into monasticism. I read this service for a whole month. He said to me; “do you know why I am asking you to read this service and I am doing commentary on it? I said; “because you want to teach me.” He responded, “I want to see if I have fulfilled all those promises that I made in that service. I want to see if I am a genuine monk.” He also wanted to hear the funeral service as chanted by the great cantor Vasilikos. This cassette was recorded in Paris. It became well known in the Orthodox world. The Elder asked me to order it from Athens so that he could hear it. As soon as the service started he suddenly pushed the stop button on the cassette and began crying. The Elder then said; “our age is similar to the age when Jesus came to preach the Good News.” “I now leave the world because nobody listens. Everyone is doing their own thing and nobody pays attention to what we are saying. Only if we join ourselves to the Uncreated Church will we be saved.” One of the nuns who took care of the Elder at the Monastery in Malakasa called him once on Mt. Athos. She asked him, “How are you feeling Elder? He answered; “what am I doing my child is fighting with the whole world.”
HIS LAST NIGHT
At 9 p.m. he tried to tell me something but he could not get the words out. But I understood that he wanted to speak to a novice. I called Theodore and wanting to leave them alone, I said I would prepare the milk for the Elder. Before I was able to prepare the milk Theodore called me and said to come quickly because the Elder was in great distress. This situation lasted until four in the morning. In spite of this, he lived until 2 a.m. the next night. The Elder said “call everyone because I am leaving.” He asked us to say the Jesus Prayer loudly. He said I should say this prayer a thousand times. And I said it one thousand timesΚύριε Ίησού Χριστέ Έλέησόν με (Lord Jesus Christ have mercy upon me) and a thousand times Κύριε Ίησού Χριστέ έλέησον τόνκόσμον σου (Lord Jesus have mercy upon the world). Then I said Κύριε Ίησού Χριστέ άνάπαυσον τούς δούλους σου (Lord Jesus Christ grant repose to Your servants). He was having difficulty breathing. We attempted to lift him up and he would faint. We then did CPR three times to revive him. He asked us for the last time to lift him up and he again fainted. I again began saying the Jesus Prayer. He then took his gaze away from us and was looking up. He turned his head to one side, his face was becoming more and more peaceful and a faint Light enveloped his face. He was saying something that we could not hear. Then I heard him say; Έλα, έλα έρχου Κύριε (Come, Come, I am coming Lord). He closed his eyes and then something very shocking happened.
Remember when I spoke to you at the beginning of this presentation about him talking to me about the Prophet Elijah and Elisha? It was at that time that he said to me that I would be the one to close his eyes as he gave up his spirit. He said then: “It is easier for me to live than for a chill to separate us.” As he closed his eyes I was thinking within myself that he told me a long time ago that I would close his eyes at the end. As I was thinking this, he suddenly stopped closing his eyes, turned to me and said “close my eyes.” I closed his eyes by gently placing my hand on his eyes. He closed his mouth and the end came.
He had left directives about his funeral many days before he died. He told us in detail what should happen at his funeral. He said who would change his clothing, who would take him to the Church and then there would be a vigil and all the community should receive Holy Communion. He also told us who would carry him to the grave. He directed that no phone calls were to be made to the outside world. He said that everything will be done in an ascetic and humble way. I wrote down all his wishes and he then approved them. He again called together the whole brotherhood and he placed the directives for the funeral on the icon of the Holy Mother. He said that when I die you will fulfill all the directives.
Fr. Panteleimon and I changed his clothes. The others went outside as we prepared his body for burial. We found his will in his clothes and we later published it. One of his requests was that we should anoint his body with myrrh from the έπιτάφιον (replica of the Tomb of Christ). As we prepared to take him to the cemetery, the Aegean Sea below us was very rough and nobody could possibly navigate it and approach the Monastery in time for the funeral. But as soon as we placed his body in the grave, the ocean became calm and some people arrived to see the elder for the last time but they were too late.
When I was writing down his requests for the funeral, a monk came to his cell and asked the Elder what he wanted us to do with his bones after we exhumed his remains. His response was; “Oh, throw them in some ravine where nobody will be able to find them. In that way, they will not be able to make me out to be a saint and reverence my bones.” His body dissolved and was returned to the elements from which it was created. The only parts of his body that remained incorrupt were his two hands. When the Church proclaims him a saint some day, we will be able to receive his blessing from his incorrupted hands once again. May we have his blessing. I pray that all of you will have the blessing of the Elder Porphyrios.
A saying of the Elder: “The best way to prepare for the antichrist is to banish the antichrist from our lives and fill our inner being with Christ. If we are called to be martyrs for our faith, we will go willingly.”
Translated by +Fr. Constantine J. Simones from the Greek in the summer of 2012 USA.