God is our destination

Fasting is not the aim, but the means towards it. See, it was your aim to come to Mount Athos, it was your destination. The boat which brought you was the means by which you arrived. Such is fasting; it is one of the means given to us by the love of God to crave for Him. God is our destination.

- An Athonite monk on fasting

This grass is an icon…

This grass is an icon; this stone is an icon; and I can kiss it, venerate it, because it is filled with God’s grace. The world is not for us to take things from, but a place where we cast off our passions and desires.

– Father Paissios, Mt Athos

The prayer of Mount Athos

The prayer of Mount Athos, who does not recognize it? It is comprised of one small phrase, of measured words.

“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

With the loud cry “Lord”, we glorify God, His glorious majesty, the King of Israel, the Creator of visible and invisible creation, Whom Seraphim and Cherubim tremble before.

With the sweet invocation and summons “Jesus”, we witness that Christ is present, our Savior, and we gratefully thank Him, because He has prepared for us life eternal.

With the third word “Christ”, we theologically confess that Christ is the Son of God and God. No man saved us, nor angel, but Jesus Christ, the true God.

There follows the intimate petition “have mercy”, and we venerate and entreat that God would be propitious, fulfilling our salvation’s demands, the desires and needs of our hearts.

That “on me”, what range it has! It is not only myself, it is everyone admitted to citizenship in the state of Christ, in the holy Church; it is all those who are members of the body of the Bridegroom.

And finally, so that our prayer be full of life, we close with the word “a sinner”, confessing – since we are all sinners – as all the Saints confess and became through this sound sons of light and of the day.

- By Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetra

Please pray for Mount Athos

Mount Athos, the most important center of Eastern Orthodox spirituality in the world is in danger because of fire. The fire has already burned approximately 15,000 acres of virgin forestland, olive groves and vineyards and it may soon threaten the monasteries. Please pray to our Lord for Mount Athos, the Garden of Virgin Mary, for the security of the lives of the monks, the beautiful ancient monasteries and the forests and the wildlife there.

Please pray to the Theotokos to protect her Holy Garden! Let’s unite our prayers now!!!

A message from Anonymous
I had a dream about making a pilgrimage to Mt. Athos. Though I'm not Orthodox, I am a Christian. do you think it means I should try to go?

Hello dear friend! I am sorry for the late reply.

It is a monastic custom on Mt. Athos to welcome all who visit it. Non-Orthodox Christians are allowed to visit Mount Athos. As far as I know, the monks allow non-Orthodox full access to the grounds and rooms to sleep, food to eat, but they can’t attend the Divine Liturgy. Some monasteries do not allow at all Non-Orthodox pilgrims in the Church services and others tend to keep them in the narthex. It depends on the monastery.

Here I found an article with information for pilgrims to Mt. Athos, including the phone numbers of all the Monasteries.

Some sites that you may find useful as well are:

The Friends of Mount Athos

Ouranoupoli

Pilgrims Information

God bless you!

Olympus SP590UZ
Today we commemorate All the Saints of Mount Athos, the “garden of Virgin Mary”.
Holy Fathers of Mount Athos, please pray for all of us!

Today we commemorate All the Saints of Mount Athos, the “garden of Virgin Mary”.

Holy Fathers of Mount Athos, please pray for all of us!

The Pantocrator, from Dionisiou Monastery, Mount Athos (detail)

The Pantocrator, from Dionisiou Monastery, Mount Athos (detail)

Mount Athos, or “the Garden of Virgin Mary”. It’s the heart of Orthodox monasticism.

Mount Athos, or “the Garden of Virgin Mary”. It’s the heart of Orthodox monasticism.

An Orthodox monk from Mount Athos

Mount Athos: The garden on Virgin Mary

Icons - Athos_Theotokos

Serbian Soccer Player Confesses His Orthodox Faith On Turkish Field

The international Serbian soccer player Mateja Kežman is an aggressive player, yet off the field he is a devout Orthodox Christian. He displays this on the Turkish soccer field when he celebrates wearing a shirt with an icon of Christ, even though he plays for the Turkish side Fenerbahce.

30 year old Kežman has on his right arm many tattoos. One reads “Only God can judge me” in Serbian, a text from Elder Tadej, one of the foremost recent monastic elders in the Serbian Orthodox Church. Another is an icon of Christ. He has expressed his desire to play in Russia for various reasons, one of which is to be in a more Orthodox Christian environment.

Kežman has revealed that he loves the monastic way of life and thinks that when his career is over he will take the monastic path, preferably on Mount Athos.

Simonopetra Monastery Monks - Polyeleos, Psalm 135 

Mount Athos - CBS (Part 1)

Smile from Eternity

A few hours after the burial of Elder Joseph, you published in your website an article with the title "the funeral of blessed Elder Joseph of Vatopedi" - "Smile from Eternity" describing with few words the event with the help of a few photographs. The photograph of the reposed, smiling not only with his lips but with the full expression of his face, has greatly impressed the world as we see it from the articles and comments in many websites. In fact one could meet people who just reposed with a bright face, or peaceful expression, or with deep restful repose but where is the smile? On one side the spiritual fathers say that the hour of death is frightful for man, on the other side we read in “Gerontika” (Elder Literature) that even the most advanced in the spiritual life through humility they would not lose their courage before they passed on to the other life where there is no more danger. Moreover the elder Joseph suffered from his heart and was greatly tormented by the sickness, so how then did he repose smiling?

The answer is: NO, he did not repose smiling, but SMILED AFTER HIS REPOSE.

 From discussions with some fathers of the monastery we bring you the facts of the event.

The two monks who were with him till the last moment, ran to inform Elder Ephraim and the rest of the fathers and did not pay attention to the reposed, who was indeed with his mouth partly open.

They therefore came to prepare him according to the monastic formality. Elder Ephraim ordered not to cover his face. The fathers tried to close his mouth, but it was too late, the mouth would stay open, in fact they tied gauze around to hold his mouth closed, but after they would remove it the mouth would reopen. Some forty five minutes had passed since his repose.

Elder, it will look ugly this way with his mouth open, what should we do?

As he is, do not cover his face!

They stitched the monastic mandya (cloak) as is the custom.

The whole process to put the mandya and stitch it, took some forty five minutes more. They then cut the material around his face, by order, and they found the elder like at last all see him, smiling. Did he hear them and granted them this small favour, so that he may not sadden them? Or did he want to give us an idea of what he saw and the condition in which he is after his departure from the present life?

Two miracle-working icons of Theotokos

Glykophilousa - Monastery of Philotheou

Like the “Portaotissa” is one of the icons saved from the Iconoclastic Controversy and brought miraculously to Athos. It was the property of Victoria, the devout wife of the eikonomachos senator Symeon, who, in order to have to hand it over, threw it into the sea. The icon, floating upright on the waves, reached the arsanas of the Monastery of Philotheou, where it was received with great honour and rejoicing by the Abbot and fathers of the Monastery, who had been warned of its advent by a revelation of the Theotokos. At the point on the shore where they placed the icon, holy water gushed out. There each year on the Monday of the Diakainisimi Week, there is a procession and blessing with holy water.

Paramythia - Monastery of Vatopedi

Tradition tells of this icon that the original expression on the faces of the figures and position of the bodies of Christ and the Blessed Virgin changed when the following strange miracle occurred: when pirates had secretely landed on the shore of the Monastery and were hiding, waiting for the gates to open in the morning in order to launch an attack, the Abbot, who had remained behind alone after the end of Matins in order to continue his prayer, heard these words from the icon of the Blessed Virgin “Do not open the gates of the Monastery today, but go up on the walls and drive away the pirates”. As he turned to look, he saw the Holy child stretch out His hand and cover the mouth of His mother, saying “No, Mother, let them be punished as they deserve”. But the Blessed Virgin, taking Her Son’s hand in Hers and turning Her head a little to free her mouth, repeated the same words. This last arrangement of the figures has remained permanently on the icon. The monks, miracusly saved from the pirates, gave thanks to the Theotokos and named this icon “Paramythia”, which means “calming down” or “restrain”, words which equally convey the content of the miracle. The icon is a wall-painting and is on the right choir of the chapel named after it.