Godly Counsel from a Holy Elder


I am sharing here a few sayings from the Elder Amphilochios of Patmos, someone whose life and teachings I have heard spoken of before by Metropolitian Kallistos of Diocleia (Kallistos Ware). They are worth savoring. The quotes come from the volume Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit. I am especially fond of his attitude to trees.


My children, I don’t want Paradise without you.

Whoever plants a tree, plants hope, peace, and love and has the blessings of God.

Consider all people to be greater than yourself, though they may have many weaknesses. Don’t act with hardness, but always think that each person has the same destination as we do. Through the grace of God I consider all people to be saintly and greater than myself.

I am like the old tree in whose shade the meek sheep of Christ gather during the hot days of summer, and in whose branches the small birds gather. All ask that the old pine tree might live so that they have their joy. However, slowly, slowly its roots rot and the heavy winter will come, when a strong wind will knock him down and he will become wood for the fire. Now, however, the pine tree makes glad the sheep and birds that gather in the desert.

When man partakes of Holy Communion he receives power and is enlightened, his horizons widen, and he feels joy. Each person experiences something different, analogous to his disposition and the flame of his soul. One person feels joy and rest, another peace, another a spirit of devotion and another an inexpressible sympathy towards all things. Personally I have often felt tired, but after Holy Communion I felt myself completely renewed.

Brother, forget your sins: our Christ has blotted them out from the Book of Life.

In the hour in which we are tempted we must be patient and pray. Temptation is a clever craftsman. He is able to make small things loom large. Temptation disquiets, saddens, and creates external battles. He knows many arts. He brings man to doubt. For this reason we have many shipwrecks. When we are beset by temptations, that’s when the grace of God comes. When one undergoes temptation, he recognizes his weakness, is humbled and attracts the grace of God. Don’t let the winds of temptation affact you. They can’t do you any harm.

When someone opens your heart, I’d like him to find nothing there but Christ.

I ask you to put this order into practice: as much as you can, try to cultivate your love toward Christ’s own person. You must reach the point that whenever you mention His name, tears run from your eyes. Your hearts must be truly ablaze. Then He will be your Teacher, your Guide, your Brother, your Father, your Elder….

Pay no attention to things earthly and passing. Be concerned about the union of your soul with God.


  1. As I was reading it, I found it hard to choose quotes, simply because all of them were already so well chosen, so full and rich. I hope to continue to share some excerpts, and, of course, to highly recommend the small volume. The living wisdom of such elders is perhaps one of the greatest treasures the Church has been given.

  2. Pay no attention to things earthly and passing. Be concerned about the union of your soul with God.

    I do realize you are quoting someone here, but I do have a problem with this statement. My contention is not motivated so much by my Protestant worldview, but moreso by my mindset as a scientist. Of course, we are to be concerned with the matters of the spirit and the soul, but we are also to enjoy and praise God for the things of the physical/material world. The Scriptures state that if we fail to praise God the rocks will do our duty for us. David wrote many beautiful Psalms in considering especially the “earthly and passing” things. Many of the early scientists who were devout believers in God praised God in discovering the regularity of the created universe. Perhaps this statement is a bit too much of a broad brush, so to speak.

    Anyhow, I do enjoy reading your blog.

  3. BV,

    Obviously someone who could say what the Elder said about trees does not mean to instruct us to pay no attention to the material order. Indeed, in stories from Met. Kallistos, I know this Elder frequently assigned the penance of planting a tree to his spiritual children.

    However, the phrase “earthly and passing,” would speak more of the passing affairs of our worldly life.

    Indeed, if you read the last of chapter 6 in Matthew’s gospel, I don’t think he’s saying anything that Christ did not enjoin on us there.

  4. May his memory be eternal.

    Elder Paisios was the topic of an interesting dinner conversation last night at the Monastery of the Transfiguraion in Ellwood City, PA. The sister told of how he came to be on Mt. Athos. With a twinkle in her eye she spoke of “the little lie” that brought more light into the world.

  5. Alice,

    Could you say more about the “little lie?” I am not familiar with the story.

  6. I hope that I am telling this correctly. Apparently Paisios swam to the Holy Mountain desiring God, but he was so young he didn’t have a beard. Two monks saw him in the water and saw his desire. They pulled him onto the rocky ledge and explained that he couldn’t be a monk, being without a beard, but seeing that the boy wasn’t to be put off, the monks agreed that one of them would claim him as his nephew who was there to serve him, and that is how Paisios came to be an elder.

  7. Thank you for the clarification. There seemed to be a disconnect between that last phrase and the rest of the story, hence my confusion.

  8. Sorry. I’m so new in Orthodoxy that I often assume everyone else already knows these stories.

  9. Indeed. The Church is rich in stories of faith. It is part of our inheritance and these stories give us courage and strength.

  10. Thank you Fr. Stephen for sharing those jewels. I have recently received employment through the Mercy of God and find myself feeling the tug of the world. It is the little “bites” from the evil one that slowly eat away at our souls. Father, bless.

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