Paternal Counsels II: Elder Philotheos Zervakos

Paternal Counsels, select letters and excerpts from the book: Paternal Counsels Volume II, by Elder Philotheos Zervakos.


...The impiety, corruption, senselessness and lack of conscience of people, both lay-people and clergymen, men and women, rich and poor, generals and soldiers, the rulers and the ruled over has reached a high point and is speedily progressing in leaps and bounds till it reaches the greatest precipice. The infinite compassion of God, the immeasurable mercy and unimaginable long-suffering, the intercessions of His all immaculate Mother and of all the Saints, and the little virtue, faith, hope and love of the few people, their prayers and petitions to the Lord for the salvation of the whole world, the lack of evil in the babes and infants (although even the majority of the babies from their birth receive from their evil and corrupted parents as an inheritance and partake of the wickedness, the evil and bad habits of their birthgivers) all the above things restrain the most just wrath and the most righteous anger of the merciful and infinitely compassionate God. But until when? Until the cup is filled, which as it seems, has been filled and has begun to pour out not completely, but little by little so that we can understand how harsh it is to sin and not repent, and so that fearing we might cease sinning and enraging God, who is our most loving-caring Father, the Provider, the Ruler, the Protector and Granter of all good things.

Unfortunately nothing, but nothing scares or intimidates us, we have become worse than the irrational beasts because they know their protector and master. Man, however not only does not know Him, but even blasphemes against Him. When animals happen to pass by a slippery place and slip or fall, they remember the fall and they won't pass by that area again, they might even prefer that someone kill them rather than that they pass by that place. And man who is more senseless/foolish than the animals, when he happens to fall in a certain area and becomes wounded, wounded in soul, he does not think of the fall, the harm, but he runs there with pleasure. Have mercy, have mercy O Lord upon such minds. But even if a father, mother, brother, spiritual father, teacher or priest or spiritual guide is found who advises him. Be careful, guard yourself, depart, don't go to that place, to that person, do not do that sin, it is dangerous, it is a double death of body and soul, it is hell! Most people will not only not accept such counsel, but they even get mad, angry, and are hostile towards the doctor. For these reasons, the people of today's generation, aside from the other sins which they have, they also have pride, and being prideful they neither receive counsel, nor correction nor repentance. The teacher whether he is a priest and spiritual father must be careful to invent medicines and appropriate ways, to correct them. Neither should he be silent, nor should he censure them harshly and abruptly, because strict censures are bruises to prideful and impious ones, and if he abruptly censures them, he will lose them completely.

The teacher must become wise and very discerning, and because no one is wise in this world of himself, he must through fervent prayer ask God, the granter of true wisdom, to give him the gift of wisdom and prudence, like Solomon, to govern souls. Many times with the same medicine one person is healed and the other is harmed--the teacher and the priest must have the gift of discernment. Nevertheless a good, sweet, mild, humble manner benefits more...

To the scorners, the hostile, the impious, the lewd and rude people, he should not give the holy things. To the heretics after the first and second counsel let him give up.... (To a general in 1955)


I read the clippings and was greatly saddened, because I see and hear and understand that humanity is very hastily running along the wide path which leads to perdition. Our loving-caring Father who is in the heavens used and is using many things: wars, famines, plagues, earthquakes, floods, misfortunes, dangers, disasters, difficulties etc. in order to restrain the evil, but people are senseless and are becoming harsher than Pharaoh, who at every wound repented, however not sincerely and truly, but momentarily until the disaster passed. But the people of the present, a wicked and perverse generation, are with each plague becoming worse, more evil in their habits, more impious, more lewd, more foul, and more wicked.

There remains only one hope of salvation, repentance, to restrain the evil and the most great wrath of the Lord. However signs and traces of repentance are nowhere to be found, consequently the great wrath which will make those inhabiting the earth to be few, will restrain the evil of men for a time. And when again it begins increasing and spreading then the end, the close of the present age will come, concerning precisely which day no man knows. May God who is infinite in mercies and compassion, by judgments and manners which He knows, save us and the whole human race. Let us be ready before the gate of mercy closes...


....However such impious people have a very specific mission, to abolish faith in Christ. And if you ask them why are they taking up with such zeal the struggle to annihilate the Christian faith, they respond that they aim to enlighten people. Concerning the "enlightenment" which they received from their unbelief, their life and lifestyle witnesses. They, being false and devious hypocrites, promising freedom and equality, deceive many and after placing them under their own authority, instead of freeing people they make them their slaves, and instead of equals, they make them miserable and thrice-wretched. The type of enlightenment they received is witnessed by the most unfortunate condition of their own homeland. The blood which flowed like rivers especially in the Orthodox Christian empire of Russia... [Publisher's note. This letter was written in 1928] witnesses. The all painful evils which millions of people suffer witness ... Because their teaching flatters the flesh, annihilates the spirit, quenches the censuring of the conscience and loosens the bit of the passions which tyrannize us, it deifies fleshly pleasure and pushes man to evil things, that is to the precipice of every foul desire and inhuman deed, for this reason it is imparted easily and multiplies, whereas it is healed and wiped out with difficulty.

These people who are perverse in mind accuse all the Holy Prophets, Apostles, Teachers, Martyrs, Confessors and Preachers of the faith. But whoever wishes to learn the truth, let him read the lives and the writings of the Saints and he will understand that they were most pious people, impartial, truth-loving, adorned with every virtue and righteousness, and having the grace of the Holy Spirit richly in themselves, from which they were inspired and enlightened they did God-pleasing works, they did signs and miracles, they spoke and prophesied. Let them examine and let them observe both the life of the unbelievers and atheist communists and the rest of those who criticize sacred things and he will see that they are lovers of selves, greedy, haughty, prideful, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, senseless, without compassion, ruthless, slanderers, unrestrained, untamed, not good loving, traitors, insolent, big-headed, pleasure loving rather than God-loving, and in one world they are instruments of the wicked spirit, of the good hating and all evil Devil, whom he uses, just like the idolators and heretics of various former times, in order to fight the Church of Christ. But while they will be crushed, the Church being fought will again triumph, because "the gates of Hell shall not overcome her". Such impious and all wicked destroyers flee from, my beloved, so that they do not destroy your soul "Their larynx is an open tomb" (Psalm 5, 10). "Their tongue is a sharp sword" (Psalm 56, 6). "The poison of the asp shall flow from their lips" (Psalm 3, 4). Close your ears when they speak the words of disbelief. Flee from their speech, as you flee from fire and the pollution of the plagues. "Son let not impious men deceive you", thus the Holy Spirit counsels you through the mouth of the wise Solomon. "Neither agree if they beseech you". "Do not travel on the road with them, stray your foot from their paths" (Proverbs 1: 10, 11, 15).


...Heaven and earth shall pass but the words of the Lord shall not pass. When the Son of God comes in glory upon the earth shall He find faith? And because the wickedness shall increase the love of the many shall grow cold. Then nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom ...and there shall be plagues and famines and earthquakes in places, and many false Christs and false prophets shall appear and shall deceive many, even from among the elect. And there shall be great affliction among the people, such as never occurred from the creation of the world and shall never be.

Of all the prophecies of our Lord Jesus Christ and of the Prophets, Apostles and holy Fathers and Teachers, of both old and new, till the Missionary and Hieromartyr Kosmas Aitolos, some have been fulfilled, while others shall be fulfilled in their proper times. All the prophecies of the false Christs, false prophet millenarians and other heretics have been shown to be false and shall be proven so. Be careful that you not be deceived from the false prophets... When his disciples asked Him concerning the day of the end of the age, the Lord said: Concerning that day no one knows not even the angels in heaven..., and he added the following unwritten prophecy which is not written in the book of the Evangelists, that the end of the ages shall occur when men become women and women men. The divine Chrysostom when asked, when the end shall be, responded: When modesty is missing from women. Both prophecies we see in this day being fulfilled. So the end is close, but let us not cower or fear, but let us arm ourselves with the weapons of faith, of light, and lifting up hands and eyes, mind and heart, towards our Father in the heavens, let us beseech Him with contrition and humility of heart, with tears and sighs to cover us, guard us and save us from the coming sufferings and afflictions, and that He take us as a loving-caring Father, into eternal rest, joy, rejoicing, gladness, blessedness, and happiness, into His heavenly Kingdom, so that we may hymn bless, and glorify Him, with the Angels and Saints, unto the infinite ages of ages. Amen.


...Reading the pages of your magazine "Monastic Chronicles" I greatly rejoiced and glorified God, who was pleased that in our wicked days people are interested and championing the rights of the Sacred Monasteries, which not a little aided in the preservation of the Orthodox faith, the language and freedom.

In the Sacred Monasteries, in the deserts and in the mountains of Egypt, of the Thebaid, of Palestine, of Sinai, of Nitria, of Latrus, of Galesium, of Olymbus, of Bithynia, of Athos, of Thrace, of Macedonia, of Greece the God-planted trees blossomed, the great Fathers, Pauls, Anthonys, Palamons, Pachomius', Macarius', Euthymius', Savvas, Gerasimus' Johns', Lazarus', loannicius' the Studites, Athanasius' etc.., who shone as luminaries in words and deeds and miracles. And people hearing of their works, struggles, and their achievements glorified the Father in the heavens, and multitudes of men and women of every rank, age and condition, hastened to them, because their virtue drew them, like a magnet draws iron, and they made the deserts cities. The Sacred Monasteries nurtured and nourished the great enlighteners of our Holy Church, Basils', Gregories', Chrysostoms' Athanasius', Epiphanius' Marks' etc., who previously being chiseled by ascetical struggles and battles, and purified in the desert and silence, through fasting, vigils and prayer, were granted heavenly gifts. They were placed upon the lamp stand, and as shining torches they imparted the light of faith and truth to the faithful and chased away the darkness of impiety, of disbelief and of delusion, as well as the grave and rabid wolves and heretics, from the flock of Christ. By their godly preaching and their all-wise writings they adorned the habits of men.

But also during the dark years of slavery when the conquerors closed the schools and churches, the Monasteries, for the most part, preserved nationalism, the language and the religion. Unfortunately however since the days of the liberation of the Greek nation, the monasteries, instead of finding support because they served as citadels of Orthodoxy and vigilant preservers of the sacred artifacts, have experienced a great war and persecution. From whom? From those who knew how to reward benefaction with ingratitude, and to retum gall for manna. Colossal estates were snatched away and squandered. Monastic churches were emptied, sacred artifacts, vessels and holy relics were taken and placed in public markets to be sold.

And while enemies and foreigners respected the Sacred Monasteries, our own and especially those governing at times, set their minds to destroy and annihilate them. It follows that this persecution would bring about not only a material but also an ethical falling. On the other hand, if the monasteries were extended protection and patronage by both the political and ecclesiastical rulers, they would have attained the greatest and highest peak and would not be in such a downfall! Because lately the selling off of the monastic estates has made many monasteries useless ... It is necessary that we all move and take an interest, and there is every necessity for those monastics who exist to live coenobitically in a Godly way, as spiritual brethren associated with the bond of spiritual love, respecting and submitting to their abbots. The abbots should love the monks as their spiritual children, to govern them in God and to be vigilant over their souls, with all working for the virtues, and treasuring treasures not upon earth but in the heavens. Likewise all should work with their own hands, like the apostles Paul, so that people don't lind cause to accuse the monasteries of being dwelling places of lazy and lethargic people, but seeing the virtue of the monastics and their good works to glorify the Father in the heavens. If in this way the monastics live, there is hope that the monasteries will return to their ancient eminence, to their destination.

(4-11-37) Letters and academics without ethics, piety and virtue are useless, rather they are harmful. When though they go along with piety, ethics, and virtue then they produce very great fruits.


The Christian, finding himself in this temporal life, is in a constant battle with the invisible enemy, who in every way crafts and waits by us to wound and deaden us. For this reason we must be careful, wise, diligent, vigilant, so that the enemy does not wound, imprison and deaden us. And precisely for this reason our Lord Jesus Christ, knowing the traps of the enemy said to His disciples "be vigilant and pray so that you not fall into temptation". The chief of the Apostles Peter, who was wounded by the enemy, and from all that he suffered, he learned, and he says, "Be vigilant, be wakeful, for our enemy devil walks about like a roaring lion searching for whom to swallow". While the Apostle Paul says: "walk as children of the light not as foolish people, but as wise people, redeeming the time for the days are wicked..., and do not become foolish, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." So, my beloved, because you were not careful, the enemy waited and watched, he found you sleeping the sleep of negligence, despondency and carelessness and he wounded you. In battle many who are wounded tie their wounds and continue the battle. All these people are worthy of more rewards than those who were not wounded. Get up, shake off the sleep of negligence and tie up your wounds with prayer and repentance, and continue the spiritual battle against the invisible enemy, seeking the alliance of God also and you will win. And be careful, henceforth. The precious time which God gave us to work for the salvation of our soul let us not spend in losing it. The movies, the dances, all night long parties, smoking, lies, jokes, lewd words and the rest of such squanderings are a loss of the precious time and of the soul. Spend this precious time in prayers, in studying the divine Scriptures, in glorifications, in hymns and spiritual odes, and in other God-pleasing works.

Be strengthened with the grace of God, be brave and be victorious over your enemies through the weapons of faith and wholehearted love for God and for your neighbor, which casts fear away and never falls....


... I write you, Your Excellency..., looking not towards the high office and the vain and temporal glory and honor, but towards the good and benefit of our homeland, so that you can help the unfortunate nation which, like a ship in a stormy sea beaten by the wild waves, is in danger of drowning. A good, prudent, pious and discerning Government is able to save the nation. But alone also it cannot, if the people do not cooperate, and help also, just as a captain of a ship is not able to save an endangered ship, if the sailors do not also help. But what will save the nation, the Government and the people, is God, who does and alters everything, who provides for all and for the benefit of each provides in a mankind loving way. God saves Greece, but when? When we all return to Him. Because we must confess the truth, that our many sins have taken us far from God. "While those who go far away from God are lost" says the Holy Spirit through the great prophet David.

The first care of a prudent Government, then, in cooperation with the Sacred Synod, is to preach repentance to the Greek people and a return to God.

1) The respected Government should publish a strict law against foul blasphemy. The blasphemers should be punished to make an example and give fear.

2) During Sundays and great holidays the stores, cafes, factories, hair-dressing shops etc. should close, especially during the time of the Divine Liturgy, so that the Christians can go to Church, and 3) Lewd theaters and movie theaters should close. Card playing, beauty contests, lewd dress and the bareness of women should stop, the publishing and circulation of soul corrupting magazines with photographs of lewd women and the other such types of evil, for which the wrath of God is coming upon those who do such things, should stop. And in this manner the grace of God and His blessing will come to our nation and we will see good days.

Many are your cares and concerns. Many are the responsibilities and obligations which you took upon yourself. You will face many difficulties, anomalies and oppositions, but take courage, be bravely set apart in the arena of the good struggle, for the love of the holy Faith of Christ and for the salvation of the most sweet homeland. And having the firm and invincible aid of God, which you should always call upon, you will be victorious over all the difficulties and you will guide, with your good colleagues, the remaining members of the government and the nation along the straight and saving path of the Lord. (November 1955)

...People have unfortunately not only lost Christianity, but their humanity and like raging beasts the one falls against the other without pity,..."And because the iniquity has increased the love of most will grow cold".


... If fleshly fathers have the obligation to care for the physical progress and happiness of their fleshly children, we spiritual fathers have even more obligation. Because, just as the soul is higher than the body, thus the spiritual relationship and love is incomparably higher and exceeds the physical relationship. As your spiritual father I advise you to attempt, with every sacrifice and strength, to always be near the Lord. The good-hating enemy and exceedingly crafty devil works day and night to pull man far from God through negligence, carelessness, pride, man pleasing, envy, accusations, jealousy, criticism, slanders, falsehood, improper foul and blasphemous thoughts, gluttony, passions of the flesh and pleasures, impiety, disbelief, greed, attachment to earthly things, and many other and innumerable wickednesses and evil, from which whoever believes in God, loves Him and does His commandments, is delivered. Because the sacred psalmist says. "Those who trust in the Lord resemble the holy mountain and are not at all shaken by the attacks of Belial". Whoever prays ceaselessly, and has humility the enemy does not approach, and whoever has pure, clean, fervent love in abundance is together with God and God is together with him. Be careful to have true and firm faith, inner and real humility, ceaseless prayer and wholehearted love, so that you may always be with God and God may be with you, Whose grace and mercy be with all. Amen.


....So whoever does not accept that the Holy Fathers were led by the Holy Spirit, is an evil believer and heretic. The Holy Fathers, who handed down to us the correct faith, handed down to us also the teachings about icons, the Cross, incense etc. They had the Holy Spirit, they were not like us, the people of today's wicked generation. The 7th Ecumenical Synod gathered solely to support the correct train of thought concerning the relative not worshipful veneration of the holy icons, and anathematized the foul believing iconoclasts. The Christians don't make idols like the ancient idolators, nor do they venerate them. They don't worship icons, nor the pieces of wood and the colors, nor do they say that the icons, or those depicted in the icons are God, the All Holy Virgin Mary etc. When they venerate the sacred icons they venerate them relatively not worshipfully. They transport their mind from the icon to God and the Saints. While God gives His grace to the icons, and through the icons miracles are performed, by God, the All Holy Virgin Mary, and the Saints...

For man to be saved it does not suffice for him to merely attribute relative veneration to the sacred icons, he must also have correct faith, love for God and neighbor, humility and meekness, piety and continence, fasting, vigilance, prayer etc. virtues. He ought to do these and not leave those. While the most necessary and greatest virtue is love, without which all the virtues are useless. Whosoever does not love our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema (1 Cor. 16:22).

Truly the whole of humanity is in a great chaos. They are walking along precipices and pits. Humanity is walking in darkness and without a compass. Where I wonder will it end up? There where all the sinners and transgressors of God's commandments ended up from all ages ... The present generation is wicked and to the wicked the Lord sends analogous punishments for their repentance.


You write, my child, that you are distressed in the world and by its vanity, delusion and impiety, sin and noise. So that I can lighten your affliction a bit I advise you to do the following: First, think that God is everywhere present, and since He is everywhere, he also is in the wilderness and in the world, in the sea and on land, He is everywhere. And He is not far from each one of us, as the Apostle Paul told the Athenians. So since my child, God is near you, Ieave the old world, let it do whatever it wants, you will not give account for the world. At the 2nd Coming each one will give account concerning his own self.

Second, say about those who make noise and disturb you from morning till night: They do theirjob and I let me do my job. They shout, sing, dance and bless Satan, with lewd songs, dances and foul words. I must hymn, bless and glorify God, pray and ask Him to save me, to take me with Him into paradise, as He took the thief, the prodigal, the adulteress, the publican. Is it not, my child, a great shame to us, for them to have greater eagerness than us in working for Satan day and night, for him to damn them, and us to be negligent and cold and working for God with indolence?

So I advise you, have patience and don't abandon ceaseless noetic prayer, don't allow God to depart from near you. Joseph was in Egypt, in the place of sin, and he did not sin because he recalled God, he had Him near him. Adam was in paradise, where sin did not exist, but because he forgot God, he disobeyed Him and listened to the devil, and he lost paradise. So it is not the place, but the manner which saves man, the divine Chrysostom used to say.


Because I saw that it was necessary for me to answer you, I write you the following. Tell the couple about which you wrote, where the husband does not want children whereas the wife wants them, that God's will must be done and not the devil's. God allowed marriage for the birth of children and blessed it. Whereas the man-killing devil, when he is not able to murder, puts brother against brother and advises men to murder. He advises the parents to murder their children inside the womb. The husband who does not want children, who does not listen to God, but prefers to hear the devil and takes his wife and pays the doctors to do abortions, becomes a murderer, not of foreign people, but of his own children. The wife when she remains pregnant must not listen to her husband and have an abortion and become a murderess, but if her husband forces her, she should protest, she should go to the priest, or to the Metropolitan and seek help, and if her husband insists she should divorce him.

There are two solutions for this matter. The one is that if they do not want children, not to have relations anymore, but to practice chastity and keep continence. This is done by condescension and by economy so that they not become murderers. If they do not like this solution, but prefer to listen to the devil and to murder their children they should prefer to separate. If they have faith in God even if they obtain 20 or 50 children God, Who gives and nourishes the birds of the sky, will provide for them! If the husband does not have faith then he will not be able to provide for his own self and he will be condemned to eternal hell ... Let them be very careful and let them listen and do what I tell them so that they will have God's blessing and inherit the eternal kingdom of the Lord. If again they don't listen they will receive a curse from God and will inherit with the devil eternal hell. I pray God enlightens them to accept my counsel, because obedience is life, while disobedience is death...


...I am not able, my beloved child, to describe the joy which I experienced, when I read the letter, that you were obedient to my paternal counsel, and made fervent supplications to the Lord for those who are show enmity towards you, and that you began to feel fervency of sincere love both for those who love you and for those who hate you. These, my beloved child, are fruits of obedience and of love. He who has and does obedience, says the great and wise teacher the venerable Ephraim, is an imitator of Christ, who obeyed his heavenly Father unto death, the death of the Cross. And he who has wholehearted love for God and for all people, always remains with God, and God with him....

If, my child, you were to give me three million golden coins you would make both me and yourself miserable. For what shall it benefit a man if he gains the whole world and his soul is harmed? With obedience and love you made both yourself and me happy. Yourself, because through them you gained God, and myself because I feel it a great honor and joy, to have a spiritual child of mine close to God. Be careful however to preserve till the end of this temporal life love for God and neighbor, so that you can remain with God and God with you...


To your question. What cause does the demon find that he has rights over your soul, since you sincerely repented? The cause is pride and weak faith. The holiest and most righteous man in his time Job, when God deprived him of his children, his belongings, his health, did not murmur, but glorified God.. and you the sinner complain that, since you repented and sincerely confessed, the demon has rights upon your soul? And you won't be convinced by the counsels of the prudent and wise who tell you that God allows you to be bothered, to suffer, for reasons of chastisement and benefit of soul, but you categorically deny their counsels and don't accept them, for this reason you see a great obstacle in your spiritual journey.

The Apostle Paul did not boast that he healed the sick, raised the paralytics, resurrected. the dead, chased out demons from people, but he boasted in his many illnesses. All the saints in this temporal life had afflictions, distresses, illnesses, persecutions, troubles, but they did not complain, because they hoped and believed, that with these temporal afflictions they would gain eternal life, the kingdom of the heavens.

So henceforth rejoice in afflictions. Prefer the narrow and grievous path which leads to the kingdom of the heavens, and do not desire the wide and spacious one, which leads to perdition. Have patience, faith, courage, love and hope. He who forbears until the end shall be saved, and "in your patience you shall gain your soul"...


The sins into which you fall have pride as a root, source and cause. Ask God fervently, with faith, piety and contrition of heart to give you humility. Just as all the sins are bom of pride, thus from humility are born all the virtues. To the humble God gives grace, while to the prideful He is opposed. In the humble God makes His dwelling place, He dwells in their hearts and their souls and directs and guides them in virtues, in the prideful Satan dwells and guides them towards every evil. Guard yourselves, my beloved children, from the devil and his Iwicked crafts. Hate him in all sin, love God in every virtue, so that you may live worthy of the calling in which you were called to live, because whoever becomes prideful like the Pharisee, God humbles. Whereas those who confess and feel themselves to be sinners, God elevates like the publican. So we let us humble ourselves like the Publican, and say with our heart and with signs, if possible with tears also, God have pity on us sinners, And God shall elevate us, He will lift us up to the heavens, He will make us His children and inheritors of His heavenly Kingdom, which may be all be granted. Amen.


...Let us consider the much suffering Job also, who for twelve years lay upon the dunghill and forbore without murmuring. Let us also listen to the divinely preaching Apostle Paul, who commands us: What shall separate us from the love of Christ? Affliction or distress or persecution or starvation, or nakedness or danger or death? ... I am crucified along with Christ so that I may live in God. So that we may live and enjoy eternal life and the kingdom of the heavens we must here in this temporal life be co-crucified, forbear afflictions, distresses etc. How saddened I am for my own self who does not have afflictions, and this because I don't have patience and bravery. The Lord gives me small afflictions, but I don't forbear them either with magnanimity. I as a weak person get frustrated, but is it possible for us to be saved in any other way, since the Lord says. Through many afflictions we must enter into life? Through many--not a few. In this manner all the Saints, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, Monastic Saints and the righteous enter into eternal life...

...So since the trials, the afflictions, the deprivations of our belongings, the invisible and visible enemies cannot cause harm to our immortal soul, you should not be afraid and give up, rather you should stand bravely, believing that all the Saints also in this world suffered, only in their body not in their souls. And the Lord said: "In the world you shall have afflictions, but take courage, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33), and our affliction shall be altered into joy. So having these things in mind the Saints rejoiced in their afflictions. And precisely for this reason also the Apostle James commands: "consider it to be a great joy, my brethren when you fall into various temptations, and cast your hope upon the Lord and upon the future goods. Truly fortunate is not the wealthy person nor him who always has health and has the goods of this temporal world, furthermore such ones are unfortunate. Fortunate is he who has afflictions in this world, illnesses temptations, deprivations, poverty, but who has patience. Witnesses of this are Job, the poor Lazarus and all the Saints ... Now say, "O envious and wicked devil, nothing shall separate me from Christ!" God is watching the battle and when you win He will crown you. So don't get discouraged...Hasten to commune on the Transfiguration and again on the feast day of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary. How did you leave such a strong and necessary weapon from your hands? So just as the enemy fights you should also fight him. The Lord has given us quite a few weapons to fight him with. A weapon against the devil is the cross, prayer, faith, patience, bravery, magnanimity, hut the greatest weapon is divine communion, taken worthily, because it unites us with God. When God is with us no one can be against us...


...If God wills and I come, and I am able to grab away even one soul from sin, to bring it into repentance, from delusion to truth, from wickedness to virtue, from darkness to light, from the devil to Christ, this shall be the greatest fund drive for me and my Monastery, because one soul is worth more than the whole world ... In one moment the truly great sacrament of Repentance and Confession makes the sinner righteous according to the witness of the second preacher of repentance Saint John Chrysostom. "As soon as the sinner confesses his sins and you make the subsequent safety, God declares him righteous"...


Do not fear, child, the battle of the enemy, which is dreadful, because the Cross and the Passion of the Lord humbled him and abolished his power. Christ gave us authority to step upon snakes and scorpions and upon all the power of the enemy. Always seek the aid of the Lord and His alliance because He said, "Without Me you can do nothing". Ask that He give you humility and patience, because while humility loosens the traps of the enemy, patience, together with bravery, causes man to attain the incorruptible crown and unending life. He who humbles himself shall be elevated, and he who forbears shall be saved....

My child, do not desire anything in this world as much as the love of God. All the other things both wealth and glory and positions and pleasures and a good and happy life, and everything else is ephemeral, a shadow and dreams. None of these things follow after death. The love however of God follows even after death, while the all Good God, for those who love Him, has prepared those goods, "which eye has not seen and of which ear has not heard and has not ascended upon the heart of man", which may we all achieve.


....As many times as the enemy attacks you either through passion or through sadness or despondency or despair, immediately grab the weapon of prayer, and you shall see how much it disappears and not even a trace of it remains. When you are fought against by the enemy call upon the help of the most holy Theotokos, the guardian Angel of your soul and all the Angels and Saints, and along with this, firstly, announce it to your spiritual father, or ask the prayers and counsels of the other brothers, because a brother helped by a brother is like a strong and fortified city. In these things forcefulness, striving and bravery is necessary...

May the All Good God and Father of us al] bless us and grant us the portion of the saved. May all our striving and all our concern be this, how to be saved. We are merchants. Each day let us consider the gain which we obtained. Let us consider the heavenly treasure, which even if we obtain once we will never fear losing but will rejoice unto the ages together with God, the Angels and the Saints. May Your mercy O Lord come upon us as we have hoped in you ... Strive in every way to lead others also unto the light of truth. The humble and unworthy servant of God, your spiritual brother Philotheos Zervakos Priestmonk June 16, 1912

-Wars occur on account of the sins of men ... Let us not have our hopes upon weapons and bravery, but in God, because God says "Without Me you shall not be able to do anything".


As regards censure the God-bearing Maximos the Confessor says in one of his homilies. The Father (i.e. God) judges no one, He has given all judgment to the Son. While the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ commands: Do not judge, so that you not be judged..., and His divinely preaching disciple Paul, the mouth of Christ, says: Do not prior to the time judge any man until the day comes, during which the judge of all, the most righteous, the only one who has authority to judge all, shall judge and give unto each one according to his works.

Foolish people liaving grasped from the Son of God the right to judge, having left their own sins, judge and censure one another. The heavens are amazed at this and the earth trembles, while people do not understand, nor feel the great sin which they are coininitting!

We have the right to call Herod iniquitous and lawless, not lawful and righteous. To call Judas not a disciple, but a betrayer. Arius we should not call a saint, but a heretic, a raging wolf, and each heretîc we should call unjust and unlawful. We should speak the truth whether one is good or evil, and as the Church, and God has them, thus should we also have them. But simultaneously let us say God shall judge them, we do not have the right to judge them, because we also are sinners and do not know unto the end what shall happen to us. Judas was a disciple, an Apostle, the thief who was crucified together with Christ was a murderer. In one moment the Apostle on the one hand became a betrayer, while the thief repenting, entered first into paradise. Be careful, be careful, be careful!

So neither I, nor you, nor anyone else has the right to judge kings, hierarchs, clergymen, lay people, young, old, men, women. If they go astray we should censure them, not with curses, with anger or agitation, but with meekness, love and a gentle manner, let us show them the correct, the righteous, the good, and let us pray that God gives them enlightenment and repentance. This is not censuring, but it is advice, counsel, it is interest and love to benefit them. However when we break out in anger, wrath, agitation, swearing, curses, anathemas, wickedness, we reveal their sins to others as well who do not know them, we broadcast them, we publicize them with passion and wickedness, then not only is it censuring but it also is lack of love and resentment. A good thing is not good if it is not done in a good way... A good manner many limes makes the evil person good, whereas an evil manner makes the good person evil too. Since you ask my opinion I advise you as a spiritual father, that silence is preferable and more beneficial, silence with people and inner noetic speech -prayer, with God. Flee untimely discussions, be silent and be saved. (It was sent to a Monk. Publishers note).


...Now if vou don't feel comfortable with the calendar, follow the old...However don't let the enemy deceive you that you will be saved since now you are an old calendarist. Christ, when He sent His disciples into the world told them: Preach the gospel to all the world, and he who believes and is baptized will be saved. He did not say preach the old calendar and he who believes and is baptized will be saved in it.

The Lord commanded us to love our enemies and to pray for those who trouble, hate and treat us unjustly. The old calendarists are divided and one portion hates, criticizes and curses the other as heretical. They scorn the words of the Lord, who says that we should have love for one another, that we should love our enemies. And after so much hate, criticisms, anathemas, they self-title themselves as genuine Orthodox! But since the one portion considers the other as heretical, which portion is the genuine Orthodox one? Since they don't have love, none of them is Orthodox, and since they do not keep the commandment of love nor shall they be saved, because whoever does not have love no matter how many virtues he has, even if he has prophetical gifts, apostolic gifts, and even martyrdom, without love does not save us. one cause which the paternal calendar does not return is the divisions and the lack of love in the old calendarists. If they repent, make up, and become peaceful with one another, and pray in humility and contrition of heart both for themselves and for the new calendarists, God shall hear their prayer and the old calendar shall return. ...May the most merciful God who does not want the death of sinners grant repentance and return and not allow us to be lost but save us according to His great and rich mercy.

Completely improper and against the Apostolic and Patristic traditions is the immodest dress of women. Most women have completely lost their minds. They cast away modesty and became naked to attract men. They enter fearlessly even into the sacred Churches not in order to pray, but in order to defile and scandalize those who are going to church.


I was saddened on account of your fall into the mortal sins of fornication and adultery, but I also rejoiced that you arose from the fall. May the sufferings become lessons to you, and be careful so you don't sin henceforth. Behold you have become healthy through repentance, sin no more so that you do not die in sin and become condemned eternally. Glorify God who gave you time for repentance and be careful, be careful, because our opponent the devil like a roaring lion is walking about seeking whom to devour. If you were careful you would not have sinned. But since you were not careful and did not think, that God , who is everywhere present was in front of you, the devil and the woman deceived you, and you were obedient to him and scorned your creator and benefactor, God. You disobeyed His commandment which said, you shall not commit adultery, and whoever corrupts the temple of God, God corrupts him. Joseph the all-good urged to sin by his foul master's wife did not obey her flatteries. How shall I do the wicked thing before the Lord, he said, and he preferred jail, and death rather than sin. And in this manner he was saved from sin and God glorified him both upon earth and in the heavens he shall be glorified eternally. Do not despair however, but have courage, because God is compassionate and greatly merciful. Just as He accepted the prodigal son, David, Manasse, the adulterer, the thief, He will also accept you. Did sneaky Satan wound you by deception, through the woman? You also wound him through sincere repentance and prayer. The prodigal son repented, and again received the grace of adoption. David repented and received the grace of prophecy. The thief repented, and first entered into paradise. And many adulteresses, fornicators, publicans, thieves, were not only saved through repentance but even became saintly. And you if you wish, through repentance, not only will you receive forgiveness of your sins, but you shall also become holy and enter into paradise....


In order for you to be delivered from the passion of the flesh which fights and overcomes you, the only means to be delivered of it is to think well and correctly ... If you were thinking well and were pondering correctly and believed, that God is everywhere present and sees you, that He is the God of all, who looks upon the earth and makes it tremble, who touches the mountains and they smoke, that God is He who shall sent the fornicators, the adulterers, the thieves, the unjust into the outer fire to be tortured eternally, you would not sin. However many times both in this temporal life he chastises them with illnesses with earthquakes, with floods, with wars, floods and with many other punishments.

My beloved if you were thinking of these things you would not have sinned ... David fearing that he would again fall into sin, put very well in his mind, that the Lord was before him. I have seen the Lord, that He is before me, so that I would not be shaken, and in this manner he was saved. Thus you should also truly repent, and place very well in your mind that God is always before you, and you will not sin. Remember also your end and that after death there is no repentance, and you will not sin, but will be saved.


... In order for you to be delivered of the passion of masturbation you need a firm decision and bravery on the one hand, and hate and anger on the other hand against the devil, who urges us and pushes us into sin, which causes us a double death, physical and in soul. So arm yourself with the weapons of prayer, of faith, of bravery and of love, and beat up the enemy. Be careful however, because if you show cowardliness and negligence and lethargy he will wound you and deaden you. If you attack him however with faith and seek the alliance of God he will become afraid and will disappear. Say with courage and faith the psalm verse. "May God arise and let his enemies be scattered and may those who hate Him flee from His face." .. If Christ sees us brave He helps us, but il' 1 le sees us cowardly [le abandons us. Have courage, my beloved, be manly, be strong and overcome your enemies with the strength of our Crucified Saviour Jesus Christ. Ponder very well the holy martyrs and the Monastic Saints, how they overcame the enemy? Not by sleeping, but by being vigilant, wakeful and by forcing themselves. Also ponder the rewards which they received, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the glory upon the earth and in the heavens. It is not allowed for you who are young, to be cowardly and unmanly because you are a Christian, a disciple and follower of Christ.

Also ponder the words of the Divinely preaching Apostle Paul. "Do not be deceived for neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers nor masturbators .... shall inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 5:9-12). and of the Theologian John. "to the cowardly and faithless ... their portion is in the lake burning with fire and lava, which is the second death" (Rev. 21:8).

I believe and hope, that if you listen to my counsel and use the weapons which I am writing to you against the enemies and against sin, you shall be victorious. Make a good beginning and God will help you. I am sending you my blessing as a small and slight weapon. ...Resist the devil and he shall flee from you.


I was saddened that you are sitting and accepting whatever the tempter dictates to your mind. Do you not know that he is a wicked enemy, sneaky, all-wicked and a killer of man? The moment he sows into your mind a wicked thing you must grab the weapon of prayer, hit him with it. Tell him: Get thee behind me Satan! Flee from me accursed one! And if he persists then kneel down, gather all your mind upon God and in heavenly things and seek help from God with fervent faith, with tears, with contrition with sighs. They wound Satan they butcher him and he flees. He however is unashamed and comes again but no matter how many times he appears either as a wild lion or sneakily as an ant, as wicked as a fox, do not be at all negligent, because one slight negligence causes eternal death of soul. For this reason the Lord said "be vigilant and pray, so that you do not fall into temptation", and the Apostle Peter said "be vigilant, be wakeful, for our opponent devil is like a lion roaring, walking about seeking whom to swallow". While the Apostle James, says: "Resist the devil, and he shall flee from you". Be careful, they are not saying that we should accept the devil and be obedient to his will, but that we should be careful, we should oppose, we should kick him out no matter how many times he comes. Prayer is the treasure chest of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the pursuer of the wicked spirits, says the divine Chrysostom....

-Just as we do not want others to envy us and criticize us thus we also must not envy and criticize others. And just as we want others to love us, thus we ought to love others.


...When my child passionate, wicked, foul and improper thoughts come, even about your spiritual father, these thoughts are of the wicked one, and in order to be delivered you must immediately chase them away and begin to say "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner", and thus they shall flee and you shall remain calm. And after you remain calm a bit Satan again will come, because he has no other work, his work is to tempt and bother people, to cast them into sin, even when they become old.... My child do not be negligent, because we do not know the time or moment of death. Whenever you sin in word or deed, in mind or in intellect, voluntarily or involuntarily immediately repent, confess and the most merciful God will forgive you. Be careful that a vain word does not come out of your mouth, because even about a vain word we shall give account, says the L,ord, nor joke or laugh or make others laugh, because the Lord says: O woe to those who laugh and blessed are those who mourn....


...There is no more necessary, or beneficial, or greater help for the fleshly battle than the ceaseless, noetic prayer, said with piety, faith and contrition. For this reason precisely the divine Paul commands " pray unceasingly", in order to guard us unharmed from the fiery darts of the wicked one, which constantly move against us. Whoever prays ceaselessly and feels with whom he is speaking at that moment, the enemy does not approach. He is afraid...

Basil the Great says that sinning happens in the absence of God. So, when the demon or woman puts into your mind the foul desire, say with bravery and anger. Get Thee behind me Satan, how shall I sin since God is seeing me? No I will not listen to you, and for this reason always say, no matter how many times he comes, because he is most shameful and most haughty. Ask God to give you humility, because humility also is a great courage, be brave, he quick and strong in Christ who strengthens you.


...The trial which God gave you also was a sign of God's love. He tried you a bit so you could see your patience, your faith, your love, just as all the Saints God in many différent ways and manners tried them, with afflictions, illnesses, pains, distresses, but with all the wise things He greatly benefited them, He made them Saints, miracle bearers, sign bearers, and placed them as inheritors of His heavenly and eternal Kingdom. "And chastised in a few things, says the Holy Spirit, they were greatly benefited". And unto you, also my child, with this small and temporal chastisement, God did a great benefaction, and if you have patience unto the end, He Qt shall make you His child and an inheritor of His heavenly I Kingdom, which may we and everyone be granted.

So the miracle of your healing was accomplished firstly by God, His almightiness and compassion, and secondly your own faith and the faith of your good parents, of your brothers and relatives...

....You must know, my child, that the heavier our cross is in this temporal life, the more glory, honor, joy and good fortune we will receive in the eternal life in the heavens. So carry your cross which the Lord gave you with patience, with courage, with bravery, with faith, with hope and love, and seek help to carry it unto the end, from him the Lord who first carried it, and frequently say. Lord help me carry it unto the end so that I may come near you in the heavens, and be satiated with Your glory. And also say the phrase which the Apostle Paul the imitator of Christ commands us. The sufferings of the present time are not worthy before the heavenly glory which will be revealed to us...


...You are justified to complain concerning the lack of loving care in your afflictions and misfortunes of those who you thought were your friends and spiritual brethren, who if they had brotherly love and wanted to, could have helped you and delivered you of these painful misfortunes and afflictions ... Be careful however, not to get frustrated or curse anyone. Forbear unto the end to be saved and to be granted the Kingdom of the Heavens. If you knew what good your friends cause you with their scorn, you would rejoice. So rejoice and be sad for them. Do not forget our sinless Saviour and Deliverer, the Lord Jesus Christ, for many of those who were benefited in many and different ways by Him cursed Him, slapped Him, spit upon Him, abandoned Him ... But you must know that you have millions who observe you, pain along with you and help you whom you do not see. They are All the Saints, the Holy Angels, the Lady Theotokos. Christ Himself. So do not be afraid, do not be distressed, do not cower, but thank God, and do not look at the present temporal things, but at the future eternal ones. Look at the sky many times and say. There is the true, the good, the happy, our sweet and everlasting homeland where we shall go after a moment ... And let us forgive them so that the Lord may forgive us also our own faults. The grace of God and my blessing be with you.


I see from your letter that as a human being you cowered a bit, forgetting that God is near us, is with us, He observes our struggle, our battle, He wants us however to be patient and brave unto the end. When He sees us with all the powers of our body and soul struggling against the enemy, then He comes as a helper. For this reason forbear! And do not only look at the things that are visible with physical eyes alone, but see the things that are unseen with the eyes of the soul. Do not look at temporal and earthly things, but look at the heavenly ones which always remain. Do not look at corrupt things, but at the incorrupt things, not at the sad things of the present temporal life, but of the joyous eternal things, not at temporal scorn and dishonor, but at the heavenly honor and glory, not at temporal misfortune and poverty, but at the good fortune and the heavenly wealth, and the indescribable, inexpressible and incomprehensible good things of our most sweet homeland. Whence scorn the temporal honors, glories, comforts, wealth, happiness. and be attached to God and the heavenly things... Believe completely in Him and place in Him your every hope and you will be saved. May the grace of the Lord always be with you....


...We have a command from our heavenly Father, God, to ask and seek counsel from our Fathers. "Ask your father, and he shall announce to you, ask your presbyters and they shall tell you." (Deut. 32:7). Whosoever did not consider this rule, but imagined that they knew everything and they didn't need a paternal and brotherly counsel, were deceived, and others fell into delusions and heresies, while others completely lost their minds. Therefore, you did well to ask advice, because this is a sign of humility...

From the things you wrote, I realized that our Lord who wants all people to be saved and come to the realization of truth, saved you from the depth of sin and perdition and guided you upon the straight path, upon the path of light, of truth, of righteousness, of virtue. Walk bravely, eagerly, very joyously, but also carefully, because this road is narrow and afflicted, it also has stones and thorns, and even wild beasts. Stones and thorns are the various sins which the wretched man meets upon the path, which when he does not pay attention to them, wound him and hurt him. While the wild beasts are the wicked, envious and all-evil demons, who guard the road and many times rush against the travelers to tear them apart. But be careful, do not cower. You decided to become a slave, servant, and soldier of God. have courage and be brave. God does not want His servants to be slothful, negligent, and cowardly. Cast away every fear and slothfulness. Humble yourself before the Lord so that He may lift you up. Always pray and seek the aid of the Lord, because without Him we are not able to do anything. Ask God to enlighten and reveal what way you should walk. Make known to me, it says, with faith, "make known to me O Lord the way in which I should walk..., for in You is the fount of life, in Your light we shall see light." When, my child, you ask with humility and faith, and seek that He give you whatever is advantageous to your soul, the Lord will give it to you, especially seek the Kingdom of God...


... Because you are very sickly and elderly, my opinion is that you should remain where you are staying. Do not wish to place yourself and others in a voluntary temptation and scandal, nor should it pass into your mind that only if you should become a monk you will be saved, and that God will only save the monks and no one else. Good and holy is the monastic lifestyle, but it is not for everyone. Those who are eager, brave, patient, continent, heavenly minded, brother loving, God loving are able. And all those who are not such it would be better if they had not become monastics or had not been born at all! But aside from the above, you yourself write to me that you cower and are afraid. And these things alone exclude you from the monastic lifestyle. God commanded Moses let no one who is cowardly come out to battle. He who wishes to become a monk if he is cowardly or hesitant should not become a monk. Because from the moment that he leaves the world he goes out to battle not against men, against flesh and blood but against the rulers and authorities of darkness, against the invisible demons who have been tried well in battle, because for 7,500 years they have fought men and monastics even more so, whom they envy, because from the good and struggling monastics and clergymen the Lord shall make up their fallen rank in the heavens. So if before you go out to battle you are afraid, be careful not to go out and be murdered by the enemies...

The Holy Fathers established that he who wishes to become a monk, should be tried for three years and if he is judged worthy he should become a monk, otherwise he should return to his own. So stay in your home and be a monastic, become a monk in the world. How? Listen. Love silence. Flee the company of many and especially of those who are corrupt. When you do not have external work close yourself in your room and speak with God, read, chant, pray. Remember death, the future judgment and recompense, paradise, hell. Remember God, do His commandments, stray from evil and do the good thing. Love God with all your soul. Love every man. Pray for you and for me and for all and you will become a monk, much higher than many unmonastic monks, who live with negligence and slothfulness, and others return to the world becoming a scandal, while others are in the wildernesses only with their body alone but their mind is constantly in the world...

May the grace of God and my blessing be with you Philotheos Zervakos Archim.


....From the questions you are asking me, I respond to you. Concerning the thoughts of pride: chase them away with prayer and humility. Be careful though not to imagine, that with your own strength and wisdom you will chase them away or defeat them. Without God's help it is impossible to chase them away. Without me, the Lord said, you are not able to do anything.

Seek the help of God and, when you overcome them and chase them away say, not I, but the strength and grace of God chased them away. Many times God allows us to be defeated, because He knows from before that, if we chase them away, we will become prideful and for this reason He lets us become humble, so that we feel that we are not able to do anything without the aid and succour of God.

While criticism is born of pride. The humble person does not criticize anyone except himself because he knows that he does not have any appointment to judge and censure others. He furthermore has the command to see his own faults and not the faults of others. Do not judge, says the Lord, so that you not judge. Do not condemn, so that you not be condemned, and criticism is overcome and flees with humility and prayer...


... That which you are doing --tying Satan with two knots in one string, and then wetting it with alcohol and burning it in fire--this is a type of sorcery! It is a teaching of Satan which he teaches sorcerers and sorceresses, to teach and deceive the foolish people, so that Satan can laugh and make fun of the stupid people who believe that can they tie and bum him. Christ in the Holy Gospel, the Holy Apostles, the Holy Fathers in the books which they wrote in order for us to read and be led to and follow the path of salvation, don't write that when Satan tempts you, grab him and tie him in knots on a string and then bum him! Satan cannot be caught, he is immaterial. If you can catch the strong wind which blows in your hands and tie it in two knots and bum it with gasoline or petrol, then you will tie the devil also and hum him. As many times as you tied Satan you sinned. You tied yourself with sorcery, as well as your brother in law ... You did well to confess. Sorcerers are penanced by the Church to not commune for (3) years and also whoever does sorcery and whoever goes to sorcerers and sorceresses in order to tie the demons with knots and other nonsense....

Repent, seek forgiveness from God and from your spiritual father, and henceforth do not do it again, and tell those who told you this to cease, because they are sinning. Satan is not tied with string nor is he burned with gasoline, he is chased and leaves when man does his cross with faith. O Lord You have given us Your Cross as a weapon against the Devil, For he trembles and panics not being able to look upon its strength. Satan is afraid of prayer and humility and obedience to the Spiritual Father and to God...

The present age is temporal being compared with the future one it is like a drop in the oceans. So no longer attach your mind to temporal and earthly things, but to the incorruptible and heavenly things. Let us long with our whole soul for heavenly things and with God's help we shall obtain them. Let your recollection, says Saint Yperechios, be in the Kingdom of the Heavens and you shall quickly inherit it. So please, my brethren, let us not be negligent and drowsy.


My beloved one, the time of the present life is most short, the days are wicked, the time of death is unknown, the life after death is eternal. Likewise the kingdom of the heavens and hell are eternal and unending. The Apostle Paul commands us: Do not become foolish but wise, do not become senseless but perceive what is the will of the Lord. So, my beloved child, foolish and unwise and senseless is he who does not think of them, does not feel, does not think of his own sins in this little time to wipe them out through repentance, confession, tears and to be ready, but is negligent, is senseless, and is curious about the sins of others, judging, criticizing and condemning others as if he is the Judge and court judge of all, and is dumb in the commandment and threat of the Lord. Do not judge so that you not be judged, do not condemn so that you not be condemned.

Since, my beloved one, our end is approaching and after death there is no repentance, let us cease seeing and being occupied with the sins of others. Only when we see someone sinning publicly, in private, not before others and in a good manner let us tell him. Brother, I am more sinful than you and everyone. I beg you do not do that sin. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother, if lie does not listen to you or mocks you or curses you, thank him for the curses. And if he continues sinning advise him a second time and then tell the presbyters to correct him. And if he does not listen to them either, then you are not responsible, he shall see to it himself. Only in order to have a reward in your soul, love him and pray for his return and the salvation of his soul. And think and have yourself as the worst and most wretched of all. While ask God with contrition of heart to forgive all your sins, and together with you for God to forgive all sinners, to enlighten everyone to come to the realization of truth... Repent, beloved, for all that you sinned voluntarily or involuntarily, in knowledge or in ignorance, in mind and intellect, and henceforth chase away the filthy, prideful and blasphemous thoughts from your mind. Stray from evil and do good. Pray and recall God ceaselessly. Remember death, the 2nd Coming, paradise and hell. As many times as a man you sinned, repent immediately and run to the spiritual doctor, the confessor...

If you listen to my paternal counsel and do all that I tell you you will be saved, because blessed are not those who listen to the word of God alone, but those who listen and perform it.

May the grace of God and my blessing be with you. With paternal love and prayers Your spiritual father Archim. Philotheos Zervakos


...Concerning that day of the closing the Lord said, that no one knows. He said that we should be ready because we do not know the time or the moment of death, nor even at what moment precisely the Lord will come. Be wakeful, He said, for you do not know at what time the Lord is coming. From certain signs which follow in the last years we shall perceive that it is approaching, but when precisely it is, no one knows... To investigate and examine when that day will come does not benefit us, but to be ready because we do not know the time of death does.


...The work which you do is spiritual, but force yourself to study one or two chapters of the Holy Scripture, the lives of the Saints, patristic writings, and writings of t he Holy Prophets, Apostles, Teachers of the Church. Also do not neglect your obligation to prayer and fasting and continence according to your strength, and especially forcefulness, because the kingdom of the heavens is taken by force and the forceful grab it...

-Virtue my beloved Christians is a great good. And so good, that it makes men sons of God and gods by grace. Furthermore it grants man glory and immortal honor...
-Whoever blasphemes God or Christ, the Precious Cross, the most holy Theotokos or the Saints, he should not be called a man nor a beast, he should be called a monster...


...From the eve of the feast of Saint Nectarios to this day 1 am between life and death, corruption and incorruption, and a battle and struggle of the separation of the immortal, immaterial and incorrupt soul, from the material, corrupt and mortal body. I believe and hope that the Angel ordered from God to guard my soul from the moment of baptism, when again it shall be ordered to go to her Maker and Creator, and Former, to the Father in the heavens, shall separate the soul from the body whether it wants or doesn't want, and after worshipping Him he shall again receive the commandment to guide it to the place which the soul itself has prepared by its works. Pray that the Lord not place me in the place of torture, but in the place where the light of immortal life exists.... With paternal love and prayers Archim. Philotheos


...My end has arrived and I thank God, that He preserved me from many dangers both physical and of soul, from many delusions and traps of the devious serpent and I ask him to preserve me till the last moment of my death and to lead me into the heavenly tents, wherein is the dwelling place of those who rejoice.

But my soul in the last moment of my life is very sad and pained, seeing the mournful condition of the Church and her shepherds, who aside from few exceptions, aside from becoming light with their good works, became darkness and cause for the name of our Heavenly Father to be blasphemed in the gentiles.

I believe and hope that the founder of the Church and Ruler of peace, shall crush them as the vessels of a potter, while His Church, which He sanctified through His all immaculate blood, He shall preserve from the danger of the flood.

While I am departing in peace, you be saved, as wise and prudent ones from the present wicked and corrupt generation. Strive to find a virtuous and discerning spiritual father, and follow his counsels. Pray and ask God to enlighten to not be deceived. And do not stray either to the right nor to the left, but walk upon the middle path, follow the straight and royal path. Walk upon the path of prudence and discernment, the path of the true Orthodox faith, of pure Christian love and hope, until you arrive in the calm and safe port of paradise and of eternal life, always having the most sweet Jesus Christ, the Deliverer and Saviour of our souls, and Your spiritual Father as a guide.


...Three things necessary and soul benefiting I advise you, as my beloved children to pay attention to and keep. First, great patience. Second fervent and unshakable Orthodox faith, with courage and bravery and magnanimity, and third, more than everything else, love from one's whole soul and whole heart towards God and love for one's neighbor, and even for ones enemies also.

And doing these things and keeping the commandments of the Lord, and repenting and going to confession, as many times as you fall into a great or small sin, you shall be saved and be granted the heavenly goods and the kingdom of the heavens, which may we all achieve.... With paternal love and blessings Your spiritual father Archim. Philotheos Zervakos


Strive to find a virtuous, God-bearing spiritual father, to whom you should confess, because confession must take place personally, not in writing. In writing it can take place in an absolute need, when one cannot find a spiritual father to confess to. Now my children be careful henceforth not to sin and if as men you sin, either out of carelessness or negligence or out of satanic cooperation, immediately run to confess without delay. Just as when you become ill physically you hasten to the doctor, also when you become ill in soul, that is when you sin, because sin is an illness of the soul, hasten to confess. One correction exists, true and sincere repentance. Repentance forgives everything and approaches man to God and makes him holy. Thank God, repent and God, being compassionate, will receive you with open embraces.... ...The recollection of death leads man to repentance. While sincere repentance is a saving guide. And something else very necessary for our salvation is the saving teaching of our most sweet Jesus. Let us not seek to store treasure upon the earth with goods which corrupt, nor should we seek vain positions, glories and honors, but we should seek the Kingdom of God and righteousness....


...Unfortunately silver is above everything, the law of God is below everything. First business, then the Church. First secular things then the spiritual things. First and above all one's own advantage, and after everything faith, the soul, God .... O woe to us, because great divine wrath is hanging above us! ... Christians believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, but don't know either the miracles of His life, nor the truth of His teaching, nor the value of His holy sufferings, nor the excess of His glory....


... Concerning the blasphemies and foul deeds and evil customs, be careful that you not be swayed, neither communicate with impious and corrupt people. Strive to be light, that your good works shine in the midst of the impious. Stand bravely against impiety and corruption and say: If these impious, blasphemous, corrupt people have so much eagerness to do the works of the devil, how much eagerness must I have to do the works of God. They strive to please the devil, for this reason they do the works and wills of the devil, I though must strive to please God, so that I may go to eternal life, to the kingdom of the heavens, which may we all be granted.

.... A sign of lightness of mind and falsehood is for one to say that he lives like a monk in the world, in the filth, the impurity, the mud, the corruption and the lewdness, for no matter how much he wishes to avoid the deed his senses will be polluted, his sight with lewd scenes and the nakedness of the women, his hearing with blasphemies, evil talk, lewd language, and also touch, for as Athens has ended up today, the new Babylon and Sodogomoropolis, both in the car or the tram and the railroad, even on the central streets--because of the great crowding--it is not possible for one to guard himself. Consequently Mr. ... by saying that he lives like a monk, is not saying the truth, unless he thinks that he has reached complete dispassion and become perfect and sinless, which, even if he imagines and does not chase away such a proud thought and diabolical temptation, he will be abandoned by God....


...Strive to obtain humility and obedience. He who has humility does not fall into sins, nor does he talk back or get angry. And he who does obedience imitates Christ and does not disobey. And thus he remains undisturbed from the obedience and calm. The disobedient one agitates and gets agitated. Read Saint John of the Ladder frequently and especially his homilies on obedience, humility, love and discernment.

You did well that you left Athens, from Babel, Babylon and Sodogomoropolis. It is preferable to live a few years or a few months or even a few days in your silence, in your repentance, rather than to live thousands of years and to dwell in the habitations of sinners....


During Great Lent on Wednesdays and Fridays do not eat meat. You will not die, don't fear, nor cower so much. From the other things eat, if you have absolute need. The patriarch of Constantinople the ever memorable Photios was tubercular and suffered from a stomach ulcer. When I visited him in 1934 he told me. I never remember having eaten olive oil on Wednesday and Friday. The patriarch of Alexandria Photios, whose mother was from Tinos, had become ill during the 15 days of August, and the doctor told him that if he does not drink meat juice or milk he will die. He told the doctor. I do not believe in meat juice and milk to give me life, I believe in Christ and the All-holy Virgin Mary. He fasted the whole fifteen days of August and on the feast day of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary he got up from his bed and went and liturgized....

It is good for us to guard our health and our body, but with discemment. Let us not become so self loving and so life loving. Let us keep the commandments of the doctor, but we should not scorn the commandments of our heavenly Doctor and Saviour. The Church yields for people who are ill to absolve the fast but with discernment and fear of God. At the time of the occupation of hunger, many men and women had a commandment from the doctors to eat secretly even on Holy Week. The hunger came and they did not have not meat and eggs and milk, but neither bread to satiate themselves, nor oil, nor anything else, only greens, carob seeds and other foods of animals. With these foods many people were healed, whereas with the meat and eating a lot they were always ill. Let us watch our body, but let us also watch our soul. We should not just fast from foods, but we should fast from pride, envy, censure, slander, criticism, anger, falsehood, disobedience and other evils...


....Most people have eyes and do not see, they have ears and do not hear. Today the prophetic saying of the Sacred Revelation is being fulfilled. He who is unjust let him be unjust more, and he who is filthy let him be filthy even more, and the righteous let him perform righteousness even more, and the saint let him be sanctified even more" (Rev. 22:11). The times are difficult and the days wicked. He who is being saved let him save himself, and he shall be called great. If he also saves others he shall be called very great.... We have arrived at difficult and wicked days. The wrath of the Lord has arrived. The prayers and mediations of His All-holy Mother and of the Saints in the heavens and of the few select people who live upon the earth restrain it. Nevertheless we ought to be ready, having repented to at least save our souls...


...The good-hating and all-laboring devil is never peaceful, but constantly, without stopping for a moment, prepares a new war. He fights from the right, from the left, from in front, from behind, from above, from below. Many times the all-sneaky one pretends, that he was defeated and departs, to cast the wretched person into pride. Many times with dreams he deceived many people. For this reason the sacred psalmist, says "who is able to remain whole from the enemy, furthermore the killer of men?" But again encouraging the faithful in the battle against the enemy, he says: Those who trust in the Lord resemble a Holy mountain, who shall not be shaken by the attacks of Belial. And the Lord encouraging His own disciples and through them all the faithful says. "Behold I give you authority to trample upon snakes and scorpions and all the power of the enemy..." (Luke 10:19).

In order for you to be delivered from the battle of the invisible adverse enemies, great patience, attention, ceaseless prayer, fervent faith, wholehearted love for God and for ones' neighbor, and finally extreme humility is necessary. Strive to obtain these virtues, and if you do not have them, seek them with faith from God the granter of goods and gifts, who will gladly give them to you... Do not cease seeking the counsel of holy spiritual fathers and brothers ... Thus you shall be kept whole from the many crafty traps of the enemy, and will become a good soldier of Jesus Christ and a genuine servant, and will be useful to yourself, to your own people, to the Church and to the Homeland...


It is natural for people to be saddened for the deprivation and the death of their beloved spouses, children, parents, brothers, relatives and friends. And our Lord Jesus Christ wept upon the death of His friend Lazarus. But if nature urges us to be sad, our faith consoles, encourages us, urges us and teaches us not to be sad, but to hope and believe that he who died was not lost, but exists and lives after death as well. He departed from the present temporal life and went to the eternal one, from the earthly homeland to the heavenly one. This the Lord and God-Man Jesus Christ Himself certifies in the Gospel of John chapter 5 verse 24: "Amen, amen 1 say to you that he who hears my word and believes in Him who sent me lias eternal life, and does not come to judgment, but has gone from death to life". The heavenly Paul in his 1st letter to the Thessalonians chapter 4 verse 13 says it: "We do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not be sad, as the others who do not have hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and arose, thus God also through Jesus Christ shall lead those who have fallen asleep with Him...".

...So I beg you chase away excessive sadness of Your heart and believe that we also who yet live who remain for a little (because our life is very brief and passes like a shadow, smoke, and dream) we shall depart and shall go to meet those relatives of ours who in piety, faith and repentance died ... In the eyes of the senseless and impious ones, the death of the righteous seems that it is harsh and painful, nevertheless "their hope is full of immortality, and tried in a few things they shall be greatly benefited. For God tried them and found them worthy of Himself. As gold in the furnace he tried them and as a holocaust of sacrifice He accepted them". I liope that these few things that I write to you out of love, out of sacred obligation and interest, shall console you and moderate your sadness, when however, with God I shall come to Athens I shall tell you more....


I consider it a sacred duty and spiritual obligation, that I ought to console you and comfort you, and lift up or lighten your pain, which I consider that you have, for your all-beloved children.

And first I ask you to pay attention to my words. Don't consider them as a flattery or as vain and unbeneficial words, but as true words, coming from a spiritual father, who learned to rejoice with those who rejoice and to cry with those who cry, to grieve along with those who grieve and to suffer along with those who are suffering. Listen to me.

I learned of your misfortune late and would have liked to have come personally to console you, but I did not manage it, on account of trials and afflictions which happened to me also. But your misfortune, which you write of is not a misfortune. It would be a misfortune if they were lost. But your beloved children were not lost. They did not die they are alive. They are in the heavens near God. He who gave them to you, He also took them. He did not take them to deprive you of them, but to guard them for you from the flood of sin, of corruption, of lewdness, of envy, of injustice, of falsehood, of slander, of insanity and the evil in general, which is in danger of swaying even the elect. If your children remained in this present wicked and foul, adulterous and sinful generation, you would be in danger of losing them. But the all good God loved them and took them with Him. He also loved you and took them to guard them and to hand them over to you in the true and eternal homeland, because here we are foreigners and passersby. "we do not have here a remaining city, but we seek the future one" (Heb. 13:14). So, when you go there, the almighty God will hand them over to you, so that you can have them and live eternally, without ever dying or being saddened, or becoming ill, or being unhappy, but for you to eternally rejoice and be gladdened together with the Angels, with all the Saints, the All-holy Mother of God, and to see God face to face, which will be the greatest joy and happiness.

I'm not surprised, because I know the love of good and loving caring parents for their children, and the pain and grief which they feel when they when they don't see them, when they are deprived of them. But our Lord Jesus Christ commands us and tells us clearly, that he who believes has eternal life and does not die, but goes from death to life, and the Apostle Paul commands, that we not be sad as the unbelievers are, who don't have hope of the resurrection, we Christians who believe that Christ died and resurrected, and will take with Him into the heavens all those who piously fell asleep we ought rather to rejoice.

Saint Andronikos and his wife Athanasia had two male children, and in the blossom of their age both died in one hour. Their parents were inconsolable for their misfortune. And the Patriarch took Saint Andronicos to the patriarchate to console him. While Saint Athanasia remained at the tomb of her children and kept saying. From here I won't leave, I will remain here with my children. One night Saint Mauricius appeared in her sleep and told her. Athanasia get up to go to your house, your children are not here. At the tomb is only their dead bodies, their souls are in the heavens near God. They are in great glory and honor, joy and comfort. So go to your home, glorify God and relate all that you heard from me. And the Saint went to her home glorifying and thanking the Lord and the Saint. And as many times as anyone said, that her children died, she censured them and told them to stop saying that they died, because they are alive and are near Christ.

To saints Andronicus and Athanasia the Lord sent Saint Mauricius and consoled them. To you he is sending me the sinful and unworthy to tell you, that your children are alive and are near God and that you should not be distressed, and that they await you in the true life, in the beloved habitations of Paradise, wherein is no pain, sorrow, sighing, but life everlasting, joy inexpressible, glory and honor indescribable ... in the heavenly kingdom, which may we all be granted...

With love, respect, heartfelt prayers and blessings Archim. Philotheos Zervakos


...As a spiritual father and doctor I diagnosed your spiritual illness and hasten to send you the appropriate medicine for you to be healed, when you accept it. Your spiritual illness is despair, the most serious and greatest spiritual illness, and whoever suffers from this illness and doesn't receive the healing medicine dies the eternal death of the soul. This healing medicine is faith and hope. If you believe in God, that He is your loving caring, most merciful, most compassionate Father, you believe that He came into the world to save not the just but sinners, you believe that for one sinner, who will repent, there is joy in the heavens by the Angels. You believe that He accepted the prodigal son with open embraces and daily accepts the prodigals, the publicans, fornicators, thieves, sinners. You believe that the thief with one "remember me" He placed right away first in Paradise, then you also, if you believe and hope that right away from the moment you leave the sin and repent God forgave you, you will believe that you were forgiven, were saved, were healed, were cured, this is the medicine, faith and hope. When with joy you accept it you will be immediately healed. Despair will depart and the perfect healing of your soul will follow. This is the medicine of God, God offers it freely. The other medicine that is despair is the medicine of the devil, poison, which the devil offers and whoever accepts it and drinks it their souls are poisoned and die the eternal death. With despair the devil deceived, poisoned many souls, and killed together with their souls many bodies as well. Because others he urged to complete despair and they hung themselves, others fell off cliffs, others drowned..., and others died prior to the time which the Lord appointed for them to die, due to their great grief and despair. This I discern, as a spiritual doctor to yourself.

The sneaky Satan tries, struggles with despair and much distress to kill both your soul and body.... So, be careful, be careful, be careful! As soon as you receive my letter accept with much pleasure the medicines of faith and of hope. Chase far away the demon of despair for you to be completely healed, to give joy to God, to the angels and to us and write me immediately two words, that you received them and that you accept them and will chase away the despair....


...I pray from my heart that you will never cower struggling, even if you see the enemies of the Church sometimes prevailing ... He who struggles for the truth and the Orthodox faith and our Holy Church has the almighty God as an ally, while he who is struggling for delusion has the all-wicked devil as an ally, but who is the weak ruler of darkness, of falsehood, and of every heresy, delusion and evil. There is nothing more honorable, more chaste, more holy than for one to struggle for the faith, such a one if he is killed physically while struggling by the enemies, without yielding, is the most brilliant victor, and will receive the reward of the calling from above and the unfading crown in the heavens. So fight for the faith and struggle unto death that you be granted to become an inheritor of the Kingdom of the heavens...

Since there is need of much work in the mystical Vineyard of the Lord, since the harvest is great while the workers few, since financial obligations and family reasons exist, it is more pleasing to God for you to remain in the world working and struggling, and later on with the permission and opinion of your spiritual father, and if it is God's will, then you can go to the wilderness to worship and serve God there also. Now remain in that in which you were called....

If all people had humility evil would not exist in the world, nor falsehood and slyness nor criticism and slander, nor envy and murder, nor foul deeds and injustices, nor wars, earthquakes, floods, misfortunes etc. While all the crafts, methods, traps and crafty works of the all wicked devil would be ineffectual....


Mr. President:

In order for the Lord to help us there must first cease the god-hated blasphemy from the Greek army and people, because unfortunately many army personnel and lay people, either out of evil habit, or out of carelessness, or out of senselessness and impiety blaspheme God, Christ the Virgin Mary, the Precious Cross, the Saints, the Mysteries etc. for the slightest cause and reason. Such as these ought to be chastised and punished very strictly, so that henceforth they not become evil teachers to others also ... Second by law forbid unchaste dress and make up, because such a thing is a curse against the person of God and urges Him unto wrath. The foolish and senseless women want to prove that God is not a good craftsmen..., and that they are superior to our creator, and henceforth they should strive to adorn their souls with works of virtue. Likewise card playing for men and women should be forbidden. And third let us all love God with all our soul and heart, with all our strength and mind, to love one another also, to be peaceful, to repent and leave pride and envy, to all submit to the laws of God, and God will help us in our struggles on behalf of our faith and homeland... It is clearly proven, that when the Hellenic army and people are united and beloved, it performs miracles, but when it is divided, in discord and without love then it is destroyed. I believe and hope in God, if we repent sincerely, and love God without our whole soul and become His friends, He will help us and will crush our enemies as the potters vessel, and will glorify Greece which He destined to live and which shall live....

(To a Prime Minister of Greece)


...Let the all good God have glory, who overtakes us in time and delivers us from every danger of soul and body, coming from the envious and all-evil enemy. Great attention is necessary and ceaseless prayer, faith, hope, bravery of soul and love, and for us to chase away the enemy from the beginning who knocks on the door of the soul with the soul corrupting thoughts. Let us grab the weapon of prayer and hit him, saying. Out accursed one, depart far from me, my hope is the Father, my refuge is the Son, my protection is the Holy Spirit, O Holy Trinity glory to Thee. My every hope I place in Thee Mother of God guard me under Thy shelter. Also let us say the Let God arise ... and O Cross the guardian of all the world...

The all good God gave us many weapons, do not cower, but with bravery chase him away... For one to go into eternal life and the Kingdom of the heavens, the path is narrow, it has obstacles, afflictions, distresses, illnesses and trials .... Through many afflictions, the Lord said, shall we enter into life ... There is no other path aside from trials and afflictions. This path all the Holy prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, Monastic Saints and Righteous walked. There also is a spacious path which whoever follows will go to perdition ... us let us ask from God to give us good enlightenment and power to walk with eagerness the narrow and afflicted path, which leads to the spaciousness of the Kingdom of the heavens and the uninterpretable happiness...


...With my present letter I am sending you a recipe containing two medicines very effective against all the passions and which cure every passion, every evil and sin. The recipe is my own while the medicines you will seek from the pharmacy of God you will receive freely without paying. To receive them, though, you must know in what manner to ask for them. You will ask for them in the manner in which the poor ask charity of the rich rulers, especially when they are in danger from hunger. They shout, they cry, they wail. Have pity on me, I am in danger, I am dying of hunger! And if he is charitable and compassionate he gives them whatever they need and thus they are saved. But the rich for the most part are uncompassionate, pitiless, money loving, greedy and as such they turn away the indigent or give them a few crumbs and these not with their hearts. But our own Ruler, who is rich in mercy and compassion, who possesses all things in His hand, our heavenly Father is so compassionate, merciful and mankind loving, that He himself commands us to ask of Him and He will grant us. Ask and it shall be given, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened...Seek the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you. So do not sit and be negligent. Seek with faith, piety, contrition and tears from God to give you internal humility, not external humility, a humble train of thought and not a humble form. Ask Him to give you also guileless-pure love and persist till you receive.

And when with God's grace you obtain humility and love then you obtained the virtues, God Himself, who dwells in the hearts of the humble and meek and remains together with those who have love. Love and humility never fall. ...The Sacred Monasteries which were the bulwarks and fortresses of Christianity, wherein religion, language, the letters and the Hellenic race were saved, are, in our difficult days, attacked by everyone, even from a few who themselves came out of the heart of the Monasteries, and which at their expense paid for their studies!

For more counsels, not included in this post, please purchase the book Paternal Counsels Volume II, by Elder Philotheos Zervakos. St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite Publication Society Website