August 9, 2023

My Elder Saint Kallinikos, Metropolitan of Edessa (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos) - 2 of 5

...continued from part one.

2. An Hagiorite at Heart

To get away from the personal, I must say that Saint Kallinikos was an Hagiorite at heart. He had not been to the Holy Mountain since he was young, he had not become a monk in the Holy Mountain, he became a monk in a Sacred Monastery of the Sacred Metropolis of Aetolia and Acarnania. Since he was a small child, he grew up near Thermos, near the places where Saint Kosmas Aitolos was born and grew up, that is why he loved Saint Kosmas Aitolos and spoke very often about him.

In his village at that time there were no Catechetical Schools, he himself did not participate in Catechetical Schools, in the so-called Christian Groups, he did not join this perspective, but he grew up in the church of his Parish, he was a child of his Parish. This is because his grandfather Papa-Thanasis, a pious Priest, was the Vicar of the sacred church in Sitaralona in Aetoloakarnania, near Thermos. Near him he lived this inner life of the Church, in the Sacred Bema, at the Analogion, in the Sacred Services.

The important thing is that Papa-Thanasis, that is, his grandfather, had gone to the Holy Mountain during those difficult years, in the 1920s. There was a cousin of his presbytera, Father Paisios, who was an experienced dentist, serving the monks, and he was very pious. His grandfather used to go to Karyes to Father Paisios and from there he transferred all the tradition of the Holy Mountain to his Parish and to his family.

And so Demetrios, that was his baptismal name, lived in the Parish from a young age, in an Hagiorite atmosphere. He himself often remembered these events and recounted them. And when later as Metropolitan he went to the Holy Mountain, he talked about how he got to know the Holy Mountain as a small child, through his priestly grandfather. And he was begged by the late Father George Kapsanis, Abbot of the Monastery of Gregoriou, to write these things down and he did. And so we have a written text that shows how from his young age, from his early years, from Primary School, perhaps even from infancy, he was initiated into this Hagiorite life. That is why he was truly an Hagiorite at heart. He himself writes in his memoirs:

"My Grandfather traveled to the Holy Mountain with the difficult means of transportation of that time, at least twice, as I am left with the impression, and he stayed for a month each trip.

He was moved to tears by the sacred services, the vigils and generally the Typikon of the Holy Mountain. He was so enthused that the Typikon of the Holy Mountain was partially applied to his Parish.

I remember very well that he woke me up "early in the dawn" on Sundays for Matins and the Divine Liturgy. The Midnight Service was essential. The Psalter was mandatory. The Canons were all read. The ever-memorable one said: 'At the Holy Prothesis there is an angel who writes what the Priest omits.' The Ninth Hour, 'Set a guard, O Lord,' etc. were obligatory, as was of course Compline. In the Sacred Temple there was also the Theotokarion. The order of the Holy Mountain had a great effect on him.

The Hagiorites made a great impression on him, and he spoke highly of a monk named Savvas. He was so moved that, when he was distressed by various issues of life, he was relieved when he remembered the Holy Mountain.

It was certainly through Father Paisios that the ever-memorable one was connected with the Hagiorite House of the Brotherhood of Ananias of Little Saint Anna.

This acquaintance was a source of blessing for our family. Brothers of this Community, namely the revered Father Kyrillos, whom I remember well and another brother, if I am not mistaken Father Gerasimos, used to come from time to time to our Region, for the sale of Sacred Icons.

My grandfather, grandmother, parents and their children (eight in number), welcomed the Hagiorites with much reverence and genuine love.

Their gifts (crosses, wood-carved icons in wooden boxes, and brown-black incense) enthused us.

We all gathered on the steep staircase of the central entrance of our house and with extreme reverence we saw and heard. I was impressed by the 'caps' which they wore as well as by the monastic skoufi. In particular, we asked our late grandfather why these visitors do not wear a kalimavkion. And the late one expressed with admiration: 'These are Hagiorites.' They were higher, that is. In this way, the Clergy in the world are not compared to the Hagiorites.

A special impression was made especially for us children by the fact that only Father Kyrillos spoke. The submissive was speechless, something incomprehensible to us children who were constantly talking. Grandfather used to tell us that the Elder speaks in the Holy Mountain. I also remember well, even though almost half a century has passed, that the late Father Kyrillos said, how there is a lot of sin in the world. Imagine if he lived today!!

Such was the honor and reverence of our family towards the Hagiorite Monks, that my grandmother and my mother threw the bowl water from washing their clothes into a place that was not tread upon, because it came from the clothes of holy people.

These thoughts remind me that the Holy Mountain has a huge impact on the Greek people and beyond."

What I read to you was written by Saint Kallinikos himself and it shows how he grew up with the hagiorite ethos from a young age. That is why many times when he went to the Holy Mountain, he said: "I did not mature spiritually in the Holy Mountain, monastically, but I am an Hagiorite at heart." And all the Hagiorites, when they saw him, rejoiced, because he looked like an Hagiorite Monk. And I think he had all the characteristic features of an Hagiorite Monk. What are these characteristics?

He had perfect landlessness. He never kept money for himself, not even from his salary. The month's salary was ending and he had no money, and many times he borrowed to do something else that was necessary. Sometimes in order to travel from Edessa for the Meetings of the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece or the Sacred Synod, he borrowed money for the plane ticket. The month was ending and he had nothing. And, of course, when he reposed, he had no property or money, only the rest of that month's salary. Therefore, he had perfect landlessness.

He had purity of heart and body. He obeyed the Church and the institutions of the Church. He had a great love for God, since he was constantly glorifying Him. And he even said to me: "When the time comes for me to die, say that this man was not worth anything, but he had two great gifts: he had fear of God and love for the Church." Certainly, these gifts are those which reveal the whole inner life of the man.

He also liturgized with compunction. Both as a Priest, but also as a Bishop, as I knew him, he liturgized with compunction. He prepared the day before, many times he stayed awake at night to celebrate the Divine Liturgy the next day, when he actually had to ordain someone.

Some of my friends from Georgia asked me to give a homily. They told me: "We want you to tell us how this Bishop liturgized." And I answered them: "Have you seen Saint Paisios? He liturgized as if Saint Paisios was a Bishop." Because most people know Saint Paisios how humble he was, delicate, and how modest and humble he was, that is why they can understand that if Saint Paisios the Athonite was a Bishop, he would be like Saint Kallinikos. He liturgized with compunction. Such a photograph is preserved, not from a Divine Liturgy, but from a Baptism, and there one sees with how much humility and with how great modesty the Mystery of Baptism was performed.

Therefore, he was a Bishop who had an hagiorite phronema and an hagiorite life, so that the Abbot of the Sacred Monastery of Gregoriou of the Holy Mountain, the late Father George Kapsanis, wrote a letter to me and said: "In his heart he was a hesychast and at the same time a tireless shepherd and missionary. A combination hard to find." That is, he had three characteristics: he was a hesychast in his heart, he was a tireless shepherd, as we will see below, and of course he was also a missionary. And Father George said that this is a "combination hard to find." It is difficult to find Clergy today who have all three of these traits. Therefore, he was an Hagiorite at heart.


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