Joseph the Hesychast
Greek Orthodox Christian Athonite monk
Saint Joseph the Hesychast (1897–1959) was a Greek Orthodox monk and elder who lived on Mount Athos.
Monastic Wisdom (2016)Edit
- Elder Joseph the Hesychast (2016). Monastic Wisdom: the letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast. Florence, Arizona: St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery.
- The waves of thoughts amaze my mind; my tongue grows numb and cannot speak, unable to utter the words in time. The noetic siphons gush forth dew in torrents - however, there is but little soil in our days. The riches of our Lord are many, but unfortunately there are few heirs. To inherit them requires a bloody struggle, but here there is only laziness. Thus I am compelled to open the ducts unto the world; for there is hope that pure souls will receive the word, and then I shall receive the reward of love. So listen to my words, lend me your ears...
- Prelude (introductory poem)
- Since God is continuously present, why do you worry? For in Him we live and move. We are carried in His arms. We breathe God; we are vested with God; we touch God; we consume God in the Mystery. Wherever you turn, wherever you look, God is everywhere: in the heavens, on the earth, in the abysses, in the trees, within the rocks, in your nous, in your heart.
- Letter 13
- So he got up and went inside the place where he was staying, for it was already night. Then he bent his head upon his chest and began eating the sweetness that gushed forth from the prayer that he had been given. Immediately he was caught up into theoria and was totally beside himself. He wasn’t confined by walls and rocks; he was beyond all volition — without body and with a deep tranquility, in extraordinary light, and unlimited breadth. His nous contemplated only this thought: “May I never return to the body, but remain here forever.” This was the first theoria that brother saw, who then returned to himself and continued struggling for his salvation.
- Letter 25
- Then grace overflows and one is filled with illumination and infinite joy. And since he who has been seized is unable to bear the fire of love, his senses cease, and he is caught up into theoria. Up until this point, man acts with his own will. Beyond this, he is no longer in control, nor does he recognize himself. For he has now been united with the fire and has been entirely transformed — a god by grace.
- Letter 25
- Illumination is followed by interruptions in the prayer and frequent theorias, rapture of the nous, cessation of the senses, stillness, profound silence of the bodily members, and union of God and man into one. This is the divine exchange in which, if one endures temptations and does not stop struggling along the way, one exchanges the material for the immaterial….
- Letter 35
- So when grace abounds in a person and he knows all that we have written, he attains great simplicity; his nous expands and has great capacity. Just as you tasted that drop of grace when much joy and exultation came upon you, it comes again in the same manner when the nous remains in prayer. But much more comes, like a subtle breeze, like a mighty gust of fragrant wind. It overflows throughout the body, and the prayer stops; the bodily members cease to move, and only the nous is in theoria within an extraordinary light. A union of God and man occurs. Man is unable to distinguish himself. It is just like iron: before it is thrown into the fire it is called iron, but once it ignites and becomes red-hot, it is one with the fire. It is also like wax which melts when it approaches fire; it cannot remain in its natural state.
- Letter 35
- Behold, another new year! Once again, wishes and hopes. But death is lurking somewhere, waiting for us, too. Some day or night will be the last one of our life. Wherefore, blessed is he who remembers his death day and night and prepares himself to meet it. For it has a habit of coming joyfully to those who wait for it, but it arrives unexpectedly, bitterly, and harshly for those who do not expect it.
- Letter 51
- When grace comes, all the schemes of the evil one cease, for it abolishes them. It comes like a gentle breeze, like a subtle, fragrant zephyr which deadens the flesh and then raises the soul. It enlightens our nous. And in the end, when it comes, grace itself teaches a person.
- Letter 55
- So come, my dearly beloved son. Come now, even if for only one day, to talk about God and to theologize; to enjoy what you yearn for; to listen to the rough crags, those mystical and silent theologians, which expound deep thoughts and guide the heart and nous towards the Creator. After spring it is beautiful here — from Holy Pascha until the Panagia’s day in August. The beautiful rocks theologize like voiceless theologians, as does all of nature — each creature with its own voice or its silence. If you bump your hand against a little plant, immediately it shouts very loudly with its natural fragrance, “Ouch! You didn’t see me, but hit me!” And so on, everything has its own voice, so that when the wind blows, their movement creates a harmonious musical doxology to God. And what more shall we say about the creeping things and winged birds? When that saint sent his disciple to tell the frogs to be quiet so that they could read the Midnight Service, they answered him, “Be patient until we’re done with Matins!”
- Letter 56
- God is everywhere. There is no place where God is not. The more you pay attention to Him, the more He pays attention to you. You cry out to Him, “Where art Thou, my God?” And He answers, “I am present, my child! I am always beside you.” Both inside and outside, above and below, wherever you turn, everything shouts, “God!” In Him we live and move. We breathe God, we eat God, we clothe ourselves with God. Everything praises and blesses God. All of creation shouts His praise. Everything animate and inanimate speaks wondrously and glorifies the Creator. Let every breath praise the Lord!
- Letter 78
Precious vessels of the Holy Spirit (2011)Edit
- Middleton, Herman A. 2011. Precious vessels of the Holy Spirit: the lives and counsels of contemporary elders of Greece. Thessalonika, Greece: Protecting Veil.
- For the time being I live in a cave. I have wonderful stillness. I am the luckiest of men, for I live without cares and enjoy the honey of stillness unceasingly. And when grace departs for just a little, stillness comes as another grace and it shelters me in its harbor. And thus, the pains and sadness of this evil and tiring life seem less significant. In the present life, until one's final breath, sadness always comes mixed with joy.
- When the monk cleans the senses in stillness, the mind becomes peaceful and the heart is cleansed, and he receives grace and the light of knowledge. He becomes completely light, completely mind, completely transparent. Then he gushes theology, such that even if three people were to write down his experiences they wouldn't manage, the flow of waves is so great, and it spreads peace and the complete cessation of the passions throughout the body. The heart is enflamed from love of God and shouts out, "slow down the waves of Your grace, my Jesus, for I am melting like a candle!" And truly he melts without suffering. The mind is taken up into divine vision; and a mixing takes place. Man is transformed and becomes one with God, such that he doesn't recognize himself, just as iron becomes one with fire.