Excerpts from a Q&A with Abbot Ephraim of Vatopedi

Abbot Ephraim of Vatopedi

(The following interview suffers to some extent from an imperfect English translation. However, the important messages contained within the answers given by Fr. Ephraim are certainly intact.)

On Holy Communion and Prayers before Holy Communion

… In Greece, Holy Communion has nothing to do with Holy Confession. If a man did not commit deadly sins that need to be absolved [through Holy Confession], then he can receive Holy Communion. Holy Communion comes from love of the heart; it is the straining of one’s heart. A prayer before Holy Communion is a Canon before Holy Communion. Indeed, canons do exist, but their fulfillment must not be taken as a law. As for the preparation before Holy Communion, there must be no constraint. The same can be said for the fast. A man is obliged to fast according to the fasting period prescribed by the Church; there is no special fasting rule for the receiving Holy Communion. [1]

On the Jesus Prayer Uttered Aloud

Such practice is being kept on the Mount Athos and in the monastery of Vatopedi as well. Elder Joseph the Hesychast used to say that in that way mind can easier accept its meaning. It helps monk to keep his attention. Uttering of this prayer reduces or completely removes in quietude: “lips simply move your mind”. Then comes the moment when man can not say the prayer with his lips, since it transforms in more perfect form – prayer of the heart.

On Eder Joseph of Vatopedi – Pupil of Elder Joseph the Hesychast

Elder Joseph of Vatopedi is man of God. His mind is so fortified in God that he does not speak about anything which is of this world. Having enormous love towards God, he longs to die.

What Do Athonite Monks Say About the Last Times?

Well, nowadays it is fashionable to speak about the Antichrist. Demons attacks from the left and from the right: they advise man either not to take thought of the end of history, or they try to convince him that the end of time will come tomorrow. People that are inclined to think about the Last Times are afraid of everything, and that can bring only spiritual harm. A great number of such ideas are not God-pleasing. A true Christian has to prepare for the moment of his death – our death is our Last day. Be devoted to our Lord Jesus Christ; and the Church that keeps the Tradition, will inform us about the Antichrist, and She is the One that will tell us what to do.

On Russian Spiritual Chant

Contemporary Russian chant is not ancient. Old unison Russian chant is more prayerful. Byzantine chant is more pleasant and spiritual. But, chant is of secondary importance; the most important is a clean heart.

How Can One Encourage the Love of Christ in Children?

That can be achieved by condescension, patience and prayer. Elder Porphyry [the Kapsokalivite] used to say: “Let us not speak much about God to our children. They cannot stand many words. The point is to tell God about our children.”…

On Miracles Nowadays on Mount Athos

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. Some time ago a miracle has occurred in a Bulgarian monastery named Zographou. Namely, an icon was miraculously taken by St. George the Great-martyr to one of the monastery churches. But the greatest miracle is – the Church with Her Holy Mysteries.

On Archimandrite Sophronius Sakharov

Father Sophronius is absolutely a man of God. Some Athonite monks like to call him the “new Gregory Palamas.” As for my opinion of Father Sophronius, my experience witnesses that he was a blessed man, full of divine grace.

[1] ( Blogger’s footnote) This refers
particularly to false customs that require Orthodox Christians to abstain from such things as meat the day (or even week!) before they receive Holy Communion. Of course one who is physically able is supposed to abstain from all food and drink the night before receiving Holy Communion – starting at midnight.

* Monastery Lepavina

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