The Greek Orthodox faithful of Western Australia had the joy and blessing to celebrate together with their Shepherd the feast day of Saint Paisios the Athonite in the Holy Church dedicated to his memory, which is located at the Holy Monastery of Saint John of the Mountain in Perth. During the festive two days, Tuesday 11th and Wednesday 12th of July, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia officiated at the Great Vespers and presided over the Festive Divine Liturgy, in the sole Church in Australia that is dedicated to and honoured with the name of this great modern Saint of our Church.
During the Divine Liturgy, on the main day of the feast, His Eminence elevated Father Terry Gerovasilis, the Parish Priest of the Church of Saints Constantine and Helene, Perth, to Spiritual Father – Confessor. As well as this, His Eminence also tonsured Mr. Joshua Smith and Mr. Ioannis Tsigiozoglou as Readers.
Addressing the large congregation, Archbishop Makarios appropriately spoke about the personality of Saint Paisios, whom he himself had the privilege of meeting in his youth, during his visits to the “Garden of the Panagia”. “I am speaking about a Saint who is very close to us”, His Eminence observed from the beginning and then analysed the reasons why the faithful feel this spiritual closeness and intimacy with Saint Paisios. Firstly, this is due to the fact that he is a Saint who lived in modern times and, in fact, had also visited Australia, subsequently many of the Christ-loving plenitude of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia have known him personally, have conversed with him, have heard his teaching and counsel, and have vivid memories of this blessed experience of theirs.
But the most essential thing, as the Archbishop pointed out, is that the teaching of Saint Paisios touches and moves the hearts of all believers, even those who did not have the blessing of personal acquaintance and connection with him, precisely because “what Saint Paisios has said, he has said in a very simple way, expressing great theological and spiritual realities”.
Also, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios focused on the fact that he was a man who had a lot of love in his heart and he showed this love. “In the Orthodox Church, a person who has love cannot hide it”, he underlined and added: “Love is seen in the face of the neighbour. From the way we treat our neighbour, it can be seen whether we have love or not. Saint Paisios therefore had a rich love and that’s why, when you approached him and sat with him for a while, you didn’t want to leave. Why did you feel this love? Because you were experiencing it. And he made you, in his own way, understand what real love means.”
Also, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios referred to the spiritual gift that Saint Paisios possessed to guide people towards the truth of faith, without criticising them: “He knew your mistakes, your passions and your sins, but despite all that, he did not criticise you, he did not accuse you, he did not condemn you. But in a beautiful way, and sometimes in a funny way, he made you understand what the reality of faith is. He checked you, taught you, put you on the right path, but without feeling that you were judged, that you were being criticised, or that you were being interrogated and condemned”.
Finally, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia focused on the ecclesiastical ethos and attitude possessed by Saint Paisios, who was always respecting and defending the Bishops, the Patriarch and the Holy and Sacred Synod, and urged the faithful, instead of judging and criticising the Church, to try and correct themselves, which is part of the building up of the Church of Christ.
It is noted that in the Divine Services for the Feast of Saint Paisios the Athonite, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios was joined by His Grace Bishop Elpidios of Kyanea, Archiepiscopal Vicar of Perth, along with clergy from Perth and Father Constantine Varipatis from Sydney, as well as Archimandrite Makarios Souris, Proistamenos of the Holy Monastery of Saint John in Perth, along with his brotherhood. The Divine Liturgy, on the feast day, was attended by, among others, the Deputy Consul for Maritime Affairs, Mr. Nikolaos Papakonstantinou, with his wife, representing the Consulate of Greece in Perth.