I received a copy of Wounded By Love: The Life and the Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios, for Christmas. Part One, is a summary of his life in his own words as recalled by those who knew him. While I have only read 26 pages, what is becoming obvious is the supreme importance he placed on obedience. For him, obedience was not only an arena for transformation but the sweet nectar of holiness, the fruit of obedience. Obedience bears the fruit of deeper obedience as well as other virtues.
The elder loved obedience almost from the beginning. Obedience was the arena in which he was clothed in humility.
The monk is an icon among us of what is true for me and you in our journey of salvation.
Here is an excerpt from the book that illustrates the process. I also include two passages from the Scriptures as well.
When I had reached the age of fourteen, my elder called me and said to me:
‘What are you going to do? What are your plans? Are you going to stay here?’
‘I’m going to stay!’ I exclaimed, beaming with pleasure and joy.
‘Make a bow.’
I made a bow. Then he brought me a cassock of his own which was old and worn and which he kept for work. It was so patched and mended that the original cloth could barely be seen and the collar was greasy and stained by sweat. I had seen young monks in the Kyriakon; they had been handsomely dressed and I had dreamt of a cassock like theirs. What can I say? I had waited for this moment with longing. And young as I was, I had imagined the cassock I would be given to wear, and how fine and splendid it would be. But when the time came, what did I see> A patched old rag. I was disappointed a little – for five minutes. I was young at the time, you see, fourteen years old. I didn’t say anything though; I didn’t complain. When I say the cassock, I felt suddenly crest-fallen, as I said, but I quickly thought of the positive side.
‘With your blessing,’ I said and took it.
I didn’t think about the matter again. I thought about the hermits who wore hair shirts and never took them off of washed them. God therefore gave me great consolation. I went to the reading desk. The Epistle of Saint John happened to open before me. And that same day, my God, You spoke to me! You spoke to me! O my God, You spoke to me so much…
Wounded By Love: The Life and the Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios, Denise Harvey (Publisher), Limni, Evia, Greece, 2011.
35 James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” 36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 37 They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. 40 “But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 Hearing this, the ten began to feel indignant with James and John. 42 Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. 43 “But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. 45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10.35-45)
1 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, 2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 8Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 11 To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5.1-11)