Elder Ephraim of Katounakia
by Tessy Vassiliadou-Christodoulou.
Published by Katounakia, 2003
Elder Ephraim of Katounakia is a recent Athonite pillar of faith, having fallen asleep in the Lord in 1998. This book, written by his spiritual children from Katounakia, provides us with a glimpse of the elder’s life, teachings and holiness. The book is separated into three sections. In the first, we are relayed details of his life. We begin with his youth, to time in the isolated Katounakia, his extraordinary struggles in prayer and complete obedience, and eventually to his eldership of a brotherhood of his own. The second part considers the experiences and teachings of the Elder. He pays particular focus on two important virtues – obedience and prayer – illustrated with beneficial and inspiring stories from his own life.
Regarding obedience the Elder would say, “obedience is above all things”, and, “experience has convinced me that obedience is superior, even to prayer”. On prayer the Elder says, “Do you want to obtain the gift of prayer? Do you want tears gushing from your eyes whenever you say the Jesus prayer: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me’? Do you want to live the life of angels? You should say ‘Evlogison’, Let it be blessed’. In one word: obedience”. His advice is not limited to this. He provides practical advice to us, in the 21st century, on how to advance in our spiritual struggle and climb the ladder of virtues.
The last part of the book is on the Elder’s letters and writings to various monks, nuns and laypeople. These writings exemplify his great love and compassion for his neighbour and the whole world. Elder Ephraim of Katounakia provides us with evernecessary practical guidance for our spiritual life. His saintly life and direct advice inspires us to imitate his love for God. As St John Chrysostom says, “to honour a saint is to imitate the saint”. May we have his blessing.
Source: Lychnos June 2018 / July 2018