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  • Heavenly Path News Team

"The peaceful hermit Fr Elissaios of Optina"

From the book: Spiritual Anthology of the Lives and Speeches of the Saints of Russia.Holy Monastery of Parakletos, Oropos Attica 2018

In a forest, two hours away from Optina, Father Elissaios lived as an ascetic, a man full of simplicity and humility.

Due to his great humiliation, he did not want to become a monk, and so he remained a probationer for fifty-two whole years!

The monks of the monastic center of Optina honored him excessively and called him "father", even though he had never been a monk. Secluded in the quiet forest, under the ministry of the ranger, and immersed in prayer, he became exalted.

He had such a childish and angelic grace about him that even the animals of the forest loved him. In the winter, when the snow had covered everything, he would come out of his hermitage, throw cannabutter on himself—on his head, on his shoulders, on his beard, on his hands—and call out: – Ptytsky, ptytsky, ptytsky! (Birds, birds, birds!). Immediately there were innumerable flutters and happy peeps. His head, his face, his hands were full of birds.

The cute hermit, his winged friends greedily nibbling on the seeds, the falling snow, the white-clad trees... It was a heavenly scene! Some brothers of Optina, who happened to enjoy this sight, thought they were witnessing a divine apparition.

One day Fr. Elissaios, walking in the forest, was confronted by wolves. They passed him like they knew him, without bothering him at all! In the peaceful hermit everything, animate and inanimate, tame and wild, behaved peacefully.

"Be at peace within yourself," says Abba Isaac, "and heaven and earth will be at peace with you." * * * At the age of seventy-five, Father Elissaios fell seriously ill. He collapsed and was taken to the Optina Monastery hospital.

Just before he fell asleep, a monk visited him. - Be patient, Father Elisha, he told him, and the Lord will grant you eternal consolation. – Did he not comfort me even in this life? he replied. Blessed be His name! He claimed me to love Him, to praise Him, to glorify Him. And here with God and there with God. All is well with God. "God with us. Know nations and be defeated, that God is with us".

Translated from Source:

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