Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New Skete and the Grave of Elder Joseph the Hesychast

On Thursday morning, we celebrated the Divine Liturgy at St. Anne's and then sat outside in the courtyard and had a coffee with a monk from one of the skete's cells, a monk who has been there for 30 years.

After coffee and a little artoklasia, we decided to head out for our next destination while it was still early and the weather was relatively cool.

So we headed off north/west, in the opposite direction from Little St. Anne's, over to our destination for the second night, the Holy Monastery of Agiou Pavlou. On the way, though, we had the idea to stop by New Skete, which is about halfway between the two.

We made it to New Skete in about 45 minutes, if I remember correctly, (see above of us walking that path) and made our way to the main church. On the way, we stopped and asked for directions from the elder of one cell, who asked about us and talked to me awhile about my dissertation, suggesting a couple useful books. We then tried to stop by the cell of another friend of Paris, but no one was in.

Finally we found the church and just as we came a monk was leaving. He let us into the church, which is dedicated to the Nativity of the Mother of God, and let us venerate (see above).

He then asked about us and it turns out that the elder of his cell, Fr. Nikon, is a spiritual child of Elder Ephraim from America, and he has been to the US several times. He insisted that we go to Elder Nikon's cell and have a coffee, so we went.

Visiting with this elder was one of the highlights of the trip for me. He was so full of joy, so lively, so interested in everything--we discussed books, movies (including Ostrov and Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, which he loved), theology.

I don't think their little cell has a priest, so the custom on Athos is to invite priests to come serve the Liturgy in their cells. I was honored that they invited me to come back and stay with them some time and serve the Liturgy for them. I really hope to see them again.

Above you can see us standing with the elder on the steps to his cell, and the monk who had met us in the church, Fr. Dositheos, takes our picture.

After leaving him, we then made our way over to the tomb of Elder Joseph the Heyschast (see above).

We venerated the grave of the soon-to-be saint and asked his prayers (see above).

Refreshed by the experience at New Skete, we then headed out again into the increasingly hot sun and made our way to Agiou Pavlou.

For all the photos from the trip, click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2.

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