Elder Paisios was one of those monks who could not stand flattery. He often said that they had better leave him a note with the request than bother him with their babbling so that he could help more people through prayer. He received thousands of letters to which he did not respond and never received money.
He believed that people would solve their problems and come one step closer to God, not only through prayer and good thoughts, but also through toil. Aside from the fact that he ate little, he put himself under so much pressure since he was a child. For example, he walked barefoot on thorns. He slept little and severely punished himself when he felt that the temptations were knocking the door.
As he confessed, once when he was still alone in the monastery of Stomio in Konitsa, he felt his body set on fire by a “strong carnal desire.” When he found out that the desire did not fade, he cut off his leg with an ax in seven places!
The way to deal with temptations was for Elder Paisios something very personal and essential at the same time. After all, he was one of those who resisted the modernization of Mount Athos. He did not want the roads to be paved. He sought the serenity and stillness, thus he did not want cars. As he used to say, the monk is not just a lantern but a lighthouse that can be seen from afar. While he claimed that the monk is the radio operator of God and that the further one goes, the better the signal is.
Contrary to what the most belie today, the monk is not here to give alms to those in need, but to pray so that there will always be food for everyone.
Despite his austere way of life, he had a rare sense of humor while speaking in parables and often using phrases from conventional wisdom to make his thoughts easier to fathom. For those who did not get on the right track, he said: the ox that does not want the yoke, nor the row crop, goes to the butcher! By using these popular sayings, he was able to express his thoughts in a plain and clear manner.
He did not consider himself a “wonder-worker.” When some students from Ioannina asked him to perform a miracle, his reply is still proverbial: “Come on in, cut off your heads and I’ll put them back!”
Although this method was not comfortable for all those who visited him in order to have a special experience, it made him even more popular. His spontaneity also made him even more popular. Because he was not a skilled public speaker, he often tried to express his thoughts through gestures.
There, in the open-air guesthouse in the courtyard of his cell, where he used logs as chairs, Elder Paisios tried to advise his visitors in order to redeem them. He prayed for them and for the whole world as if he were the mediator. After all, as a radio operator in the army, he had appointed the monks as the radio operator of God!
Shortly before his death, he looked back on his life, that was his testament:
“I, Monk Paisios, when I look back on my life, saw that I had disobeyed all the Lord’s commands. I have committed all sins. It doesn’t matter if some have been committed to a lesser degree, because I have no mitigation at all, because the Lord has benefited me greatly. May Christ have mercy on me. Forgive me and forgive those who think they have mercy on me.
Thank you very much and pray for me.”