Elder Porphyrios the Kapsokalyvite (1906-1991) had no education beyond the first grade. He learnt his letters from two Elders in his monastery, and he taught himself to read Scripture in the original without a dictionary, by comparing how words are used in different passages until he teased out their meaning.
Here, the Elder gives us a glimpse of us what his “lectio divina” might be like.
“DEVOTION” (katanixi) is a sacred Passion (pathos): you suffer without being crushed.
For my part, I interpret everything with the Holy Scripture: “But one of the soldiers wounded (enixe) his side with his lance, and their came out at once both blood and water” (Jn 19:34).
He pricked with the shaft, with the lance, and made a wound. This is the root of the word “devotion” (katanixi), from the verb nitto, katanitto (νύττω, κατανύττω).
Listen: katanitto with a knife means “I wound many times”. And when it is applied to the soul, katanittomai [the passive form] means that I am heavily wounded by the love of God.
Katatitrosko [κατατιτρώσκω, “wound severely”], what does that mean? “I, even I am deeply wounded [τέτρωμαι, perfect tense, implying completion and abundance] by your love.”
“I have charged you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the powers and the virtues of the field: if ye should find my kinsman, what are ye to say to him? That I am wounded with love” (Song of Songs 5:8).
That is, the Bride says, who searches to find the Bridegroom Christ: “I am deeply wounded by my love for Him. How shall I forget Him? How shall I live apart from Him? I suffer deeply, when he is far from me”. So devotion is a deep pain. A sacred Passion (pathos).
From “Wounded by Love: The Life and Wisdom of Elder Porphyrios”. Some passages are online at Scribd, but this fuller extract comes from a post on the Analogion forum. More about Porphyrios on my dedicated Page.
WOUND our souls with longing for you; that ever gazing upon you and guided by the light that comes from you, seeing you the unapproachable and everlasting light, we may give thanks to you, the Father without beginning, with your only-begotten Son and your all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
From a Prayer of St Basil the Great, at the Third Hour. Translation from Anastasis.