The good field and the rogue seed

Elder Paisios the Athonite

Elder Paisios the Athonite

IF a man has good intentions, but has not been helped since childhood, it is not flattery to tell him of the good things you see in him, because in that way he is helped and changes, since he is entitled to divine help.

I said to someone, “You are good. The things you are doing do not fit with who you are.” I said this to him, because I saw the goodness of the field and the bad seed which had taken root.

I saw that internally he was good and that the bad which he did was external. I did not say to him, “You are good” in order to flatter him, but to help him, to prompt his philotimo*.

Some people have the following line: some other person has, does not have such-and-such a charisma, they say to him: “You do not have this charisma”, supposedly so that he does not wax proud and get harmed. That is, it is a counterbalance.

When, however, the other person despairs over the bad he has done, he despairs also over the good he has done; how then will he be encouraged to fight back eagerly? On the other hand, if you speak to him of the good which he has and foster philotimo and nobility, he is helped, he develops and makes progress.

* Philotimo is a favourite word of Paisios’s. In both modern and especially ancient Greek, its connotations are negative, implying conceited concern for one’s public image. However, Paisios uses it in a positive sense, to mean a self-respect which prompts us to do the right thing.

Elder Paisios the Athonite. From ‘Αγιον Όρος.


POSSESSING a womb containing God, the Virgin hastened to Elizabeth; whose child immediately, upon recognising her greeting, was filled with joy; and in leaps as though with songs, he cried out to the Theotokos,

HAIL, branch of a vine that cannot wither.
Hail, orchard of fruit that bears no taint.

Hail, for you farm the farmer who loves mankind.
Hail, for you garden the gardener of our life.

Hail, fields yielding compassion’s abundant fruits.
Hail, table laden with abundance of reconciliation.

Hail, for thou makest the meadow of delight to flower anew.
Hail, for thou makest ready a haven for souls.

Hail, acceptable incense of intercession.
Hail, propitiatory offering for the whole world.

Hail, goodwill of God towards mortal men.
Hail, boldness of mortal men with God.

Hail, Bride without bridegroom.

HAVING within a tempest of doubtful thoughts, the prudent Joseph was troubled, as he looked upon thee, the unwedded, and he suspected a stolen union, O blameless one. But learning of thee that the conception was by the holy Spirit, he said:


The Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God, Stasis A.

Greek original at Analogion. There is another translation of this at Anastasis, which draws attention to the acrostic buried in the Greek.


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