Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain is one of the most beloved of all the monks of the Athonite revival. He was kind, patient, and understanding.
ELDER, why does the Panagia sometimes give me what I ask for straightaway, and other times not?
WHENEVER we are in need, the Panagia always answers our prayer straightaway; when we are not, she leaves us be, so that we can acquire a little bravery.
Once, when I was at the Philotheou Monastery, immediately after the vigil of the Panagia [the Feast of the Dormition, August 15] the Rector sent me on an errand with a letter for the Iveron Monastery.
As it turned out, I had to go down to the seashore at the monastery and wait for a little old monk who came by boat, to accompany him to our monastery – a half hour’s journey on foot.
I was just coming off a fast and a vigil. Then, I used to separate the fast of the Dormition [August 1-15] into two: until the Transfiguration [August 6] I didn’t eat anything at all, I would eat on the day of the Transfiguration, and after that until the Dormition again I wouldn’t eat anything.
So, I left immediately after the vigil and it never even occurred to me to take so much as a few nuts. I got to the Iveron Monastery, I handed over the letter, and went down to the seashore to wait for the boat [there’s a picture of the coastline at the Iveron here]. He was to come at four in the afternoon, but he was late arriving.
Meanwhile, I started to get faint. A little way off, there was a pile of tree trunks, like telegraph poles, and I said to myself, “I’ll go and sit there where it is a little out of the way, and no one will see me and start asking questions about what the matter is”.
When I had sat down, the idea came to me that I might say a prayer rope to the Panagia to fix something for me.
Immediately though I rebelled against this idea and said, “Wretched fellow, are you going to bother the Panagia with such nothings?!” Then I saw in front of me a monk. He had a round loaf, two figs and a big bunch of grapes. “Have these” he said, “to the glory of our Lady the Panagia”, and vanished.
Oh, then I fell apart. Weeping took hold of me, and I didn’t want to eat any more… Dear oh dear! What a mother she is! That she should think of such tiny details!