BORN in 1898 on the island of Paros, Joseph turned to the spiritual life at twenty-three. Prompted by reading the lives of the Fathers, and went to Mount Athos to become a monk.
At this time, the monks of the Holy Mountain had lost touch with the traditions of the earliest monks of the Church, and they did not understand Joseph’s longing to pray without ceasing, and his willingness to undergo severe self-discipline in order to conquer the passions.
“I was inconsolable because I was longing so ardently to find what I had set out for in search of God; and not only was I not finding it, but people would not even being helpful.”
Yet God took him gently in hand. In the midst of his trials, he received a vision of the uncreated light.
“At once I was completely changed and forgot myself. I was filled with light in my heart and outside and everywhere, not being aware that I even had a body. The prayer began to say itself within me…”
Joseph made common cause with a fellow monk Arsenios, who also longed to discover the grace of Christ through the ceaseless recitation of the “Jesus prayer” in the heart:
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me a sinner.
They eventually found a spiritual father in Elder Ephraim the Barrel-Maker, who encouraged them in their quest. They spoke little, and ate less; all their time was given to this short prayer. After the repose of Ehraim, they found support in Elder Daniel.
Joseph’s discipline had formed in him a man of extraordinary wisdom and magnetic kindness. His popularity as an advisor led him to seek greater solitude, but the demands of complete self-sufficiency were too great and he and his small community were driven back to the communal life in the New Skete from the early 1950s.
Elder Joseph reposed on August 15, 1959.
On Patience and Endurance. Extracts from a letter of Elder Joseph in English, to a background of gentle music. The Elder encourages us to persevere in prayer for both spiritual and temporal blessings, emphasising that God always answers our prayers in the best way, but that perseverance over a long time may be necessary.
The sequence of three videos below provides some lovely quotations (in Greek) set to restful music.