After Western Europe was torn away from the Orthodox Church by the heretical decrees of the Pope of Rome and the violence of his allies like the Normans and the Teutonic Knights, the Holy Ghost fled away from her and holiness withered up. Many attempts have been made since then to fill the terrible emptiness that was created at His departure. Most of them fall in the category of outward spectacle, beginning with the over-sized and disorienting Roman Catholic cathedrals. Then came the grandiose masses, followed by the lofty and lengthy preaching of the Protestants, and now so-called praise bands, speaking in tongues, projector screens and movie clips, clown masses, etc. But none of these can ever replace what was lost. Only repentance and reunion with Christ’s Body, the Holy Orthodox Church, can bring back the holiness that was lost and begin again the making of saints, a process that thankfully has never stopped in the Orthodox Church (nor will it while she endures on the earth, which will be till the end of time).
The saints are the greatest cultural ‘product’ that any people might ever bring into being, more valuable than the GDP, military hardware, tech innovations, paintings, constitutions, or any other creation of the minds and hands of man. Their glory is eternal, they are new incarnations of Christ in the world, they are love. The worldly strength and riches of the West are indeed formidable at the moment, but she is nevertheless in utter spiritual poverty without the Orthodox Church and her saints. And so her end could come at any moment.
The Orthodox Church does not need spectacle; nor does She need to ape the fallen culture around her to make new disciples, as one finds Roman Catholics and Protestants trying to do nowadays with Super Bowl parties, cartoons, rock concerts, etc. She did not create ‘Christian gladiator sports’ during her early years in the Old Roman Empire to draw the heathen into the Church, for ensample. All those things are counter-productive in the end, because they do not heal the passions but either damage them more or keep them in their sick state. The presence of the All-Holy Trinity in the life of the Orthodox Church is all that she needs. And when a new Orthodox saint is revealed in this world, the truth of this becomes abundantly clear. From the life of the newly glorified Elder Iakovos of Evia (+1991):
. . .
Blessed Elder Iakovos piously lived about forty years in the Monastery of St. David, before that having lived in the world according to the Gospel for thirty-two years.
He was rich in God, served the Lord, from his youth until old age preserving in his heart the desire for asceticism. Fr. Iakovos imitated St. David, following in his footsteps.
His ascetic labors were not inferior to those of the ancient saints, who were in obedience to elders. The spiritual and physical attacks of the devil, a multitude of temptations, trials and troubles were like unto those faced by the God-bearing fathers.
But at that time, when the trials, sicknesses, and sufferings of Fr. Iakovos were multiplying, the Lord bestowed spiritual gifts upon him such as spiritual vision, knowledge of the future, discernment, and conviction.
The more Divine visions and signs there were, given according to his prayers, the louder became his fame. Not only simple folk came to see him at the monastery, but patriarchs, hierarchs, priests, monks, civil authorities, senior judges, university professors, and scientists. And as they left the monastery after meeting with Elder Iakovos, all felt they were leaving a portion of Heaven.
Everyone received from the elder the help they needed. The suffering found in his approving words comfort and solace, the demon-possessed were liberated from impure spirits by his prayers, the sick recovered thanks to the boldness of his prayers, those haggard from various problems found mental quietude, tranquility, strengthening, and a solution to their problems after his blessing.
The poor found in his uncomplaining and patient almsgiving deliverance from the misery of poverty and freedom from serious debts.
Many childless families were gifted with wonderful children by his prayers and blessing. For those who could no more than see the elder, his appearance was a revelation of God’s grace manifested on Earth.
This is what Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew wrote on this occasion in his letter to the honorable Monastery of St. David: “Through the elder’s blessedness and his bright appearance is accomplished that which St. Chrysostom wrote of St. Meletius of Antioch: ‘For not only he who teaches, not only he who speaks, but he who merely gives an example in deed is able to invest every virtue into the soul of those who see him.’”
. . .
Elder Iakovos left the administration of the monastery in 1990 due to poor health. He was more and more beset by sickness, and in September 1991, after a minor heart attack, the elder was hospitalized. Having been treated, Fr. Iakovos returned to the monastery, but an inflammation began which developed into pneumonia. The elder had a premonition of his impending repose.
On the morning of November 21, 1991, he went to the service, sang on the kliros, and partook of the Holy Mysteries of Christ. Then the elder confessed several faithful and walked around the monastery inside and out. At noon, Fr. Iakovos heard the confession of his spiritual daughter and of a monk who was in obedience to Fr. Hilarion; this monk was to be ordained as a hierodeacon that day by the metropolitan of Chalkida.
When the brethren entered, Fr. Iakovos tried to get up, but he felt dizzy. His breathing became labored, his pulse weakened, and from his mouth came forth only a weak exhalation. The elder was already on the path to eternity.
Little was said about the elder’s death, but the phones were working full blast, spreading the news of this sad event. The following day, thousands of people came—clergy of all degrees and spiritual children of the elder from throughout all of Greece—to give him their last kiss: The monastery courtyard was overflowing with people.
His funeral was held under the open sky, and after the homily, Metropolitan Prokopios of Cephalonia asked to raise his body higher, that all the faithful could see the elder. As soon as they showed his relics, the thousands of faithful called out as with one voice, “A saint, a saint.”
. . .
But after his blessed repose, the holy elder, as thousands of faithful confess, continues to bring assistance by his boldness before the Lord.
The Monastery of St. David has recorded at least 300 testimonies, which are contained in letters of the beneficiaries themselves or recorded from their oral accounts, connected with healings by the intercession or posthumous appearances of the elder.
Contemporary testimonies on the help of Fr. Iakovos
Fr. John Bernezos, the rector of the Church of St. John the Russian in the village of Procopio on the island of Evia, reports the following:
“I had a tumor on my right hand. Besides the dangers that the tumor harbored in itself, it was ugly. Therefore, when parishioners kissed me on the hand, I would hide it under my riassa.
“On the day of Elder Iakovos’ funeral (11/22/1991), I told him about it, and when I kissed his body, I reached out my diseased hand to him. From that moment, the tumor began to shrink until it completely disappeared. I am immensely grateful to the holy elder! May his blessing be upon us!”
Adromaxi Paskali, a resident of the village of Limni on the island of Evia, writes in a letter sent to the monastery: “On November 18, 1993, a tumor appeared on the tip of my tongue, which gradually grew and constantly bothered me when I spoke, ate, or drank water.
“Two months passed from the day when I first noticed the tumor, but it didn’t disappear. I felt horrible. And in this state of serious nervous tension in which I found myself, while I was thinking that on Monday I should go to a doctor in Athens, I told my problem to Fr. Iakovos, looking at a tiny picture of him which was standing on the table across me. I asked him to help me, so I wouldn’t have to undergo some endless succession of doctor’s examinations, as is required in such emergency cases, and for about two nights I would suddenly wake up in my room. In the morning, when I got up and had some coffee, I made sure that nothing was bothering me on my tongue. I impatiently ran up to the mirror and saw that the tumor had disappeared without a trace. See—I simply asked St. Iakovos for help, and he simply responded.”
. . .
When this text was being prepared for publication, Mr. Yannoulis, a sailor from the island of Andros, came to the monastery. The man’s eyes were brimming over with tears; he was unable to cope with his excitement; he could barely speak. He told the following story:
“I traveled to India quite a while ago. One day, my heart began to trouble me. In the hospital where they sent me, the doctors said I had not long to live.
“Despite my terrible situation, I felt some invisible Divine power helping me. When I opened my eyes at some point, the first thing I saw was Elder Iakovos, whose book I had read several times.
“He told me, ‘Don’t be afraid, Yannoulis, I will help you. Everything will be alright, and you will return home.’ And from that moment I fully recovered.”
The existing oral and written testimonies of the faithful confirm that Elder Iakovos has great boldness before God, and we pray to him for intercession for us all before our Lord, the Giver of gifts.
Source: Archimandrite Kirill, Jesse Dominick trans., http://orthochristian.com/109373.html, opened 4, 5 Jan. 2017
Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the Souð, unworthy though we are!
Anathema to the Union!