Germanos of Stavrovouni
translations of the blessed Elder Germanos were translated by Fr. Nicholas
Pallis for his parish in Pennsylvania and are being made available here with his
permission as a service by the Monastery of St. Gregory Palamas in Hayesville,
Ohio. They will be expanded frequently as time and opportunity permit.)
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE ON THE EVER-MEMORABLE ELDER GERMANOS OF STAVROVOUNI
Germanos was born in the village Augorou of the eparchy of Ammochostos in 1906
of pious parents Nicholas and Margaret, of the Hatzigeorgi family. Reading the
life of Saint John the Hut Dweller when he was young, he was urged to make the
decision to follow the monastic life.
At age 16
he entered the Stavrovouni Monastery. He showed exemplary zeal and noteworthy
obedience as a novice monastic. He received the prayer to wear the casssock at
age 24 and from his original name George was renamed monk Germanos. He was
ordained a Deacon the following year. He was tonsured a monk of the Great Habit
at age 29 and was ordained a Hieromonk (Priestmonk) at age 38.
of his life, his proven prudence, and administrative abilities served as the
main cause for his election to abbot in the year 1952, when the abbot till then,
the ever-memorable Elder Dionysios II, reposed. As abbot he was the first to set
an example: first in guilelessness, in forgiving, in meekness, in patience, in
service, in diligence, in silence, in participating in the sacred Services. He
very diligently cultivated ceaseless prayer in his soul.
One of his
chief virtues was conscientious obscurity. He avoided any projection of his
towards the outer world, but also towards the people around him. He strove to
hide his virtues with every diligence; for this reason as a rule very few were
able to recognize the invaluable treasure hidden beneath his plain appearance.
His ceaseless prayer with tears, his angelic standing before the dreadful Altar
of the Lord during the time of the Divine Liturgy and the unique and
unrepeatable example of his whole life gave forth a most wealthy spiritual
fruitfulness, not only in his own Monastery, but also in the female Monasteries
of Cyprus, which blossomed and were supported thanks mainly to his own
He was an
excellent Confessor and Spiritual Father, and guided a multitude of people to
repentance and to genuine spiritual conversion to the Lord. His whole life was a
real living witness of the living Jesus.
life was sealed with a martyrical end. On the afternoon of August 31, 1982, on
the last day of the Ecclesiastical Year and a day dedicated par excellence to
the Panaghia, whom the venerable Elder exceedingly venerated, while he was
returning from a hard day's work in the olive fields, driving the tractor of the
Monastery, he fell into a steep valley, where he found, on his own and unaided,
a martyrical death. With the end of the Ecclesiastical year the blessed Elder
reposed, a genuine ecclesiastical personality, whose life essentially was a
constant sacrifice, a ceaseless service. Undoubtledly he was transposed to the
Altar above, where the unending Liturgy is served. The monks, who looked for him
persistently all that afternoon, finally found him the next day, dead and in a
prayerful position, with his feet and hands crossed, this also being a visible
sign of his spiritual work, even during those last painful moments of his
martyrical death, which like the pains of childbirth, introduced him to eternal
COUNSELS OF ELDER GERMANOS
faith in God
overcomes his passions obtains strong faith.
faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is granted richly only to those who have
a heart pure of passions.
believe in Christ with all our heart. Thus the intellect is enlightened and sins
are overcome. Our passions are wiped out, our spirit calms down, our whole being
exists, just as false faith exists. True faith shows at the time of temptation.
False faith blossoms only at the time of comforts and withers at the time of
Do you pray
with faith? You are heard! Do you repent with faith? You receive mercy! Do you
confess with faith? You are forgiven. Do you forbear with faith? You are
believe in Christ" means I trust Him in everything. I do not alter, even
one iota, nor even one dot, from His teaching and from His commmandments!
Otherwise I become a heretic! And the heretic is outside of the saving Ark. The
flood will drown him.
works, in our words, in our thoughts, our faith shows.
faith achieves is proven very manifestly in the Lives of the Martyrs, the
Monastic Saints, the Confessors, those practicing continence and all of the
in the True God and humility, the passions of our souls are overcome, the
demons, who strive to do us evil, are put to flight and in a mystical and
supernatural manner they are unarmed.
believe in God" does not mean I should merely await or demand that God obey
me, fulfilling my own will. "I believe in God" means I do obedience to
God, fulfilling His own will, whether that seems pleasing to me or not. For this
reason even in the "Our Father" we say to God, "Thy will be
done...", and not "my will be done."
In what can
people harm us, when God loves and has forethought for us?
understand the love and care, which your parents have for you, think that the
love and Providence of God for you are incomparably greater. Have this in your
mind and never despair.
illnesses which occur to you, in the hands of divine Providence are medicines,
which heal your soul from the passions, the evils, sin. One accpets an illness
as an opportunity for prayer and repentance as well. Now, that you are suffering
from your illness, it is more difficult for you to sin. Now you are not
satisfying the passions, as happened, when you were healthy. See your trial as
the "narrow gate and grievous path" (see Matt. 7:14), which leads to
eternal life. Glorify God, who with the Providence of His love allowed this
temporal hardship, to open the path of eternity up to you.
hope in God
fervent prayer, sincere confession, frequent study of the Holy Scripture and the
Lives of the Saints Christian hope is made firm and strengthened in our soul.
had all their hope in the Lord and they were never disappointed. Let this be an
example for imitation for us.
up, no matter if your passions and sinful thoughts fight you. Constantly set a
new beginning! Say: "The Lord lives, for this reason I am not
For him who
hopes in God, there never exist impasses.
doesn't hope in God seeks out false consolation in blurry philosophies, in
sinful diversions, in harmful drinks, and even in drugs.
without hope is a ship without a compass.
Christians are we, if we live "just as the rest who do not have hope?"
(I Thess. 4:13)
works the Commandments of the Lord, hopes also in the payment. Because the Lord
says: "Your reward is great in the heavens." (Matt. 5:12) He may
address himself to our Christ and tell him: "May your mercy, O Lord, be
upon us, as we have hoped upon you." (Ps. 32:22)
struggles to obtain perfect love, both towards God, as well as towards his
neighbor, he can confess our Lord Jesus Christ "in the Holy Spirit."
believe that God loves you, even if all people reject you and if everyone
you struggle to love God, all the more He reveals Himself to you!
Godly love, but there also is the diabolical love! There is Godly hate but there
also exists diabolical hate.
is that which springs from the keeping of God's commandments. Diabolical love is
demonic, pleasure-loving, passionate. Godly hate is hate against sin. Diabolical
hate is against whatsoever fellow man of ours, even against our enemy.
He who has
wickedness, tastes death, whereas he who has love, tastes eternal life. There is
not place of residence in the Kingdom of the heavens for those, who don't have
room for love in their soul for their enemies.
the Fear of God
The fear of
God leads man to practice His commandments. And whoever practices God's
commandments will be loved by God, and will be particularly loved by Him.
Because the Scripture says: "He who has my commandments and keeps them, he
it is who loves me." (John 14:21)
fear God, it is precisely then that we don't fear, neither people, nor demons!
all we should fear God. And through the fear of the Lord, we will reach to His
love, which the Scripture says, "casts out fear." (I John 4:18) Just
as Anthony the Great also said: "I no longer fear God, but I love
who doesn't fear God ends up a plaything of the demons. He rolls in his passions
and tumbles down to every type of evil. He will fear God however at the time of
Judgment! But then unfortunately it will be hence very late.
The fear of
God is a great virtue. It leads us to repentance and guards us from falls.
foundation of the spiritual life is "the fear of the Lord."
impossible to obtain true prayer, if you previously do not leave every suspicion
and evil suspicion against others.
If you want
to learn to pray, first cut off talking a lot. Cast off furthermore even every
superflous distraction from your life.
prayer is that, during which, when you are praying, your intellect is attached
sincerely loves God, proves it in action with the struggle he is doing to obtain
the most noble mark of man. Prayer is the chief occupation of the intellect.
Prayer is the most perfect nourishment of the soul. It is furthermore the
manifestation of our love for the Lord, where He also with His example taught us
this great duty of prayer.
should spring from within your heart.
understand the value of prayer, if we don't taste its fruits.
pray, have in you the assurance that you will receive what is sought.
When we are
praying, we should understand the meaning of what we are saying. We should not
be praying in vain and our intellect be flying elsewhere.
without humility, self censuring and repentance, remains inactive.
sacrifice. We offer our heart to God, and He pays us back with patience,
sweetness, joy, peace!
should be done with realization and with humility. Then it cleanses the soul
from the filth of sin. And when compunction and contrition come to the heart,
then man is reborn.
neighbor means to pray for him as you would pray for yourself if you had your
pray first for the Kingdom of God to come inside us, and not to stand at earthly
and vain things.
It is not
possible for man to offer pure prayer if he is overcome by passions of the flesh
and if inside him he feels vindictiveness toward anyone whatsoever.
is not only for us to ask God, it is also to be grateful to God, to thank Him
and to glorify Him.
pray not superficially, but rather contritionately, in order to be heard.
mention in our prayer of the All-holy Name of God, of the Most Holy Theotokos,
of the Martyrs, of the Monastic Saints and of all Saints causes us great joy,
indescribable consolation, and peace in the heart.
humbled and (the Lord) saved me." (Ps. 116:6) We must always have this
saying in mind.
It is not
beneficial to be saddened when others criticize you. Sadness in these cases
means that you have vainglory. He who wants to be saved ought to love to be
scorned, because scorn brings humility. And humility delivers man from a
multitude of temptations.
together with obedience and fasting, gives birth to the fear of God, and this
fear of God is the beginning of true wisdom.
you do, do with humility, so that you are not harmed by your good works.
achieved with self censure, that is, with believing about your own self that
essentially you have nothing good. O, woe to him who thinks his sins small.
Surely he will fall into greater ones!
upon the one who is "humble and of a contrite spirit." (Is. 66:2) But
in order for meekness, stillness, and humility to come, toil is necessary. But
that toil is paid! To obtain humility, according to my viewpoint, neither many
prostrations (bending of the knees), nor many labors, are needed so much, but
especially that your thought should descend downward, to reach the level of the
ground! Then you don't have any fear of falling, because you are low. And even
if you fall from on low, you will not suffer anything.
to me, although, of course, neither do I read many things, nor do I do anything
important, humility is the quickest path for man's salvation. Abba Isaiah says:
"Accustom your tongue to say `forgive,' and humility will come upon
you." Teach your tongue to say "forgive me," and even if you
aren't saying it with feeling, little by little you will get used to it, not
only to say it, but also to feel it inside you!
seek from God to grant you the gift of seeing your own sins only, and don't pay
attention to the sins of others. "Grant me, O Lord, to see my own
transgressions, and not to criticize my brother," says Saint Ephraim the
person considers himself "beneath everyone." For this reason he loves
everyone, forgives everyone and especially does not criticize anyone.
believe, O Lord, and I confess, that You are the son of the living God, who came
into the world to save sinners of whom I am first," we read before Divine
Communion (prayer 10). Not only should we say that we are sinners, but we must
also mean it and believe it. This the true beginning of repentance! When we
understand this, it is as if we have already traversed half the road, and only
the other half reamins.
separates us so much from the knowledge of God's mysteries as boldness,
laughing, jokes and humorous things. Because these are fireworks and crafts of
the devil, to sink us into sinful thoughts and subsequently to throw us into
forbidden actions. All these things comprise furthermore the outer courtyard of
fornication. So, instead of these, reproach yourself, telling yourself: "O
woe is you, my wretched soul! The hour of your death is approaching. Why are you
pleased in those things, which you will abandon here, and you are sacrificing,
instead of these, the eternal goods? Be careful, wretched one! Think of what
awaits you at the hour of judgment, and repent for the sins which you have
Do you want
to not sin? Always remember your death!
repentance is, there also is the mercy of God and hope for salvation. In the
lack of repentance there exists a hardening of the heart and the path toward
perdition. Unfortunately the world does not have true repentance. That is why it
is walking toward destruciton.
repentance is the way of life of the Saints.
repentance alters darkness and confusion of the soul into spiritual light.
said: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matt. 3:2)
Repentance and the Kingdom of heaven cannot be separated. They are bound
together and inseparable.
In order to
be saved one must either never sin, or repent for whatever sins one does commit.
chastity and purity
much as possible, for your intellect to be pure of filthy and wicked thoughts.
See creation and glorify God, Who out of dirt created everything so beautiful!
And, instead of being harmed by the observation of beings, rejoice and glorify
God, Who created them all with such harmony and governs them with such wisdom.
know that sleeping a lot does not benefit anyone? It gives birth to lethargy as
well as to temptations, mainly fleshly ones.
from fleshly passions is the natural state, whereas, on the contrary, falling
into fleshly sins is in reality something unnatural. Today however the world has
been led astray so much, that it calls light darkness, and darkness light. It
characterizes the continent and chaste as `retarded' and `backwards,' whereas
those who roll in the filth of fleshly pleasures...it considers progressive! It
admires and extols them! The age has come, which Anthony the Great mentions,
when those who are foolish will see those who are chaste, and they will consider
them as insane, not being able to discern that in reality it is they themselves
who are insane!
unnatural deviations of the Sodomites and Ghomorrians God punished in an
"unnatural" way: with rain, not of water, that is, but of fire and
sins are an exclusively grievous mark of the person of apostasy. When man falls
into such sins, he ends up even worse than the animals!
Our body is
"the temple of God" (see I Cor. 6:19). For this reason, when we hand
it over to fleshly sins, we defile that living temple. And it is written that
"if anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple
of God is holy, which temple you are." (I Cor. 3:17)
loving and flesh loving cools and wipes out love for God.
times people felt shame when they fell into fleshly sins. Unforunately today
these sins occur without shame. And, with the downhill path we have taken, the
time will come when not only will they no longer be considered sins, but they
will be praised! O woe and alas, when our society reaches that point!
cannot tame gluttony, he is enslaved subsequently to many other passions.
keep a measure. Not the extremes. Eat a little in set times, neither completely
fasting without a blessing, nor eating a lot.
the source of many blessings, whereas incontinence in foods is the source of
many falls, and furthermore, fleshly ones.
created people transgressed the commandment of fasting and fell. Christ fasted
and lifted us up.
does not fast does a great injustice to himself. He makes useless an important
weapon against his passions, against the devil and against the deception of the
prayer, when they go together, do miracles!
fasting, tears and prayers of Saint Monica granted the Church a Saint Augustine!
Do today's mothers live in the Lord? Do they fast and pray? How do they expect,
without struggling themselves with these weapons, for their children to prosper
in the spiritual life?
they who have become gravely ill or even died from drinking too much and eating
too much. No one, however, has suffered anything evil by keeping the fasts of
the Church. On the contrary, fasting brings health, not only to the soul, but
also to the body.
obedience is Godly obedience. This immediately "pays." As soon as you
do obedience, you receive an internal joy, which satisfies the depth of your
soul. And a certain Saint says: "Blessed is he who has the good obedience,
because he becomes truly an imitator of the Master Christ."
is a virtue, which has the quality of immediately paying you a reward back. It
pays you now also, but it will also pay you in the next life. You do obedience,
and force yourself to perform that, which they command you. And this
forcefulness you put forth, gives birth to joy in your soul. And this joy
increases, when you know that the payment of your obedience awaits you, not only
in this life, but also in the next one. Christ said: "While from the days
of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of the heavens is taken by force, and
the forceful grab it." (Matt. 11:12) He did not say "receive the
Kingdom," but He said, "they grab it." Grabbing denotes the
painful manner and the lightning quick one. It's like theft. You must stay
watching guard likewise, because it is possible within one minute to be given
you a golden opportunity, for you to grab the Kingdom of the heavens. The Lord
furthermore says: "There were I will find you there also will I judge
you." (see Ez. 33:12-16)
whatever you are doing your conscience should witness that you are working in
God's service, and that God accepts your toil, and is rewarding you. If however
you murmur, then the saying is implemented in you which says, "cursed is he
who does the works of the Lord negligently." (Jer. 31:10)
when it occurs as the Holy Fathers define, is equal to martyrdom! And you have
great reward before God, when you exercise such obedience.
talking chases the joy-bearing mourning from the heart.
talks a lot, even if he is an orator, spiritually does not prosper.
silence, which you are asking me about, you must know that this does not lie
only in the silence of the tongue, but especially in the silence of the
thoughts. If that is your tongue is silent, your thoughts however are judging
and condemning others, well! Then this is not silence. It is written somewhere:
"You might be speaking all dayt long, and nevertheless internally have a
blessed silence, because that is you won't be saying those things which are not
proper. And you might be silent all day long, and nevertheless not be keeping
silence God-pleasingly, because your thought is gabbing and criticizing."
good silence exists, there also exists the evil one. Just as good speech exists,
there also exists evil speech. Good silence is humble, internal, that which is
accompainied by prayer, and fills the soul with joy. Evil silence is that, which
is accompanied by cowardliness, internal criticizing, faintheartedness, grief,
despair. Good speak is that, which says the correct and necessary things. Evil
speech is vain talking, jokes, flattery, hypocrisy, anger, wrath, lewd talking,
criticizing, slandering and all the similar things. So we must obtain "the
mind of Christ" (I Cor. 2:16), so that we can distinguish when we must
speak and when we must be silent.
reason the Lives of the Saints were written: For us to study them, and for them
to inspire us. For us to learn how the Saints lived, what they advise us, and we
should act likewise.
many times the living examples are missing next to us, it is imposed on us to
study the Lives of the Saints, for us to be enlightened.
study of the Holy Scripture, the Lives of the Saints, Evergetinos and in general
Patristic books we can cleanse our intellect from sinful thoughts. These
spiritual books, bring to our soul contrition, faith and calmness. They help us
and inspire us in the struggle of life.
sinful thoughts, so that they don't take root. If your thought brings an
improper image to your imagination, chase it away as quickly as possible.
pollute your body with foul actions and your soul with wicked thoughts, and then
the peace of God comes to you. Then you will realize that in your soul God
are of three kinds: Spiritual ones, when for example you are thinking of death,
the hour of Judgment, the future life and the like. Natural ones, when for
example you are thinking of your jobs, your fields, or if it will rain etc.
Wicked ones, when you are thinking pleasure lovingly, flesh lovingly, material
lovingly, vaingloruously and in general in a maner which opposes God's will.
Spiritual thoughts are like precious stones, whereas on the contrary wicked
thoughts are something disgusting. If wicked thoughts come, let us not accept
them, let us scorn them, let us not consent to them. We are not responsible if
wicked thoughts come. Our responsibility sets out from the moment when, either
we will accept them, in which case we perform sin, or we will reject them, in
which case we perform God's will. God allows us to be tempted, for our faith to
be tried, and to reveal if we really love Him. "Those who trust upon the
Lord resemble the holy mountain, who are not at all shaken by the attacks of
Belial." (Anavathmos of Sunday 2nd tone) Like the mountain, let us remain
unshakable before the attacks of the wicked thoughts.