In the 80s elder Paisios was often visited in Panagouda by monks, who were driven by weakness to deviate from their monastic course. Being a strict ascetic himself, the elder treated them with love, patiently admonishing them. He supported them, wishing to awaken their love, but at the same time he would give them their fair warning, “Look, if you go on living like this, you will get it in the neck from God one day.”
One such unfortunate monk was enslaved by the passion of drinking. Father Paisios often invited him to cut his wood and treated him with great love, knowing that in his youth this monk had not received any spiritual guidance from anyone and was unjustly offended.
Once, a journalist interviewed that monk. He asked him if there were many saints on the Holy Mountain.
The monk replied:
— I, myself, am definitely not a saint, but I know one saint. It is Elder Paisios.
— Why is he a saint? Has he performed a miracle?
The journalist perked up and started to jot something down in his notepad.
— I haven’t seen any miracles, to be honest. And I don’t know anything about his fasting, vigilance or prayer. But I can tell you something else. I am a heavy drinker as you may have noticed. I drink and then I go around hermitages and monasteries, and, sure enough, they give me the bum’s rush. Unlike everyone else, Elder Paisios calls me every year to cut firewood. I hope you don’t think that he doesn’t have anyone to cut his wood. He has plenty of help, including pious and virtuous monks with chainsaws! But who does he call? Me. And why does he do that? Because I have no other way to earn my bread.
So I come to him in Panagouda, and he says to me, “How much will you charge, brother?” “Well, let me see…” I think for a minute and tell him, “Four thousand drachmas, Geronda.” He says, “I will pay you six thousand drachmas, because you are a poor and good man.”
Moreover, when I cut wood for other people, they leave me to it. Not the elder; he is not like that! He joins me and helps. “Sit down, father.” he says, “Take a rest.” On top of that, prior to my arrival, he stocks up good canned food and a bottle of wine. He takes care that I eat properly, you see.
In 1988, the average annual exchange rate from Greek drachma to USD was 148 drachmas for 1 dollar, according to the Greek Central Bank. That means that Elder Paisios paid that brother about $ 40 for 1 day of work + food + wine + his own help. Note that both currencies’ purchasing power was higher then than it is today.
— And still there is more to it! When I work, and visitors come to see him, he praises me loudly in front of them and tells them, “Come to this Geronda for a blessing!”
I think that doing all these things definitely makes him a saint.
Later that monk corrected his life and lived properly.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds