A Night in the Desert of the Holy Mountain

“A Night in the Desert of the Holy Mountain: Discussion with a Hermit on the Jesus Prayer”
by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, translated by Effie Mavromichali
night in the desert
“The author, Metropolitan Hierotheos, is a bishop in the Orthodox Church of Greece, and the author of many books on Christian spiritual life and theology. He is one of the most highly respected and widely read ascetical theologians in the Orthodox Church today. The Holy Mountain is Mt. Athos, a 40 mile long peninsula in northeastern Greece which is home to several thousand Orthodox monks, whose chief work is “praying without ceasing” using the Jesus Prayer, handed down from the early Church. The “desert” refers to the some of the very isolated places on Athos populated by hermit monks living hidden away in little huts or caves (as opposed to the large ancient monasteries on Athos). If we say that the Church is the spiritual army of God, then the monks are the Marines and the hermits are the Green Berets of prayer. interceding for the world and defeating the demons. The bishop is a frequent pilgrim to the Holy Mountain, the spiritual heartland of the Orthodox world. After a particularly fruitful visit with a hermit monk (a God-bearing elder who prefers anonymity), he wrote down their discussion about the Jesus Prayer and published it in Greek (now in over 9 Greek editions). It appeared in English in 1991, with six reprints and a revision, as well as in French, Spanish, Russian, and Arabic. This fascinating conversation has become a modern classic of Orthodox Christian spiritual literature, in the tradition of the Philokalia.”

See also http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/pr_prayer.aspx
“His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos) of Nafpaktos and Agios Vlasios (also Ierotheos) serves the Metropolis of Nafpaktos and Agios Vlasios in the Church of Greece. He has been Metropolitan of Nafpaktos since 1995.
He was born Georgios S. Vlachos in Ioannina, Epirus, Greece, in 1945 and graduated from the theological school of the University of Thessaloniki. He was ordained a deacon in 1971, taking the monastic name Hierotheos, followed by his ordination as a priest in 1972. He served at the Archbishop’s House of Offices in Athens, as a preacher and Youth Director. He was consecrated bishop on July 20, 1995, and elected Metropolitan of Nafpaktos and St. Vlasios in the same year.
He taught Greek for several semesters and gave lectures on Orthodox ethics to the students of the St. John of Damascus Theological School at the University of the Patriarchate of Antioch, in northern Lebanon.
Already in his youth he was particularly interested in the Fathers of the Church, working for a time in the monastery libraries of Mount Athos, on the recording of the codices. He was especially interested in the teaching of St. Gregory Palamas.
The influence of Fr. John Romanidis, the study of the patristic texts and particularly those of the hesychast Fathers of the Philokalia, many years of studying St. Gregory Palamas, association with the monks of the Holy Mountain (Mount Athos), and many years of pastoral experience, all brought him to the realisation that Orthodox theology is a science of the healing of man and that the neptic fathers can help the modern restless man who is disturbed by many internal and existential problems.
Within this framework he has written a multitude of books, the fruit of his pastoral work, among which is Orthodox Psychotherapy. Some of these books have been translated into various languages, such as English, French, Spanish, Russian, and Arabic. With these books he conveys the Orthodox spirit of the Philokalia to the restless and disturbed man of our time. This is why they have aroused so much interest.”

His Eminence’s books include many works on the spiritual life, including:
• Hesychia and Theology: The Context for Man’s Healing in the Orthodox Church (2007)
• The Illness and Cure of the Soul in the Orthodox Tradition (1993)
• Orthodox Psychotherapy (1994)
• Orthodox Spirituality (1994)
• The Person in the Orthodox Tradition (1999)

For Mount Athos, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Athos
For images of some of the Mount Athos Elders, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aw_n8kOhQ88


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