The Vision of St. Paisios (amateur translation)
Full account of the vision of St. Constantine the Great by St. Paisios (amateur translation)
Therefore (says the righteous John), desiring to see myself as I was able, his special theoria, and to taste of divine grace, I went to him [St. Paisios], and before I knocked on the door of his cell, I heard him speaking with another man. I was reluctant to knock, so I waited outside. The little sound I made, however, was heard by the precious father, and he came outside. He saw me, and was filled with joy and embraced me, and I him. He took me into his cell, where I didn't see anyone else. I was puzzled, and I wondered: who was in here previously and was talking with the Righteous Elder a short time before? And I looked around and saw no one.
The Elder asked me: "Why are you looking here and there in bewilderment, as if you were looking at something strange?"
I replied: "Indeed I see something strange, and I don't know what to think, for a short time ago, I heard the voice of another man who was speaking with you, and now I don't see anyone else. What should I think? I beseech your Holiness to reveal to me this strange mystery.
The divine father told me: "O John, God wishes to reveal to you a strange mystery today, and I must reveal to you the love which the Giver-of-Good-things has for us.
"He whom you heard speaking with me, my perfect friend, was Constantine the Great, the first King of the Christians, who descended from heaven, being sent by God, and told me: 'Blessed are you who have been made worthy of the monastic life, for truly unique is the godly blessing of the Savior towards you.'
"I asked him: And who are you, my Lord, who are saying these things, and magnifying us Monks? He replied: 'I am Constantine the Great, and I descended from the heavens, that I might reveal to you the glory which Monks receive in the heavens, and the closeness and boldness which they have towards Christ. And I magnify you, O Paisios, for you guide them in this holy path of asceticism. I therefore blame and condemn myself, for not being granted this greatest rank of the Monastics, and I cannot bear the loss which I experienced.'
"And again I said: 'Why, O wondrous one, do you judge yourself? Have you not received that eternal glory, and divine illumination?' He replied to me: 'Yes, I have received them, but I do not have that boldness of the Monks, neither glory equal to theirs, for I saw the souls of some Monks who had been separated from the body, and flew as eagles, and with great daring rise to the heavens. And the rank of demons did not dare approach them at all. Then I saw that the gates of heaven were opened for them, and they entered in, and appeared before the heavenly King, standing with great boldness before the throne of God. For this reason, therefore, I am amazed by you Monks, and I bless you, and I condemn myself for not being made worthy of boldness life this. For I wish that I could have left my passing kingdom, and the royal robe and crown, and to become poor, and to wear sackcloth, and to accept all those things that the monastic life seeks.'
"Again I said to him: 'You say this well, O most-holy King, and you console us with these words. However, this must be the judgment of our God, and and we are unable to say anything different regarding divine righteousness. For the Righteous Judge grants to each according to his worth in righteousness, and rewards for the works of everyone, for your unique life did not have the same struggles as the life of Monks, for you had a wife to help you, and your children, and your servants, and different rewards and comforts. For the Monks, disdaining all of the joys of this present life, receive God, instead of the good things of the World. And bearing Him with joy, and special richess, and to be made pleasing to Him, they consider Him their food, and their great reward. And they are, according to the Apostle, 'destitute, afflicted, ill-treated'. Therefore it is impossible, my King, for you to be equal to them.
"And at that point, therefore, you came, O my brother John, and [St. Constantine] straightaway ascended to the heavens. Therefore, now having learned this mystery that has occurred, how good must the pains of asceticism seem. Strengthen the brothers."
St. Constantine, such a great Saint of our Church, is admitting that the glory and boldness before Christ that monastics receive is great. The rich treasure that is Orthodox Monasticism cannot be overstated, and as Fr. Ephraim of Philotheou mentioned in his book Counsels from the Holy Mountain, "An entire army of monastics has filled heaven." May their boldness intercede for us sinners, who are unwilling to apply the teachings of Christ to our lives.
The incarnate Angel, and the boast and summit of monks, the bodiless man, the citizen of Heaven, the great God-bearing Paisius celebrateth with us in divine jubilation, granting grace to all them that extol him with rev'rence. With fervour let us honour this day, off'ring him songs of praise.
O Lord, do not stand afar off from me.
O Lord, stretch out to me a helping hand.
O Lord, support me with the fear of You.
O Lord, plant this fear and the love for You in my heart.
O Lord, teach me to do Your will.