St. Joseph the Hesychast - Commemorated August 16 / 28th (source)
Excerpts from the service to the Saint Joseph the Hesychast, written by his spiritual son, Elder Joseph of Vatopedi (official translations likely to be offered from his spiritual children at a later date)
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone. O speedily hearken.
The offspring of Athos and the great adornment of Monks, * defender of ascesis, haven of silence and prayer, * our Father you were revealed to be, * through your life you showed us, Grace's ways of salvation, * saving through your entreaties those who faithfully pray to you. * And therefore intercede with the Lord, * O Righteous Father Joseph.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone. O Champion General.
O Father, through the rivers of your tears were purified, * and through your vigilant prayers to God you were filled with light, * and adorned by your Bridegroom, with the soul's pure raiment, * and you lived life incorruptible while on the earth, * having imitated lives of the Monastic Saints, and with them you pray * for salvation for those hon'ring you.
The offspring of Athos you appeared to be, and the boast of Monastics, having shown forth in the latter years, in which faithlessness and carelessness have multiplied, while you in no way were swayed by delusion or laziness. Come, therefore, let us imitate his zeal and God-loving fervor, for he loved God with his whole being, and cleaved to Him alone throughout his life. But, our most-compassionate Father Joseph, we entreat you, together along with the Choir of Venerable Saints with whom you rejoice; intercede for salvation for those honoring you.
On this day (August 16th or 28th), we celebrate the memory of our Venerable and God-bearing Father Joseph, the student of hesychasm throughout his life with martyrical endurance, till he departed to the Lord on August 15th. His feast is translated to this day due to the Feast of the Theotokos.
You hasten from the earth to the vault of heaven,
In which you were previously, through theoria.
Saint Joseph the Hesychast and Cave-dweller (source)
Brief biography of St. Joseph the Hesychast from the website of St. Anthony's Monastery in Arizona
Francis Kottis (Saint Joseph’s name before his monastic tonsure) was born in Paros1 on February 12, 1897, the fourth of seven children to the simple but pious couple George and Maria Kottis. Because of their extreme poverty, Francis left home at the age of seventeen to work in Piraeus2 as a merchant to support his large family. When he was twenty-three years old he was engaged to a pious girl and lived in exemplary chastity, never touching his fiancee for fear of coming to the point of kissing her.
One day he beheld a wondrous vision of two angels in the form of palace guards, leading him to serve the heavenly king. After this vision, he became pensive and lost all interest in worldly things; he spent his time reading the lives of saints, especially those of the great ascetic Fathers, which ignited in his heart the desire to become a monk. He then called off his engagement, and in preparation for his life on the Holy Mountain,3 he started conditioning himself to ascetic struggles by fasting and praying in the countryside of Athens. In 1921, after two years of living ascetically in the world, he finally made his way to the Holy Mountain, his heart longing for a God-bearing spiritual guide to teach him the art of noetic prayer, and he began traversing the crags and caves in search of one. After searching for sometime without success, he decided to join the brotherhood of Saint Daniel of Katounakia.4 Renowned for his discernment and exalted spiritual life, Saint Daniel chose a moderate ascetical program for his brotherhood. Francis, however, was inclined to a more austere spiritual life and total dedication to unceasing prayer of the heart, which requires great silence and humility, and thus he stood out from the rest of the brotherhood. Saint Daniel knew he could not stay with his brotherhood, but he also knew that Francis needed a companion, a fellow ascetic, in order to avoid delusion. So he told him that until a co-struggler could be found for him, he should cultivate the Jesus Prayer alone in some remote cave, coming to him occasionally for spiritual guidance. One day, after suffering many temptations, he was granted a vision of the uncreated light, and he received the gift of ceaseless prayer. From that point on until his death, the prayer was said in his heart unceasingly, granting him exalted spiritual states and divine visions. Eventually, a suitable co-struggler, Father Arsenios, was sent to him by Saint Daniel. These two spiritual warriors would be inseparable companions for the rest of their lives, leading an austere ascetical life together. In the beginning Father Arsenios regarded Francis as his geronda,5 even though Father Arsenios had already been tonsured a monk and Francis was still a layman. However, on the Holy Mountain, to be a geronda, you have to be obedient to a geronda until his death. Therefore, following Saint Daniel’s advice they became disciples of two humble old gerondas in Katounakia named Joseph and Ephraim. It was not long before one of them, Saint Joseph, reposed in the Lord. Geronda Ephraim, now their sole geronda, was soon convinced by the exceptional lifestyle of young Francis that this spiritual warrior should be officially enrolled in the angelic monastic order. Thus, the day of his monastic tonsure was set for Sunday, August 31, 1925, the commemoration day of the deposition of the precious sash of the Theotokos. His tonsure took place in the cave of Saint Athanasios the Athonite,6 and he received the name Joseph, after his reposed geronda. After some years, Geronda Ephraim also fell asleep in the Lord, and the young Father Joseph became a proper geronda. Soon he began attracting monastic aspirants, but few of them were able to endure his severe ascetic program. Eventually, the nucleus of his brotherhood would consist of five disciples: his co-ascetic Father Arsenios; Father Athanasios, his brother in the flesh; Father Joseph the Cypriot, who would later become the geronda of the Holy Monastery of Vatopaidi;7 Father Ephraim, later abbot of the Holy Monastery of Philotheou8 and future geronda of thirty-three monasteries in Greece, the US, and Canada, including Saint Anthony’s Monastery in Arizona; and Father Haralambos, later abbot of the Holy Monastery of Dionysiou.9 Also, it is noteworthy to mention Saint Ephraim of Katounakia;10 although he belonged to a different brotherhood, he was guided spiritually by Saint Joseph, and thus is also considered one of his disciples. In 1938, seeking greater solitude, Saint Joseph and his community moved from Saint Basil’s Skete to a cave at Little Saint Anne’s,11 but after 15 years of living in the harsh conditions of Little Saint Anne’s, the fathers’ health started to deteriorate, and so in 1953, Saint Joseph decided to move the community farther down the mountain, near the sea, to New Skete,12 where he would spend the last six years of his life. A few months before his death, he was visited by the Virgin Mary, whom he held in special reverence, and was promised by her, that she would take him on her feast day. Thus the saint fell asleep in the Lord, on August 15, 1959, the day the Orthodox Church celebrates the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God. Saint Joseph’s legacy has been carried on by his disciples, who have reestablished the practice of noetic prayer and watchfulness on the Holy Mountain, brought Athonite monasticism to the United States and Canada, and encouraged many Orthodox faithful through the publishing of his life and letters. Today the spiritual grandchildren of Saint Joseph, who endearingly refer to him as “Pappou Iosif” (Grandfather Joseph in Greek), call upon him to help them in their spiritual life, and he in turn stands before the throne of God and intercedes for his spiritual children and grandchildren, and all those who call upon him.
The boast of Mount Athos did you become, * and the famed pinnacle of the perfect hesychasts, * O rejoice, O Joseph, and mystic like Palamas, * of the uncreated grace, which shines upon us all.
The New Choir of Athonite Fathers: Saints Joseph the Hesychast, Ephraim of Katounakia, Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia and Paisios the Athonite (source)
Selected hymns from the service to St. Ephraim of Katounakia (Commemorated February 27th), written by Dr. Charalampos Bousias, Hymnographer of the Patriarchate of Alexandria
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the First Tone. Let us worship the Word.
O newly-shining lamp-lighter of noetic prayer, as a dweller of Katounakia and a light of the Holy Mountain, who illumined all with the light of your virtues, O most-divine Ephraim, who proceeded to the heights of theosis, dispassion and nepsis: Do not cease to entreat Christ for us.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone.
Let us praise the hard-working, prayerful and neptic ascetic of Katounakia, who was lifted up from every baseness of the nous towards the virtues through purification, as one equal to the Angels, let us mortals praise him with psalms and divine hymns, crying out: Rejoice, O most-divine Father.
The Angels were astonished, beholding your feats in Katounakia, O Ephraim, and the chaste citizens of Athos beheld the grace that dwelt in you through your monastic way of life, and they cry out these things with compunction in soul:
Rejoice, bodiless one bearing flesh,
Rejoice, inheritor of Heaven.
Rejoice, defender of dispassion and nepsis,
Rejoice, fellow-dweller with non-possessiveness and grace.
Rejoice, unassailable foundation of prayer of the heart,
Rejoice, greatly-varied stream of perfect obedience.
Rejoice, you who were a disciple at the feet of Joseph,
Rejoice, you who showed to all the virtue of your heart.
Rejoice, godly offspring of Thebes,
Rejoice, goodness by canon and knowledge.
Rejoice, dweller of Katounakia,
Rejoice, protector of those who approach you.
Rejoice, O all-venerable Father.
On this day (February 27th), the memory of our Venerable and God-bearing Father Ephraim, who lately lived in asceticism in Katounakia.
Obedience, prayer and a harsh way of life
You lived, O Ephraim, in Katounakia.
Sts. Joseph the Hesychast and Ephraim of Katounakia (source)
Brief life of Saint Ephraim of Katounakia
Our Venerable and God-bearing Father Ephraim, who lived in asceticism in Katounakia of Athos in a God-pleasing manner, was born on December 6th, 1912 in Ampelochorio of Thebes. A child of parents with four children, John and Victoria Papanikita, he received in holy baptism the name Evangelos. From childhood, he loved Christ and was raised beside monks and nuns, desiring to imitate their way of life equal to the Angels. In Thebes he came to know his later spiritual fathers Ephraim and Nikephoros, and he became their grace-filled novice in the cell of the Venerable Ephraim the Syrian in Katounakia. He struggled from childhood spiritually with ceaseless prayer of the heart, the bending of the knees, fasting and utter obedience, towards the perfection of virtue and theosis. On September 14th 1933, the youth Evangelos left the world and proceeded to the holy Mount Athos to life the angelic way of life besides his spiritual fathers Nikephoros and Ephraim. After six months he was tonsured a monk of the little schema with the name Longinos. In 1935 he was tonsured a great-schema monk with the name Ephraim, and was later ordained a Priest of the Most-high God. Through divine grace and the blessing of his Elder, he was spiritually united with the Venerable Joseph the Hesychast, who helped him on his ascetical path. After the repose of Elder Nikephoros in 1973, who was truly harsh in his training, while the Venerable Ephraim was obedient to him willingly and without grumbling, he continued in his synodeia. This teaches us that, all things come from utter and true obedience to spiritual guides out of love for Christ, and is the only way to escape the assaults of Belial. He was made worthy of revelations of God in ecstasy during the Divine Liturgy, beholding unspeakable states. He richly received from God the grace of discernment, and was shown to be a preserver of the traditions of the Fathers, having a true Orthodox mindset, and having fled the honors and glory of men. Venerable Ephraim, from youth had the thorn in his flesh of vision problems, and needed stronger corrective lenses over time. After a stroke in 1996, he remained bed-bound until his repose on February 14/27th 1998, and he was buried in the cemetery of his cell. His precious and myrrh-streaming Relics were uncovered and are treasured in his cell named after the Venerable Ephraim the Syrian, and have been shown to be a spring of healings.
Rejoice, you who lived the life surpassing nature in asceticism in Katounakia, and approached Heaven through your vigils, prayers and nepsis, O spirit-bearing Ephraim, the pride of Athos.
Icon depicting Deisis with Christ, the Theotokos, and Sts. Panteleimon, Athanasios and Peter of Athos above. Below are depicted Saints Nektarios the Wonderworker, Arsenios of Paros and Daniel of Katounakia (source)
Selected hymns from the service to St. Daniel of Katounakia (Commemorated the Monday after the Sunday of the Athonite Fathers, or the Second Sunday of Matthew after Pentecost), written by Dr. Charalampos Bousias, Hymnographer of the Patriarchate of Alexandria
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the First Tone. Let us worship the Word.
You lived a chaste way of life on Athos, O adornment of Katounakia, and Daniel, who became like God, as you tirelessly gathered sweet honey from the crags like a bee, O wise one. Therefore, we who have all been nourished by your graces partake of your favor.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone. O Champion General.
The follower of the virtue and discernment of the Venerable Athonite Fathers let us praise, who shown forth with wisdom and self-control, as an unerring guide to the faithful in mind, who became all things to everyone. Let us cry out to Daniel, who is beloved of Christ: Rejoice, O venerable one.
Desiring the things of Heaven, O Daniel, you wisely lived your life, and therefore, you despised all things that pass away, and in Katounakia, inclined your nous towards the Lord, rousing the choirs of ascetics to cry out to you:
Rejoice, pearl of Athos,
Rejoice, director towards wisdom.
Rejoice, sweetly-singing swallow of self-control,
Rejoice, fellow dweller with the noetic armies [of the Angels].
Rejoice, precious offspring of Smyrna, who was deified through asceticism,
Rejoice, sweet and refreshing drink from the divine spring.
Rejoice, radiance of those who live in asceticism on Athos,
Rejoice, joy of the sacred Fathers of the desert.
Rejoice, ever-radiant light-house of purity,
Rejoice, golden tower of estrangement [from the world].
Rejoice, friend of the sacred Nektarios,
Rejoice, lamp of the choir of ascetics.
Rejoice, O venerable Daniel.
On this day, the memory of our Venerable and God-bearing Father Daniel, who lately lived in the desert of Katounakia on Athos.
Christ, Whom you hymned in asceticism on Athos,
You now hymn with your lips, O Daniel, in Heaven.
St. Daniel of Katounakia (source)
Brief life of St. Daniel of Katounakia
The founder of the monastic brotherhood of the Danielaioi, in Katounakia of Athos, our Venerable Father Daniel lately shown forth with the rays of the ascetical way of life, and illumined all the people bearing the name of Christ through his unerring guidance, and wise teachings. He was from Smyrna, from a large family, and from childhood desired to please Christ and to offer his life to Him. To this end, and through the blessing of St. Arsenios of Paros
and of his mother, he left for Athos. He lived in asceticism in obedience and humility in the Monasteries of St. Panteleimon and Vatopedi, and later in the desert of Katounakia, as desert-loving sparrow. There, he lived a way of life equal to the Angels, and through his written teachings, he guided towards theosis a multitude of piously-minded people and monastics, including the nuns of Kehrovouniou Monastery of Tinos, and the Monastery of the Holy Trinity [and St. Nektarios] on Aegina. He was united with a close friendship with the Venerable Nektarios
, and greatly gave rest to the friend of Greek letters, Alexandros Moraitis. He was discerned by his ceaseless prayer and his estrangement from all things of this life, and was numbered together with the ranks of the Angels. In the cell of the Holy Athonite Fathers in Katounakia, he founded his synodeia
, which is known for its hospitality like its Elder and Founder, and is also known for its musical education and beautiful chanting, and there is treasured the Saint's precious and grace-flowing Relics.
Rejoice, the canon of discernment, O Daniel, the newly-shining adornment of the Fathers. Rejoice, you who ceaselessly lived the monastic life, and guided to the life to come, O Athonite of godly mind.
The Newly-canonized Athonite Fathers: Saints Joseph the Hesychast, Ephraim and Daniel of Katounakia (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!