Monday, May 8, 2023

When Saint Porphyrios Visited the Cave of the Apocalypse in Patmos

Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyva narrated the following experience he had when he visited the Cave of the Apocalypse in Patmos, where Saint John the Theologian received the divine revelation that is recorded in the Book of Revelation:

We once went on a pilgrimage together with Mr. George and Mrs. Kaiti to Saint John the Theologian in Patmos. It was morning. I felt that the grace of Saint John was suffocating me. The Cave of the Apocalypse was crowded. I was afraid of betraying my feelings. If I let myself manifest, I would be taken for a madman. I restrained myself. I went out of the church. It is not good for others to see the experiences of secret contact with God. That's why I told them and we left. The afternoon of the same day it was quiet there. It was the three of us. There was no one else in the church. Before we entered I prepared them. I said to them:

"No matter what you see, you will not move or speak."

We entered reverently, without noise, in silence, simply, humbly. We stood before the Divine Apocalypse. All three of us knelt down, me in the middle. We fell prone. We were saying the “Lord Jesus …” for about a quarter of an hour. I felt empty. No emotion, nothing. Isolation. The opposer, the devil, understood and wanted to stop me. "These things are not planned," I thought. I was saying it, I wanted it - or rather I didn't say it, nor did I want it, because when you say it, when you want it, sometimes the opposer gets the news. It is a very fine point. You cannot alone despise the opposer. And to despise him, you must again do it by divine grace, an inexplicable thing.

Pay a lot of attention. I didn't tighten up, I didn't rush the situation. We should not go to these spiritual things by force. I went outside. I wondered about the flowers, as if I wanted to ignore the fact that the opening of my soul was not happening. I looked at the sea for a while. I went back inside the chapel, put a few coals in the censer, lit them, put some incense, burned incense and then my heart opened. Then came divine grace. A glow came to my face, I became divinely inspired, I raised my eyes. In an instant I fell down. As my companions told me, I remained down twenty minutes.

This miracle, which happened to me in Patmos, is a great mystery. It holds great meaning. I saw the event of the Apocalypse. I saw Saint John the Theologian, his disciple, Prochoros, I experienced the event of the Divine Apocalypse, exactly as it had happened. I heard the voice of Christ from the cleft of the rock.

Don't say this anywhere. Lord Jesus Christ... May God have mercy on me. Why did I tell you? Tell me... I have told you so that you may learn to surrender yourself gently, without pressure, into the hands of God. Then He will come to your souls and grace them. If the wicked one hinders you, despise him. Did you understand? This is what I did. I was busy with something else when I realized something was interfering. This has a lot of depth.

I say these things, but it doesn't feel good to say them. I feel I shouldn't say them... These are mysteries, I can't explain them. All I'm saying is that everything should be done simply, humbly, gently. When you want it and expect to be united with God, when you force God, it does not come. But it comes "on a day you did expect it and in an hour you did not know." It is a most-holy manner, but you cannot learn it by heart. It must enter into your soul secretly, so that you embrace it with the grace of God.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

Saint Porphyrios told this story to someone else in this manner:

Once in the summer, when I was still serving in Athens, one of my friends, a dentist, together with his wife suggested that I go with them to Patmos, where the Apostle John the Theologian was in exile. We went to the Cave of the Apocalypse, to the place where the rock cracked during the revelation, to the recess in the wall where the apostle leant when he rose up.

You know, these places are sanctified. They convey holiness and joy. I soon felt that my heart was opening, and I hurried out of the cave, because there were other people there. In the afternoon, wanting to get closer again to the grace that overflows in the holy place, I suggested going again to the cave.
"Bow your heads, sit still and pray. Don't get up and don't be surprised whatever happens," I told my companions.

I also bowed to the ground and prayed. But grace, as it was morning, did not come. Having risen, I walked into the altar and in the temple, returned to my place, and then my heart opened. I spread my arms and remained in this position for quite a long time. My soul had been satiated. Only one person went down into the cave at that time and probably saw me, I don't know for sure. Maybe it was a weekly priest. He left soon after.

We got up and silently left the cave. We spent the whole evening in silence. I ate quite a bit only so as not to offend them. They didn't ask me about anything. It wouldn't be worth talking about it, because it's indescribable and inexplicable.
But how did it happen? I didn't force myself to do anything, I wasn't in a hurry. I got up, burnt incense, and grace came by itself when it wanted. And you do the same. Soar up with your nous: 'Lord, Jesus Christ...'
Without violence against yourself, with meekness surrender into the hands of God, and He will come and have mercy on your soul.


In a testimony by Fr. Daniel G., we are told what Saint Porphyrios taught about sacred sites like the site of the Cave of the Apocalypse:

He told us that whenever he went to holy places, to Mount Sinai, to the Cave of the Apocalypse on the isle of Patmos or to Jerusalem he had indescribable life experiences. He always stressed the sanctity of the places, that the places can sanctify, that they are saturated with God's grace.

He characteristically told us that when he struggled at a certain place in order to reach a certain spiritual state through prayer, he needed a quarter to a half of an hour of struggle. But when this happened at a sanctified place things were different. "I enter, for example, a holy cave," he said, "like the caves of Saint Nephon or Saint Neilos on the Holy Mountain, or the Cave of the Apocalypse, and I don't even begin to pray and immediately that sanctified place lifts me up."