Papa-Tychon of the Holy Mountain-Russian ascetic
Reposed on 10 September 1968
The Russian ascetic, Father Tychon Athonite, who lived sixty years on Mt. Athos after he had visited three hundred monasteries in Russian, said, “God blesses with one hand in the morning the entire world, and uses both hands to bless the humble man. A humble person is above the whole world.”
The prayer, “Lord Jesus have mercy on us” is worth one hundred drachmas, but “Glory to God” is worth one thousand. Glorifying God is more valuable than anything else, because in the first instance, people often say the Jesus Prayer when needing something; but when one glorifies God in the midst of suffering, it is an ascesis.”
“Whenever one prays,” he used to say, “the prayer must unite with the heart just like you join two different things together with glue”’
He celebrated spiritually every day with his rule of prayer which combined the mourning of the Cross and the brightness of the Resurrection, with his great ascesis and almost no human consolation in the hollow of Kaliagra where he gazed at heaven and lived the joys of Paradise with the angels and saints. When anyone asked him, ‘Do you live all alone in the desert?’the elder would reply: ‘No, I live with the angels and archangels, with all the saints, with the Mother of God and with Christ.’
Even for the Divine Liturgy, he would tell the monk who came to ehlp him and act as chanter to come in the morning when it was light. During the Divine Liturgy, he would tell the monk to stay in the narrow corridor outside the chapel and chant ‘Lord, have mercy’ from there, so that he, Father Tychon, could feel entirely alone and at ease in his prayer. When they got to the Cherubic Hymn, Father Tychon would be taken up in spiritual contemplation for twenty to thirty minutes and the chanter was obliged to repeat the Hymn many times, until he heard the footsteps of the elder at the Great Entrance.
When the service was over and I asked the elder what he saw, he replied:
‘The Cherubim and the Seraphim glorifying God!’
And he went on to say:
‘After half an hour, my guardian angel brings me back down and then I continue with the Divine Liturgy.’ (Elder Paisios, p. 37)
In 1968, he [Elder Tychon] had a presentiment of his death, because he continually referred to death. Even the little bodily strength remaining had now deserted him. After the Feast of the Dormition (August 15), he took to his bed and drank only water, because he was burning inside. Despite the fact that he was in this condition, he did not want anyone to stay with him, so as not to have any interruption to his unceasing prayer.
Two days after the feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God, that is, on 10 September 1968, Papa-Tychon fell asleep in the Lord.
Father Andrew had come to my cell so I could help him in something he wanted. Naturally, he didn’t know me and I didn’t know him. So he waited outside my cell, under the olive tree, because he thought I was away. I was inside in the workshop and couldn’t be heard, because I was varnishing small icons. When I had finished, I chanted the “Holy God” and went out. As soon as he saw me, Father Andrew was astonished and related the following incident with great wonder:
“While I was waiting under the olive tree, I had closed my eyes, but still aware of my surroundings. Suddenly, I see an elder coming out of the rosemary bush and he says to me:
‘Who are you waiting for?’
‘Father Paisios,’ I answered.
‘He is over there,’ he said and pointed towards the cell.
Just at the moment he was pointing, I heard you chanting the ‘Holy God’ and you came out. He was some Saint or other, Father Paisios, because I can recognise them. I have seen things like that before!”Then I told him a few things about the elder and said that his grave was over by the rosemary. I had planted rosemary all around and it had grown so that the grave was no longer visible; I didn’t want his relics to be trodden on, since he had given me instructions not to have him exhumed….