The Funeral of Blessed Elder Joseph of Vatopedi.
Smile from Eternity.
Yesterday (7/1/09) at 6:00pm the Service of the Departed
was performed for the blessed Elder Joseph the Vatopedian, at the Catholicon of
the Holy Monastery of Vatopedi, it concluded at 9:00pm and afterwards followed
a brief dinner at the Synodic of the Monastery and at the Trapeza.
The funeral was attended by 4 hierarchs, 10 abbots, Holy Primus Elder Symeon Dionysiatis and the Holy Hierarchy of the Holy Mountain, tens of priests and hundreds of faithful, who having learned of the departure of the blessed Elder, came to the Monastery from many parts of Greece and Cyprus, leaving behind their work and activities pending (I was one of them).
Eulogies were made in succession by His Holiness Metropolitan of Lemesou, Athanasios, and the Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Vatopedi, Archimandrite Ephraim, as spiritual children of the Elder stressed with overwhelming emotion of the great paternal love of the Elder they lived under all these years that they associated with him. The Most Reverend Metropolitan of Kastoria, Seraphim, followed by stressing the contribution of the Elder to the lay Christians with his consoling and distinguished discussions and his writings, who also left a sample of forgiveness and of no malice to those who unjustly accused and slandered him. While at the Synodic, the Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Simonos Petras, Archimandrite Eliseos, remarked that the Elder was a point of reference for the Holy Mountain, who was always preoccupied with the desire to see the monks love God. Every meeting with the Elder was an experience.
Those who were at the funeral were blessed to offer their last kiss to the Elder and receive for the last time his blessing. There however, they found themselves face to face not with the cold relics but gazing at a cheerful and joyful face, as if he were offering a smile from eternity. As far as I am concerned, for the first time in my life, I was seeing such a living expression in a dead person (you can observe the face of the Elder in the photos).
The Elder was not buried in the cemetery of the Monastery but outside the Catholicon, at its North-eastern part, where his grave will be prepared in a few years.
All those present had the assurance of the repose of the Elder at the right side of God. The emotions were mixed, sadness and at the same time joy of resurrection. May we have his blessing.