Commemorated February 27
“Countless souls traveled the pathway to the ascetic dwelling of the Holy Saint Ephraim of Katounakia (+1998) – laity, monks, priests and bishops – visitors and beggars of spiritual mercy. The sick came and left healed. The burdened came and left feeling lighter. They came weak and left strong.”
“Obedience was his beloved topic. On an almost daily basis, he would refer one thing to all and relate to all, obedience. And with that expressive tone of his strong voice, with the persuasion and experience of an old Biblical figure, he would often come back to the topic so dear to him with a new surge of refreshing ascetic demeanor, to the sweetest lesson and the unique matter, obedience. This is the requirement of sacred humility and the coming of the Grace of the Holy Spirit, the cause of all fruitfulness, the pretext of pure prayer. "Do you have obedience? You have prayer. If you don't have obedience, you do not have prayer", he would say, without his words receiving any objection (and Father Ephraim insisted correctly). For, according to St John of Sinai, "obedience means that we place our own discernment into the care of the rich discernment of the spiritual father.”
I am very drawn to all of the holy fathers who have deep experience with and a desire to teach the Jesus Prayer. Saint Joseph the Hesychast has given us an invaluable gift in the legacy of his own direct spiritual children, like Saint Ephraim of Katounakia, who are also now able to teach us. I felt like I couldn't get an icon of Saint Joseph without also getting one of this great spiritual child of his. It is a beautiful depiction with colors that are both soft and deep.