The rushed canonization of Father Paisios may have helped his fans feel vindicated for idolizing a priest once known for his homely utterances but who in recent years became more famous for outrageous prophecies, including a devastating war between Russia and Turkey that will benefit Greece and allow it to retake Istanbul (Constantinople). But the honors that are being bestowed on him now by the heads of the Church of Greece should be a matter of great concern.
The road of piety is so full of zigs and zags, and some exhibitions of faith are so unbelievable (bordering on self-ridicule) that we can never sure whether we are hearing actual news or whether we are the victims of media and social media trolls.
The most recent development is that after the holy man’s flip-flops, his cap and his glasses, we now have his blessed chestnut, which was recently put on display at the Church of Aghios Dimitrios in Agrinio, central Greece.
Such a move can only be described as para-religious fetishism.
According to the official statement that came with the display, this particular chestnut had been “given by a group of students along with others to Saint Paisios in October 1990 to be blessed.” It is this phrase, “along with others,” that should be read as a prophecy – it won’t be long before other blessed chestnuts pop up in other places too. More holy flip-flops and sacred caps will also inevitably appear.
After all, it was observed a long time ago that in times of deep crisis and when there is a general sense of insecurity, irrationalism in its most extreme form becomes the dominant religion, regardless of what idols people worship.
Saint Paisios is the patron saint of our country’s front pages, our very own Nostradamus. He was also a typically nationalist saint as he said things that so many people want to hear: the government in Skopje will collapse and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will fall apart, Turkey will sink and so on.
However, since so many top political and church officials have stated in the past that “God is Greek,” what else could a humble servant of Greek origins be than a foot soldier for Greek Christianity?
There has been no confirmation of rumors, however, that Kokkini Milia (Red Apple Tree), a mythical land where the Turks were to have been banished to from Constantinople by the late Byzantine Emperor Constantine Palaiologos, has been found and now renamed Red Chestnut Tree. We have to keep watching the loud front pages – and the oh-so silent church hierarchy.
The problem is that these very newspapers which complain about this kind of fetishism, stand up for the worship of icons, bones and relics. Kathimerini is a conservative newspaper and conservatives do their best to maintain this way of thinking. Theologically there is no difference if a monk is full of the grace of the Holy Spirit and his bones and clothes are full of it, why not his glasses, or slippers or whatever he touched? All politicians go to such happenings, because this is how they expect to be voted, even those of the radical left.