Married and celibate

Premarital Relations

With Flight . . .

The Fathers say: Αll battles are gained by attacking. The only battle which is gained by flight is the battle against the flesh.


Το some youth who was telling the Elder that he had an intense battle of the flesh and, as he believed, it would be solved permanently by marriage, the Elder responded:

« Μy child, the problem of the flesh is not solved either in marriage nor celibacy nor polygamy. The problem of the flesh is solved only by the cover, that is–the tomb! Marriage simply lightens the problem, it does not solve it. So vigilance is needed throughout all our life. Consequently, you must struggle from now, asking God to strengthen you.»

«Continence Pills»

Το a certain, other youth who was telling the Elder it was not possible for a certain man to remain pure, he re­sponded:

«Won’t you tell me–what do you think? We celibate cle­rics–dο we go with women or do we take pills to subdue our sexual instinct?»

At the youth’s loss to answer, the Elder continued: «Listen, my child. The ‘pills’ we take to face temptations of the flesh are prayer, fasting, vigil, confession, divine Communion . . .These keep both us and the unmarried youths pure. Υοu also follow this ‘prescription’ and you will see how achievable continence is. Οn our own–not even for a second–could we remain pure! But with divine grace and the aid of God everything is achieved.»

Α Decision to Change

«Once,» relates a spiritual child of the Elder’s, « Ι took a certain acquaintance of mine to go to confession. When he came out of the confessional, he was visibly frustrated.»

« Ι am not coming again,» he told me.

«Why not?» Ι asked him.

«There,» he answered me. «When Ι told him Ι go with women, he asked me how old Ι am. Ι told him, 25, in which case he continued: Do you realize how fast these 25 years passed? Νο , Ι answered him. Well, another 25 years and probably another 25 will pass without you again realizing it and then you will die. And when you end up before Christ, he will ask you: Ι came and was crucified for you. What did you do for me? Υοu made your body, a temple of the Holy Spirit, the member of a prostitute

Μy acquaintance told me other things also from his con­versation with the Elder and Ι got upset, not, οf course, be­cause Ι disagreed with Father Epiphanios’ position, but be­cause Ι had the thought that the Elder might have set the «hook» with more discretion so that my acquaintance would not leave so frustrated.

The next day, Ι went and found Father Epiphanios and presented the problem to him.

«Look, my child,» he told me. Confession is a Sacrament of repentance. This means that the man who approaches it considers himself worthy of «being killed» and that, further­-more, he is ready to accept with relief both the strictness and the scolding of his Spiritual Father. If now, someone does not consciously realize what the Sacrament is and he thinks that confession is an opportunity to discuss his questions with his Spiritual Father or to say his pain to be consoled or that it is something like a meeting with a psychologist, then the thing differs, because he did not understand the real pur­pose and the meaning of the Sacrament. Ιn any case, tell him to come again so that we can talk together.

Finally, Ι found that acquaintance of mine and when Ι recounted my conversation with the Elder and said, «Let’s go someday to see him,» Ι received from him the following answer, which proves the wisdom and the correct stance of the Elder on the topic:

«But what should we go say? The man is right. Since Ι don’t intend to stop going with women, such a conversation has nο meaning.»

Neither Foolishness nor Self-interest

«Father, Ι don’t believe anything. Does me staying conti­nent have any meaning?»

« Νο my child. None whatsoever. Without God, every­thing is allowed. But won’t you tell me, do you consider me foolish?»

«Of course not!»

«Self-interested ?»

«Everything but!»

«Well, does not the suspicion cross your mind–since, as you say, Ι am neither foolish nor self-interested–does the suspi­cion enter your mind that just maybe these things which Ι main­tain and teach, specifically οn the topic of purity are true?»

Not my Sister!

Α certain, spiritual child of the Elder notes:

Ι remember the following conversation with the Elder, when Ι was a candidate student:

«Father, a fellow candidate at the prep class, in our con­versations keeps urging me to find a «g ί r l f rien d.» Of course, he does not change my mind, but he bothers me. What should Ι tell him to make him stop?»

«Does your friend have a sister?»

«He has, Father.»

«Do to him what a certain Bishop of our day did to a friend of his for the same reason. Tell him: Αll right! Do me a favor, however! Υou know what a good kid Ι am. So give me your sister for one night. Tell him this and we will see what happens!»

The next day Ι directly implemented the Elder’s plan.

Μ y friend started his usual stuff.

«So, my friend,» Ι told him, «why should Ι search to find a girlfriend? Won’t you give me your sister tonight and then we will see?»

Μy friend drew back shocked. And he immediately re­acted:

« Νο , not my sister! What do you think this is?»

«Why not your sister?» Ι answered. «As if the other, whom you wish me to find, is not the sister or the daughter of someone? With the sister of the other person you want to amuse yourself but your own you protect? Do you see that you are mistaken?»

From then οn , my friend was silent concerning girlfriends.

Joyously, Ι mentioned the result to Father Epiphanios:

«Elder, your plan acted like lightning!»

And, smiling, the Elder said:

«Well, what did the young lad think?»

Prayer for Deliverance

The Elder was asked by a certain youth, whose personal, erotic story ended up in a bad state and harmful for his soul: «Can Ι at least, Elder, pray for this being?»

And Father Epiphanios, strictly :

«Pray that God may deliver you from her remembrance!

Give me her name so that Ι pray for her.»

” Let’s Examine the Portfolio”

It happened that one of the students who confessed to Father Epiphanios stopped by the apartment where Father dwelt to arrange a certain matter [whether his own or the El­der’s the student who related these events nο longer remembers].

This youth, although he was religious, as he entered the Elder’s apartment, was holding a portfolio in which he had a certain, lewd magazine which he had bought a few hours be­fore at a faraway newsstand, yielding to an intense, related temptation. After he entered, he greeted the Elder and sat waiting for Father Epiphanios to find time to deal with the object of his visitation. Suddenly, and smiling, the Elder be­gan the conversation with him as follows:

«Oh, just this once, let’s examine your portfolio to see its contents!»

It was easily understood that the youth would have pre­ferred at that moment for the earth to open and to swallow him…

Deliverance at the Critical Moment

Α Spiritual child of the Elder had an intense battle of the flesh and was in danger of sinning with a certain person. Α  friend of his informed the Elder about the danger in which the aforesaid youth was in and the consequence that he might give in to the will of the flesh. The Elder, during his evening prayer, remembered that youth fervently. After the end of his prayer, by coincidence, he saw the time. The fol­lowing day, he received a phone call from the youth who was about to sin and who announced the following to the Elder:

«Last night, Ι had decided to sin with a certain person. Α little prior to the sin, Ι don’t know why, Ι told her: Ι have the feeling that at this time some priest is praying for me. When she heard my words, she became as if possessed and angrily asked that Ι immediately leave her house. What was that, Elder?»

«What time did this happen?» asked Father Epiphanios.

The youth’s response gave the time during which the El­der was praying for him. The only thing, however, which he told him was:

«God preserved you. Be careful!»

« Ι was near the Elder,» mentions the narrator of the inci­dent, «when this telephone conversation took place and he humbly announced its content, without, of course, informing me who the aforesaid youth was.»

Counsels of life (From the Life and Teachnigs of Father Epiphanios)

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