05 March 2009

The Repose of a Good Man


I don’t usually do terribly personal posts on this blog, but I just received the news that an American hieromonk from the Holy Mountain whom I had the blessing to get to know just reposed this morning. Hieromonk Barnabas of Karakallou was a warm, kind man, and even though I only met him four or five times, he made a tremendous, and quite unique impression on me. He seemed like such an ordinary, down-home American fellow complete with—I believe—a Texas accent, the sort of guy I could imagine being good friends with my parents and grandparents, that I was almost surprised that he was there spending his life on the Holy Mountain. The photo above shows us together at a brief meeting in Thessaloniki in the spring of 2007. He’s looking quite severe, but I don’t remember him that way at all. To me he was a very friendly, very personal face to the Holy Mountain.

Once I was walking from Philotheou to Karakallou, precisely to see Fr Barnabas and another American monk there, and I was under the tall trees on the dirt road, going around a bend and beginning to think I may have taken a wrong turn, when I saw a white-bearded monk a good way off wearing sunglasses and walking towards me. I thought that I would ask him whether I was going the right way to find Karakallou, but as I got closer, I saw that it was Fr Barnabas! He was wearing those over-sized sunglasses that old people wear over their spectacles and listening to a walkman (he told me it was an audiobook of St Theophan the Recluse). It turned out he had been anxiously anticipating my arrival and decided to go on a walk to get some exercise and pass the time! I’ll always remember the joy of seeing that familiar face there in the ancient forest of that spiritual centre. I'll always remember him complaining about the food at Karakallou—too much salt, if memory serves me.

Anyway, I’m told Fr Barnabas was in good spirits when it happened. He had been undergoing chemotherapy in Thessaloniki, and was actually already hospitalised when he had a sudden heart attack. In the words of Archimandrite Vasileios of Iveron, ‘He disappeared into the other life, the true life, into the abundance of glory which unites us all’ (Beauty and Hesychia in Athonite Life, trans. Constantine Kokenes [Montréal: Alexander, 1999], pp. 17-8). Please have him commemorated at your parishes this weekend. May his memory be eternal!

5 comments:

Ian said...

May his memory be eternal!

Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

Αιωνια η μνημη αυτου!

Fr. Milovan Katanic said...

Вечнаја памјат!

mercifuljuliana said...

Memory eternal!

Marina said...

Yes, it was the abundance of salt that he disliked. That, and those little fish fried whole. Yuck!