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MESSAGE OF THE MONTH
An Orthodox Warrior Has Fallen Asleep in the Lord
Bishop Avgoustinos Kantiotis: April 20th, 1907 – August 28th, 2010
By the staff of “Orthodox Heritage
On Saturday, August 28th 2010, on the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos per the Old Calendar followed on the Holy Mountain, at 05:00 a.m., the saintly bishop and great Orthodox warrior, His Eminence Metropolitan Avgoustinos Kantiotis of Florina fell asleep in the Lord. He left his earthly home and is now among angels and saints in Paradise. He was 104 years young…
He had been ill for a long time and in the hospital since suffering a stroke on August 2nd. He had been improving but on August 27th, a severe kidney malfunction presented his elderly body with a severe set back which he was unable to overcome. Illnesses were nothing new for bishop Avgoustinos; since his 50’s, he had numerous “close calls,” yet time after time he was healed, often miraculously, until our Lord called him into His Kingdom on August 28th.
Metropolitan Avgoustinos Kantiotis was born in Paros on April 20th, 1907. He graduated from the Theological School of Athens in 1929. In 1935 he was ordained a deacon and in 1942 became a presbyter. He had served as Chancellor of the Metropolis of Aitolia, a military priest, and a preacher in Athens. He issued dozens of periodicals, founded boarding schools, was the founder of “O Stavros” theological brotherhood, and was most noted as a fiery preacher throughout Greece. On June 25th, 1967 he was enthroned as Metropolitan of Florina. On January 14th, 2000 he retired.
Bishop Avgoustinos was a defender of traditional Greek Orthodox beliefs. He was a writer of spiritual literature and was credited for being a major force in the spiritual renewal of Greece, and the establishment of traditional Orthodox theology. He preached countless sermons, which have been recorded and distributed worldwide. For many years he was at the forefront of the anti-ecumenism movement which he believed contradicted the basic principles of Greek Orthodoxy. The Elder was known for his conservative activism and ideals. The Metropolitan published over 80 books in Greek, of which over 25 have appeared in English, and other languages, and was known as a classic writer in the English speaking world of Orthodox Christianity.
A couple of events leading to his earthly departure are worth noting:
Just a few hours just before he fell asleep, a group of parents came with their young children to kiss the hand and receive the elderly bishop’s blessing. Among them were a couple of twin siblings, approximately five years old. They reverently kissed the hand of the hierarch and as they were leaving, one of them turns to his mother and says:
- Mother, he appears so very young!
One of the priests present at the hierarch’s side, Fr. Ierotheos, heard the young boy and replied:
- Yes, he is young indeed… He is 104 years young!
The young boy remained at the door, staring at the bishop and saying:
- Indeed, he is not old at all; he is so very young.
His sibling, with eyes wide and a smile in the face added:
- And he is so very beautiful!...
What is it that the innocent eyes of these very young children saw that we, the older sinful adults could not see? It is apparent, however, that the saintly nature of this hierarch was not hidden from the innocent eyes of the twin boys.
The attending doctor and surgeon, Dr. Evgenios Bairamithis, was at Bishop Avgoustinos’ bedside all night long, just before his falling asleep. Around midnight, he was intensely staring at the peaceful face of the Elder that was showing neither signs of any type of pain or alteration, nor difficulty for the prevalence of pulmonary insufficiency of the last 24 hours and with admiration exclaimed:
- Look at the Elder’s face! It has a beautiful rose color and it looks so very peaceful! If this is not miracle, then what is it?
It should be noted that the concurrent presence of a severe kidney malfunction and pulmonary insufficiency leads to the natural discoloring and darkening (close to a dark blue color) to the faces of “normal” persons. In the case of the saintly bishop however, this did not occur; it was simply not God’s will for this discoloration to occur…
Let sadness NOT prevail among the faithful for the Elder’s departure. Let us remind ourselves that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is alive and His saints never die. The elderly Orthodox warrior, Bishop Avgoustinos, is now part of the Church Triumphant where his intercessions on behalf of the fighting flock will surely be received with greater candor by God; he shall remain on their side, a partner for the battle in His Name, to the end of time!
In one of his homilies, he espoused:
“One day, I will no longer be here with you, not in this body. Where will I be? You need not worry and instead remember what I am about to tell you: know that wherever I go, wherever I am, if and when I see that our Holy Orthodoxy is in danger, I will create a revolution and I will strike the alarm for all to hear. I will not leave the Church of Christ neither in the hands of the atheists nor in the hands of the Masons and the ecumenists.”
It would be good that the ecumenist bishops show some respect towards the holy Elder and stay away from Florina—they can “celebrate” his departure in their own back yard. We are certain that the holy bishop would wish to do away with the presence of ecumenists in his funeral…
The faithful flock must remain strong and do away with its sadness for the falling asleep of bishop Avgoustinos; the faithless and heretical crowd would be well served to avoid any celebration for our loss, thinking that the holy Elder’s voice has been silenced forever.
His Eminence exists within the countless spiritual material that he has left behind; it is all a powerful intellectual arsenal, that on a moment’s notice and in every worthy battle the Elder will re-appear with his spiritual inheritance to disturb their plans, destroy their evil intent and protect our Lord’s flock. The enemies of Orthodoxy need know that the 104 year-old hierarch is far from being silenced. He will always be present in the front lines of any warfare with the heretics and the ecumenists but with one exception: their arrows of misinformation, gossip, and ill intent can no longer harm him…
May Metropolitan Avgoustinos’ memory be eternal and may we have his blessing!