Let me begin by humbly expressing my gratitude and respect to Elder George Alevras for the high honor he has bestowed upon me by inviting to write this note to accompany his highly engaging book on the Spiritual Olympics and on the magnificent life and works of Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia.

Elder George openly shares with us his life experience next to Saint Porphyrios and how these very experiences would later shape his spiritual outlook and gifts.

-“Saint Porphyrios used to say, ‘Whoever overcame sloth has entered the spiritual world through Christ though.”

-A lazy body cannot pray

-Saint Porphyrios was always on the move and that’s how he wanted us to be too.

-A fast man is like running water, clean and useful.

How could have it been any different though for Elder George, who was an athlete and who always held movement, harmony and development as intrinsic within him. Elder George brought these traits into his ascetic life and combined them with the Spirit. “Healthy mind in a Healthy body”.

This ancient adage held true in the past, holds true today and it will continue to hold true in the future. What do the Spiritual Olympics teach us? That we must to have a healthy spirit in a healthy body since each of us is a unit, a complex of two components; of the mind, that is to say the spirit, and of the body. Each movement of the body is influenced by the soul and the soul is influenced as well by the actions of the body. Care and concern for the body and soul are a daily requirement.

 

“On September 8, 1985, Saint Porphyrios moves into the cell of Saint George of Kavsokalyvia in Mount Athos, where he first started out as a small child.”

 

What a significant day that was! It fell on the exact day of the birthday of the Virgin Mary. On September 8, 1985 Saint Porphyrios moves into his cell in Kavsokalyvia, incidentally on that same day, I turn fifteen years old. Nothing is coincidental. I know firsthand how much importance Elder George assigns to numbers and dates. It is in Kavsokalyvia where Saint Porphyrios took care of his soul to play a leading role as a Christian, for it is the soul which shapes our character, and in this manner, the Saint can best manage himself and others. This – the daily care of the Soul – is the spiritual struggle of every Christian. Death is the only certainty in this earthly world offers. While no one knows when death will knock on each of our doors, Saint Porphyrios was not intimidated by this. On the contrary, he was ready at all times, which is why he prepared his spirit.

 

I believe that the life of a monk is like that of an athlete. Victory is the ultimate goal of an athlete. To reach this achievement, the athlete must struggle every day and from these daily efforts, he will gain his final result. The athlete trains to be ready for the fight. Athletic preparation involves physical conditioning, strengthening exercises, mental power – all of these components are necessary for an athlete to have endurance and consistency in the race or match but also to be prepared for its conclusion, regardless of the outcome. The well-prepared athlete faces victory stoically, both physically and mentally, to ensure that he is not carried away by it as he also accepts defeat as a form of instruction so that he doesn’t risk becoming disappointed and gives up.

 

In the same way, the training of a Christian, of a monk, is a daily spiritual struggle through which he acquires experience and knowledges and he manages joy and sorrow and learns from his mistakes. Through it all, he learns patience, obedience, sacrifice, universal love and the meaning of fasting. This practice takes time and effort. It is the Christian monk’s “training” so that he is prepared when he finds himself in some difficulty that he manages to fight and overcome it. After all, the time an athlete spends on training is incomparably longer than the duration of his competition or race. He is not discouraged by this fact. This is a way of life for an athlete – his training prepares him for the difficulties which will come, it builds character so that he can manage the knowledge he has gained from his experiences.

 

Achievements

 

  • 2016 and 2019 Euroleague Basketball Alexander Gomelskiy Coach of the Year.
  • Named 2015, 2017 and 2018 VTB Coach of the Year.
  • Won the 2016 and 2019 EuroLeague with CSKA Moscow.
  • Won the 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021 VTB League with CSKA Moscow.

Won the 2000, 2002, 2007, 2009 and 2011 EuroLeague with Panathinaikos Athens.

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