The elder Simeon of Kafsokalivia was from the city of Larissa. His worldly occupation was a gendarme. When he came to the Holy Mountain with an intention to become a monk, and visited the kaliva (gr. Καλύβα – lit. “cabin”) of St Simeon in Kafsokalivia, the elder of the kaliva asked him:
– Do you smoke?
– Well, get out of here then, and never set foot here again! I don’t accept you.
– Geronda, I have already quit, – the future elder Simeon replied.
He smoked a pack of cigarettes a day and could drink a bottle of vodka in one go, but he gave it all up in a blink of an eye, because he was a man of strong will.
This is how he became a monk. When Fr Simeon was properly tested in obedience, the elder brought him to the great confessor Fr Sava to find out whether he was fit for priesthood. Fr Sava, after hearing Fr Simeon’s confession, told the elder, “This monk has no canonical obstacles to priesthood. But if you want him to always remain humble, leave him a simple monk, because priests suffer from pride very much.”
So, Fr Simeon remained a simple monk. He never left the Holy Mount Athos even to see a doctor, preferring to go blind, rather than to go out into the world to have eye surgery.
Despite being blind, Father Simeon, saw and spiritually experienced the events celebrated on every feast of the Lord and the Theotokos.
Following his rule which consisted in deeds of sobriety and hesychia, he always retired to his kaliva immediately after Holy Communion. The elder performed all-night vigils and made thousands of bows. His novice, Fr Isaiah, could not equal him. Fr Simeon told him, “It’s okay. Live nearby and you will learn something.”
Once, a priest serving in their kaliva’s temple started hearing some kind of clicking sounds during the service. He could not understand what it was. After the Liturgy, he asked Fr Isaiah what kind of sound it was, and he showed him small pools of tears on the floor near Elder Simeon’s stall.
Tears were falling from the elder’s eyes throughout the entire Liturgy. He had inexhaustible tears and could cry when he wanted.
Elder Simeon used to say, “A monk who does not leave the Holy Mount Athos to go into the world acquires from Christ a second virginity.”
The elder was a great ascetic. He kept the ninth hour throughout the entire Great Lent, even on Saturdays and Sundays. He had one meal a day eating a biscuit and a few olives. During the first week of Great Lent, he fasted from Monday to Friday, not taking a crumb of bread or a drop of water in his mouth.
The elder died during the Great Lent in 1988 at the age of 96.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds