Preparing for Athos
From experienced pilgrims on the internet I learned about the diamonitirion (a permission to visit Athos issued by the representatives of the Holy Mountain). To my surprise, it turned out that clergymen have much more difficulties with the registration than “mere mortals”. According to one of the websites that I visited, it was necessary to take a written blessing from the ruling bishop and send it to the Patriarchate in Moscow. From there this blessing is forwarded to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople with a petition. When the confirmation from the Patriarchate of Constantinople is received, I can apply for a Greek visa.
I always get melancholy from bureaucratic relations. Every time I go to the bishop’s reception with a request for a vacation or a permission to leave the diocese, I am racked by doubt. What if the bishop decides that I should not be allowed to go anywhere? This time was no exception. Sitting in the waiting room, I was worried and prayed like a schoolboy before an exam, “Lord, let me successfully answer the questions of my superiors and get permission to visit Athos!” My desire to go was so great that a temptation came to me in the guise of a “plan B”. I decided that if something went wrong, I would go “over the hill” and travel as a layman.
The priests in the waiting room (I was not the only petitioner there) were noisily discussing something, but I was concentrating on my prayer and paid no attention to anything else. If my prayer was for the whole world, perhaps I would be lifted off the ground. But, alas, it was about my private cause, so no one noticed my spiritual achievement.
Vladyka was benevolent, in fatherly tones. My heart was heavy while waiting for the audience, but now this heaviness turned into a cloud that was gradually melting. His Eminence advised me whom to contact in the capital, and gave me his blessing! I rushed out of his office, dancing on air and stopped by his secretary, who tried to give me a kind of a reality check saying that my petition was not drawn up correctly. However, that was not a real problem, and I fixed everything over time. It was no longer required to send any petitions to the Patriarchate; it was enough for me to have a certificate from the diocese stating that I was not under the ecclesiastical trial and had a blessing from my ruling bishop. All the worries about obtaining a visa and the diamonitirion for me were taken over by the travel agency called St John’s Well.
In the meantime, I was occupied by the following questions:
1.Who should I travel with?
2.What would my route around Athos be?
3. What should I take with me for the road?