The author, Elder Paisios, was blessed in being able to associate with many righteous Athonite fathers, "athletes" of Christ, or to hear others tell of them. He was deeply impressed by their holy simplicity, their unshakeable, genuine faith; he was moved by the generosity of spirit in which they struggled; he admired their self-denial unto death and their devotion to the ascetic ideal; he tasted and was sweetened by the honey of their virtues; and, being animated by the same spirit of Christian struggle, he imitated their godly achievements. "The Elder's countenance was luminous; he was enveloped by the grace of God. Just looking at him was enough to make you forget every care; he spread joy with his inner kindness. His external clothing, his patched old habit, was worse than the clothes that gardeners use to make scarecrows to keep the birds away. If anyone happened to give him something good, he gave it at once to someone else."