June 12, 2012

New Saints: Contemporary Treasures of the Church (Monk Moses the Athonite)

By Monk Moses the Athonite

Our age is often criticized for many reasons, fairly or unfairly. Yet truly difficult times hide treasures, generating small or great saints. Besides the officially recognized saints, there exist hidden saints throughout the entire twentieth century.

The venerable Methodia of Kimolos (†1908), Saint John of Kronstadt (†1908), the bishop of Zilon Euthymios (†1921), the bishop of Iconium Prokopios (†1922), the bishop of Kydonion Gregory (†1922), the bishop of Moschonision Ambrose (†1922), the bishop of Smyrna Chrysostomos (†1922), the wondrous Elder of Optina Monastery Venerable Anatoly (†1922), and many other venerable ones and new martyrs of Russia, Georgia, Estonia, Poland and other places in Europe, Asia and America.

In the twentieth century we also have the following saints: Arsenios of Cappadocia (†1924), Nicholas Planas of Athens (†1932), Silouan the Athonite (†1938), the venerable Savva of Kalymnos (†1948), the venerable George Karslides of Drama (†1959), the hieromonk Anthimos Vagianos of Chios (†1960), the archbishop of Shanghai John Maximovitch the Wonderworker(†1966), the Serbian hieromonk Justin Popovich (†1979), and the hieromartyr Philoumenos of Jerusalem (†1979).

A reputation of holiness and high virtuous life belongs also to these blessed elders: Archimandrite Ieronymos of Simonopetra (†1957), Joseph the Hesychast and Cave-dweller (†1959), Abbot Amphilochios Makris of Patmos (†1970), the abbot of Longovardos on Paros Philotheos Zervakos (†1980), the abbot of the Monastery of the Venerable David in Evia Iakovos Tsalikes (†1991), the discerning and clairvoyant Elder Porphyrios Kafsokalivites (†1995), the wise Elder Sophrony Sakharov (†1993), the known-to-all and charismatic monk Paisios the Athonite (†1994), the obedient and prayerful Ephraim of Katounakia (†1998), and others.

Holiness-bearing monasticism challenges us and invites us to stand more heroically, to greater frugality, simplicity, modesty and humility. We are obliged to maintain a solid, strong and pure spirit of Orthodox monasticism at all costs. We are called to teach the patience of the Elders of old.

The greatness of our Church is that it generates saints also today. Holiness will be needed much more in the 21st century world. Elder Paisios the Athonite would say that it is impossible to not keep monasticism intact. Holiness is not a forgotten vision or a false hope. Happiness-seeking, secularism, and laziness prevent the emergence of the tree of holiness. The contemporary spirit of having good times, of rushing, of effortless and trouble free work, and superficiality removes holiness.

The purpose of life is holiness. Holiness is the chief issue. Approaching holiness gives peace, joy, gentleness, patience, temperance, and spiritual gifts. The catalogue of new saints is growing also in the 21st century. Sometimes holiness hides itself in places where you would never expect, in cities and villages and not only on Mount Athos. Monasticism is booming today. We all pray that it continues to produce saints who walk the traditional path. Saint Silouan the Athonite would say according to his experience: "The Lord loves us exceedingly and through our unworthy prayers we converse with Him and repent and glorify Him. It is impossible to write how much the Lord loves us."

Through the Holy Spirit you know this love and the soul of one who prays knows the Holy Spirit.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos