February 20, 2014

The Search For Contemporary Flagbearing Elders

By Monk Moses the Athonite

We have written before how many of our contemporary Christians are seeking contemporary flagbearing Elders.

In certain times it is a fact that there is a real need for solving serious problem. In other times there is simply curiosity and the search for discerning Elders is for information regarding the signs of the times, impending wars and prophetic revelations. For one to seek a modest and truly humble Elder, with knowledge and love, wisdom and prayer, grace and blessing, is wise and blessed. The faithful have serious needs, but also sometimes frivolous illnesses. This is why fear of God and great attention are needed from both sides.

People get tired, and they neglect or they don't want to pray, and this work they entrust to others. The prayer of a virtuous Elder is good, but there is necessarily needed a personal collaboration. To wait for your spiritual progress from others is not wise. Nepsis (watchfulness), purification and divine illumination take diligent and persistent struggle. In this way humble prayers are heard. Others can assist, but they alone can't help. Every believer is obliged by the sacred Gospel to keep the commandments faithfully, to pray and to struggle. Do not remain in the hope of only being helped by others. Do not invest in your spiritual indolence and sloth. We all need to seek in every way the path to our salvation.

The Elders should contribute substantially to this. Not to connect in a sick way the people who follow them with their own person. To not be super strict or liberal. To not place unbearable loads on people. To not ask of others what they themselves do not do. To not dominate souls. To not create guilt. To not exploit the simple, the benevolent and the lovers of honor.

Still others study the myrrh-filled contemporary sayings and deeds of the Elders and remain in an exterior thrill and quick passing admiration. They are taught cross-legged in their living rooms their lives, they have their photographs, their books, their teachings, but they do not touch their hearts. Something like this is not correct at all. Some ask from the venerable Elders for words about the future or miracles. The saints do not always work miracles. They only do them when there is actual need and it is revealed to them by the All-Good God. A miracle takes place for the reason, especially, of helping a soul and the glory of God.

The concise, clear, grace-filled, divinely-illumined, heart-felt, soul-benefitting words of contemporary venerable Elders are greatly needed to be carefully studied and experienced. The implementation of the struggle should be continuous and accompanied by vigilance, that misconceptions and delusions will not exist. What one Elder wrote and said is certainly not for everyone. Usually what the Elders said they lived themselves first. The purity of their lives inclines their hearts to spiritual struggles. The Elders are scions of our time, they are our neighbors, they understand us better, they admonish us sublimely. They are worth having and we should have them as permanent bright examples.

It is an especially great blessing to have in our presence so many important and virtuous Elders in our difficult time. We criticize it, we complain about it and nag about it, but it showed us such important holy figures. This must be continued. Let us not create "saints", but limit ourselves to the existing ones. Pseudo-holiness is an open wound on the body of the Church. Christ had the most austere words for the hypocrites. We should approach the Elders with great respect and retain their memory without foreign impurities or sweetened additions.

Source: First published in Protaton, no. 129. Republished in the newspaper Macedonia, Sunday 9 February 2014. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.