ELDER PAISIOS OF THE HOLY MOUNTAIN
See Elder Paisios, With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man, Volume One of the Series, The Discourses of Elder Paisios, Holy Monastery of Saint John the Theologian, Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece.
Many of the holy Martyrs, whenever they were unfamiliar with a dogma, used to say: “I trust whatever the Holy Fathers have instituted”. If anyone dared to say those words, they would suffer martyrdom. In other words, although they did not know how to present any proof to their persecutors, they did, however, have faith in the Holy Fathers. They would think to themselves: “How can I not trust the Holy Fathers? They were far more experienced, and virtuous, and saintly. How can I agree to something that is nonsense? How can I tolerate someone abusing the Holy Fathers?” We must have faith in Tradition.
Nowadays, unfortunately, we notice that “European good manners” have shown up, and they strive to present a benevolent face. They try to be superior, but in the end, they head towards the worship of the two-horned devil. “Only one religion must exist” they tell you, and they flatten everything.
I’ve had people come to me too, who suggested: “All of us who believe in Christ should form one religion”.
I said to them: Now what you’re telling me is to take gold and copper – gold of so many carats quality – which they took so much trouble to purify, and then gather the metals and melt them into one mass. Is it right to mix them together again? Ask any goldsmith: “Should we mix inferior elements with gold?”
Well, the same trouble was taken to filter-clean the dogma. The Holy Fathers must have known something, when they forbade every association with a heretic. Nowadays they say: “We should all pray together – not only with a heretic, but also with a Buddhist and a fire-worshipper and a demon-worshipper. The Orthodox should also participate in these common prayers and conventions. It is a matter of [being] present.”
What do they mean by “being present”? They strive to solve everything with logic, in order to justify the unjustifiable. The “European spirit” is convinced that spiritual matters can also be made a part of the Common Market.
Some of the rather shallow Orthodox want to project [ecumenism as] “Missionary work”, so they convene meetings with the heterodox for the sake of being heard, and they think that this is the way to advertise Orthodoxy – by mingling in the same pot with cacodoxies. Then we have the hyper-zealots at the other extreme: they even blaspheme the Sacraments of the New-Calendarists etc., and they excessively scandalize those souls who are pious and have an orthodox sensitivity. The heterodox on the other hand usually attend meetings, they pose as know-it-alls, they take any good spiritual material that they find with the Orthodox, they take it to their own workshop, add their own colours and brand names and they present it as something original.
|Holy Gregory Palamas, Pillar of Orthodoxy|
Today’s strange world is actually moved by such strange things, and it is eventually destroyed spiritually. But the Lord – when the time is right – will bring forth new Marks of Ephesus and the Gregorys of Palamas, who will muster all of our scandalized brethren, who will confess the Orthodox faith, consolidate the Orthodox Tradition and give great joy to our Mother the Church.
If we were living Patristically, we would all be enjoying a spiritual health that would have been the envy of all the heterodox; it would have made them abandon their sick fallacies and render them saved, without any sermons. At present, they are not moved by our holy Patristic tradition, because they are waiting to see our Patristic continuity – our true kinship with the Saints.
That which is obligatory for every Orthodox, is for them to sow the “good uneasiness” in the heterodox as well; in other words, to bring them to the realization that they are living a lie and that they should not light-heartedly relax their thoughts, for fear of depriving themselves in this life of the bounteous blessings of Orthodoxy, and in the life to come, the infinitely more and everlasting blessings of God.
I was once visited by some Catholic youth who had good intentions, and were ready to acquaint themselves with Orthodoxy. “We want you to say something to us, so that we will be helped spiritually”, they told me.
“Look”, I replied, “find a book on Ecclesiastic History, and you will see how we once used to be together, and then see where you wound up. This will help you immensely. Do it, and the next time, we will talk about many things.”
In times past, people used to respect something because it was their grandfather’s, and they used to safeguard it like an heirloom. I once met a very good lawyer. His house was very simply furnished, and it relaxed not only him, but his visitors also. He told me this, some time ago:
“A few years ago, Father, my acquaintances made fun of me because of the old, family furniture that I had. Now they come and admire them as valuable antiques. While I make daily use of them and enjoy them because they remind me of my father, my mother, my grandparents, and I am always emotionally touched, those acquaintances now go around collecting various old pieces of furniture, to the point that they have turned their lounges into curiosity shops, in an attempt to take their minds off their problems and forget their secular stress.”
In the past, one would hold on to a tiny little coin of insignificant value as though it were a vast fortune, only because it was given to him by his mother or his grandfather. Nowadays, if someone has an expensive coin – a gold Pound for example – that was given to him by his grandfather, and that coin’s value is slightly higher than its original value, he will give it away to be sold. He will not show any respect, nor will he be concerned about any mother or father. It’s that “European spirit” that is slowly creeping in and is sweeping us all away....
|Fresco of the Elder Paisios |
in a Metochi of the Monastery
I recall the first time that I visited the Holy Mountain – in one of the brotherhoods, the Elder was a little old man, who was very pious. Out of piety, he had preserved from generation to generation, not only the stoles of his [spiritual] grandfathers, his predecessors, but also the moulds that had been used to make the stoles. He also had several old books and various manuscripts that he kept beautifully wrapped in his book-case, which was carefully closed so that they wouldn’t collect dust. He never touched those books; he kept them wrapped up. “I am not worthy to read such books” he would say. “I will just read these simpler ones – the Sayings of the Desert Fathers (Gerontikon), the Ladder of Divine Ascent...”.
Then a young monk came along (who, in the end, left the Mountain permanently) and asked the elder: “Why do you keep all this junk here?” He made a move to take away the moulds and dispose of them – to burn them. The poor old man begged him with tears: “that was from my [spiritual] grandfather – why do you mind my keeping it? There are so many other rooms here – leave them be in a corner.” Out of the piety that he had, he not only held on to the books, the heirlooms, the stoles, but even the moulds!
When there is a respect for minor things, there will be an even greater respect towards greater things. When there is no respect for the lesser, neither will there be for the greater. This is how the Fathers preserved the holy Tradition.