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Modern elders


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#21 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 01:41 PM

Yes, perhaps it is easy to romanticise about elders. We do not live in paintings by Nesterov!

#22 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 02:09 PM

Yes, perhaps it is easy to romanticise about elders. We do not live in paintings by Nesterov!


I think for quite a few years I tried to live in the church or one of the forests in his painting Vision to the Young Bartholomew. :)

#23 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 02:31 PM

Actually, the area around Abramtsovo really looks like that.

#24 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 11:03 PM

We are talking here about spiritual direction, so what I'm going to say may be a bit off post, but we'll see. There may be occasions when we get, if not guidance, at least a pointer in the right direction from a 'one off' source. I'm thinking of something that happened six years ago. A few months after my first wife died (so, in summer 2001), I went to spend some time on the Greek island of Ithaca where, for some fifteen years, we had spent happy summers. The return journey involved going to Argostoli on the neighbouring island of Kefalonia to catch a plane back to England. As I walked along a street in Argostoli, I noticed a little church. I walked past but then decided to go back and go inside to light a candle. A kindly old lady came up to me to explain (in Greek) the saints depicted in the icons. I explained to her politely that I was Greek Orthodox and that I recognised the saints. She beamed at this, but then asked me why I was alone. I explained. She gripped me by my arm very tightly, fixed me with a piercing gaze, and said, 'it will be very difficult for you now, matia mou (lit. 'my eyes', a very affectionate Greek greeting) but you will take another wife!' I was startled but at the same time felt a strange peace. She went out of the church and I didn't see where she went. Of course, one has to be careful, though as it turned out she was right, and that feeling of peace was real, but I wonder if anyone else has had similar encounters.

#25 Anthony

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Posted 10 November 2007 - 05:19 PM

While floundering around on the internet I came across the following list of lives of saints from
skete.com. It includes a number of older saints but seems to be quite oriented to modern ones, and saints from a wide variety of Orthodox lands.

#26 Olympiada

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 07:31 AM

Are there really so many elders? Should we not be clear as to what we mean by 'elder'? There is a difference between an experienced spiritual father who can explain and give guidance as to the spiritual life and be well known for so doing, and an elder who can 'guide the guides' and is such a bearer of the Holy Spirit that he has unusual gifts such as clairyoyance. The Troitse Sergieva Lavra has a number of excellent spiritual fathers but only one elder.

Which is why I am critical of people idolizing elders. Elders are guides for the guides and we should turn to our own parish priest first and foremost for guidance, and then if he directs us to elders, go from there.

#27 Nina

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Posted 25 January 2008 - 02:37 AM

Anthony, this documentary about Elder Paisios may be interesting for you and for those who can understand Greek... sorry that it does not have subtitles in English. It is available free online and it is about 53 minutes long.

#28 Anna K.

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 10:56 AM

Hello all!

I thought I'd share this gem with you that I found, Excerpts of letters by Elder Ioann Krestiankin, who reposed about a year ago.

We'll see if I manage to create a working link here: http://www.pravoslav...es/071231000000

In Christ, Anna

#29 Marie+Duquette

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 03:32 PM

Hello all!

I thought I'd share this gem with you that I found, Excerpts of letters by Elder Ioann Krestiankin, who reposed about a year ago.

We'll see if I manage to create a working link here: http://www.pravoslav...es/071231000000

In Christ, Anna


Anna,

Your graciously posted link works wonderfully! thank you!

marie+duquette

#30 Emil M.

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Posted 20 August 2011 - 08:36 PM

Dear people,

I try to translate [English] some words of Romanian spiritual fathers... some of them are no longer with us [physically].
So, the channel with some videos is: http://www.youtube.com/user/otElders
If you can bring some improvements or suggestions, then you are kindly asked to send me a message...

#31 Alice

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 07:05 PM

Maybe it's that we are looking for fulfillment of our imaginary expectations. ie 'Elders' who fulfill all our deepest 'spiritual' expectations. Of course the whole dimension of humility, trial and obedience disappears from this vision of what a spiritual father or elder actually is.

We need to keep firmly in mind with fear & trembling that even the most saintly elders have had those who hated them due to 'unfulfilled expectations.' I wonder if this demon doesn't prey at least in potential on every spiritual relationship.

In Christ- Fr Raphael


Bless, Father Raphael,

Yes, Bishop Athanasios of Limassol, Cyprus (former monastic of Mt.Athos and very holy man himself) gave a talk in his characteristically warm manner about Elder Paisios, whom he knew and spent time with.

He said that when he was a young man and sought him out for the first time, he left with his friend, thinking 'hmmm...what was the big deal about this monk that everyone talks about'. As they were walking away from the kalyvi (hut), they smelled the most unbelievably beautiful aroma permeating absolutely everything they saw and touched. He turned to his friend and asked if he too smelled what he was smelling, and his friend said he did.

He went on to spend more time with Elder Paisios as the years went on and spoke about one evening as he was chanting in the little chapel in the hut, and the Elder was prostrate in prayer, and how a wind came through the window and lit the whole room with a light brighter than the sun and how the lambades started swinging infront of the icons. When he mentioned it to the Geronta, he dismissed it, saying that the swinging was nothing, just the Panaghia visiting everyone on the Holy Mountain to see if they were okay!

I guess that sometimes we need to remember our meetings with holy persons and reflect on them to derive from them something deeper and profound, which may not have been quite what we were expecting from them in the beginning. Perhaps sometimes we expect to meet people that are not like real people! Perhaps we think that they will be like Divine Oracles, ready to divulge to us all that we are struggling with and to provide the answers without us speaking!

We forget that saints, and Elders have senses of humour just like us, and have opinions just like us, and they don't have all the answers for us, other than to pray and to have faith. The blessing of a cleric, whether a saint, elder, staretz or parish priest, however, is a spiritual gift from Heaven for us laymen.

#32 Xenia Moos

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 08:47 PM

I know that when I have visited monasteries my companions are very anxious to have a word with the abbess or abbott and encourage me to do likewise. And I would love to have a long conversation with any monastic because I cherish their insights. But I never made the effort to have an interview with an abbess or abbott because I felt that I have unrealistic expectations, that I expect them to do an instant "reading" on me, like a fortune teller, and to say a few profound sentences that would change my whole life. But the truth is, there's no advice that they could give me that is any different than the advice my own parish priest gives me: pray, attend services, forgive everyone, keep the fasts, love my neighbor, etc. However, the love of Christ that I see reflected in the face of many monastics is very inspiring!

#33 Alice

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 04:16 AM

Some experiences with Father Paisios the Athonite (+1996) who was a true starets and is considered a modern day saint.

Many also are the stories coming out of Greece and Cyprus of persons he is visiting to comfort and console since his death however they have not been documented in writing yet, I have heard them on television shows from there (over the internet/youtube for anyone who understands Greek and is interested).

Anyway, these are from his life:

http://www.pigizois..../paisios/11.htm

#34 Alice

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 01:48 PM

[h=2]Saturday, March 31, 2012[/h] [h=3]Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Remembers Elder Paisios[/h]
http://1.bp.blogspot.../ep+and+paisios
By Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

According to Orthodox practice, we cannot come to know our deeper passions or console the inner heart without the presence of another person. A spiritual guide, an elder or confessor, is mandatory for the nurturing of the virtues and the development of the soul. There is simply no other way. The elder can take your soul into his soul and lighten the burden that you carry. We all need such an advisor, a confessor, before whom we can share our inner thoughts and reveal our deepest concerns. For spiritual direction is not some oriental status or eccentric luxury. While people sometimes identify the spiritual director with the role of a "guru", it is not exactly the same, because the spiritual elder is part of a larger tradition and community in the Church. In the Orthodox Church, spiritual direction is a fundamental necessity for spiritual balance and health. It is required not only of lay aspirants to the treasures of the heart but of every person - male and female, young and old, lay and ordained, deacon and priest and bishop alike. This means that while the monks and the abbots of the Holy Mountain sought to hear a word of advice from me, I, too, was and am - like every Orthodox priest and bishop - obliged to turn to seek a word of comfort from a spiritual father.

One of the elders was Father Paisios (1924-1994), a simple yet profound monk. Born of pious parents in Cappadocia of Asia Minor, Father Paisios was one of those responsible for the rebirth of monasticism on Mount Athos, which was clearly waning - perhaps not spiritually, but certainly from the standpoint of physical resources and monastic population - when we celebrated its millennial anniversary in 1963. After a period of retreat on Mount Sinai, Father Paisios returned to the Holy Mountain, from where he directed numerous souls throughout the world. He would visit my predecessor, Patriarch Demetrios, when I served as his personal secretary; I was most impressed by his silence.

Anyone blessed to know a living saint knows the unique sense of stillness that characterizes such a person; a saint appears to live at once in this world and in the age to come. What was most surprising about Father Paisios was that he was utterly human, filled with spontaneity and far from any pretense. God's light seemed to shine through the veil of his soul in a splendor, which made his visitor feel totally at ease and warmly welcomed. Later, I recall visiting him in his cell, just as so many others have done over the years. He would offer spiritual counsel as he shared an apple or an orange that he had peeled. He was a genuine missionary and professor of the desert. An unordained monk hearing the inner life of an Ecumenical Patriarch! And he did so without the least self-consciousness. Spontaneity and sincerity are, sometimes, the humble context within which the Church functions most authentically.

From Encountering the Mystery: Understanding Orthodox Christianity Today By Bartholomew I (Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople), pp. 64-66.

www.johnsanidopoulos.com



#35 El Stamatakos

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Posted 22 March 2013 - 11:35 PM

Hi This is an interesting thread which I have thought about before. Does anyone know of any current living Elders such as Elder Paisios? Obviously a comparison would be difficult but I use it as many people are familiar with the Elder and his miracles. Now we must take these things very seriously. Father Thaddeus of Vitovnica in the book  "Our thoughts determine Our lives" by Ana Smiljanic states that he saw many go crazy from doing the Jesus prayer. I quote "You think that your mind is in your heart, but your mind is still where it was before, in your head. Many have practiced the Jesus Prayer by themselves but have lost their minds."

Now imagine that a father or spiritual guide gave as a prayer this Jesus prayer out of good intention. Now the novice goes home and begins in earnest to do as he is told. He goes back and sees the father and all seems well. However a spiritual father such as Elder Paisios would be able to detect that the novice is doing it incorrectly, why? Because he could see with his divine site the energy emenating from the sounds are not from the heart but the head and would be able to correct him. I guid such as Elder Paisios would also be able to give as he did to many a small nudge or small pastry to get the aspirant interested to practice, i.e to pray. We need constant reminding that this stuff is real and it works.

The other thing a spiritual elder would be able to heal not only your physical sounds but your mental and spiritual wounds. This is vital

Matthew 8:5-17

                    

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a
centurion came to him, asking for help.  "Lord," he said, "my servant
lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering."  Jesus said to him,
"I will go and heal him."  The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not
deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my
servant will be healed.  For I myself am a man under authority, with
soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one,
'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does
it."  When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those
following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel
with such great faith.  I say to you that many will come from the east
and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham,
Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.  But the subjects of the
kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be
weeping and gnashing of teeth."  Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go!
It will be done just as you believed it would." And his servant was
healed at that very hour.  When Jesus came into Peter's house, he saw
Peter's mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever.  He touched her hand
and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.  When
evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he
drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.  This was to
fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: "He took up our
infirmities and carried our diseases."
 
This will lead to a change of heart, a new beginning. People need help all around. They need to struggle but they also need a comforter, a healer. Faith takes time to build and is built faster through a direct experience. People do not believe because they have not experienced. The Orthodox faith is such that it can give one the direct experience through the sacraments or visiting the church. An Elder such as Elder Paisios can do this.
 
GOD Bless all,


#36 Ilaria

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 06:05 PM

When a/any spiritual father gives a rule of prayer, usually, he does this in the sacrament of confession; there is a mystery working there - if both, son an father, are praying, God is the One inspiring the father what prayer rule should have his spiritual son. Further, it is up to us how we fulfill our rule. If one loses his mind, it is because he did not fulfill the rule in the right mood. You mentioned fr Paisios; once he said ' if one is not trying to see and fight his passions, should he have a saint as a spiritual father, he will not be able to get any help'.

First, we have to see what is working in our heart; we have to go and 'denounce' the evil thoughts to the spiritual father. By doing this, no one will lose his mind, but he may see his father as an angel (as saint Silouan saw the face of Christ in his spiritual father)



#37 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 23 March 2013 - 10:23 PM

We have to remember that spirtual fathers are not God: they are not infallible.  For all the stories we know of where an elder was right, there are less well-known stories where an elder was mistaken.  God, however, is not constrained by such mistakes and He can arrange things according to His will.



#38 El Stamatakos

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 02:12 AM

Thanks LLaria and Andreas. I understand that we are humans and we are limited. This is the purpose of Saints and holy men is to help and guide, as well as heal. I would like to meet a holy elder if possible. I am a serious seeker, not a tourist.

 

Blessings



#39 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 08:09 AM

Ilaria wrote: (as saint Silouan saw the face of Christ in his spiritual father)
 

 

Could you supply the source of this, please?  I haven't come across it before.  Staretz Sophrony said that St Silouan didn't have a settled spiritual father but he did see Christ in the icon in church (St Silouan the Athonite, p 26).



#40 Ilaria

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 12:24 PM

yes; the source is the book - St Silouan the Athonite, chapter 'About spiritual fathers' (I have the Romanian version, which fr Rafael Noica translated from the Russian version); yes, he did not have a settled spiritual father and this is amazing! (though it should not be)

I mean this is for us - to understand the mystery of Confession.

 

In the view of the above, as well as my previous post, I hope that El Stamatakos would find in his spiritual father the guidance he needs...it is not a saint we need, but to trust in our father.






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