Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Elder Paisios of Mount Athos

Here’s a good analogy of the monastic life by an Eastern Orthodox monk of Mount Athos.

The monk departs far from the world not because he hates it, but because he loves it. In this way he will, through his prayer, help the world more in those matters that are, being humanly impossible, only possible by God’s intervention. This is how God saves the world. The monk never says: “I will save the world.” Instead, he prays for the salvation of the whole world, along with his own soul. When the Good God hears his prayer and helps the world, he does not say: “I saved the world,” but “God saved the world.”

In a few words, monks are the “radio operators” of Mother Church, and therefore, if they depart far from the world, they do it out of love, departing from the distractions of this world in order to be in better contact with God and help people more effectively.

Of course, when their unit is in danger, some mindless soldiers also share the irrational demand of certain clergymen (i.e. that monks should return to the world). They say that the radio operator should leave the radio aside and grab his rifle, as if by adding one more gun to the two hundred others he will salvage the situation. While the radio operator clamors to make contact, yelling “calling headquarters, come in, come in” etc., the others think that he calls pointlessly to the wind. However, astute radio operators pay no attention, even if they are reviled. They struggle until they make contact and then ask for immediate help from Headquarters and the air forces arrive, as well as the armed forces, the navy, etc. Thus, in this way, and not with their meager rifles, the unit is saved. The same applies to monks who advance with divine power, with their prayer, and not with their negligible individual powers. It is especially the case in our age, when evil is so widespread, that we are in need of God’s intervention.

(Before becoming a monk, Elder Paisios was himself a radio operator in the army during the Greek civil war which went from 1945-1949)

From Epistles by Elder Paisios of Mount Athos

Although not a Catholic book, it has the common link between the East and the West which is monasticism.


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