Our Church has been filled with "elders",
who guide the faithful and lead them to
salvation, as they claim.
Usually they are hieromonks, as well as
secular archimandrites, who have read a lot
about the real Elders and they regurgitate
their words or they narrate their lives,
creating illusions on the unsuspecting and
they acquire for themselves a reputation for
being a virtuous and divinely-illumined
elder, even though they have none of the
attributes of the holy Elders.
The result is that many brethren are being
trapped in a dangerous cult of personality,
and instead of opening their minds to
progress on the spiritual path of a life
according to Christ, they remain fixated on
some typical things, external and
meaningless, and they alleviate their
conscience as if they are supposedly
progressing, since they obey whatever their
"elder" says. Unfortunately, there are many
examples and we should not shut our eyes
where we are required to have them wide open.
It is difficult for these self-proclaimed "elders"
to recognize their delusion and be humbled.
Their ambition is to have spiritual children,
disciplined, spineless and to work together
with them for whatever project of theirs,
whether it is for a monastery or a parish.
People who usually follow them are not able
to reveal their hypocrisy. They have limited
information, they do not think a lot, and
they are dragged along by their infallible "elder"
by doing obedience to them while
simultaneously maintaining all worldly and
sinful habits. Often they invoke their "elder"
when they converse with their brethren in
their attempt to convince them that whatever
may be their decisions on small or great
issues of their personal life, and not only,
are correct and no one can challenge them or
judge them negatively, since they have the
blessing of their "elder". Obviously this is
a sickened piety, which must be combatted
against by spiritual fathers.
At some point we must realize that naivety
is one thing and humility and piety is
another. We are in danger for sometimes
empowering evil and naive people and
considering that the spiritual life is that
which is suggested by our zeal for knowledge.
Alas! Certainly, all fit within the Church.
But we must not give the leading role to the
weak and deluded.
The true Elders are few and hidden. They do
not make noise and they flee from being a
spectacle. They help people spiritually, in
a simple manner, without tying them up and
enforcing them. They try to instill a proper
concern, to inquire by themselves more about
the word of God and taste the sweetness of
the spiritual life, renouncing the worldly
mind and unnecessary cares which lead to
indolence. These Elders should be an example
for all clergy. It is not an easy matter. It
implies cleanliness of life, simplicity,
humility and purity in our intentions.