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“Elderism”:  Spurious “Elders”

By Protopresbyter fr. Dionysios Tatsis

Source: «ORTHODOX PRESS» Newspaper -  12/3/2010 Issue

(Elder,  Greek: "Geron")



Clergymen who minister in major cities need to be especially careful, as they are called upon to confront very many people who have various problems, and are required to heal the wounds of the body and the soul.  This applies even more to the younger, unmarried clergymen, who are eager to impose themselves on the people of God as virtuous and God-enlightened Elders; their inexperience, their secular phronema, their arrogance and their “monk-like” attitude lead them to erroneous choices and indiscriminate decisions.  Furthermore, the fact that they are also the superintendents of temples only inflames their condition and renders them spiritually dangerous to their flock – especially to the younger members, who approach them unsuspecting.    

Many are the problems that are created and (not rarely) also end up in scandals - and I am not referring to scandals of a moral nature only.

It must be acknowledged by everyone that it is only with humble and discreet clergymen that the pastoral opus of the Church can develop. Ambitious clergymen do not offer anything of essence; they are detrimental if anything.  Neither can well-tended cassocks, officiating stoles or luxurious vestments, or pectoral Crucifixes of gold and vociferous sermons camouflage their spiritual poverty.  They are soon exposed, and the sad outcome is the people’s disillusionment.

These inexperienced clergymen cannot suffer loneliness. They always require people around to serve them. They do not even carry their own officiating vestments – one of their spiritual children has to carry their small vestment suitcase, another one will carry their missionary material, and yet another, their umbrella or their folded cassock.  These are the Archimandrites (*) with their gullible spiritual children.  If only these brothers in Christ were aware that certain other clergymen, with decades of priesthood behind them, neither have - nor desire to have - servants.  They do everything on their own.  They have no sacristans and assistants in the holy temple that they serve. In several cases, they don’t even have cantors.  And yet, in spite of all these difficulties, they continue to minister and preach, without burdening anyone.

A certain monk of the Holy Mountain, when referring to the faithful people’s persistent search for virtuous Elders to entrust their problems, had pointed out that a serious and unsolvable problem is often created by it.  In his words:

«Certain immature, ambitious, inexperienced and entirely oblivious to elementary spiritual situations clergymen often present themselves as Elders, thus fulfilling their own desires, passions and fantasies. This phenomenon deserves attention and pity: young men, who have never practiced obedience themselves, are demanding absolute obedience from their own spiritual children.  They themselves lead a shallow spiritual life and yet, they impose rules that are impossible for beginners. Overly strict with others and exceedingly lenient with themselves.  They seek to make monasteries out of their parishes and they impose on their followers a ponderous rubric (typikon), solely for the purpose of being admired as traditional and austere.  They create fanatic, committed, illiberal followers In the long run, they harass souls and they delay their proper spiritual improvement, by squandering time on observing redundant and tiring details» (Monk Moses of the Holy Mountain, «Christ to Christians giveth cheer», TINOS publications 2008, p. 42).

It is time that this phenomenon was confined and the clergy become caring fathers instead of dynasts who do not fear God..... 



[*] OODE note:  Albeit the majority of such cases are indeed young in years and are Archimandrites/Priest-Monks, nevertheless there are also such cases of married and/or Elderly clergymen…




Source of images:  Orthodox Website "Pithlessthoughts"

Translation:  K.N.

Article published in English on: 12-4-2010.

Last update: 12-4-2010.