Friday, August 28, 2009

Modern Sayings: Elder Paisios

The following is a quote from a book entitled, "Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit" from Protecting Veil Press. It is like a modern version of the Desert Fathers, with the main difference being that the featured monks and their sayings lived within the past 100 years or so. The first quote is what is generating my post.

Theology is the word of God comprehended by pure, humble, and spiritually reborn souls. It is not the beautiful words of the mind which are formed with philological artistry and are expressed with the juridicial or worldly spirit. Created words can't speak to man's soul, just as a beautiful statue is not able to speak, unless the audience is very worldly and is satisfied simply by beautiful words. Theology that is taught as a [worldly] science usually examines things historically and consequently understands things externally. Because patristic asceticism and inner experience are absent, this theology is full of doubts and questions. With his mind man is not able to comprehend the divine energies unless he first struggles ascetically to live these energies, so that the grace of God might work within him. -- Elder Paisios, pp. 140-141

The Elder's description of theology as beautiful words is how I approached it before my conversion. I'm still enamored by theology as beautiful words. I think that it was when I began lamely to pursue faith ascetically that the genuineness of Orthodoxy became clear in the face of what I then subscribed to, though it still took time for me to realize this.

This second quote is amusing to me (and helpful), because it comes from one who obviously lives in our modern context, as opposed to the more famous Desert Fathers from antiquity.

There are no people more blessed than those who have made contact with the "heavenly television station" and who are piously connected to God. In the same way, no people are more wretched than those who have cut contact with God and wander, dizzy, around the world, flipping through the world's many television stations so as to forget, if only for a short time, the anguish of the derailment of their lives. -- Elder Paisios, p. 136

No comments: