Monday, September 16, 2013
Obedience ( Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi )
To my dearest A. and M., I send my fatherly prayers.
I have received both the letter and the goods, and we are most grateful to you, as is Fr Athanasios [now Metropolitan of Limassol], who received the phelonion. Let’s see who will get tired first, us from receiving, or you from sending.
You have clearly asked about the issue of obedience to the holy fathers and I say the following: no one on this earth is absolved of this duty of being obedient, no matter how high he stands or what his status is, even those in the Church hierarchy. Not even Paul was absolved of this duty by the fullness of grace which resided in him. We hear him say, ”Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days” . And he continues:”Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem… by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach… lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain” .
Here we find Paul, who was given not a command but an order on what to do and say, confessing and accepting advice. So, who is exempt from this duty? No one, no matter where he is, is acknowledged by Grace unless he accepts advice.
Moses says, ”Ask your father and he will relate to you; your elders, and they will tell you” . ”We see in part, we know in part, and we prophesy in part” , says Paul, and so perfection is seen as “in a mirror, dimly” . All this shows how deficient and weak man is. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us”.
Here we see the moderation of our fathers manifested, who always regarded it their inviolable duty to “take counsel from one another”. This Grace of God has never been revealed to those who live by their own design and auspices rather than in obedience to elder spiritual fathers. “To the one that is alone, beware” ; and likewise “it is not good for man to be alone” . And again, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken”, but “if a man falls alone, who will help him up? ”
The counsel for rational beings is to actually practice humility, without which nothing can be done…
I pray that the remainder of the days [of Great Lent] be peaceful and without hindrance and that you may receive the whole of grace on the great day of Pascha.
With all my love in Christ,
Your poor father,
Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi