St. Paisius (Velichkovsky) sayings on Eldership

Priest giving a blessing

Priest giving a blessing

“Our holy and God-bearing Fathers have given as a testament in their holy writings that it is not fitting for brethren in monasteries and laymen in their Church parishes to come together in some numbers in the name of Christ, and to live without a superior, but by all means they should have one who is skilled in spiritual understanding, to whom they might give over all their will and submit in everything as to the Lord Himself. An instructor needs to be capable, by the God-given spiritual understanding which he possesses, to instruct and shepherd the souls of the brethren in the pasture of salvation.

The root and foundation for every Superior or Priest is humility and meekness. As the Holy Fathers write, let the superior for the flock be humble, meek, without malice, quiet, well able to bear any snares of the adversary; let him be able to give an example of patience and chaste life for his spiritual children.

Furthermore, it is required that the Priest to be wise in the Holy Scripture, that he be just, that he know hot to instruct his disciples, that he have for everyone a true, unhypocritical love, that he be meek, humble, patient and free from anger and from all other passions- love of money, vainglory, love of delicacies, and so forth. The disciples for their part should be in the hands of the Priest like an instrument in the hands of a master, or like clay in the hands of a potter.”

St. Paisius lead a wonderful example to his brethren and spiritual instructors as to how and what gifts to posses as a spiritual instructor. When examining the gfits of this Blessed Saint, we can see what gifts a Priest or a Superior in a monastery should possess, which are mentioned below:

Gifts a Priest should posses are Hypostatic Wisdom which comes from Divine understanding. Divine understanding, whereby the Priest understands, and firmly defends with all his soul, and keeps unharmed as the apple of his eye, the dogmas of the Orthodox Faith, which are the holy Symbol (the Creed), likewise the traditions, commandments, interdictions and promises of the Gospel, and also the canons of the Holy Apostles and all the holy Ecumenical Councils and the great Church teachers and Hierarchs, and the interpretations of them; and the teaching and instructions of our holy and God-bearing Fathers.

Also, an instructor should also have the ability to counsel, but which instruction is given rightly and truly according to the teachings and instructions of the Holy Fathers; he should also have firmness, by which he should remain firm in faith and love; and in him should be the feat of God, by which he keeps Gods commandments. Fiery love he should also have by which he loves the Lord with his whole soul, warming everyone with his love and zeal, and being painfully concerned for each, compassionate toward all, and embracing with his soul especially his spiritual children.

In addition, he should also possess peace with everyone, never being grieved against anyone or disdaining anyone; and longsuffering which is joined with meekness, in order for him not be seen angry or disturbed, but showing patience and hope in his longsuffering. Lastly, a Priest should have humility of wisdom and simplicity in order to guide the souls of his spiritual children to the path of salvation.

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St. Poemen the Great

"A man may seem to be silent, but if his heart is condemning others, he is babbling ceaselessly. But there may be another who talks from morning till night and yet he is truly silent, that is, he says nothing that is not profitable."

St. Gregory the Great

"Every day you provide your bodies with good to keep them from failing. In the same way your good works should be the daily nourishment of your hearts. Your bodies are fed with food and your spirits with good works. You aren't to deny your soul, which is going to live forever, what you grant to your body, which is going to die."

St. Paisius Velichkovsky

"Remember, O my soul, the terrible and frightful wonder: that your Creator for your sake became Man, and deigned to suffer for the sake of your salvation. His angels tremble, the Cherubim are terrified, the Seraphim are in fear, and all the heavenly powers ceaselessly give praise; and you, unfortunate soul, remain in laziness. At least from this time forth arise and do not put off, my beloved soul, holy repentance, contrition of heart and penance for your sins."

St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

“Prayer does not consist merely in standing and bowing your body or in reading written prayers….it is possible to pray at all times, in all places, with mind and spirit. You can lift up your mind and heart to God while walking, sitting, working, in a crowd and in solitude. His door is always open, unlike man’s. We can always say to Him in our hearts Lord , Lord have mercy.”

St. John of Kronstadt

The candles lit before the icons of the Theotokos are a symbol of the fact that She is the Mother of the Unapproachable Light, and also of Her most pure and burning love for God and Her love for mankind.

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