What was the power of the elder, whom many knew weak and very sick man? Why from all corners of the earth people went to him, sought at least to see him and catch every word? Of the beloved elder Gregory, novoproektirana the Abbot of the monastery Dogear on Mount Athos, says Archbishop Jonah of Obukhov.
- On Mount Athos
- Athos: the hidden life
- Archbishop Jonah: Secret paths of mount Athos
- Died the Abbot of the Athonite monastery Dochiar Archimandrite Gregory (Sumis)
Big nose, unkempt beard and a seal of divine love
Herondo Gregory knew not only the sick and infirm, but he also knew sharp, categorical, uncompromising on many things. And nevertheless strive for it, because they saw in this man the true manifestation of love.
Unfortunately, love — even in the Church, even in Orthodoxy — very often has a tinge of a certain humanism. When it is sufficient to be pious, and it is perceived as true love. But still love and humanism, in the European sense – a few different things. True love is not always soft, forgiving, but often takes the shape and rough, hard, uncompromising.
The most striking example — a mom for her child. When child stretches to dangerous items, for example, repeatedly missing the matches and tries to burn, it is, mother even have to beat the hand that the child understood that it can not be touched. Or when infinitely asks for sweets, or falls into hysterics, demanding to be taken to McDonald’s, or bought ice cream. A loving mother is sometimes quite hard to refuse, and this is a manifestation of her love is real, wishing only the good of the beloved.
So the elder Gregory was a man deeply love the Lord and truly loving people. And the Lord opened his understanding and the dosage with which to treat everyone. I think that has attracted a number of pilgrims.
If viewed from the side, Geronto could not be called attractive. He didn’t have the right facial features, iconographic beard, some nice manners. Big nose, unkempt beard, Googly eyes… But even this appearance attracts the eye, because the face of the old man bore the stamp of divine love — love for God and all His creation: people, animals, nature, everything that surrounds us. This man was a beautiful soul.
“But mistress, how many children?”
However, it was not loving, as I said, in the sense of the European humanism. He did not tolerate sin, not to indulge the passions, is not reconciled with the situation, when sin had the soul of someone else, and sincerely worried about that person.
As from the Lord the old man was given the gift of vision into the human heart, to every that came to him he found some of their own medicine. Many times I have seen people whom I know personally, talked to Gerenday for the first time and how differently it is perceived. Interestingly, the more clean, open and honest came to the elder people, the faster they found the contact, started to think literally in unison and breathing is what is called one air. Conversely, if present in the soul, some hidden pride, infirmities, with which people were unwilling to fight, even communication with the elder, without any reproof on his part, caused, as a rule, a storm of protest.
Some things the elder rebuked rather harshly. For example, the family of people Geronda would ask: how many children do you have? If a lot, he was always happy and said: “Bravo, well done.” When I heard that three, four, five, then just hugged the man: “Come here, let me kiss you”. He was very upset that Orthodox Christians neglect the offspring of that family live in selfishness and don’t care to bear and raise children for the Kingdom of God.
Once one person father Gregory said, “How many children do you have?” He said, “Two.” — “But how mistress?” The man was taken aback, blinked and nearly cried. Indeed, he had a woman with whom he cohabited in parallel with the official wife, and from this regard is also had two children. The elder didn’t just asked this as fact, but asked very tough, hard, uncompromising tone. And it shows how the pilgrim was impressed and went from mount Athos in a great meditation. I think in the future he took steps to organize their family life.
Characteristically, those who did not want to fight with sin, absolutely the elder did not perceive, said: “This is a mean old man, grumpy. How can he so hard to talk? It is not Christian, it’s not love at all, it’s some kind of totalitarianism.”
For me personally, the attitude of people to the elder was a litmus test. Because if the person sought to Holiness, even as in the bondage of sin, often far from the Church, but seeking the truth, to become better, the old man surrounded him with such love that the sinner really was transformed. If the soul was willing, even in the Bud, to change your life, next to father Gregory is the seed began to grow and produce abundant fruit.
Conversely, Christians are “experienced”, but not wishing to fight with the passions, absolutely elder did not perceive.
“Call the son of Gregory”
Once upon a time in one of the first books about the monk Paisii the Holy mountain — it was called “When a stranger’s pain becomes her” — I read that elder paisios very sympathetic to people worried about them. I thought then — well, okay, I’m worried too. Until faced with it myself, could not understand that this is special.
But talking with father Gregory, I literally saw first hand what it’s like to perceive the troubles of another as your own. I have repeatedly witnessed, as, after hearing some sad story of a man who he might be, for the first time saw the old man all has changed in the face, began to worry as if this trouble happened personally with him right here and now, his face tears flowed. It wasn’t just some external sympathy. We all somehow empathize when someone close to bad. But how can we help? If the person came, relatively speaking, from Voronezh, as here, on mount Athos, the elder may assist in resolving any family or financial situation?
But the old man helped. What could help is my prayer. It often happens that we treat superficially, without this faith, that prayer can do much. Yes, we know the words of the Apostle “much the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous” (Jas. 5, 16). However, not only righteous, but also to every person the Lord hears, looketh on all petitions addressed to Him. In the gospel there are the words of Christ: “If two or three agree on earth to ask about things, then whatever was asked, be it by My Father in Heaven” (Matt. 18, 19). If the person in grief will pray, and will pray to the one who knows about this tribulation, the two call out to the Lord on the resolution of a difficult situation. The Lord is near, and He will definitely help.
I myself have many times seen and testify that through the prayers of father Gregory miracles. A good friend of mine really wanted to have a son. He and his wife have had two daughters, and for over ten years, children is not born. With this sorrow of my friends turned to the old man, and he quite confidently said, “don’t worry about it, you will have a son. Just call him Gregory.” Imagine, the man returned home, and exactly nine months later his son was born, which, as expected, named Gregory. He was born and then another son… So that through the prayers of Gerondi, people received not only what I wanted, and twice more — two sons, who are now pleased with him and his wife.
Such cases I personally know very many.
“For you to scream virgin! It’s old and hard of hearing”
Due to the cinema not quite correct understanding of humility, we have established the concept of the humble monk as a man with downcast eyes, attached to the chest with a pen, languidly sighing and constantly talking about his unworthiness. In fact, all this has little in common with real humility.
Humility — what is it? First and foremost, a sober concept about yourself. Any person, whatever had feats, whatever belongs to virtue, still knows that, according to the word of St. Macarius the Great, “not even the beginning of repentance.” The higher spiritual life of the ascetic, the more sober he got the notion about yourself. He sees what a Gulf separates him from the ideal of Christ. And Vice versa — the less the spiritual man, the less his virtues, the more he thinks about himself. Such is the spiritual axiom.
The elder Gregory had nothing to do with primitive images of humility. He was sharp, tough, and in some ways even authoritarian. Many things said in such an uncompromising tone that does not provide for any possibility of dialogue or discussion.
But putting it in what ways? In all, even the most insignificant features of his life. For example, when someone asked for his prayers, Geronda always answered: “Yes, well, I’ll pray. But you must go and pray to the virgin Mary. Our virgin-certainly will help you”. (As you know, in Dohere is the icon of the Mother of God “quick to hearken”, which is famous for a very large number of cases of gracious aid). Father Gregory certainly sent a man to the “Quick to hearken” and with his characteristic humor, he added: “you Just shout louder, because It’s old and hard of hearing”.
What do you mean “shout louder”? That is ask in prayer with all my heart, passionately cry out, to really be heard by the Lord and His blessed Mother.
After the death of the old man, his presence began to be felt physically
The elder Gregory was, I would say, the living incarnation of the image of the ancient monastic fathers — as we read about them in the Paterik. And his monastery also sought to ensure that the brothers lived like monks first Egyptian monasteries, monks first Svyatogorsk.
The spirit of the ancient ascetic he had inherited from his spiritual mentors — the famous Greek elders Philotheus (Zervakos) and Amphilochius (Makris). The venerable Amphilochius of recently canonized, and it is very providentially. Geronda Gregory was very upset that made many Athonite monk, elder Paisius and elder Porphyria Kavsokalyvia, and other fathers, and of STS, despite the fact that he is very respected by the people, not canonized. And just two months ago the venerable Amphilochius of Patoski, beloved elder Gerondi was glorified among the saints. I think after that, our elder could have easily go to your Confessor, to dwell with him in heavenly places.
Following the example of his spiritual mentors, father Gregory was also in the first place, strict and merciless to himself and with great love to others, in an effort to teach those around him a true love for God and neighbor. And even after his death he continues to love people.
One priest recently wrote to me, that every day he serves the Liturgy, and remember father Gregory. However, he says: “I really feel it. Sometimes, sharply turn my head for some reason, and see his face. There is no sense that he’s gone and he’s gone…” the Priest asked how to treat this? I replied that for me after the death of the old man, his presence was felt very clearly.
Indeed, I always felt his prayerful support and his continual remembrance of me. Interesting detail: shortly before his death, the old man told me such a thing (I highly recommend readers to find in the Internet the movies about the elder Gregory — thank God, in recent years, the life of Gerondi it was time enough to shoot. Father Gregory absolutely inexpressible intonation, and should at least once listen to his speech to understand what color all this was uttered.)
So he said: “When I can’t sleep night… And I’m sick and I can’t sleep very often… I travel. First sent mentally to Athens and begin to remember their spiritual children, acquaintances, friends who live there. Each of them remember, for every one of them pray. Then I go to Kiev and I recall those whom I know in this city, and pray too for each of them. Then I stand in America and remember those who live in America and those I know who need prayer. And so remember by name each person.”
Therefore, if before his prayerful help is very much felt, I always hoped and hoped for his prayer, now feel his presence literally on the physical level. And not only do I have a feeling, but also very many people who knew him and his life literally bathed in his love. After his death the elder of their leaves.
The present Abbot “labor” of the monastery
And yet another episode I can not say.
The old man was a hard worker and a devotee. Who is the ascetic? A man who bears feat. As you know, on Athos despite the fact that all monasteries have a lot in common, there are differences. Some monasteries the theological, such as Simonopetra. Others are poverty and acquisitiveness — as Costumeit. Third known for the beauty of worship and hospitality as Vatopedi. Dohar — the monastery of labour, where virtually no employees, and all repairs, maintenance and restoration of the monastery itself acts as brethren.
The elder Gregory, while he was in power, first looked into all obedience. When you need, together with the brethren collected the olives, the kneaded cement mortar, sweeping the yard. When old and infirmities, could not work, I am witness came there, where the brethren, sat down somewhere and pray for those who work hard.
For more than 40 years he suffered from diabetes and had a whole bunch of comorbidities. In health he was literally a wreck. But even in this state went into the garden and lay down between the beds in the groove and lying down pulled the weeds — because neither stand, nor sit could not.
In recent years, the only thing that it need to go to the temple for service. And every way out for him was a feat. Abbot cell located on the third floor, and the elder already and horizontally moved with great difficulty, leaning on two sticks or with the support arms. And just imagine how hard it is to climb the steep steps up and down. The ascent or descent held Gerondi a large amount of time, but still with great difficulty, but he went to the temple.
Come, praying. And I have repeatedly witnessed how prayer and the grace of the Church gave him the strength. The old man came, as they say, completely passed out. Barely, literally at the touch came to his stasidi and sat in her absolutely exhausted. But in the course of the service life: first rose, then began to the best to sing along. Then included in the service fully and even made some remarks, brethren, if I slipped mistakes.
Interestingly, while the elder was in power, in good health, with a loud voice, always literally rollicking, shrill and sharply lead the singing of certain hymns. At first, I was confused: “Why is he yelling like that? You can somehow quietly”. But then I realized — this was the impulse of his soul. So strong was his desire by all means to sing to his Lord…
By the end of the service Geronda is already so alive that after the service, left the temple almost without external support. And not to go into the cell, but another hour or two communicated with the pilgrims, answering the most different questions — a comforting, fortifying, inspiring them.
For me this is a clear testimony of how the grace of God strengthens the person of the believer in this all-powerful support. The Lord definitely gives His grace to those who require it, craves it, begs it feels truly poor in spirit. To such people the grace is given abundantly, and many times I have witnessed how it happened.