One of the most inspiring and exciting, (yes exciting!) Orthodox elders of our time is Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetra (1934 – 2019)!
Elder Aimilianos gave 3,000 talks over 30 years to a wide range of audiences, both monastics and laity. He is on fire with love for God and speaks directly and immediately to our hearts with simple grace-filled words, not academic or intellectual but experiential.
His talks are gathered into several books some of which can be obtained either in pdf form (free) from his translator Fr Maximos Constas’s website or in book form from Andrew Walker at Pleroma Books. The one I am reading at the moment and cannot put down is the Church at Prayer, the Mystical Liturgy of the Heart.
In the first chapter he describes prayer as the journey of the soul toward God. The harm that befalls us if we do not know how to pray is incalculable. It is the only real harm we suffer and he says it is worse than if all the stars and planets were to collide with one another and the universe to shatter into smithereens!
Elder Aimilianos inspires us as he speaks of prayer as the most attractive and longed for thing we can imagine as well as sobers us up with the gargantuan struggle involved for us who are’ flesh’ to seek to contain the uncontainable God within our own souls which are deluged and brimming with passions, inclinations and desires. The first thing is to experience prayer as a struggle, the second as a cry from the heart which ‘wakes God up’! Then to experience our prayer as silence as we wait and listen for God’s answer. His advice is both challenging and irresistible and has the ring of total authenticity.
Also included in this book is the Elder’s famous talk on Marriage: The Great Sacrament. Never was disproved so entirely the notion that a monk cannot understand marriage. He describes it from the point of view of the husband, the wife and even of the parents. Anyone seeking to marry or already married should read this wonderful talk.