Monday, February 28, 2011

An Interview with Fr. Elias (Morcos) from 2010

The Arabic original, from issue no. 4, 2010 of Majallat al-Nour, the magazine of the Orthodox Youth Movement, can be found here.

A Walk in the Spiritual Garden of Fr. Elias (Morcos)

Who is Fr. Elias (Morcos)?
Archimandrite Elias (Morcos) is the former abbot of the Monastery of St. George, Deir el-Harf. Prior to tonsure his name was Marcel Morcos. Before becoming a monk he worked in the Syrian Department of the Interior first as chief of service in the province and then as qaimaqam of Safita. He was a trustworthy and conscientious civil servant who combined his duties with Christian piety.

How was the situation in the Church in Lattakia prior to the founding of the Movement?

The general situation was good. Most people prayed and went to the liturgy, however education was weak prior to the founding of the Movement.

With personal piety and serious commitment to the Church, we came to be concerned with the general situation of the Church and we saw that a revival was necessary. So the revival movement began, and we started to gather young people together and to teach and to follow the practices of the Church.

How were your connections to Jibrail Saadeh and Georges Khodr?

We had a strong connection with Jibrail Saadeh and Georges Khodr (the current metropolitan of Mount Lebanon), however it was circumstances of studying that led to a single knowledge and effort. Studying law in Beirut led to the cooperation and common effort led to the particular work of revival.

Does monasticism in Antioch have any particular characteristic? How was the Monastery of St. George, Deir el-Harf founded?

Monasticism in Antioch did not have any particular characteristic other than true zeal and sacrifice for the sake of realizing it. Thus the Monastery of St. George was founded in Deir el-Harf. Met. Elia (Karam) adopted us and offered for us to go to the Monastery of St. George which was empty. We remained there with strong enthousiasm by the grace of the Lord. Monasticism was not very difficult in Deir el-Harf, but it did not attract a large number, perhaps because of our lack of expertise in the work, but the experience was original and profound.

How do you rate the Movement today?

Naturally, things have changed and the Movement does not keep the first spirit. This is something natural. We have been freed from various passions as much as possible, while lust of power has not taken us captive. Perhaps this is because it was a covenant blessed by the will of God. The abbot of the monastery did not act according to passion, by the grace of God, naturally.

How do you see spiritual fatherhood?

As for spiritual fatherhood, I see that it was weak on account of a lack of previous experience. But God provides help.

Is the angelic life really realized in the monastery?

The angelic life must be lived in the monastery, but everything remains a holy effort according to the measure of human ability. The conditions for acceptance into the monastery are first of all a profound desire for life and for liberation from everything, and this is a rare grace.

What is your message to members of the Movement?

My message to members of the Movement is the necessity for constant renewal in continuous practical endeavor and in the life of the heart that is conscious and open to the work of God. The current dispute between the hierarchs and the members of the movement is real to a great extent. However, new heirarchs have started to change this, by God's grace and blessing, and we pray that this change will continue.

What are the monastery's resources?

The monastery's resources come from selling books, icons, honey, and pine nuts, as well donations.

What are the monastery's publications?

Our publications are well-known and they deal with the personal spiritual life, liturgical life, spiritual guidance, and the lives of saints.

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