The Arabic original can be found here. A photo gallery of Archimandrite Elias' funeral service can be seen here.
Living is the God before Whom I Stand
When the patron of our brother Archimandrite Elias, the Prophet Elijah, was resisting the world for the sake of God, the world rejected God and was worshiping idols. That poor, hungry prophet stood before the king and queen of his land in order to say to creation, “God is alive.” No one comes before God, not kings and not great men. There is one being and He is God and I am His servant and His messenger before this people that entrusted me with prophethood.
The young Elias Morcos, living in Lattakia, saw that laxity was afflicting our people who are called to be Orthodox, and so he wrote to a friend of his and said, “We are called to aright this people who consider themselves Orthodox.”
And so, from the very beginning of his spiritual awareness, he struggled for the sake of Christ without any visible sign of vocation, without a robe, because he was unable to bear this holy people decaying in their sins and ignorance. He wrote to his friend who was on summer vacation, “We want to aright the Orthodox people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with His love and His obedience, because we want our people to be a church. Because we want the people to shine with the Spirit, to burn with divine love, yearning for the One who announced His longing for them, who was nailed to the wood.”
Elias Morcos understood two things about this topic discussed in the letter. He understood that he was called to adorn himself with the virtues and that all our brethren are called to this, because in the past we grumbled and gossiped and criticized the spiritual leadership and we thought that through this chatter we would revive our people. That was before this young man realized that the issue is for you to put the passions to death in order for it to be right for you to speak. It was not enough for him to purify himself. That on its own would be closing himself off. He had to purify others through the love of Christ. And so he reached out to others in order to be able to reach the Lord. After this, he saw that we have a model for purification and this is monasticism. It is not that this is the sole means of purifying oneself, but it is the means that the Church considers to be the model. And so he came to this place and he prepared for the arrival of some of his comrades from Syria and Lebanon. It became clear that the monastic community is not by itself the model, but rather the individual person who trusts Christ is the model. He read—and I hope that we all become readers of the divine Word, because our Church is the Church of the Word that comes down to you from God as the second hypostasis of the Holy Trinity: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
It occurs to my mind that when an institution is founded that it needs organization, cultivation, management, writing. However, the Christian who lies before us in the presence of his Lord understood that there is no institution- there are people who love God, who desire to be purified, who struggle as they go up the ladder or virtues. Because if you see that God is everything, as the Prophet Elijah saw, then you aspire to be like God. It is not enough for us to be human beings. We want to be gods. This is in the books of our Fathers.
This person who was immersed in humility wanted to be beloved of God, to be a witness to the Word, to extend it to his brothers, to not be credited with any virtue he may have, to be broken to the very end, because humility is for a person to become effaced in the presence of God. Because, as the Apostle says, someone who thinks he is something is nothing. Elias Morcos thought he was nothing and this is why he was able, through great difficulties, to gather this small flock in this high place. He was able by the grace of God, hidden by his humility. He did not read his humility. People read him. We read him ourselves. This is why he wanted to be the model of a saint. This is the only thing that is worth striving for.
This did not happen without his constant joy. He felt Christianity to be joy. The joy, however, requires continuous struggle. You cannot go up to the divine presence unless you are convinced that you are nothing. He disciplined as he needed to and he reminded them that they have no partner except the Lord Jesus. He continued to struggle until the very end against the spirit of laxity, but always without judging anyone… If you are beloved of God, He always exempts you from judging before you yourself are judged. The leader of this house, Father Elias, was exempted from judging. And so it is right for us to ask his intercession in the hope of his resurrection and our resurrection and eternal life.
This place renewed men’s monasticism. He and his comrades, those who have departed and those who remain, they wondered, “What is monasticism in its profundity, in its truest theological definition?” It is for a person to cleave to eternal life, as though this world with its delights and pleasures did not exist. From now on we will fight, relying on God, we will fight so that from now on God will take our eyes up to the Kingdom…
He tried to think this and to practice this with humility, with dedication, with brokenness, with indescribable love for his brothers and for all of us, constantly bowing before the face of God. So we would come to this monastery to learn humility, to learn that there is no one besides God, and to proclaim this to the mighty ones of this age and to become simple and content with God’s grace and God’s Word.
God will say to him without judgment: You have made yourself faithful over a small group of men, a small group of monks, and I will put you over many. Enter into the joy of your Lord so that the people will believe that there is nothing other than the face of God and that if we cleave to that face, then we are imitating Archimandrite Elias, even if it is only to a certain degree. We long for that great vision, so that we might die for right belief and for giving right glory, preparing here to enter into the heavenly Jerusalem. May God be with you all and strengthen your hearts.