(Excerpt from an interview given by the Elder Justin in 2007)
Q: – Father Justin, from your experience of “burying yourself in man suffering”, what do you think, does man need: to be understood or to be loved?
Elder Justin: – Man needs to be loved. But to love him, you must first understand him. If you see him fallen down, then you must give him your hand. The love of neighbor is one’ measure of the love for God. If you cannot love the one near you, if you do not help him, you cannot say you love God.
The love of neighbor is the first step towards salvation, on this step one must labor until he reaches the greatest love for God.
Q: – During the communist regime, we have been [spiritually] poised by the slogan “new man”. Do you think we ended up with this “new man”?
Elder Justin: – You mean, in a materialistic sense? Maybe how the communists had imagine a man freed from the “bondage” of faith and of the Holy Spirit…! But a new man purified and renewed… not so.
But I want to speak more of the new man reborn in Christ, a man that’s quite rare in our present times. The renewal of man and of the world can happen only through the Resurrection of Christ, in its profound meaning. This is the new man, whom every mother preparing to bring babies into the world, must dream of modeling.
Q: – Einstein once said that “the progress made by man, compared with the development of his character, is enough to terrify …”
Elder Justin: - Yes… for a soul that’s at peace with itself can fit the whole world within; while in the soul that’s bitter, soured and distressed, nothing can enter…
Q: – How do you think man should be?
Elder Justin: - Man is – or should be! – Half love and half sacrifice, struggling to keep love undefiled.
Q: – A great thinker of the last century, Carl Gustav Jung said: “For a young man is almost a sin or at least a risk to be too much preoccupied with himself, while for the elder man, it is a duty and a necessity to commit to a more serious self study.” How do you see this?
Elder Justin: - At the end of this search man must find God. God made man in His own image, and God dwells in everyone. Young or old, man must clean up the inside of his being, for no one knows when the end comes…
Q: – Someone said that “in an empty mind, the devil finds shelter”…
Elder Justin: - He is speaking of the man who has the basket always full, for he cares for the wheat needed to be milled. And this wheat is our constant cry to God: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, save us.” If the enemy finds our mind wandering in useless things, he will enter and find shelter directing it at his pleasure (…)
Q: – Is there a question that man is rendered to never find the answer in this life?
Elder Justin: - It depends on what someone wants to know. Man has all the answers within himself. About his birth, his life and the meaning of his salvation. But if he wants to find answers to meaningless questions, then he will be constantly miserable. If he seeks answers to questions related to his faith, his purpose in life, he will find happiness.
Q:- Is doubting a sin for the Christian?
Elder Justin: - Yes, but there are “permitted” doubts. A doubt that you’re still alive after a fervent prayer, when your whole being had burned in prayer… This kind of doubt is allowed.
Q: – Father, what is humility?
Elder Justin: - Humility is a fair self-assessment of our human dimensions in relation to the [universe] infinite. Humility accompanied by patience move mounts, that’s how powerful can become for any Christian…
Q: – What is Golgotha [Calvary] for today’ Christian?
Elder Justin: – Man’ unbelief makes every day into a Golgotha.
Q: – Man today is more skeptical than fifty years ago? What can you say to encourage him to go forward, to cope with the trials of life?
Elder Justin: – Our modern man puts too much heart into trifles and details, is assaulted by a lot of false things and does not know how to choose. If you choose wisely, things will become easy and the life beautiful. If you choose wrongly, you are struggling. If you doubt that you have chosen well, your heart is also troubled. Our contemporary man has become too materialistic, a subject to the new tyrant: money. Everywhere we look, we hear that money is everything, the master of this world. He, who makes money his master, makes himself a servant to the devil.
Today, many dramas arouse not from differences in ideas, but from the battle with money, with all that is material. Man bought by it losses his faith and his values and becomes a mare currency.
Q: – How do you define the word happiness? … What advice would you give to Christians who come to you and say they are unhappy?
Elder Justin – Happiness is when you meet with the love of Christ humbly in prayer.
People understand happiness differently. Some who want much may not get it, and feel unhappy. While others may desire less, receive it and are content….
Q: – So happiness is at the measure of man…
Elder Justin: – Happiness is the faith that dwells in us. We have seen people that have many riches, great social positions and they’re still unhappy, because they lock faith!
Q” – There is a story in the Egyptian Paterikon: it happened that a wise elder once sat at the table with several brothers; as they were eating, the elder saw in the spirit how some ate honey, others bread, and some others dung. And the elder marveled and prayed to God, saying, “Lord, reveal to me this secret, how is that the same food is on the table before all, but they seem to eat different food.” And a voice came, saying, “They who eat honey are those who with fear, trembling and spiritual joy sit at the table and pray unceasingly so their prayers go up to God as incense. Those that eat bread give thanks to God for the food, and they who eat dung, are those who complain: “this is good, this is rotten”….
Elder Justin: – Yes, gratitude for what one has received is after all, a measure of man’ faith.
We need to pray with our hearts
• We must honored with much gratitude the sacrificial love of our martyrs.
• It is very important to know how to pray. And often, we monks in monasteries do not pray, but we just seem to be praying. It’s not enough to go to church and to sit there like you did your duty or obligation. We must insist on inner prayer. In vain we say many prayers with our mouth or our mind, if we do not sail deeply, if we do not live what we pray.
• In our times, even the laity need to deepen the Jesus prayer, as it will become our only salvation – prayer into the heart; the heart is the root of all passions and there we must labor. In the past we were able to go by in a more easy – superficial way, but for the times awaiting us, this will not be enough. If we will not have the prayer rotted in our hearts, we will not resist the psychological persecution awaiting us, because soon they will come with [hidden] methods to re-educate our minds. (the elder had the gift of prophesy/ clairvoyance, tr. note).
• Today I find that indifference [acedia] is the hardest sin. Our hearts no longer move in prayer, we have no tears of repentance. There will come a time when only those who feel the grace of the Spirit will be able to distinguish good from evil, for on its own, the human mind cannot discern. There will be times of great confusion and only the Holy Spirit can save us.
So, pray my beloved, pray so you may not enter into [temptation] deception! For only through prayer we can receive God’s grace. If we do not pray and continue in laziness and carelessness, then it is possible to lose the instinct of repentance. God forbid that we may not lose conscious!