It is natural for a man who is in his forties or fifties and has gray hair to grow a beard. And I see that there are elderly men here, even in their sixties and eighties, who still shave. Do you want to be children all day long, my little ones? Aren’t you ashamed to shave?
Did God not know what He was doing when He gave us beards? And just as it is inappropriate for an old woman to design and adorn herself, so it is inappropriate for a man to shave as he ages. When wheat grows and turns white, what does it signify? It means harvest. Similarly, what does it mean, what does it indicate when a man’s beard turns white? Death.
Ask God for forgiveness to enlighten you, so that just as you let your beards grow, you may also let go of your sins.
And you, young ones, should honor them. And if there happens to be a thirty-year-old man who grows a beard, and another who is sixty, seventy, or a hundred years old and shaves, let the one with the beard be seated higher than the one who shaves, both in the church and at the table. However, I do not tell you that beards will lead you to Heaven, but rather good deeds, for even goats have beards. May your clothes be humble, as well as your food, drink, and all your belongings.
(Saint Cosmas the Aetolian).
Excerpt from The Life and Teachings of the Venerable Martyr Cosmas the Aetolian, Deisis Publishing.