The Patericon is essentially a book of reunions, of dialogue, of questions and answers. If you look carefully at the exchange of remarks of the ascetics you will remark that there is something which goes beyond the simple exchange of information, that the elders are not sought for giving solutions and many times what it is offered is only the reciprocal solidarity of the ascetics.
It is very normal to be this way. Not even the great elders have instant solutions for all the problems which the men face. But they have something else much more important, they have compassion, care and prayer for those who come to meet them.
A brother asked once abba Pimen: `What to do, the pressures come and trouble me.`
The elder answered: `Violence troubles the small and the big ones altogether.` We see abba Pimen again not answering directly at the question, he breaks the frames already created by the expectations of the one who asks the question and he avoids to offer facile solutions. Probably there are no solutions without problems for the great questions. But in turn he offers to the brother the confirmation of the fact that the experiences he passes through are normal. There is a great danger which lurks behind the psychical and spiritual life: isolation. In the moment the things don`t go anymore as you wished, you lose your balance and you begin to believe you are the only one whose life doesn`t go according to his expectations that it`s only you who doesn`t find his path. This is a perfidious illusion which can be overcome when you discover yourself in a close relationship of solidarity with the others.
Abba Pimen doesn`t offer any solution, but his words show a direction. If everyone gets troubled when facing force or violence, in the moment when facing some adverse situations and events it means there are no miraculous solutions to solve the matters. As a consequence, there is only one way: patience. But patience is felt completely differently in communion than blocked in your own loneliness without escape.
Elder Pimen speaks as well for advisers in general. By his attitude he tells to the generations coming after him: free yourself of the burden of obligation to offer all the time answers and solutions. Most often the people don`t need them, but your love, attention, time, prayer and solidarity.
When someone speaks about his problems, he wants first to be less alone, he wants to be heard and understood, he needs someone who to pray with his open heart for him and only afterwards he needs solutions. Today we are living in a world full of answers (many of them delivered efficiently by the search engines) but without compassion. In this world the words of abba Pimen are more vivid and actual than ever.
Pr. Paul Siladi