A Geronda or Staretz is a spiritual father who helps us on our path to the Kingdom of God through his prayers, his example and the grace of God with him. Of course our Lord is our Saviour, but a Geronda has authority because of his experience, his direct personal knowledge of God, his knowledge of the human heart and his special relationship with us. Because of these things, we listen to him and take what he says seriously. Geronda, what should I do about these intrusive thoughts that come to me? How can I overcome my feelings of resentments or pride? He understands and has something to tell us or show us. We don’t challenge or question our Geronda but instead try to follow what he says.
Nowadays we have given the status of Geronda to the media. I say the media is our new Geronda because we are so deeply affected by it and believe too readily what it says to us. But where is it leading us?
Many of us get our historical facts from movies that are more or less accurate. A recent example of the effect of blatantly distorted history is the movie and book The Da Vinci Code. An elderly Russian professor who lived through the lies of Communist rule was aghast at how the book utterly twisted the facts of the lives and times portrayed. Dan Brown made up his own version of history and totally fabricated facts about historical personalities, and people believed the impressions based on a false history. He told everyone that his book was not history but a fabricated story, but having read it, people believed the story. There are many other examples of the power of the media to lead and shape people’s thoughts and lives. Maybe people who lived under oppressive regimes exercised their muscles of discernment on the twisted lies and manipulations of the media. Whatever the party line was, they knew it wasn’t the truth, and they had to piece together a truer picture with a lot of effort.
While the bumper sticker tells us in a tone of rebellion to QUESTION AUTHORITY and we begin to argue with our parish priest, our parents and other authority figures, we listen passively to the TV, radio and internet which have been given by us the authority–unknowingly or knowingly–of our new geronda. The real Geronda continues in his prayers for us patiently waiting our awakening and return!