Saturday, May 9, 2015

Spiritual fathers

In the modern world that most of us inhabit, it is difficult to find what some Christians call ‘spiritual fathers’ to guide them in their lives. True, if you are an Orthodox or a Roman Catholic, the priest to whom you make your confession might fulfill that role. You might also find an elder or eldress at a monastery as a spiritual friend. But for most of us, this is how it works: ‘To read the teachings of the fathers, and to form peer friendships and journey together as far as possible.’ This has been my experience. For me, only one of these has been my parish priest, but only for a time: he was transferred elsewhere, where his talents were more needed.

Yet, for those who are at the right place at the right time, real spiritual fathers and mothers do appear. When they do, they are still very humble, and do not force on us anything, just as the Lord does not force. They love us, affirm us, gently teach and guide us, bless us, pray for us, and guard our lives, taking upon themselves even our personal sins. I have known one or two, two or three, like this, and have benefited from their eldership, and still do. Without pretending to a grace I do not own, this is how I also want to be a spiritual father, and I think that at times, God allowing and arranging, I have fulfilled this role for a handful of people, and perhaps still do.

What is really necessary here, is the mentor who is willing to lay down his or her life for the disciple and even being a disciple themselves, and a disciple who wants to please Christ and receive the Holy Spirit so much, that he or she is willing to trust the untrustable (the mentor) to prove on the battlefield of their own body that they trust the Lord. When this rare conjunction occurs, it is as a miracle, an unearthly tryst of Divine and human natures, meeting in space and time as two mortals whom the Holy Triad is transforming into immortals, by welcoming them into Himself. Only this can really be the spiritual father- and motherhood. All else is pious pretense.

1 comment:

Sasha said...

What a great still/photo you chose for this.