Saturday, March 7, 2015

On Spiritual fatherhood

   What is mainly the importance of “fatherhood”: A “father”, psychologically, is a foundation, a center point, an authority. Our existence is founded on the basis of fatherhood. The whole universe is directed towards a father… towards the Father… the God Father… (The Creed – the first words in Saint Paul’s Epistles – Our Father who art in Heaven).

   The same way we are born physically we are to be born spiritually: Saint Paul says: “for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you” (1 Cor 4: 15)… There is a “life” that is given… An operation, a sort of a creation…  A transition from a life that is “natural”, regular, psychological, superficial, to a life that is “spiritual”, the world of the Holy Spirit, a world that is beyond nature, a deep “inner” life, that is vertical… and this life has been transmitted by succession ever since Christ and His apostles, through this tradition… a living tradition…  A continuity in newness…

   Is there any necessity to choose a spiritual father? A spiritual father is not always available … and sometimes it seems more like a “fashion”, a “trend”…  Many adopt a spiritual father for appearances only and do not obey him unless it suits them… thus it is better, oftentimes, not to adopt a spiritual father arbitrarily… A spiritual father should be initially free from passions… and he should be a true father (with the love, care, presence and pursuit it requires from him and so forth)… One holy father said that when there is no available spiritual father, it is enough to have the Holy Bible and modesty… the Heavenly Father… “Do not call anyone on earth your father” (Mat 23: 9)… In essence, the spiritual father is a mere mediator, a channel of the Spirit, he talks and acts in the name of God… “the spirit blows where it wishes”… and if many follow this path we would have spiritual fathers by the Grace of God.

   The relationship of the spiritual son with his spiritual father (first of all we should ask ourselves: why are we seeking a spiritual father?): there should be complete openness… and this requires awareness and a meticulous self observation in its minor movements, talks or thoughts – then giving oneself up to his spiritual father and obeying him… closeness…-  By exposing our thoughts (which is very important) we acquire discernment and spiritual understanding… (we shouldn't exaggerate in praising our spiritual father…).

   “The job” of a spiritual father: to awaken the forces of grace concealed in the heart (ever since baptism)… This he does by his example, his spiritual glow and his prayers. Thus the spiritual son comes to feel and taste the spiritual facts which have been told to him.

   The journey is progressive: slow… bit by bit… there are many stages… and come a time when the spiritual father withdraws and leaves space for his son’s seeds to grow and flourish…  “The spiritual life cannot be learned”… and the spiritual father is not a boss or a “teacher”, rather he is a testifier of the spirit and its flow.

Archimandrite Elias Morkos (+2011)