Sunday, June 18, 2017

Met Ephrem (Kyriakos) on the Spiritual Father

Arabic original here.

The Spiritual Father

Baptism does not change a person mechanically and so it needs to be activated in our life through repentance and confession. Saint Symeon the New Theologian says, "If a person is not baptized in his tears (that is, in repentance), then he has only been washed in water." Just as partaking of communion at times brings about condemnation and death, so too if baptism is not met with good works, then it is a withered tree. The Apostle Paul says, "whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner (for example, without preparation) will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord" (see the entire passage, 1 Corinthians 11:23-30). This passage is read on Holy Thursday. Nevertheless, if someone comes to enliven you once more in the Spirit, you become a new creation.

Spiritual activity is not merely a function of one's position. A priest does not become a spiritual father by virtue of his position. If the bishop notices a spiritual gift that has come to dwell in him, then he declares him to be a spiritual father. There is a special prayer for this in the Euchologion. Then he is made worthy for giving spiritual guidance. Then, he profoundly understands (through the Spirit of understanding) the word of the Lord and knows how to confront sins, treat them and heal them. The Spiritual father is the one who begets Christ in his children. Therefore, in the Orthodox Church we have monks and nuns who are not priests but who undertake spiritual fatherhood and guidance. The most prominent example of this today is Father Paisios the Athonite whose sainthood was recently declared: he was not a priest and was unlettered.

Recall what the Apostle Paul said to the Corinthians, "I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. For though you might have ten thousand instructors (priests) in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore I urge you, imitate me" (1 Corinthians 4:14-16).

Of course, the sacraments and the word of the Gospel remain the source of holiness. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit gives gifts freely, outside the sacraments, while remaining within the communion of the Church, making use of channels or without channels. The important thing is that the Holy Spirit is present and that we believe that He is active and active freely.

Metropolitan of Tripoli, al-Koura and their Dependencies

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