Professor Archimandrite Cyprian (Kern)
Translated from Russian by Tatiana Pavlova
Content: The Orthodox Pastoral Service Professor Archimandrite Cyprian (Kern) Translated from Russian by Tatiana Pavlova
Professor Archimandrite Cyprian (Kern)
Translated from Russian by Tatiana Pavlova
The Ideological Foundations of Pastorship.
On pastoral serivce in general.
The Pastoral Mindset.
Preparation for the Priesthood.
Ordination/ The Hierotonia.
Material Support of the Priest.
The Family Life of a Priest.
The Behavior of a Priest, His Outward Appearance.Part 2. The Spiritual care.
The Value of Confession.
The Typology of Sinners.
On the Sin Generally.
The Pastoral aid in the matter of Confession.
Sins against God and the Church.
Sins against the Neighbor.
The Pastoral Psychiatry.Part 3. The Pastoral Image According to Apostle Paul
Archbishop Athanasius (Kudyuk)
Qualities of pastors according to the Pastoral Epistles.
Excerpts from the Scripture.
Advice of Father Alexander Yelchaninov
(+1934 г.) to Young Priests.
The Bases of the Pastoral Service.
The Ideological Foundations of Pastorship.
We must, before moving on to the study of traditional questions of pastoral theology, explain the underlying principles which must become the basis of pastoral service, and which must be built upon in complete agreement with the fundamental givens of the Orthodox worldview. The priesthood in and of itself assumes the existence of a certain environment. To be a pastor in the desert and in a hermitage is impossible. The secluded life is a special form of service to God, but there is no place in it for pastoral activity, which crosses into everyday life and the society of people. We must explain, therefore, what attitude a future pastor should have toward this world and towards man. We must determine the relationship of man to the world. A pastor must correctly appraise this world and society, which attracts man to the world and frequently distracts him from God.
The first question that arises before us is: "What is the world?"
We must recognize from the beginning that this term is unclear, and is frequently ambiguous in theological literature. The word "world," in addition to its direct meaning, is used both in theology and in catechism with an understood ascetic meaning. Here we will turn first to this second sense of "world" in its spiritual and moral understanding, and later will discuss the world in its literal sense.
Asceticism understands the word "world" as a certain state of our soul. This "world" is not that which lies outside of a man, but rather is in himself. The Scriptures and all patristic literature teach us the same. The writings of St. John especially clearly express this attitude of the Christian mind: "the whole world lieth in wickedness" (1 John 5:19). "The world knew him (God) not" (John1:10; 17:25). The Apostle Paul adds: the world by wisdom knew not God (1 Cor. 1:21). Moreover, "the world hates God and Christ" (John 7:7; 15:18-19). From this we must conclude: it is not possible to love the world and God (1 John 2:15). Therefore the pessimistic view on this world is understandable: "And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (1 John 2:17). The Old Testament phrase comes to the mind: "vanity of vanities; all is vanity" (Eccl. 1:2). Everything passes, everything it is perishable, and all aspirations of the sons of man are only a dream…
If we review pastoral testimonies, then "the world" in their understanding is a total combination of the forces and aspirations around man, hostile to God and to that which is good. The entire world lies in the evil; it is totally poisoned and infected by sin. However, we should not reach any rash conclusion. Only the shell of this world is sinful. The Fathers see evil not in the essence of the world and its nature, but in what surrounds and envelops it. The world by itself is not wicked, but it lies in wickedness.
Here are several fragments of patristic works, written by the strictest Fathers who, it would seem, must be disposed more irreconcilably to the material. Saint Isaac the Syrian writes: "The world is the collective name, which consists of the enumerated passions. The world is the carnal life and flesh philosophy" (words 2 and 85Abba Isaiah the Wanderer teaches: "The world is the space for sin, the arena for affectations; it is the fulfillment of its carnal desires; this is the thought that you will always be in this life. The world is the care about ones body more than ones soul. The world is the concern about that which one day you will leave" (the Philocalia, Vol.1, p.372). St. Mark the Ascetic adds to this: "because of the passions we received the commandment is neither to love the world, nor that what is in it. But not in the sense that we should hate the creations of God in a foolhardy manner; rather, we must cut off occasion for the passions (the Philocalia 1, p.529). Theolipt of Philadelphia expresses that as follows: "I call the world love for the sensual things and for the flesh" (the Philocalia 5, 176).
From the above it is clear that in the language of Orthodox asceticism the "world" indicates not nature, the empirical world, or creations of God, but a certain category of negative spirituality. Creation is not in and of itself suspect. There are many stories about the love of the ascetics for a creature, for nature and beasts. The joyful acceptance of a creature with love and great respect is characteristic of the Orthodox asceticism.
This attitude and the acceptance of the physical world introduce an important amendment to how we use the word "world." "The world" indicates not only the combination of passions and the arena of sin, but first off, God’s creation, and we must remember that this creation is "very good." The physical world is the projection of the other, non-physical plan, according to which the Creator made this cosmos, which surrounds us. The richest Greek language was satisfied by on and the same term "cosmos" for the designation of the "world" and the "beauty." Creation, even the fallen creation, is of Divine origin. Ideas about the world already existed in the God’s plan for the world "before the mountains came to be." This Divine structure of the world, the mapping in it of the other, not empirical, reality gives the richest material for the so-called "symbolic realism" of the Holy fathers, and from there the abundant means for plunging into oneself and into the contemplation of this world. Only a creature of Divine origin is capable of being blessed and changed. If the world were evil in and of itself, then this would indicate that it is the creation of an evil source. But evil, as St. Maximos the Confessor teaches, "is not in the nature of creation, but in its unreasonable and sinful use."
We must draw from Orthodox dogmatic theology completely full and sober conclusions. We must cease to suspect that, what it is not suspect by God, and which God has not disdained. It is not possible to confess the Chalcedon symbol about the incarnation of God dogmatically and at the same time to be a Manichean, a Bogomil, or eunuch in life and in worldview. Orthodoxy conquered the Monophysites dogmatically, but, in the correct words of a western historian, it did not overcome certain "psychological monophysitism." The latter, being the disdain of man and world as the creation of God, very finely and strongly envelops asceticism, liturgy, the way of life and ethics of a Christian. A pastor must first of all understand this and to oppose this psychological monophysitism in every possible way. We must always keep in mind the decisions of the Council of Hague, which condemn immoderate asceticism and false-pious puritanism, which have no place in a sober Orthodox world view. This must become the cosmological foundation of pastoral service.
Several excellent thoughts of the writers and spiritual persons contemporary to us can explain the above. Thus, for instance, the French Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain ("Humanisme integral," p.p. 113-118) ingeniously distinguishes three large heresies in the view on the world in the history of thought. 1. "Satanocratic," which considers that the world is entirely evil by itself, that it is doomed and immune to the changing light of the Christianity." The entire Reformation easily adheres to this, especially Bartianism, our sectarianism, some branches of the Old Believers, and "netovshchina." 2. The "theocratic" heresy, which considers that the world can become the Reign of God, that this latter can be fulfilled in the limits of this historical epoch. This is the temptation of Byzantium and the same temptation of the Papacy to a considerable extent). 3. The "anthropocentric humanism" of the type of August Comte's philosophy. This is the already reversed picture, since here is present "laization" of the Reign of God. The world is and must be only the field of man’ activity. God must be banished from it. This, in other words, is utopia of the pure humanism.
In confirmation of the said above and different approaches to the "world" and about the danger to judge "the world and what is in it," it is appropriate to give a quotation from the traveler’s diary of one pilgrim of The Holy Mountain, Mt. Athos, from the middle of the past century (Archimandrite Anthony Kapustin). "In the customary complaint of the monks about the world there is something logically unclear. For a monastery of the holy mountain, for example, the world begins behind the isthmus; for the celliots — the monastery is already the world; to a recluse — the cell is the world; for the hermits — the world is everything, behind the wall of their caves. However, what is, therefore, the world? The world is the human society. But human society is a human being himself. However, where one can escape from him?"
One of the best Russian women, abbess Ekaterina (Ephimovskaya), the founder and dean of the Lesninsky monastery (which is in Kholmshchina), who valued and loved literature, life and people, used to repeat: "It is necessary not only to escape from the "world," but also to save the world."
Thinking of the ideological foundations of being a priest, we must answer the second of the presented questions. A pastor must also know what his attitude to man should be.
A pastorologist expects as numerous difficulties in these apologetic prerequisites of pastoral service, as is described in the first question. Here it is much more dangerous than in the first case to yield to the temptation of simplification of the task and to solve it optimistically and primitively.
Anthropology is the science of man; it is the part of the philosophical system and has somehow a biological aftertaste, because science approaches man predominantly from the point of view of the naturalistic, treating him as an aggregate of cells, tissues, nerves and as the complex ball of different physiological processes. "Science," in the words of Nesmelov, "can examine man only as the quarry for sepulchral worms." Therefore, for the philosopher and theologian it is appropriate to raise the question not about the science, but about the mystery of man. Man is more likely a mysterious hieroglyph, which requires attentive, thoughtful and benevolent treatment in each individual case. The Delphian expression "get to know oneself" has an eternal value and application. To base it logically and rationally is frequently impossible. It is very easy to be tangled in human paradoxes, and it is dangerous and naive to make quick judgments about this or that act of a person.
Man belongs to the two worlds and two plans of existence: spiritual and physical. He is not only the simple thing of the physical world, to which he belongs with the body and the entire complex system of physiological processes, which were mentioned. By his spirit and personality he denies this world, he is not subordinated to the obligation and compulsion of its inexorable laws. He feels oppressed within the tight frameworks of determinism, he escapes from them. He protests against these laws of nature by means of his freedom, his personality, and by his thirst for creation. A human is a contradiction between the available content of life and its ideal application. The mystery of man lies in the understanding of this contradiction. The goal, which any person finds in life, cannot be reached easily and optimistically. The achievement of this goal in the world of natural necessity stands before the inevitable acknowledgement of the impossibility to reach this goal.
The ideal, spiritual side of man interests the philosopher, theologian and pastor most of all. All those difficult-to-solve knots, which compose the internal riddle of man, belong to this side. Let us attempt to outline some important of them, at least.
1. Personality. In this field, the Orthodox religion most completely disclosed this unique source, placed in man, who is different from any other persons. Personality was not revealed in the ancient pagan world. Hellenic thought, raised to the apexes of philosophical consciousness, did not even find the name for personality, which aroused the sharp interest in the period of those theological disputes, conducted around the Trinitarian and the Christological dogmas. Orthodoxy proved the Divine origin of the personality. The Trinitarian disputes gave a theological explanation for the human, recognizing the Person, Hypostasis, in God. The Greek language in the creations of its highest philosophical minds — Plato and Plotinus — was satisfied by the pronoun ekastos "each," characterizing the term o ekastos, thus giving to it exact individuality. Nevertheless, this remained to be only a pronoun, something, that was "instead of the name." Only the theological concept of the "Hypostases," as of the independent "existence in itself," was capable of filling that void in the language, which the contemporary dictionary replaces with the word "personality." This is not only the "individual," as the part of mankind, as the creation of the biological ancestral process or something mortal like a number of the naturalistic series, not one-piece, but somehow completely repeated. Personality is an imprint of God, His creation, but not the creation of a kind. Personality is spiritual and belongs to the spiritual world first of all. This is the highest value of the spiritual existence.
All these differences between the individual and the personality, so vividly described in the philosophy of Berdyaev, serve to augment his observation on the fact that "man is not a fractional part of the world, but in him is the whole puzzle and solution" ("On the Purpose of Man," p. 50). The human personality is not a product of society, of the natural world or even of the birth and family. Each person is a direct creation of God in the spiritual sense. Therefore man does not depend on birth or the world in his origin. The human spirit is higher and wider, and the main thing, before birth, society, and world. These collaborations do not give birth to the spirit of man; therefore this spirit is not the part of the mentioned "birth, society and world." On the contrary, it envelops them, accepts or rejects them. Birth and society consist of human individuals, but the spirit of man, his personality is not the component part of them. The human spirit can depend on them, in the way it wants to, but it is neither the property of these public organisms, nor their slave. Personality is higher than society, before it and more important. Furthermore, every personality is unique and cannot be replaced by another "similar" personality. A "similar" personality does not exist. There exist "similar" impressions, imprints, serial numbers, like production of some machine, but each personality, however many billions of them the historical process gives birth to, is unique. A pastor must know this, take this into account, and always remember it.
2. Freedom. Man reveals his Divine origin in this quality as well. The reflection of Divine freedom rests in man. All the other creatures, composed of race, geneses, societies, herds, flocks, etc., are subordinated, whether they wish it or not, following natural laws, by which these groups are arranged and live; however, man can posess the desire to rise against these laws of the natural existence (for example: monasticism) or be subordinated to them more or less implicitly. It is always possible for man, due to his Heavenly origin and the reflection of the Divine freedom in him, not to accept this nature and its laws. It is possible for man not go with the society and race; he can contradict them, in a way that bees or ants or animals cannot.
But, speaking about the man’s freedom, first we must remember well that theology speaks not about political freedom, for which people fight at the speaker’s platforms and which lives in the dreams of a young insurgent in the period of the "storm and impulses." The only human freedom which can interest a thinking creature, and especially a theologian, is spiritual freedom. Its purpose is not in social or political independence, but in the release of the human spirit from everything that reduces it and deprives of Divine foundation. This freedom is not the despotism that anarchists and insurgents dream of, this is not tyranny, but the release of ones spirit from everything that can lower its primacy and replace this primacy with other, non-spiritual values. This freedom is insubordination to the authority of the evil, sin, mundane or other temptations, but this is also the freedom from the absolute power of the birth and society over the religious independence of man. The primacy of freedom is perhaps the feeling most deeply placed in man, but at the same time, the most paradoxical.
A) First of all, man mayt have no idea of freedom at all, since this concept is a rather complex product of the development of thought, however he cannot have any consciousnesses of freedom, because actually he acts only in the name of this consciousness.
B) Furthermore, as unconditional the primacy of freedom above all the others in man is (feeling of a kind, family, society, etc.), this freedom is given to man by force. Man is not asked at his birth, if he desires to be born having a free spirit, or being a slave or a part of some herd or beehive and so forth. Our freedom is given to us without our free will. This perhaps is the largest paradox of freedom.
C) Freedom, in spite of the way that all those, who dream about it, desire to acquire it, is at the same time such a big burden, — since it is always connected with the understanding of responsibility, — that man easily rejects it. Dostoyevsky, that same subtle inquisitors of souls, understood that love of patronizing through the "dictatorship of the conscience," which can be easily named the elder’s teaching, although it has nothing in common with real elders. A pastor must know and understand this.
3. The Moral Dignity of man is also one of the problems of Christian anthropology, which is subject to no simplification, no matter how tempting these simplifications may be. The tendency towards holiness and purity belongs to man as to the image of God, but at the same time, the entire life experience teaches the impossibility of reaching this ideal. We have melancholy towards our celestial native land inside, melancholy about the lost paradise, and at the same time the burden of enormous gravity lies in us, and draws us down. No one expresses this better than Apostle Paul did in his study of the two laws (chapter 7 of Epistles to the Romans), — the law of the mind and the law of the flesh within us. Those words, constantly resounding inside as a reproach, are the experience not only of his life, but also of the whole of humanity, which tries to fulfill the law of the mind: "I do not what I want, but what I hate."
The entire Christian asceticism strives to overcome this contradiction of the two laws and to fulfill the ideal of the moral purity. But here dangerous underwater stones are waiting for a simple layman or monk, and for their leader, the pastor, in the same manner. Asceticism must not be reduced only to the negative. This means that if monasticism can be acknowledged as the highest moral aspiration of the Christian spirit (that does not completely mean that the monks are always ideal Christians), then this aspiration fences itself by the three known precepts of the monastic life: benevolence, obedience and abstention. This indicates: not to have ones own property, not to get married, not to give in to any bodily pleasures and not to have ones own will. However, these four "nots" cannot be treated as the ideal spiritual practice for all Christians, since they by themselves require only nonperformance. This relates only to the first part of the verse of the psalm: "keep thyself from evil" but leaves the second disregarded: "and do good." Man is called to do good things; moreover making good things is not only the product of some moral values. Man is commanded to be a creator, who bears the image of the Creator, Who made him. Therefore, man must, here on earth, in obedience to his Creator, produce all kinds of good both in the sphere of the moral virtues and in the spiritual, artistic, scientific world. This is exactly how the words of the Bible "on the image and similarity" were seen by the most thoughtful theologians among the writers of the antiquity: St. Gregory of Nyssa, blessed Theodoret, Basil the Selevcian, St. Anastasias of Sinai, St. Photius of Constantinople, St. John Damascene, and St.Gregory Palamas.
Man must create good, and not just abstain from doing evil. In his activity, a human rises above the usual imitation. He does not copy as a monkey does, but creates things of value to the spiritual world, science, beauty, thought and so forth, which did not exist before. In the area of such creation, a pastor must be especially wise and thoughtful, since in this he has rich educational and healing means for the pastoral care of souls.
We find a precise weapon for fighting many temptations in the creative instinct placed in man. He can use the innate forces of creation to do evil and these can lead him to their incorrect application, but they can turn out to be the rescue, a means for the transformation of his bad instincts and impulses, directed towards the lowly. The "sublimation" of the forces resting in us, which the contemporary psychoanalysis knows about, is especially applicable here. In man — the slave of passions and vices — a pastor can wake up the spirit of a creator and artist and save him from despondency and hopelessness.
Without speaker longer on the questions presented here, it is possible to say that the puzzle of man, about which the Orthodox thinker Nesmelov, the Roman Catholic psychologist Johan Klug and the Protestant theologian Emil Brunner wrote, cannot to be limited by a pastor only by the moral categories of good and evil, holiness and sin, alone, but it passes very frequently to the sphere of suffering and tragedies, conflicts and paradoxes. Plotinus said in antiquity: "But indeed man is not harmonic," — and the pastor who desires to graze his herd wisely and save it from all contemporary dangers and paradoxes should understand this. It is not possible to define a man as a sinner or a righteous man, since this mysterious hieroglyph contains such things as fall outside the boundaries of the moral theology, and require thoughtful Christian moral psychoanalysis.
On pastoral serivce in general.
The above is the ideological foundation for pastoral service. Let us recall briefly this prerequisite for the pastoral guidance that takes place not in the desert, but in the world, and among people.
The world, as the unit, hostile to God and to that which is good, is a sphere lying in the evil, but the world as the empirical creation is not at all evil by itself. Man, even if fallen, nevertheless is the image of God: "I am the image of Thine inexpressible glory, even though I bear the scars of transgressions." In the depths of the human soul, there can be whirlpools of sin, but man nevertheless remains the dear creation of God, which the pastor cannot but love, as he cannot but love the world — the empirical creation.
The pastoral activity, feeding ("paseniye" in Russian which philologically approaches the word "salvation" — "spaseniye") is the internal construction of the Reign of God in man. This construction of the Reign of Christ, of the new Christian creature, is, of course, at the same time the struggle with the reign of the evil, with the forces of the evil in us. But good and evil are incomprehensible without freedom, about which was mentioned before. The good to which a pastor calls is only the free good. Good which is forced is not the good anymore. Good is only that, which is not distorted by evil, violence, coercion, and threats with infernal tortures. In good imposed by feelings of fear is easily seen the reflection of the bonfires of the inquisition.
These are the ideological prerequisites of the pastoral service. This service requires a very attentive attitude to itself, within its internal content. From a historical approach, it is clear that Orthodox Christian pastorhood differs qualitatively from the non-Christian types of the priestly service.
In paganism, the model of the cult priesthood rules. A cult priest, shaman, hierophant appears to be the mediator between man and the deity. He makes sacrifice, adjures, pleases the angered god, he bewitches human diseases, protects man from an evil fate. On the highest points of the heathen religious consciousness, where man rises to the level of the primitive religious experiences, a mystical religious feeling awakens. Here the leader of man in the sphere of mysterious revelations appears in the clergyman more strongly, in the appearance of religious knowledge, inaccessible to all people. A mystic, hierophant penetrates into those spheres, where there is no access to a common person or cult priest. In the mysteries, at the apexes of the pre-Christian religious consciousness, a melancholy about the authentic spirituality appears, but the religion of the masses cannot bestow it. The exoteric and esotery are typical of the paganism. In the mystical cults, both the priesthood and the initiated feel the approximation of the authentic Revelation more strongly and long for it. However, very small requirements for the spiritual leadership are applied to a priest. The concept of pastoral service yet did not mature in the paganism.
The priestly service is esteemed considerably higher in the Old Testament. Especially after the captivity of Israel, the priesthood, together with the priestly code, is connected with a number of responsibilities unknown to the paganism or only partly characteristic of its class of the cult priests. An Old Testament priest appears not only as a person who makes sacrifice; he is a judge, a teacher, and sometimes also a ruler. The Old Testament inherited the better elaboration of ethical standards. The most perfect moral code before Christ's advent was found precisely in the biblical priest. The Old Testament works out the concept of holiness, which other religions of the ancient world lack. The Biblical religious ideal gave the specific concept of righteousness, which is expressed in the execution of the legal orders. The ethics of law, of the standard, predominated in the Old Testament consciousness. It rose above the other ethical ideas of the antiquity, but it bore infirmity in itself as well. The law, as the sum of the commandments, which must be fulfilled for the justification, did not give strength for the performance of these commandments by itself. More than that, the law took away man’s hope, constantly pointing at his infirmity, imperfection and non-righteousness. "The infirmity of the law" was the theme of Apostle Paul’s sermon. The infirmity of man could not be healed by the infirmity of the law. Man remained the same distance from God, being unrighteous, together with existence of the ideal moral law. The law did not give power for the sanctification of the human spirit; it did not report the means for the achievement of that holiness, which it so clearly indicated.
The law taught good things, it revealed the deficiency of the virtues, but it also took away hope from man, who searched for this good, but who succumbed under the burden of the orders of the same law. Israel did not know any compassion to the sinner. The prophet Elias, who ardently loved God with perfect love, not only hated sin, but also hated the sinner. He burnt the prophets of Jezebel, was not merciful to creatures and people, he gave orders to elements and even to death, but did not feel mercy for those who had fallen.
The priesthood of the Old Testament is feebly before God and does not bring comfort to man the sinner. There are plenty of rules for rabbis about the uncleanliness of animals, andof man in different cases of his life, which generate the detailed code of various ablutions, purifications, pleasing, burnt offerings, etc., but they cannot draw man closer to God or God to the people. The strict concept of being chosen, circumcision as the sign of agreement with God, alienation from the other nations — here is that sphere of the religious- moral ideas, in which acts a priest of the Old Testament. All Israel consists of people and sons of God, but the notion about the adoption of man as the creation of God did not exist in the religion of the ancient Israelites. Only the blessedness of the New Testament brought a new revelation about the priesthood and present pastoral service to the people. Christ the Savior’s Gospel brought a new doctrine about man’s acceptance by God. Any person is a child of God and can call God "Father." The sermon of the apostles gave man hope to take Communion of the Divine nature, what then in the theology of St. Athanasius, Gregory the Theologian and Gregory of Nyssa, Maxim the Confessor, Simeon New Theologian and Palama will develop into the final doctrine of similarity to God, the beginnings and roots of which go back to Plato and Plotinus. The Gospel gave the belief that we are new creatures in Christ. The act of God becoming man and the ascension of our nature above the angelic ranks inspires man in his Christian self-consciousness. The Christian humanism, contrary to pagan and revolutionary humanism, ennobles the concept of man in comparison with the heathen consciousness and that of Old Testament Israel. The edges, insurmountable for the heathens and the Israelites, are smoothed out with Christ. In the Realm of the Gospel, there is neither Greek nor Jew, nor male nor female, nor barbarian or Scythian (Gal 3:26-28). Christianity implies the joyful cosmos understanding, i.e., the full concept of the world, creature, and nature and, of course, man, this best creation of God, His image.
Therefore, both the priesthood and Christ's pastoral service substantially, qualitatively differ from the priesthood of the pagans and of Judaic Levites. A Priest of Christ is the Builder of Mysteries, the builder of the Body of Chris. He is called, and the others are called through him, to create the new Reign of Grace.
The priest of Christ is called to the sermon of adoption; to gathering together those separated sons of God, to the transformation of the world and of man. It is clear that not the perfection of the Evangelical morals or elaboration of the dogmatic truths compose the very important part of the Christianity. Most important is the God Man himself. "The great mystery of piety," the mystery of God, manifest in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:16) lies in the basis of the Christian sermon, in our Eucharistic life, in our asceticism of becoming God-like, in our mysticism. God is not only the initial reason of the world and man, but also their final goal. The "Godly-material process" about which Vladimir Solovyev wrote in his time ("The Justification of the Good," p. 196), is the sermon of the world perfection, about which only the One Who is the Creator of this world dared to teach. This determines the attitude of a Christian pastor towards the world and toward man, as was discussed in the previous chapter.
Man, in the company of whom the pastor is called to work, was and will be, in spite of all his sins and falls, — the dear creation of God. Therefore, an Orthodox pastor be encouraged faith in humanity, in its predestination for Communion of the Human God, Who relates to people by flesh, in the eternal council, through the words of St. Simeon the New Theologian (58-th Hymn).
Therefore, the chief pastoral means must be good news about salvation, the induction of faith in this salvation and sanctity, but not intimidation by mentioning infernal tortures. In his heart, a pastor must predetermine people to these tortures less, and must not dare to judge impudently.
Healing the evil in the world and man with the goodness and love must be more characteristic of pastoral activity than exposure and judgment. A pastor should have more care for salvation, than anticipation of the Dread Judgment and censure of all "heretics," sinners, and those thinking differently. He must remember, thinking of the entire history of saints that a standard type for a righteous man and for a sinner does not exist at all: falls are possible from the apexes of holiness; repentance and revival are always possible in those depths of failure which seem hopeless to us. First, a pastor must especially remember that freedom reigns over the moral fate of man. In freedom there is always the danger of evil and sin, but freedom includes goodness, which will win. Christianity is the good news of freedom, which we must distinguish in essence from the preaching of revolutionary freedom, which is political and rebellious. This is freedom of spirit. Therefore, a pastor must worry a little less about the absolute character of his authority, but more about the persuasiveness of his truth. The criterion of the truth is in the truth itself. Forcing authority is not characteristic of Orthodoxy. A pastor must call people to the free acceptance of the truth, to personal subjugation to the burden and yoke of the Christian freedom.
In his "Advice to the Celibates" (53) Evagrius, monk says: "God created the sky and the earth and remembers about them. There is no angel, who could not have committed a sin; and there is no demon, evil according to the nature. Both of them God created with free will" (the Philocalia, volume 1, p. 645).
In courses on pastoral theology, the question of pastoral vocation usually receives sufficient attention, but not everyone explains it equally. It is completely clear that a vocation to any service is an important guarantee for its fruitful attainment. Love for that work which a man is going to do determines his relation to his work. To perform this service with coercion and without any attraction to it previously consigns this matter to futility and death. However, during his ordination a priest is entrusted, in a very mysterious and beneficial way, a special gift, or the "pledge to be held to account for it at the second and dread coming of our Lord God and Savior, Jesus Christ." (From the word after the hierotonia while a new priest is being given the particle of St. Lamb).
In the Holy Scripture of the both Testaments, a lot is said about vocation in general. The service of the prophets or apostles is specified with the special call from above. This service is not something that one is taken up into arbitrarily, but is given by the Heavenly High priest to the definitely chosen persons, and not to any random person. The voice of the special predestination to this service is heard in the vocation. In this question the emphasis must be, however, set at that person or event, which either can be acknowledged as vocation or which does not satisfy to this requirement. Can everything that seems to be a vocation be considered as such?
In the Old Testament the Lord predetermines His prophet to the prophetic service by such words: " Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak." (Jer. 1:5-7). God also called Abraham and blessed him, and increased him. (Is 51:2), — about which Apostle Paul writes in the Epistles to the Romans (chapter 4, and Hebr. 11:8). From the wealth of people following Him, God calls 12 disciples, and then 70. The Holy Spirit orders: "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them." (The Acts. 13:2). The same Saul, who became Paul, can boldly speak of his holy vocation (2 Timothy 13:9) — "not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began." He himself writes the signature: "Paul, called to be an apostle" (Rom., 1 Cor.) and even "Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ" (Gal.).
This thought of Apostle Paul in the first Epistles to Timothy (3:1) is rather interesting: "If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work." In translation, these words of the Apostle sound much feebler and less significant than in the Greek original. In Russian both times is used the word "desire"; in the Slavonic - in the first case "he wants," and secondly "desires," which in the essence sounds almost equal. In the Latin translation the same verb: "desiderat" is used. The French translation introduces a certain difference, which does not transmit, however, the central idea of the original: "si quelqu'un aspire a etre eveque, il desir une charge excellante." The English and German verbs do not make any distinction, preserving the verb "desire" and "begehren," the Greek original not only uses different verbs, but their content is stronger and of more weight in the both cases. "Who desires episcopacy" — in Greek it sounds oregete — which literally means "has a taste for episcopacy," "has appetite to episcopacy." In the Modern Greek language, orexis directly means "appetite." Before the dinner, wishing the good appetite, a host says kalin orexin. In the second case, the Apostle says: epithimi, which in the Slavonic should be translated as "desires fervently" since the word epithimia indicates not simply a desire, but a strong desire, longing. In its negative sense this word is translated as "lust." By this expression, the Apostle Paul emphasizes not a simple desire for episcopacy, i.e., being a priest, but having a taste for this service, whereas in the second case he speaks not of a simple desire, but of a strong aspiration and longing. Special predisposition to the service is supposed to be found in a candidate, but not only desire. It can be interpreted as the sensation of calling to this work. Bishop Theophan (the Recluse) wrote about this place of the New Testament in his interpretations precisely so.
In the science of pastoral service, the question about vocation is put differently. The Catholics, with their tendency to refine, subdivide and classify everything, reasonably teach about the internal vocation (vocatio interna) and the external vocation (vocatio externa). The first is recognized as a certain internal aspiration, an attitude of soul, and the voice calling man to another way life, different to the usual mundane manner. However, the external vocation is more like a certain external push in the form of the encounter with someone spiritual, which turns over the entire life of man, or some illness, stress, loss of the dear ones, that suddenly change the entire line of life (examples of Anthony the Great, Ephraim the Syrian, Francois D' Assi, Ignatius Loyola and many other examples in the history of pastoral service and asceticism).
The Russian science of the pastoral theology weighs this question differently. Some, as, for example, Bishop Boris, related it thoughtfully, critically, they did not deny the need of vocation for the priestly service. The others simplified the problem, as, for example, Archbishop Anthony (Amphitheatrov) of Kazan, who perceived vocation in the purely external and even random facts. These include a) the origin from the spiritual rank; b) education in all sciences, taught in the spiritual schools and the proper encouragement in the abilities, successes and behavior; c) internal agreement and love for the priesthood and even g) the will of the local bishop. (From Pevnitsky’s book "The Priest"). One cannot fail to perceive the tension and formality in this approach.
Even more definite is the view of the Metropolitan Anthony Krapovitsky. He simply denies any possibility of vocation and considers that the voice of God perceptible in the heart of man is "nothing more than the fruit of self-delusion. The Catholic theologians assert that each candidate to the priesthood must hear it, but we think that only that candidate, who is previously indicated by the Church, can hear this voice. Self-appraisal and self-feeling should have the negligible value." (Coll. Works, vol. 2, p. 184). Therefore, for our outstanding pastoralist "all the reasoning about the pastoral vocation must be displaced from that basis, on which they stood, and must be substituted with the thoughts about the pastoral preparation" (Coll. Works, vol.2, p. 186). In courses, enough time is dedicated to this question about preparation, and it must be illuminated especially in detail, but nevertheless it does not replace the very fact that of an internal voice, which is felt by some, but which is completely silent in the others. Certainly, a known portion of self-deception is always possible, and internal soberness is especially necessary in defining the "spirits," but here another thing is shown in Metropolitan Anthony works: his perfect negation of any mystical feeling in the spiritual life of man. Metropolitan Anthony extremely negatively perceives everything mystical and even the very word "mysticism," in spite of its frequent usage by such writers as Areopagits, Maximos the Confessor and the others, he completely sweeps it aside. He was an extreme rationalist and nominalist in his theology.
On the one hand, there is such a negation of the internal mystical voice, while on the other — one cannot fail to recognize the "pre-indication by the Church" as something extremely undetermined. What is it? The origin from the spiritual class as it was in the former Russia? Or the forced enrollment into the seminary of a boy, who still has no understanding of the priesthood or anything in general? Or the sad sign of a scholarship in the spiritual school, which other schools do not give? A similar state of affairs occurred in the Serbian church before the crisis of 1945. It is not possible, furthermore, to forget the general flight of students from the seminaries and Academies, who got there according to the class rank and later filled the other departments. Metropolitan Anthony called such former seminarians "Rakitins" (according to Dostoyevsky), who were precisely such renegades of their school because of the absence of vocation to be there.
What should the question about vocation in the conditions of our reality be reduced to? What can be considered as the sign of vocation? Are there such objective data for judgment about the vocation to the priesthood of a certain person? If for the military service we must have courage, bellicosity, and for artistic activity, a feeling for beauty, soul refinement, etc., then what signs must one possess who considers himself to be called to pastoral service, and absence of which is sufficient for the judging one as not having vocation, concerning a definite candidate?
Here are the approximate points that must be considered as the absolute sign of not being called to be a priest:
What are the signs of vocation or, in the words of the Apostle, that the person has a taste for the priesthood?
The Pastoral Mindset.
This question is the cornerstone in the science of pastoral service and determines the mystery, which lies in the actions of a priest. Here we speak not only about the content, but also of the inclination of the pastoral heart. The reservoir of the knowledge and preparation of a priest will be discussed in the following chapter. Here we are to investigate where the spiritual sight of the pastor is directed and what distinguishes his service from the other services in the Church.
Science approaches this question differently. For a long time under the influence of the scholastic West, our textbooks repeated what was said in the Catholic and Lutheran "hodegetiks." Only at the end of the 19th century did Archimandrite Anthony (Krapovitskiy) give an entirely different direction to this question. He turned back to the sources of the Holy Fathers and the truly Orthodox tradition, decisively getting rid of the dust of dry scholasticism.
It is usually pointed out that a pastor must be praying, spiritual, not greedy, sober, and meek and so on. But actually all these virtues are also required from the lay-people. Their application is required more strictly from a pastor and must reach perfection. However, this means that the difference here is only quantitative, and in reality, the priesthood reports to a Christian no special gift. The merit of Metropolitan Anthony in Russian Orthodox theology consists precisely of the fact that he raised before his listeners the question: "Is there a special gift of pastoral service and if there is, then, what of what does it consist?" He gave an interesting, original and completely non rational-scholastic answer to this question. This answer must not be taken as the absolute truth, out of which there is no other possible true answer, but his statement completely coincides with the spirit of Orthodox patrology and asceticism. Below we shall speak about the incompleteness of his view, after presenting its essence and the doctrine of some Holy Fathers.
First, let us say that Metropolitan Anthony was a leader in strongly expressed psychology and morality. This is evident from his work "The Psychological Data in Favor of the Free Will and Moral Responsibility," in his articles about the moral application of dogmas, and in his famous work "The Dogma of Atonement." At that time, in the epoch of the supremacy of positivism and determinism, a similar view was the ray of the bright sun and fresh breath of the invigorating wind. Theology cannot reconcile with it nowadays.
He reveals psychology and morality also in pastoral theology. Vocation decisively has no value; he places the stress on spiritual ascetic preparation. He paid attention to the disclosure of a pastoral gift and mood in oneself, and to the multiplication of this gift inside. This study can be schematically reduced to the pastoral influence.
The will of man is free, but it is subjected to the influence of any other will, which changes it to the extent of its significance. The force of the influence is not so much in the words and content of what is said, but in the persuasiveness of the spirit, morals, and perfection. "The pastoral sermon, — said Metropolitan Anthony, — is represented in the Holy Scripture as the force that acts not depending on the very content of the admonishment, but on the internal mood of the speaker. The influence of the soul of a pastor on the guided depends mainly on the degree of his devotion to vocation. The main foundation is not in the erudition, or the psychological finesse of the moralist, but in something else that requires neither mediation nor external manifestations. Or in something that remains together with all these manifestations, being not defined in the outside that directly pours into the soul of the guided person."
However, what is this special mood, which can influence that guided? This is the gift of compassionate love, answers Metropolitan Anthony himself. This gift can revive the fallen sinner, can raise him from the depth of desperation and give him strength for further moral improvement. One ought not to forget that even the very atonement of the humanity is explained by this author as compassion for people in their sins, the moral bearing of their internal burden and taking them to His heart with compassion and love. As is known, Christ’s atonement of our mankind is found in the moment in Gethsemane of moral sufferings, in which the is cup not of the physical sufferings on the Cross, but of the moral sufferings for mankind.
A pastor in his activity must strive, and he will be given a beneficial gift — to identify himself spiritually with others, "to assimilate himself, his heart, with each neighbor" (Vol. 2, p. 256), to spread his news to the entire flock. In the moral experience of the sins of his flock, in compassion to their downfalls, an ideal pastor must reach the identification of himself with the others to such extent, that already "disappears any "I" and there remains only "we." In other words, this study attempts to overcome isolation, subjectivism and to reveal the gathered mutual compassion with sufferings and happiness between all the members of the Body of Christ to the highest degree.
Metropolitan Anthony easily finds confirmation of this study in compassion and co-experience in the Epistles of Apostle Paul, and in the works of some fathers. In fact, if in the wordsof the Apostle, in the contrast with the Old Testament we have such High Priest, Who can commiserate to us in our infirmities (Hebr. 4:15), then Apostle Paul can say: "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again" (Gal. 4:19) or "Who is weak, and I am not weak?" (2 Cor. 11:29) and even long for that "I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some" (1 Cor. 9:22).
Metropolitan Anthony finds confirmation that this gift of compassion is given to a priest precisely in the sacrament of the hierotonia in the writings of St. John the Chrysostom. In the interpretation of the Epistle to the Colossians the Saint writes: "spiritual love is not born by anything terrestrial: it proceeds from above, from Heaven, and it is given in the sacrament of the priesthood, but mastering and maintenance of the beneficial gift depends on the aspiration of the human spirit." Similar thoughts can be found in Chrysostom’s other works, for this understanding of pastoral service was precisely characteristic of this great Antioch preacher and priest.
Let us add some thoughts of the Holy fathers. Thus, St. Maximos the Confessor in letter 28 to Syrisitsius writes about the blessedness of the archpriest given to him to be the imitator of mercy and to long for gathering together the scattered children of God, and to connect himself to them in the undivided union of love. St. Isaac the Syrian in the 8th word wrote: "He who equally loves all with compassion and without the difference, has reached perfection." However, his word about the "pitiful heart," which "flares up in man towards any creation, humans, birds, animals, demons and any creature" is especially note worthy. "During the recollection of them and with the view on them, the eyes of man shed tears. Because of great and strong pity, overwhelming the heart and great compassion the heart is wrung, and it cannot bear, hear or see any harm or small grief, which this creature undergoes. Therefore, man hourly prays with tears about the dumbl creatures and the enemies of truth or about those doing him harm, for their salvation and pardon. He also prays about the race of reptiles with great pity."
This doctrine about compassion in the pastoral heart to any suffering, and especially towards a guilty person, was to a considerable degree influenced by the writings of Dostoyevsky, to whom Metropolitan Anthony frequently and willingly refers and under the impression of whom he indisputably was. This, undoubtedly, to a considerable extent renewed that pastoral science, dried in scholasticism and rationalism, and inspired many young priests for the sacrificial service to the humanity. This influence was strengthened unquestionably by fascination with the personality of the Metropolitan himself, who in reality carried out the same doctrine and fulfilled the soul revival in practice.
But the correct study itself of compassionate pastoral love and about taking into the heart the conscience of another person must not, however, be made absolute. This is not all in which the work of the pastoral service lies. If this gift is given in the sacrament of the priesthood, then the matter is not limited within it. Theology is not just asceticism, pastoral service is not just moralizing, the transformation of man is accomplished not just by psychological understanding and the influence of one will on another.
The Metropolitan wrote: "Where there is no pastoral activity, there is pastoral conscience." This undoubtedly narrows the thought. If we do not actually say "not he, who does not know how to speak Greek, does not have ear for music or is not of imposing appearance, is the poor pastor, butrather he who does not know how to pray, who did not kill egoism as the purpose of his life in himself, who does not know how to love, to commiserate and to pardon," then nevertheless the service of a pastor has importance beyond it.
Even Anthony Khrapovitsky himself was not inclined to make the extreme conclusions from his postulates. He did not identify Christianity and even monasticism only with repentance (2, p. 417). To him belong the excellent lines about the degeneration of our hymnography from the samples of the inspired poetry in chanting, in which "predominates a character gloomier, full of the slavish fear and dread of the other world tortures." He wonderfully considered the tendency of some pastors to be occupied with the "compulsory saving" and, incorrectly understanding, what it means to be an elder, to place stress "on the exploit of obedience in the sense only of performance of the known responsibilities." Such, as he says, "deeply religious and pious ascetics, but little gifted with the pastoral spirit" become heavy officials for the guided.
The requirement which pastoral science presented to him is not only to mention the responsibilities and separate functions of a priest, but also to induce this pastoral spirit and mood in him. It is erroneous to limit this mood only to compassion, psychological influence of one conscience onto the other, to ae sermon on the moral perfection and so forth. In the theology of Metropolitan Anthony, psychology and morality always shielded the other things, and in particular, totally excluded everything mystical. However, in the pastoral mood the aspect of mysticism cannot but occupy a very important place.
The moral aspect enters into the Christian good news, in the same way as it occupies its legal place in any religious doctrine. But this aspect cannot be the limit of the entire spiritual life in Christianity. Although the very Christian sermon began from the words of St. John the Baptist: "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Mat. 3:2), the understanding of the repentance in Christianity consists of the two aspects: the negative and the positive. The genius of the Greek language expresses this religious feeling by the word metanoite that differs significantly from our "repentance." In the word "repentance" is heard the regret about what had been done, remorse, something passive in the creative sense. The bitterness about the irreparableness occupies here the main place. We do not hear in this word " do good" but only "turn away from evil." However, the Greek word metania does not contain this grief about what had been done, but something impulsive, calling to the new activity, the reverse to what led to the sin, because literally this word indicates "the change in the thinking" or more widely, a change in behavior, life, actions. In this call, we hear something active, constructive. The sermon of Apostle Paul directly tells us about this, since "Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God" (1 Cor. 4:1) or it is still more concrete: " And he (Christ) gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Eph. 4:11-12). The same moral, spiritual aspect, acquires the nature not only of regretting what had been done, of repentance, which is fruitless by itself, but also the nature of creation of a new, good, positive matter, the matter of construction of the Body of Christ. Here is that sense, which the sermon of a Christian pastor and teacher must have. Construction of mysteries, work on the tasks of the church, for the creation of its mystical body. This task is already considerably more extended than crying about one’s sins.
Therefore, the matter of salvation and learning is not limited by only psychology and moralizing on the subject of misdeeds, but is the creation of something positive, that will not perish in the Celestial Reign. Even Metropolitan Anthony, who taught about the pastoral influence of one conscience onto another and about the acceptance of the other’s personality, up to the dissolution of the personal "I" in the council "we" of the pastoral love, did not think to be limited only with the negative aspect of repentance, which is indicated above. He only hid the purely mystical aspectt to a considerable extent, which completely corresponded to his realism and psychologism.
But how ought one to reveal the meaning of the apostle’s words about the mysteries’ structure? In what atmosphere must the pastoral activity of a priest flow? What can complete the unilateral character and exceptionally psychological aspect of the influence of one conscience onto another? In the most important Christian sacrament, — we will answer, — in the Eucharistic life, in Communion of the Eucharist body and the mystical body of the Church. The Eucharistic life is and must be the main spiritual aspiration of a priest.
A priest is first a theurgist. The priesthood comprises of the Liturgy, the Eucharist, the mystical unity with Christ in the sacrament of the Body and Blood. It is the unity of a pastor and the flock. The spiritual life of a priest must run, first, in this Eucharist sanctification of life, himself and the people. The Eucharist character of the church should involve a priest more than anyone else. Just as the Eucharist is impossible outside of the Church, equally the Church cannot exist without the Eucharist. The holy fathers did not write treatises on the Church, but lived in it and with it, just as they did not write scholastic treatises on the Holy Spirit, but they lived in the Spirit in the classical period of the theology. The sacraments’ stewardship, this is the way commanded by the Apostle Paul.
The priestly service includes many responsibilities. He must satisfy all the requirements of his rank. They include the duties of teaching, spiritual guidance, missionary work, and divine service, taking care of the sick, prisoners, sorrowful and many other things, if not to speak about the contemporary interests of a priest in the West — his social, sportive and other activities.
However, God can give or not give some certain talents to a priest as to any simple mortal. A priest can prove to be a poor speaker or incapable administrator of his parish, dull instructor of the Holy Scripture. He can be an insensitive or even too demanding a confessor, he can be deprived of the social service solemnity; but all this will be forgiven to him and will not blot out his spiritual making, if only he possesses the Eucharist feeling, if his main occupation is "the sacraments’ stewardship" and service at the Divine Liturgy for the mystical union of himself and his flock to the body to Christ, for the sake of being "partakers of the divine nature," in the wordsof Apostle Peter (2 Peter 1:4). A priest is given no greater authority or mystical means than this service to the Mystery of the Body and the Blood of Christ. This must be the work of life of a priest. If Metropolitan Anthony himself so wonderfully called the pastors "by the means of the lasting exploit to create the praying element inside of them," as the capability to be raised to Heaven, then nowhere and by no method this element and ability are accomplished in a priest as in the sacrament of the Eucharistic sacrifice.
The splendor of the concelebrated Holy office might correspond to the ritual of Byzantine or Vatican tsarist ceremonies, but it is not appropriate for the Chalice of the Eucharist Blood, poured for the life of the world. In concelebrated services it is possible to speak about communion of those standing in the circle around the common Chalice, or taking communion from one priest or bishop, but one cannot speak about co-serving, for here serves only one priest, only he symbolizes Christ, and the remaining priests should imagine themselves the accompanying apostles, who wait for the moment of communion from the hand of the person that serves. The history and writings of the fathers of the early Church and its Liturgy, to whom the late magnificent ritual was alien and incomprehensible, teach us this.
Therefore, a priest must thirst to celebrate the Eucharistic divine service himself and not to be satisfied only with the presence in the medium of the highest spiritual rank. A priest must have this thirst to celebrate the Eucharist, but it does not diminish his desire to take Communion from the hand of another brother. But the mystical feeling, incomprehensible to lay-people, to bring the Sacrifice himself and to transform the gifts by the power of the Holy Spirit into the Body and the Blood, entirely differs from the experience of taking Communion at the Liturgy, served by another. With this thirst to serve, it is possible to measure independently the Eucharistic power of a priest. The most spiritual pastors always felt the happiness of the theurgist service and prayer.
Father Sergius Bulgakov wonderfully wrote in his "Autobiographical Notes": "I joined the priesthood exclusively for the purpose of serving, i.e., chiefly to celebrate the Liturgy. Because of this, coupled with innexperience I distinguished no appointments of the position of a temple priest. Very soon, I understood that in order to serve, we must have a temple or, at least, the Holy Table. As a result for the quarter of a century of my priesthood I never had my own temple, but always co-served to bishops, archpriests or held random services" (p. 53-54). These lines as the other pages of this book, tell exactly about this melancholy and thirst for one’s own service, the independent celebration of the sacrament. Here he speaks not at all the feeling of "non-resignation" with which they love to reproach, but simply the great, ardent love of a clergyman to celebrate the service actively and on his own, and not to be passive being the present co-servant of his brother, even of those older and very deserving.
This opinion about the independent celebration of the sacrament (with which, probably, a great number of priests will agree) is our personal opinion and does not pretend to an entire infallable understanding of the priestly service of the Liturgy. We do not deny the principle of the concelebrated services, accepted by the Church, which is indisputably ancient. We only want to stress the possibility for a priest to feel more natural and closer to the Eucharist sacrifice in independent service than in the concelebration.
Summing up what has been said about the pastoral gift, we must draw the following conclusion. A special gift is given to a pastor in the laying on of hands, one inaccessible to the laity: the blissful revival of souls for the Reign of God. This revival can be led in through a moral influence upon the personality of those guided, through compassionate love for the guilty, through a way of joining in with their personalities, but, mainly, through the Eucharistic service and joining the faithful, through it, to the mysterious Body of the Church. Anyone beside a priest can influence a neighbor, a mother and educator can commiserate, a close friend can also share ones sorrows, but the Eucharistic ministry is given only to a priest. The Divine Liturgy is the most powerful means of pastoral service. Neither molebens, nor commemoration services or Acathists can replace the most holy service of the Eucharist. A priest must always remember that he is called to be the establisher of God’s mysteries, that the Liturgical service and Communion of the faithful is the most powerful means of pastoral influence through to bring about the moral and mystical revival of man.
Preparation for the Priesthood.
The question of the preparation of a future pastor for his activity was central to theologians and teachers of ascetics in all times through Christian history. For more clarity, this question must be divided into several special problems. We have divided the questions into two: 1) if preparation for the high priestly service is necessary, or if the entire matter must be entrusted to the will of God, which fills and cures everything, and 2) what this preparation must consist of, should it be acknowledged to be necessary. In this last case, a number of special topics will arise: spiritual, intellectual, external preparation and so forth.
In general, one encounters two opposing viewpoints. According to one, no human science, specialization or skill can, nor must do anything there, where the blessedness of the Holy Spirit oversees. It is omnipotent, and therefore sufficient. The other opinion is the exact opposite: preparation is necessary and, moreover, it should be the most thorough, developed, and broadest possible. If, as it seems to us, one view is that a priest must meet only the necessary and simplest requirements of liturgical typicon and primitively understood piety which (in the opinion of the eastern bishop Porfirius Uspensky) would be limited to using a censer and aspergillum, and nothing more was required for service (as many think, out of humility), then, in the other view the preparation of a future priest is seen in the widest possible terms and he is required to understand agriculture, medicine, different practical disciplines (from the 1893 regulations of our spiritual schools ), and be skilled to lead youth camps and to be aware of social questions.
Pastoral science needs to find the informed equilibrium and reach that medium, "golden, royal" way, on which a priest would not turn to primitivism and obscurantism, but also would not be excessively fascinated by the mundane and with interests and concerns not typical of a pastor.
From these introductory observations, we pass over to the answer the first of the presented questions, if preparation for the priesthood is necessary.
The question answers itself in the affirmative. The entire history of the priesthood and all the experience of the church teach us this. It is correct that in the past Christian life spiritual schools have not always existed — it was not always required from future pastors to be prepared to accept their high calling. On the other hand, with the establisment of more calmness in the life of the Church and its organization, its hierarchy longed for the arrangement of systematic education. Church history recognizes famous schools in Alexandria, Ephesus, Constantinople, Rome, and in many other places even in the first centuries of its life. The epoch of great theological disputes and appearance of heresies established this requirement even more sharply. If in the first three centuries there was no systematic theological and pastoral education yet, then by the time of the acceptance of Orthodoxy as a free and state religion, this education had become better and more organized. It did not always take the same forms. For a long time monasteries were the centers of education. Sometimes outstanding hierarchs or pastors gathered the future priests around themselves; the training of pastors was thus in the periods of the enslavement of the Church (by Tatars, Turks, etc.), or in the countries, situated far from the main centers of life. But it is possible to assert definitively that the Church was never inattentive to this question, with the greatest caution allowing the laying on of hands upon young candidates to the priesthood, and requring thorough and many-faceted preparation for the pastoral calling.
Among the famous teachers and pastors of the Church, we may find the most educated people of their time. The works of John Chrysostom, Gregory the Theologian, Basil the Great, Photius and others are full of quotations from the diverse writings, both spiritual and secular, including from pagan writers. Among the various errors about the essence of the Christianity, one of the most dangerous is the idea of Christianity as the religion of simpletons, of the ignorant and of people incapable of being educated. Julian the Apostate and famous Celsius asserted this in their time from feelings hostile to Christianity and from a desire to belittle it. Nowadays people devoted to Christianity sometimes assert the same, but for the sake of safeguarding its purity and prepared by its simplicity and tender feelings.
It was symbolically indicated above that not only simple pastors, but also eastern wise men searching for God, the carriers of the highest truth outside of Christianity, came to the cave of the incarnated Logos. If, on the one hand, the Savior called the simple fishermen, then on the other hand, numbered among those who most spread Christianity was the Apostle Paul, a most educated person of his time. Christianity very early knew such thinkers and defenders as the holy Martyr Justin the Philosopher, Athenagorus, Clement of Alexandria, to say nothing of the universal teachers and pastors of the Golden Age of the history of the Church.
We must recall that the Apostle Paul, the author of three Pastoral Epistles, created many requirements for his disciples and colleagues and indicated the proper checking of those, who seek ordination at the hand of a bishop. The Apostle proscribed: "Lay hands suddenly on no man" (1 Tim. 5:22), placed the requirement that, besides the moral qualities, the bishop would be "apt to teach."(3:2); demanded, "Let these also first be proved" (3:10) of those looking for the ordination. A priest must always "exhort and rebuke with all authority" (Titus 2:15); retain that "which thou hast learned and hast been assured of" (2 Tim. 3:14), "holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers" (Titus 1:9); "these things command and teach" (1 Tim. 4:11), "give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine" (4:13).
If from the apostolic Epistles one would pass over to the works of the teachers of the classical period of our theology, then the confirmation of the above can very easily be found. Supporters of simplification in Christianity love to refer to examples from the lives of certain pastors, like bishop Sevira, who was a cloth maker, and Alexander, a collier. However, such cases do not represent the general rule, but can be found in the history of the priesthood as the exception to the general mass. The Church required something different. Through the mouths of Her best and most experienced teachers She prescribed that a priest, especially a bishop, have experience not only in piety, but also in studies and scholarly wisdom, which grows and deepens with years, due to the increasing danger to the Church. It is always necessary to remember that the direction of the Church ship straightened in the critical minutes of large disturbances, heresies, schisms and other temptations through the help of faithful, tested and wise helmsmen. However, the temptation of primitivism, apparently, always soared above the priesthood. Not without a reason many outstanding writers of the Church warned those searching for the priesthood about the difficulty of this art, raising it above the human wisdoms and sciences. There exists an interesting legend from the life of Pope Leo the First, the Great, to whom the Apostle Peter announced the forgiveness of all his sins before his death, except the sin of rapid and careless ordination of priests. Through his special prayer in a second vision, he was told about the forgiveness of this sin as well.
Therefore, it is natural that the great teachers and hierarchs of the Universal Church repeatedly dropped words of warning or reproach about an inattentive attitude toward acceptanting the priesthood both from the side of those seeking it and from the side of those ordaining others to the priesthood. To such luniaries as St. Chrysostom belong the famous "Six Books About the Priesthood," which can be referred as the guiding manual and warning to the future pastors of the church; to St. Ambrose of Mediolan "About the Responsibilities of the Clergymen"; to blessed Geronimos "On the Life of Clerics." St. Pope Gregory the Dialogist wrote about the responsibilities of priests. The words on the same theme by St. Ephraim the Syrian and St. Gregory the Theologian, who being forcedly ordained to the priesthood by his father, escaped to the desert, being frightened of the high calling of priesthood, are remarkable. His 42nd, or word in defence, explains his escape and at the same time confesses how he thought of life and the work of a priest. This word serves as a very edifying guide for priests.
This is what Chrysostom writes: "They make the priests of ignoramuses and put them as the supplement to the property, for which the Son of God paid with his Blood! We disfigure the priesthood, putting inexperienced people in its charge." Frequently we hear the opinion that preparation disturbs piety, holiness, resignation, etc. Concerning this it is worth citing the words of blessed Geronimos: "The ignorant and simple priests consider themselves to be saints, because they know nothing." However, St. Gregory the Theologian (word 3) warns: "it is necessary to become wise, and then to teach"; "there is no established boundary between how to teach and to learn"; "It is one thing to guide sheep and oxen, and another to guide human souls."
In subsequent times never ceased the warning voice of those teachers and archpriests, who realized the danger of the rapid and untested ordination. St. Tikhon of Zadonsk and St. John of Kronstadt wrote about preparation, and much is said about this in the courses on Pastoral theology. Let us recall that some specialists in Pastoral Theology (like Metr. Anthony), denying the need of the so-called vocation, shifted the center of focus to the question of pastoral preparation.
The contemporary setting of the spiritual training made the period of the preparation for the priesthood long. In the pre-revolutionary Russia the compulsory course of the priestly education was 10 years (four years of the spiritual school and six years of the spiritual seminary), Those desiring to get even higher preparation looked for the four-year course in the Academy, so a complete education took 14 years. The Catholic world also has its small seminaries, large seminaries and faculties, which correspond to our Academies. Sometimes, in special cases (after wars, catastrophes or in the outlying districts), the need for clergy made it necessary to resort to reduced pastoral courses, but that was only the exception to the general rule.
Passing to the question of what the training of a pastor consists, we must divide this into: 1) spiritual preparation, 2) intellectual preparation and 3) external preparation.
1) Spiritual preparation.
A candidate to the priesthood, a future pastor, prepares to step on the spiritual path, or, following the Russian term, to join the clergy. This word, "dukhovenstvo," by itself imposes many obligations. It does not completely correspond to the single-valued terms in the other languages. Sveshtenstvo (Serbian.); the clergy, clergé, clergy, (French, English, Greek); its sense rather corresponds to the German notion Geistlicher from Geist, i.e. the spirit. This means that the clergy must be, first of all, spiritual. This implies the belonging to the reign of the Spirit, not to the reign of the social ordinariness, to the sphere of material calculations and interests, political longings and so on. This is first, nurturing within oneself the spirit of the Reign of God, its construction in oneself, since it is not off somewhere, but on the terrestrial territory, inside of us. The Reign of God is not a theocratic idyll, but the category of our spirituality. This is the first thing that is required in the way of the spiritual education and is what so frequently the clergy lacks, absorbed in politics and national tendencies or concerns about their daily bread and the search for material goods. This growth in spirituality is not given immediately, but it is acquired in the long-term course of the entire life, by training oneself since from youth, through decisive choice, where to direct one’s aspirations, — to the reign of this world or to the one, which is not of this world.
This choice has two aspects — the negative and the positive. The first relates to the decisive rejection of what attracts man in this world: the sin of worldly calculations, career motives, national-political prejudices, etc. This does not at all mean aversion from any cultural setting and from participation in the society of people, but this is release from any attraction to this world, to evil, and to its non-spiritual instincts. This means not to be a slave of the calculations of this world as of anything sinful. However, the positive side lies in the accumulation of everything spiritual in oneself, of all that belongs to the Reign of blessedness. This must be developed; this notion comprises a number of goals.
According to St. Gregory the Theologian, a pastor must be celestial, that is, not participating in the sins of the world and not captivated with the worldy material goods. A pastor must be holy, but this means not the spiritual Puritan style and sickly spiritualism, not learning some special Church Slavonic expressions by heart, not hypocrisy but authentic spirituality. That is, longing to becomine a son of God, for being spiritualized from inside, making the image of God from oneself and the others, as the highest ideal of the Orthodox asceticism. A pastor must be merciful and compassionate, which does not indicate sentimentality, but the ability to assimilate and acquire the happiness, sins, grief and sufferings of others. A pastor must resemble a saint, that is, become similar to Christ, Who is the perfect ideal of the Kind Pastor. A pastor must to be prayerful, that is, loving prayer in all its manifestations --- namely private, instructed prayer, (Jesus prayer), temple prayer, and especially the Divine Liturgy service.
A priest without prayer, not knowing how to pray, not having obtained the fundementals of prayer, not having fallen in love with the divine service and deviating from it in every possible way under the different pretexts, is a contradiction to himself and a barren official in the spiritual department. A pastor must be humble, rid of the instincts of pride, swagger, arrogance, ambition and selfishness. This resignation must be expressed not in the low bows before the higher ranks and is not proved with the signature epithet "unworthy priest N.," but with the real release from all attacks of egocentrism, and not placing oneself in the center of the entire world, not admiring oneself and so forth.
These are the central objectives that a priest must approach, and all this can be summed up as one thing — spirituality, i.e., personal release from the authority of any sin and from every mundane, national and political temptation. Now we should turn to the means of this spiritual education.
It would not be erroneous to say that the prayer is the most powerful means for the acquisition of the spirituality. This is the field of the spiritual life itself, and furthermore, thanks to the latter it is possible to obtain other goods from the spiritual world, one can ask for what one lacks. We must learn to pray from starting school. From those loving the divine service or deviating from it can already be seen, where the aspirations of a future priest are directed to, if it is difficult for him to bear the exploit of the prayer, or if it appears to be the best minutes of the day. We should not generalize this, since the gift of prayer is individual. To some the church service prayer is closer, for it is aesthetically attractive, regulation organized; to the others — the concelebrated service prayer is more difficult than the private and secret prayer of the heart. However, a priest must obtain this spiritual foundation.
Then follows the reading of the Holy Scripture, learning it by heart, reflection on it, plunging into the interpretation of the Scripture, acquaintance with the ascetic literature, both of the holy fathers and the contemporary instruction.
Furthermore, for spiritual growth we must become acquainted in general with the literature of the holy fathers, and mainly, with the ascetic literature, as guides to moral perfection, emanating from the experience of the long-term hermetic and cloistered life. Here must be a gradual hierarchical preparation in reading: we must begin from the more simple writings (Abba Dorotheus, John of Kronstadt, Theophan the Recluse and Ignatius Bryanchaninov, the letters of Ambrose of Optina Hermitage, etc.), and then pass to the more difficult ones as for example, "The Philocalia," Isaac the Syrian, "The Ladder," Simeon the New Theologian, St. Gregory Palamas.
A rather essential means for one’s preparation to the priesthood can be frequent confession, spiritual conversations with experienced people, reading from the life examples of the seekers of piety, famous confessors and men of prayer. The Western world recognizes special prolonged exercises in prayer and contemplation, accomplished in monasteries. Such secluded and concentrated exercises, or fasting, substantially teach and form the intellectual wealth in the soul.
Visiting the sick, helping the suffering as well as any compassion to those in need can contribute to spiritual preparatiom. It can be useful to concentrate not on the beauties of this world, but on the mortal hour, eternity, on the other world often. For this, reading the Psalms with the prayer for the departed can also help greatly a young candidate to the priesthood.
Summarizing the above, we must combine with the spiritual creating everything that is useful for the rejection of the obliging laws and customs of this world and that can help to a future priest to be holy and spiritual. All this is the content of a special discipline, recognized under the name of pastoral asceticism.
2. Intellectual preparation.
In this question it is necessary, first of all, to overcome and decisively deny one most harmful and inveterate prejudice, that the intellectual preparation is not necessary for a pastor, but is even harmful, since it, as it seems to some that it harms humility, prayierful practice and spirituality. This is the one of the most dangerous errors both in society and among the clergy, and most important, among the leaders of the future priests. We raised the question about the three sides of preparation: spiritual, intellectual, external, — in that hierarchical order on purpose: in order to state decisively once and for all, that without the spiritual preparation and spiritual aspiration a priest is nothing, being a contradiction to himself and something false and unworthy. Therefore, we insist again that, without a doubt, the first place belongs to personal spiritual preparation and then to any other kind. However, we must emphasize here that personal spiritual preparation does not at all interfere with any other improvement, such as mental or external. Contemporary reality insistently requires the training of pastors with the broadest possible mental range of vision and external qualities of decency and public service. However, as to fears that mental or external preparation can injure or even destroy the intellectual wealth of a priest, one should answer that the cost to this spirituality, which can allegedly suffer from the touch of culture and science, is very small. Orthodox spirituality, we must remember, is far from being fragile, as many might fear.
If we turn to history, again, then the examples from the past give rich material for the favorable resolution of the presented question. In essence, the fathers of the classical epoch of the Orthodox theology: St. Athanasius of Cappadocia, St. Maximus the Confessor, Patriarch Photius, St. John of Damascus and many others — were representatives of the broadest intellectual culture of their time. They belonged to the refined elite of that epoch. Their creations are full of proofs taken not only from the writings of the earlier holy fathers, but also from the purely external evidence of heathen writers. They knew perfectly philosophy, rhetoric, mathematics, and music, i.e., everything that in the language of pedagogy of those days was called the "seven numbered art"or "trivium, quadrivium." Granting the superiority of spiritual preparation and piety, they did not fear at all that a secular education somehow would be able to keep them from piety and spirituality. And, in reality, neither their humility nor their faith or the prayerful efforts suffered because they knew Plato, Aristotle, Homer, Virgil, etc. Those who at least a little plunged in the study of patrology and read the works of the holy fathers cannot but be astonished with the erudition and high level of those whom they wish to represent as simpletons and obscurants. The enemies of Christianity Lucian, Celsius, and Julian wanted to represent them precisely so, but in reality the holy fathers struck even the heathens with their "external" i.e. intellectual preparation. In cloister libraries they preserved not only assorted books on the lives of saints and ascetic collections. It is interesting, for example, that St. Anastasias of the Sinai, a refined Hellenist and expert in his language, used expressions, which are located only in such rarely read works as scholium on Euripides or Aristophanes. In order to memorize such linguistic details, it was necessary to attentively read such books as now, probably, they will consider completely inappropriate for monastic reading. From the knowledge of Plutarch or Plotinus at that time, it is possible to draw a conclusion about our epoch as well. An acquaintance with contemporary philosophy, literature, sciences and art can only raise a pastor in the eyes of his disciples, who desire to learn from a priest anything about one or another cultural phenomenon. For a priest such knowledge can only become useful weapon in his missionary and apologetic activity. He can influence the flock only when he knows how this flock lives and what attracts it. The spirituality of a priest will not suffer, if he knows contemporary philosophical and literary trends. But the entire intellectual preparation implies, first of all, an authentic and deep spirituality in a priest himself, and this preparation on no account can become the pretext to turn into a layman.
It is quite necessary to remember the effect of cultural influence on the society. Society, left by its pastors to the mercy of fate, given in its training and education to itself, easily yields to outside pressures and grows without the blessedl guiding influence of a priest. (However, no one of the cultured people will address a pastor who knows nothing about contemporary questions or who has a contemptuous idea of everything outside his specialty). They wait for the authoritative and weighty word from a priest who is wise, competent and established. The Orthodox clergy in the view of many historical and social reasons sometimes could not create such an influence and be in the forefront of cultural development.
In France, the clergy was the educated class, and people listened to it. During the 300 years of existence of the French Academy numbered among the "immortal" were 120 priests (105 before the revolution of 1789 and 15 afterwards). In the ranks of these 120 the Academy there were 15 cardinals, 33 bishops and archbishop, 13 oratorios (a monastic order?), 1 Dominican (La-Corder), several Jesuits and the rest — simply curés. The Russian academy existed only for 200 years, but to it belonged such persons as Metropolitan Philaret, Metropolitan Macarius Bulgakov and Plato Levshin, several priests (fathers Kochetov and Gerasim Pavsky, Archimandrite Polycarp Goytannikov). By this purely formal designation, it is not possible to limit the presence of culture and education in the ranks of the clergy. (But even, expanding these limits, we will not see as many experienced leaders in the matter of civilization in the Orthodox clergy as we see in the countries of the Western Europe).
Nevertheless, it is possible to give many examples of educated priests whowere leaders in the affairs and models of the spiritual piety and pastoral education. It suffices to remember such refined thinkers as Dean Feodor Golubinskiy, Archimandrite Theophan Avsenev and Archbishop Nikanor Brovkovich; the famous sinologists Archimandrites Avvacum the Righteous and Palladium Kapharov; the Hebraist father Gerasim Pavsky; Bishop Porfirius Uspenskiy and Archimandrite Antonin Kapustin, — the greatest Russian Byzantologists and remarkable experts of Greek, and surely the of their native Russian language. This same Antonin and his brother Plato Kapustin, one of the best-known Moscow priests, were good astronomers, and Father Plato wrote articles on higher mathematics. The last protopresbyter of the Assumption cathedral (before the revolution), Father Lubimov, was a master of the Russian literature, which he taught in the famous Fisher secondary school, where the teacher of religion was Father Fudel, a great friend of Constantine Leontyev and of the writer himself. Our foreign priests became members of the scientific societies of Germany, Sweden, Spain and England.
There is another example from Russia’s past: Protopresbyter John Pervushin, a humble and prayerful priest, a good and caring pastor, was a mathematician well known in the scientific world. After his graduation from the spiritual academy he went to a country parish where he spent his entire life. Gifted with exceptional mathematical abilities, he sent his works to the Academy of Sciences, knew the outstanding mathematicians not only of Russia, but also of the West. His most complex works on pure mathematics and the theory of numbers were rewarded by our Academy and they were noted at the Mathematical Congress in Chicago and Neapolitan physical-mathematical society. The theory of numbers did not distract him from being a good priest.
It is possible, if one so desired to continue this list. But the important thing is to note that neither the title of a member of the Academy of Sciences nor studies of astronomy, philosophy and other manifestations of learning prevented the previously mentioned spiritual men from being prayerful, excellent pastors, humble monks, and most importantly, from having an enormous spiritual influence on those whom they guided.
There is no greater untruth and slander about Orthodox spirituality, then its comparison with obscurantism and gnosimachia. The obscurant tastes of some spiritual persons must not be projected upon Orthodoxy itself. It has nothing to do with that.
It is especially necessary to remember that nowadays, when the enemies of the Church mobilize all the forces to fight with it, that the presence of educated pastors, scientifically prepared and ready to always give an answer to our "hope," in the words of the Apostle Peter, is more than proper. The point is that from a pastor one expects not a timid (as if humble) acceptance of his incompetance, but rather the word of authority, gravitiy. (Our clergy is not used to be a leader in these questions; it is no wonder that they refer to people distant from the church and spirituality for the guidance.). The lack of spirituality of the intelligentsia can cure the clergy itself to a considerable degree by putting it into closer contact with its interests and pursuits.
Turning to contemporary reality, we must recall that the enormous influence on society of Metropolitan Anthony, father S. Bulgakov, A. Yelchaninov, G. Spassky was explained by the fact that they knew the secular literature perfectly well and kept up with science, art and intellectual trends.
In the secular education of all times it is possible to find things both useful and harmful for a pastor. The fathers of the church extracted from Plato and Homer that which could bring edification for their time, but they avoided everything corrupted and unnecessary in heathen learning. Here the matter is not in one century or another and the danger is not in just contemporary or ancient. Metropolitan of Moscow Philaret wrote in his time (1858): "They fight against the contemporary ideas. Are the ideas of Orthodoxy and morals no longer contemporary? Did they remain only in the past? Could we all be already pagans? It is not the time that is to blame, but rather the non-Orthodox and immoral thoughts, spread by certain people. Thus, we must fight against the non-Orthodox and immoral thoughts, but not against the "contemporary" ones ("The Coll. of Thoughts and Opinions" volume 4, p. 344). It is not possible to find salvation from the dangers of the present day in a barren desire to return the past. Metropolitan Philaret wrote in 1839 to the Dean of the Trinity Monasteries, Archimandrite Anthony: "It is not possible to substitute the ninetheenth century withy the fourth or the fifth, and Vologda province — by Thives" (volume 1, p. 315). Anyway, our great Holy Father understood the benefit of education and always protected Orthodoxy from the attacks and charges in the obscurantism. He wrote to Novgorod Metropolitan Isador: "The critics think in vain that the faith of Christ is hostile to the knowledge. It is not hostile to the true knowledge, only because it is not in the union with the ignorance" (Coll. Volume 5, p. 48).
It follows, of course, having discussed this subject, to mention the possible danger waiting for a pastor in this way. Absorbed by the desire to be cultural and well read, a priest can easily yield to the temptation of the world and, without himself noticing, to the incorrect estimation of mental values. When a pastor begins to lose his essence and unity, when he substitutes secular interests for his spirituality, when literature, philosophy and science replace prayer and compassion to the flock in his heart, then this means that the interior equilibrium is disrupted and a pastor has strayed. Becoming acquainted with the secular must be checked by the degree of his pastoral prayerful attitude and by his purely spiritual aspirations. The purpose of the priestly life and activity is the spiritual foundation of oneself and ones close ones. Intellectual and secular education can only serve as a means of pastoral influence and in addition to ones own internal wealth. A pastor must not fear intellectuality, but neither must he be fascinated by it to the detriment of his spirituality, because for the achievement of perfection in the spiritual plane education is always more difficulty acquired than in the intellectual, scientific and artistic plane. As in many other respects, the unique correct path lies in between and in the achievement of complete accord and equilibrium of all forces.
3. External preparation.
Not the least of mistakes among some people is the conviction that pastor does not need a formal education. The tendency towards simplification in Orthodoxy is conflated with the external simplicity of the clergy and some even perceive in this a positive quality. They frequently wish to find in the lack of a secular education the anchor of salvation for some imaginary "humility." There is no need to prove that the virtue of humility has nothing in common with ill breeding. It is clear that genuine humility cannot be harmed by purity, good breeding and good manners. It is difficult to imagine St. Gregory the Theologian, St. Photius of Constantinople or St. Maximos the Confessor in the past times, or St. Seraphim, elder Ambrose of Optina Hermitage, or Bishop Theophan the Recluse, in our days, possessing a forced rough style for the protection of their "humility," or being led by the fear to lose their spiritual aspiration. Such misunderstanding of the Christian spirit fills the words of Tertullian, (who already at that time had turned to his montanistic rigorism), that to "God the purity of the soul is more important than the neatness of the body." It is incomprehensible, how the neatness of the body could decrease the purity of our soul
But of what does his preparation consist, and where should a priest direct his attention, in order to hold himself contantly to external standards of decency?
A) In respect to his exterior look. A pastor must always remember that "people who meet you judge by appearance." Appearance has enormous value in the company of man. Something insignificant, a trifle, can repel others at first sight An innate feeling of fastidiousness is common to man, and because of it he cannot force himself to overlook a number of external trifles: neatness, odors, sounds, etc. A priest must never forget this. By not having paid attention to some negligible trifle, he can lose something much more significant, like the ability to draw a demanding person to himself. Hence it follows that a pastor must think thoroughly about his appearance, and always be clean and neat in both clothing and body. The cassock and podrassnik must be hemmed, clean and hang properly. Poverty of clothing will not be held in reproach, but its untidiness can repel those around one. More than that, a rich, silk or moiré cassock can also serve unfavorably and give a rise to reproach to a priest for foppery. However, poor clothing will never become a reproach to a pastor, if he wears it with dignity and keeps in order and neatly. Footwear, even if old, must always be clean and in order.
The same concerns the cleanliness of ones hands, face, teeth, because neatness has great significance for parishioners and those praying. An unpleasant smell, dirty nails or ears can repel the sensitive people. We must have great internal concentration and an absence of fastidiousness, in order, for example, to stand near a man spreading the bad smell of tobacco or garlic fumes during confession, as a priest suffers when someone like this confesses.
The attitude of the priests towards their long hair and beards must also be limited by the requirements of neatness. The Church regulations prescribe that one cut a shaggy moustache, as is necessary for communion of the clergy. The right to cut hair was always granted to our foreign clergy. Even in the time of Emperess Elizabeth, the Spiritual Consistory ordered that the priests should cut their hair, but not at the barbers, so that the priests’ wives would perform this function. Moderately cut hair, a trimmed beard and a moderately shortened moustache in no way can decrease the spirituality of a priest or give a way for a reproach for foppery.
Everything said about the appearance must not be turned into the opposite extreme, when a priest reaches a state of foppery and exaggerated secularity. Here, as in everything else, a sense of proportion must help to keep in balance.
B) In respect of time. A priest must be chronometrically precise in the designation of his business conversations, visits, and Divine services. A lack of accuracy can greatly irritate businessmen and those guarding their and others’ time. A priest must live according to a timetable; his day should be calculated up to a minute, all the time intervals considered. The Divine service must begin exactly at the time assigned. There must not be any changes in favor of careless and tardy persons. Only a case of the mortal danger, a call to the bed of a seriously sick, and the Baptism of a weak baby can allow a priest to change his schedule. A pastor is obligated to bring up himself in this spirit, and to ask those he guides to do the same. These are the conditions of the good public manners.
C) In respect to the language and gestures. The word of a priest draws the attention of those surrounding more than do those of simple people. By ones words we also get anidea of the internal content of ones thoughts and feelings. A free tongue displays disorderliness of thought; embittered words testify of the presence of the passion of anger; rough words are the sign of a deficiency in good breeding. On the other hand, strict, restrained, precise words, but flavored by good-natured humor in the proper place, show that they proceed from a disciplined, sharp, thoughtful mind, but one deprived neither of the power of observation nor of gentle merriment. Here a priest sees the two extremes, equally unpleasant. On the one hand, undisciplined and rather rough language, left over from school days, full of jargon and easily passing to the familiarity, even more than public decency permits. Unfortunately, this one can be observed even of persons of high hierarchical position. It also happens, on the other hand, that to pursue some "traditional" Levite position not inherited from our ancestors, a priest memorizes a number of special prhases which seem spiritual to him, expressions, like: " so save you the Lord" instead of the usual: "thank you" or "thanks," or instead of the simple "I" — "I the unworthy." "Your Holiness" instead of simply "you"; "my unworthiness," "the most humble" and other expressions, which in the consciousness of such a neophyte must seem to him a clear sign of his spirituality and humility in the Levite position. In this category belong a passion to show off whether it is proper or not with Slavonc quotations from the Bible and official books, which, being sometimes appropriate to the place and time, can flavor and revive a speech, but very frequently make it artificial, devised, and sometimes simply inappropriate.
The movements and gestures of a priest must also be measured and balanced, — for that we must work out for oneself a natural rhythm of walking and gesticulation. The scurry of a priest along the streets does not correspond to his rank, but pompousness as well makes him comical and does not fit his role. Iimmoderate gesticulation coarsens the habit of a pastor, but also a stone-like rigidity in his appearance gives away an unnatural tension. In the presence of an elder brother, a priest always must remember his place: not to sit down without permission, to go to the left of the elder, to let him pass, etc. He must not hurry to occupy a seat on public transportation. If someone will offer a priest a seat, he can take it, but he should always try to offer it to the older men, the sick, women with the children, the weak and so forth.
D) In respect to the correspondence. The paperwork of a priest must be in irreproachable order. An answer to each letter should follow immediately or after gathering of the necessary information. Letters must be accurately dated; it is useful to have copies of business papers to avoid misunderstandings. Letters addressed to hierarchically higher persons must be written according to the established protocol, — without any familiarity. The signature also should be according to the established form, without the excessive "sinful, unworthy" and other falsely humble epithets. The language of the letters means more than just the words and it must be thought through and checked. "The letters remain," notes an ancient saying. In general, it is always necessary to remember that it is undesirable that with this or that action or word one would subsequently blush or be ashamed. Moderate humor and witticism only testify in favor of the author, but disorderliness and garrulity reveal unthinking and an absence of discipline. The equilibrium is here, somewhere in between.
E) In respect to the decoration of a dwelling. This is of value as well and can give a means for the positive or negative estimation of a priest in the eyes of his parishioners. Neatness and order in the house were even the topic of the pastoral epistles of Apostle Paul (1 Tim. 3:4-5). The dwelling of a pastor must testify to his internal arrangement and about the interests of his life. Modesty, seriousness and cleanliness must decorate the house of a priest. The poverty will never be reproached, but disorder or excessive secularity can tempt many people. It is always necessary to remember the weakness of the human nature and its tendency towards temptations. On the other hand, one should not forget the big impression, which comes at first glance. Besides being clean, it must and can testify about the interests and the internal content of its owner. Books and a love of them will draw the attention of educated people to a priest. The adornment of the walls by sceneries, portraits or reproductions of pictures must not offend the aesthetical feeling. It is erroneous to think that the room of a priest must be decorated with "pious" pictures, good, but visibly insulting the artistic feeling. Everything banal, petty bourgeois, commercial, can only cause a smile and make people suspect the owner is imitating an overall level. Here, as in everything, the danger is in deviations into extremes of the inappropriate mundane life on the one hand and the falsely devised genre of the "everyday life father," whose original model has already disappeared from life long ago.
In conclusion, probably about the most important thing is this— to know how to develop personal spiritual tact in order to determine the manner and limitations which most likely suit the case and situation at hand.
Ordination/ The Hierotonia.
The most important and fearful moment in the life of each pastor, the moment that remains memorable for life, is ordination into the holy and great office of the priesthood by the archbishop’s hand. It was already mentioned concerning preparation for pastoral service, but it is especially necessary for a future priest to think how to protect himself in modern times from the secular life, in order to approach this high vocation, the very sacrament of the priesthood, with the appropriate attitude.
Before that time, the question arises before a candidate arises about his future parish, about the altar to which the Church will assign him as Her servant. Moreover, although this question probably has to do with the canons, we must say several words, since these formal and administrative details concern the future candidate for holy orders. Christian history recognizes three ways. The Protestant way (which in the essence does not have priesthood and ordination) turned to one extreme. The dissidents from Rome are bound only by election by community. This is sufficient in the eyes of those who purchased their freedom through negation of the Roman primacy and with distorted study of the Church, and by the negation of any hierarchy. The price of this is the self-righteous temptation of themselves and others, and anarchy, in which the blessed aspect is completely denied. This is the extreme democratization of the understanding of the Church.
Roman Catholicism went to the opposite extreme, through the complete suppression of the personal initiative and expulsion (in principle, at least), of the secular element, the people themselves. The Church, in the Roman mindset, is concentrated in the hierarchy. That churchly priesthood and chosen people, about which the books of the Old and New Testament spoke and yet which the original Christianity did not forget, got completely tarnished in the mindset of the dignitary prelates of Rome. The people do not participate in the election of the clergy for them. The ancient elections of an archpriest with the participation of people became the conclaves of the special class of cardinals, a thing unknown to the early Church. The same happened in the life of the parishes and dioceses. The people are deprived of the participation in the election of pastors. Not everything there is bad. The Catholics are released from many temptations from which Orthodox Christians suffer, possessing a conciliar mentality. However, there is certain numbness in their church life. One should note that the Roman service of ordination contains one detail (forgotten by us): the applying on of hands upon the one being ordained not by a single bishop, but also by the other presbyters, the entire pleroma (fullness) of the church.
Orthodoxy always tried to follow the median way and, avoiding the extreme of the view of the one part of Western Christianity, did not turn toward the immoderation of the other. Orthodoxy since the oldest times cherished the principle of the election of the priest and bishop by the people.
No matter how the historians resolve this problem, can the New Testament and canonical worshipers convincingly prove the primacy of this specific elective system? Or can we prove that the apostles always selected their candidates themselves, after conferring with "the people"? Is it is possible to unconditionally ignore Christ's words: "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you" (John 15:16), which indicate the election not from below, but from above? Is this system of election generally according to the spirit of the Gospel, that is, should one draw a general conclusion from some facts from apostolic history, if the benefit of elections with the assistance of the so called "people — the keeper of piety" — is indisputable and always proves correct? All these questions are outside the sphere of our science. However, they cannot but influence the position of a priest in his parish and in his relations with his flock. Of course, this third way smoothes out the extremes of the first two paths, the Presbyterian anarchy and Latin Papacy. Nevertheless, in this practice not all is indisputable and flawless. The participation of the people themselves in the election of their pastor is not a bad beginning; however, it is not a guarantee of correctness. Those people who have been brought up within the strict framework of the church life and who are faithful to the canons and traditions will be able to use this right more or less correctly. However, in the absence of these qualities, with the liberal tendencies of the flock towards independence, and mainly, when a priest has weak nature, he can easily become one who is guided by the "people - the keeper of piety," who elected him.
Be that as it may, the principle of election by the people or, to be more precise, the participation of the people in the matter of pointing out which candidate who seems more suitable to them to the authorities, has to some extent spread in the East. The ancient Russian practice recognized this principle, "when the prince wants something, the people will want that as well." Stoglav made this a rule for the simple churches, whereas in the "rouge" churches there were selected princely and tsarist "stewards." The "contract record" was made, which showed desire of one and the other side not to break the agreement conditions; this attitude introduces a certain element alien to the spirit of priesthood into pastoral relations. A bishop had only to ordain the future priest. With a deficiency of the prepared candidates, the bishop could hardly propose a "veto" right. With the synodal arrangement of the Russian church the principle of electivity of the clergy went out of use and they started to speak about the desire of its restoration only in the works of the pre-council institutes.
In the latter times (18th to 19th centuries), the principle of election was followed to a certain degree in the regions of Austro-Hungarian Empire in the Orthodox population (Voyevodina, Bukovina, Chernovitsa Metropolis, Dalmatian diocese).
Undoubtedly, it is possible to see some positive sides of this elective principle. Each person receives the right to select his spiritual leader and to give specifically to him ones conscience and soul. Nevertheless, in the priesthood and in pastoral activity the element of seniority predominates. The confessor and his disciples form that unit, which in the old-Russian dialect was called "the confessionary family." However, in the words "family" and "fatherland’ the element of submissiveness and obedience can be felt. However, the elective principle introduces something juridical, democratic, which has nothing to do with humility.
Leaving aside these questions, one should switch over to the ordination itself, to its meaning and content. No matter whether a priest is selected or is appointed by his future diocesan bishop, there comes the hour of his mysterious and dreadful ordination. If we speak about its symbolism, then it is possible to draw these parallels: the selection by the flock is certain matchmaking, and ordination — the wedding of a priest with his flock. The chain of actions, common to both the one and the other sacrament, fortifies this symbolism: walking around the Analoy or the Holy Table, singing the same chants (but in the reverse order) "Rejoice, Isaiah," "O holy martyrs..." Hence, it is possible to reach several conclusions: the marriage of a priest with his flock is an indissoluble union, as marriage is indissoluble as well. Therefore, the displacement of a priest from one place to another must not in principal take place, as the displacement of bishops from one department to another. In principle, a priest cannot be replaced.
But there is another essential feature in this sacrament: the priesthood is indelible, as the Roman Catholics teach. The Greek theologians share the same opinion. Metropolitan Philaret looked at it differently. Speaking decisively, the Grace brought down by a bishop in the mysterious divine service during the Liturgy cannot be taken by any authority on the earth. To consider that the act of consistory can deprive man of the Grace of the Holy Spirit is a theological inconsistency. Baptism and the priesthood are inherent and indelible. Even the sin of apostasy does not wash off the blessedness of baptism; those returning from apostasy are not baptized again. In exactly the same way the most terrible sin committed by a priest, that brought him to the deprivation of his rank, cannot by itself, as a consistory act, deprive a priest of Grace. In the case of judicial error a defrocked priest who proves to be innocent would be ordained again, which, of course, the strictest rigorist cannot admit. We must recognize as even more terrible and blasphemous the so-called "sacramental defrocking," practiced in the Russian and Serbian church. The case of the defrocking of Bishop Varlaam of Smolensk happened in the reign of Emperor Alexander I. The convicted came from the altar in complete vestments, after which at the western doors they took the sacred vestments off him one after another with the exclamation of "anaxios" and finally banished him from the temple with a baton. All this resembles a black mass in structure and its inside-out actions. The Greeks recognize only the lifelong prohibition fromserving, but in no way the deprivation of the rank. The Catholics developed, as we know, an entire study about the so-called nature of a sacrament, i.e.the indelibleness of the seal of the two sacraments, — baptism and priesthood.
In the Serbian church, there also existed the office of the deprivation of the rank. In 1899, the Serbian Hierarchical Council deprived of rank archpriest Milan Dzhurich, who attempted to kill King Milan Obrenovich and was sentenced to 20 years of the penal servitude. The defrocking took place in the church with the removal of vestments and exclamations of "Unworthy!" (See Prof. Voznesensky "From the Church Life of the Orthodox Slavs," in "The theological Herald" of 1900, p. 530). In the Serbian Metropolitan Mikhail’s book, "The Orthodox Serbian Church in the Principality of Serbia" (on p. 213-215) this rank of eruption from the priesthood is found.
With these preliminary considerations, it is possible to move on to the basic theme — to the ordination itself. Besides all the above about multifaceted preparation, the candidate for the priesthood must not ever forget about this indelibility of the priestly office gift. Ordination is that mysterious act which separates a simple layman from the blessed representative in the altar, from the server of sacrament, from the theurgist, who is an intermediary between God and the world and leading his flock by the Grace of the Holy Spirit to spiritual improvement, to becoming the image of God. After ordination, he is no more a simple person, but a clergyman. He is not only the elect of his flock, but also the bearer of Grace. However, this ordination by the hand of a bishop that leads him into the clergy does not tear him away from the flock and does not lock him into some caste of priests, but organically connects him with the flock; it relates him to those who will be the one with him from this moment on.
After testing himself again and feeling sure that he does not want "to look back" anymore, a candidate can accept the Grace of the priesthood after the order of Melchisadec. The experts in pastoral theology usually advise not to put this off for long after graduation. This is true because any excessive delay does not strengthen, but cools, brings some new doubts, and disturbs the internal unity of the soul. Furthermore, there is another observation of our pastoralists (Metr. Anthony), that we must give to God all our strength, to burn up before God the whole candle, but not to return to Him a candle end, useless to anyone, left after spending the candle on trifles in everyday fuss. But the same Met. Anthony advises (2, 291) not to rush with ordination of a person who just got married. In fact, the atmosphere of being newly married, and affection contributes little to the internal concentration necessary for the laying on of hands and in particular — for the first steps in priesthood. One must calm down before this important sacrament.
Before the ordination, it is rather good to get away from all mundane interests and noise for some time. Solitude in a monastery, however small, will help the candidate to pray more and more easily and to delve into his internal world. Fasting, prayerful struggles, abstention from everything mundane will more easily help the candidate to approach the dreadful hour.
The eve of ordination comes. The candidate fulfills all the necessary formalities, does not waste his attention on the other preparations. In the consistory, he signs his priestly oath, which he must take with all the seriousness and fear. With the necessary papers from the bishop and the consistory he goes to his confessor for the so called "candidate confession." This is the new and last control of his conscience before ordination. This is the confession for an entire life. Each confession must be treated as the last prior to death, since we must be to prepared to appear before God’s judgment at any hour, but the candidate confession is the examination of all that was done in his life, whicht could have been forgotten or left unsaid because of human weakness. With a reconciled conscience, a clean heart and the the consciousness of his complete unworthiness and imperfection, not with false humbleness, but with a contrite heart the candidate brings to God in the presence of his witness, the confessor, his repentance, and appeals for the gift of chaste priesthood.
With the signature of the confessor (at the consistory report or on the application) about not finding any canonical obstacles for ordination, a candidate awaits for ordination the next da. St. Gregory the Theologian, in his defensive word, says: "I feel shame for the ones, who with unwashed hands, unclean souls undertake the holy matter and before being made worthy to approach the priesthood, rush into the sanctuary, crowd and jostle around the Holy Gifts, as if treating this rank not as the paradigm of virtues, but as a means of sustenance; not like as service which awaits with accountability, but as an authory, who does not give account. […].... it is necessary first to become pure, then to make pure; to become wise, then to teach; to become light, and then to enlighten, to approach God, and then lead others to Him; to be blessed, then to bless."
Frequently before the ordination a recognized cowardice, a desire to run without looking back, in order not to shoulder this difficult burden, will attack the weak people or those too rational, excessively demanding of themselves (with an overly scrupulous conscience). To this tempting voice one must give a decisive answer. It is not necessary to hesitate and tear one’s soul in these minutes, remembering that "a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways" (Jam. 1:8). For some, these momentss are so painful that only the firm hand of the confessor, the voice of a real friend that cheers up, can help the weakening conscience of a candidate. Here it is important to remind of "the Divine grace, which ever healeth what is infirm and supplieth what is wanting."
These final hours can be boldly compared with some human Gethsemane and the temptation of feeling abandoned by God. One of the outstanding pastors spoke about his "dying" before the ordination. In these hours occurs some personal impoverishment, alike to, preserving all the perspectives and proportions of, the kenosis of the Son of God. A priest tries to repeat Christ's priesthood, to become like to Him, to become holy in everything. In ordination occurs the new birth of a new person; a layman becomes "the new creature" in Christ.
Here, in this moment unique in life, occurs the capture of man into the obedience to Christ. Here a candidate pronounces the vows, dreadful for himself, of a special love for the High Priest and the Church, connects with Them forever and, without losing himself in his personality, at the same time dissolves in the mystical unity with the body of Christ, with Its leader, fills with the Spirit, rises to Heaven.
Each moment of this divine service is significant and dreadful: both ordination into the first degrees of the priesthood, — reader, subdeacon and deacon, and the first passage through the Royal Gates as through the certain enormous boundary, and going around the Holy Table. At the chanting of the wedding chants, the first touch to the Holy Table, kneeling and the sensation of the heavy brocade omophorion on the head and of the blessing hand of a bishop, and, probably, the most dreadful — the words of a bishop, in an undertone spoken into the ear of a candidate: "Lift up your eyes to the heavens and beg God for forgiveness of your sins and for the gift of a chaste priesthood." Like lightning from the skies, these words pierce man as with a fiery sword, they cut off everything sinful and as a thunder clap, or maybe, as "the barely perceptible cold" the ear catches the words of the prayer: "The Divine Grace, which always heals that which is infirm, and supplies that which is lacking, ordains, N., the most-pious Subdeacon to be Deacon. Therefore, let us pray for him, that the grace of the All-holy Spirit may come upon him." This first passage through the Royal Gates and coming close to the Holy Table is the most amazing. This is like passing through the fire, which burns, clarifies and regenerates. This is the entrance into the other world, into the Heavenly Realm.
Then begins the vesting into the white clothing. Not only are the Royal Gates opened, but also the deacons’ doors as a sign of the fact that the contact with those praying, with the people, is closer, and their participation is more direct than in the other sacraments. This is especially felt in the repeated "axsios" ("worthy") to each part of sacred vesting, glorified also in the altar with the officials and the choir, i.e., those, who express the feelings of people by their chanting.
Finally comes the last moment: the presentation of the diskos with the particle of holy Lamb to a new priest and with the words: "Receive this pledge and preserve it whole and intact unto thy last breath, for thou shalt be held to account for it at the second and dread coming of our Lord and God and Saviour, Jesus Christ." Now he is no more a simple layman, but a theurgist and the sacraments’ fulfiller. This is no longer someone with a name and patronymic, but father N. He must, on St. Gregory the Theologian’s word, "stand with the angels, glorify with the archangels, bring sacrifice to the Holy Altar, hold Divine services with Christ, re-construct creation, restore the image of God, create for the Heavenly world and, I will say more, to be God and to create with Gods" (The Defensive Word).
From this moment on, begins not a simple, but a Holy life; not activity, but service; not talks, but a sermon; not the infirmity of one being long weak, but the daring of a friend of Christ, "forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before" (Philip 3:13), the Reign of Grace, eternity and crucifixion for Christ.
The way of a priest, more than any other spiritual endeavor, is known by its dangers, difficulties, trials and temptations. It does not do to have optimistic illusions or dream about the everyday coziness of the life of a priest. The priesthood is first of all an ascetic struggle, in which the most unexpected tests await for a priest. Furthermore, the priesthood, as any other sphere of the spiritual life, is full of tragic conflicts and contradictions. A priest one the one hand is thrown into this world of passions and agitations, but on the other hand, he must not be caught up in these. The "self-crucifixion to the world" is incessantly felt in the priesthood, and the more a pastor gives himself to the struggles, the more strongly the sting of sin pierces, and everything hostile to the spiritual life force arises more severely. Therefore, a pastor is admonished before ordination to the priesthood, and from his first days is called to a sober view of the difficult and thorny path of his service.
The above-mentioned "self-crucifixion to the world" is felt much more strongly in the priesthood than in secular life. A priest, naturally, due to the laws of the human nature, undergoes all the attacks of sin typical to man, but, furthermore, he has special temptations unknown to the layman, i.e., purely pastoral tests.
It is pointless to quantify scholastically the number of temptations and to subject them to one or another classification. Some reduce them to 12, others limit their number to four (Archim. Anthony), and a third group — to three, according to the number of temptations of the Savior in the desert (Father G. Shchavelskiy). All these calculations are conditional and do not proceed from spiritual experience. This last system of reconning counts the temptations of the High Priest as a seemingly symbolic outline for His disciples, but it is possible to say with confidence that the Savior did not undergo the tests of spiritual improvement and ripening, natural for any priest. We will return to these three temptations later, and thus we must note the following.
Usually at first, a pastor experiences a special state of spiritual enthusiasm and almost bliss. He is completely occupied with his new activity, he becomes acquainted with it, he does not know much, and he still has a radiant view of everything. Frequently in the beginning of his service, a priest is spared from especially strong trials. The real temptations will come in the course of time. But the path of the spiritual growth for each person, and consequently, for each pastor, is completely individual, therefore it is not subject to any schematic generalizations.
A special form of tempation that can appear is the fear of serving the Divine mysteries, however, this does not apply to all. The fear to serve, sometimes to baptize, to confess, and especially to perform the sacrament of the Eucharist can attack a young pastor because of excessive piety or a scrupulous conscience, or perhaps through concealed pride. Then the desire to do something else arises because of a fear of making mistakes, of getting everything wrong, of dropping the vessels or of spilling the Holy Gifts in the sacrament of the Eucharist and so forth. The Western practice even has a term for this temptation: "timor sacerdotalis." We must fight with this one strictly and try to conquer this feeling of fear by serving the Divine mysteries more often rather than less so. The advice of an elder, more experienced brother, Dean or bishop can help here. Since the fear of making mistakes frequently occurs through a fear of seeming inexperienced in the eyes of the flock, then we must remember always that during the divine service, the main thing is not human fear, but the fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom. However, more important is the feeling of love for God, perfect, not slavish, and then the fear of God, i.e., reverential attitude to Him must be combined with this spiritual love. This service must be served with the fear of God, with faith and with love.
Likewise, one of the early temptations can be the certain immoderate desire for ascetical struggles such as fasting, praying, homiletics, etc. Without the corresponding guidance of a confessor, a young priest can be overcome by such an endeavor, which exceeds his natural gifts and spiritual power. At first, it is easy to plunge into intensive prayer and fasting, but, without having taken root in it gradually, it is possible to grow tired soon, to become cold to that undertaking, and even to lose that little that was obtained before becoming a priest. Then arises the temptation not to pray at all, and under different pretexts to reduce ones struggles, which can lead to complete laxity and spiritual weakening. Therefore in the matter of the pastoral service, prayerful struggles and spiritual growth as a whole, the young priest must be under the attentive supervision of an elder brother; he must check his pastoral daring, deferring to the experience of his elders, and take advice from wise clergymen. The danger of "breaking down" spiritually can easily disarm a weak and inexperienced priest and subject him to certain ailments which would be easier to foresee then to cure. Any growth must be organic and harmonious. However, on the other hand, any stoppages on the path of spiritual growth indicate an unavoidable recoil back down the slope.
In the direct correlation to this temptation to immoderate growth and overstrain, the danger of extreme demands on the flock can be observed in young priests. This special pastoral rigor is manifested in the superimposition on the shoulders of the spiritual children of "heavy burdens and grievous," in the requirement from everyone, no matter their age or spiritual maturity, of excessive struggles, in judging those who lag behind or who have less faith, in accusatory sermons. This latter is encountered especially frequently. The sermon generally is a tool not easily used and not equally acceptable for everyone. A poor, dull, and especially, loquacious preacher becomes a cross for the flock. However, accusatory sermons are dangerous in general and almost always lead to opposite results. The temptation of rigorism is a special test of pastoral sensitivity and tact. It is born from a good motive, to draw everybody to perfection and to teach lessons and show examples that lead to salvation, but it frequently turns out negatively. The flock does not receive this rigorism in manner that a priest would like; and instead senses internal repulsion from the pastor, and then comes alienation from the Church or even the complete withdrawal from Christianity, generated by the simple and unconsidered zeal of a priest.
If the above-indicated danger waits for a priest mainly in the early stages of his service, then in the course of time other, more dangerous temptations may easily appear. The above-mentioned temptation is like an "early childhood disease," which more or less any priest must go through. Every clever and sensitive pastor will overcome the "human fear," subordinating it to the fear of God, diffuseded in love. In the course of time, he will pacify immoderate enthusiasm and enter into the normal path of organic growth; however, with years he will see the futility of rigorism and accusatory words for his work.
However, with years other tests of his pastoral tenacity and spiritual maturity will appear. One such temptation, which comes in the course of time, is the satiety with the work resulting from a certain fatigue. The young years will pass, the impulses of the spirit of sacrifice will cease, and life will teach him different unexpected contingencies and instead of the bright feasts of the first years will appear the insignificant week-day, the certain prose of ordinary priestly existence. There can appear one of the most terrible enemies of any spirituality — boredom. Nothing else is as terrible as this feeling.
Anger, immoderate requirements, fear of those around oneself and the other things can pass and be changed with a new energetic thrust in the service. However, boredom is the sign of an almost fatal danger in the matter of the priesthood. The blunting of interest in the work, sometimes proceeding from the failures and stagnation, can lead to the point that a pastor, in particular if he excessively relied on his own power, will lose all interest, grow sick spiritually, and fall into despondency and hold services with no hope. Then appears the unwillingness to pray, avoidance of serving the Liturgy, loss of interest in the spiritual life —and all this is frequently explained by the different seemingly reasons of illness, fatigue and so on. Almost unnoticeably, that which is known in asceticism as "hard-heartedness" sneaks up on a priest. The ardent fire of zeal has burnt out. A priest becomes then a formalist, an official, who is only "serving, exorcising, performing the funeral service" and generally dully carrying out ones duties. In this tired, disappointed, pastor losing heart very frequently is born a resistance to the Ustav, church tradition, hierarchy of values, asceticism: "All this became obsolete, all this is no longer for us, we must reexamine and reform much" and so forth. Instead of being led by the requirements of church order, such a pastor wants to measure the Church life with his mood and to minimize the church rules because of his laziness and negligence. If a pastor especially strongly relied on his "vocation" in his youth or by his nature was subjected to swift fascinations and disappointments, then with such spiritual depression he is close to desperation and can even totally repel from that which he worshipped before. This can lead to defrocking and spiritual death.
Let us pause to reflect on the question of these disappointments as one of the typical pastoral temptations in the known seasons of pastoral life. This disappointment can lead to the voluntary defrocking of those who ultimately lose their taste for being a pastor. Disappointment appears in the place where fascination had been before. This latter is not the correct criterion or correct axiology (logic with which to measure worth). Fascination or affection is not yet the real feeling of love (for a person, for an occupation). "Fascination" is a distorted relation to an object; this is the increased emotional overestimation of the qualities, properties and attractive facets of an object. When fascination passes, when normal life enters into its rights and when all the prosaic facets are revealed (of a person, a matter, a service, etc.), then it turns out that there was no authentic feeling, but rather self-deception; it was the worshipping of a false god.
It suddenly occurs that the object of affection, to which it had seemed, there was a calling no longer draws attention and to a tempted pastor it seems that he was deceived in his vocation. He sees that there was no vocation. But what is the reason?
The reason, first, is in self-reliance. That which seemed to a young candidate to be a vocation was nothing but self-deception. After having overestimated his internal forces, he noted afterwards that he lacks what he so highly overestimated. Human pride wrought its work and it continues to do the same, tempting a young pastor.
He forgot the words of the prayer at ordination: "The Divine grace, which ever healeth what is infirm and supplieth what is wanting, passing through my hand, ordaineth this most pious …." He forgot that not his weak powers, not that what seemed to him to be a vocation, not his knowledge and talents, but Divine Grace alone can complete that which he lacks.
We should examine more deeply the psychology of these spiritual disappointments. It would be good to give several examples from the history of pastoral serviceand spiritual life.
Let us set aside this commonplace example of voluntary defrocking as the consequence of the death of the wife of a priest. A widower somehow cannot bear the burden of solitude, and, desiring to be honest, he prefers to be defrocked than to live in sin and to draw others into temptation. Such cases were numerous before the revolution, — that is evident from the church lists and magazines.
Let us set aside the case of defrocking of priest Gregory Petrov, who did not obey the orders of the diocesan authority and left the priesthood after a number of political speeches. This case could occur only in a troubled time, such as before and after 1905. The cheap effect of his sermons and pamphlets found sympathy with the Russian intelligentsia of that epoch. Our intelligentsia did not want to know and did not bear Great Russian pastor John of Kronstadt, but was fascinated by Petrov, but now everyone has forgotten him.
Let us set aside and those betrayals of spiritual office that occurred in the years of revolution and persecutions of the Church by the Communists.
Let us rather examine more characteristic examples through Pastoral theology.
One characteristically deluded with his "vocation" was the famous French writer of the 18th century l'abbe Prévost, the author of "Manon Lescaut," "Mémoires d'un homme de qualité," "Le pour et le contre," etc. This Jesuit novice, who ran away from them in order to join the army, who then returned to them and again left them; entered the Order of Benedictines, and the scientific congregation of Maurists, which gave so much to the history of the Church, patristic and liturgics, but then left them as well. Two very concise articles by Sainte-Beuve: about L'abbe Prévost in "Portraits litéreres" and ""L'abbe Prévost et les Bénédictins," both give the illustrious features of Prevost. The sharp critic, who knew perfectly well the historical situation and sources for the story of his "character," shows, to what extent he was precisely "uncalled" to that spiritual path, which he attempted to follow three times. His dignity of the spirit, refined culture, literary and scientific taste could make out of him, if only he had possessed self-discipline, a great scientific or spiritual worker. Self-deception, self-delusion and pride destroyed Prevost for spiritual work.
Ernest Renan can serve as ane example of a different kind. It is true that Renan never was a priest and even did not accept the lowest church ranks, so that nothing will be said of deprivation of a rank which did not exist. Let us speak only about the spiritual disappointment and the breaking of his already outlined way. The majority of people know Renan only as the author of "The life of Jesus," the weakest article of all those written by him. Almost no one reads his historical essays about the apostolic time, his philological research works. But his recollections of his childhood and adolescence should be read to become acquainted with the epoch and with Renan himself. This book speaks with love and respect about his Bretonian curés and teachers in a small seminary in Paris. It is known, anyway, that Renan did not accept spiritual office, due to his disappointment with the obscurant approach to science, to biblical criticism and archaeology in particular, which ruled in his time. Nowadays the Catholic scientists have moved in the field of the criticism of the text much further than Renan dreamed.
Renan could not or did not want to combine obedience to the authority of the Church with the achievements of science of those days and considered himself honest for not entering the clergy. This was also a kind of defrocking. In Russian history, there is one episode which resembles that of Renan, but much is more tragic. This is the example of Archimandrite Theodore Bukharev. Being the Master of Moscow Spiritual Academy, in the sight of authorities and Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow, who was kindly disposed to him, Archimandrite Theodore applied for voluntary defrocking, which was then (in the 1860’s) an unprecedented scandal. The deeply concealed reason for this step was that he realized the impossibility of combining his personal understanding of the Christianity, pastoral service, monasticism and scientific activity with the requirements of the highest church authority and historical reality. Nothing pushed Archimandrite Theodore to this step: he had the purest personal monastic life, scientific awards, position in the church hierarchy, future possibilities, etc. A deep internal discord with reality and within himself, some kind of free interpretation of the Christianity, constructed impracticable illusions, the discord with the society and authorities, hostile tricks of some church writers (Askochenskiy) brought the man to a conviction about the necessity of defrocking. There was the self-deluded feeling of the correctness of his personal understanding of the Christianity, and an increased sensitivity, but the main thing, that it is, that it is Divine Grace that cures, and not the personality of man, was forgotten.
In order to conclude, let us give the sensational example of our time from the English Catholic world. Monica Baldwin in her interesting and captivating book "I Jumped over the Wall" tells the story of her monasticism. The niece of the English prime minister, a girl from the highest English society, a Catholic, but not an Anglican, very educated, she in 1914, on the eve of the First World War, left for the Benedictine woman’s monastery, where, after passing the strict obedience, she stayed for 27 years. In 1941, already during the Second World War, after long reflections, torments, advice, she applied for the removal of the vows of monasticism and for permission to return to the world. Rome always knows how to find a way out and the necessary formulas. This was resolved, and she returned to the world. The reason for her withdrawal from monasticism was, that she "has consciousness of the fact that she does not have vocation" to monasticism. And this happened after 27 years! The book is so sincerely written and is so clean, it so sublimely and reverently tells the reader about the years spent away from the world that it is possible to read it as one of the specimens of spiritual literature. However, this does not change the essence of the matter. This is the overestimation of one’s own forces and personal ideas, probably, the aggravated to the limit honesty and strictness in respect to oneself, the wide search for the spiritual truth. However, the tragedy is present: spiritual disappointment after 27 years of monasticism! This book by its elevated relation to monasticism and the past of the author involuntarily directs to the question: will Monica Baldwin not return into the monastery never again?
A self-reliance and self-confidence in the determination of one’s vocation, together with the known difficulties and disappointment, very frequently lead such clerics to the more sharp and oppositional treatment of the hierarchy in the Church. The example of Luther is not unique. Perhaps, led by the noblest motives, legally subordinating to the priesthood leaders, Luther bases his independent religious society, begins one of the largest schisms in the history of the Western Christianity. The history knows sufficient number of such examples. The freedom-loving spirit of "hallicanism" gave birth to many similar situations in France.
The revolution of 1789 knows, by the way, such a case. The bishop of dioceses Viviers, Lafont de Savine, became interested in Rousseau's ideas and after the recognized revolutionary oath of the clergy he began his reformatory activity, rejected fasting, abstentions, holy feasts, started to preach the divorces of marriages, met with the men of revolution and even promised to all the priests the bishop rank. But after the restoration he, apparently, realized his errors, returned to the obedience of the Church and bitterly mourned over his falling.
If Lafont de Savin were not defrocked, then he was about to cause the disastrous consequences for the church; and Lamenne went further along this way. He officially broke with the tradition of the Church and with the hierarchy. In his will, signed on January 16, 1854, he writes: "My body must be carried directly to the cemetery, without bringing it to any church....."
After the proclamation by the Vatican of the dogma of the "infallibility" of the Pope, the Carmelite Hyacinth Luason left the Catholic priesthood and broke with Rome, after stating that he no more belongs to any church but the church of the future, to New Jerusalem. He rejected his vows of monasticism and the celibacy of the priesthood, married and in this respect goes even further than Lamenne and Luasi. Abbot Pierre D’abri, at first fascinated with the social ideas of Pope Leo 13, rapidly became disappointed in the contemporary position of the church; he broke with it, declaring, that it was insufficiently contemporary and uncongenial to the spirit of the age and the present society.
This all shows that the "vocation" of the above-mentioned clerics was very fragile and their love for the church was not very deep. The ideas of their present interested them more than the wisdom of the church and hierarchical foundation. They justify their withdrawal with the "voice of conscience." It is amazing, how easily they give up that which they obtained in the sacrament of the Priesthood. Many of the so-called "Society of 33 Petersburg’s priests" (in the years of revolution of 1905) later became the leaders of the renovation and "living church" movement. They broke with the church due to some illusory and temporary political principles. In our time, there is the characteristic example of the French "priests-workers," who did not wish (in the main part) to obey the voice of the episcopacy and who placed their "mission" higher than obedience to the church. In their line of reasoning, they prefer to refer to the names of the Marxist leaders, but not to evangelists and fathers of the Church.
The list of such "disappointments" and falls could go on, but these examples suffice. One conclusion suggests itself here. Such cases occur most frequently among the freely thinking and liberal acting pastors. Such "liberal views" are taken not in their straight, political meaning, and the thing here is not about politics. "The policy of church is in making no politics" — this is the wise expression of a western church priest. However, in liberalism and freethinking there is already some concealed potential for rebelliousness. In the deviation to the left (non-political) there is always the danger of inflexibility, disobedience to tradition, the exaltation of the personal opinion above the wisdom of the ages and above the experience of the Church.
A special temptation in the path of pastoral service is thesecularization of the spiritual gift that is given to a priest at ordination. There are priests who, for some reason, follow ways that have nothing in common with their service and with the beneficial transformation of the world. Instead of the mysterious contribution to the birth of "a new creature in Christ", they for some reason transfer the center of gravity onto different secular forgeries of the authentic spiritual creation. If a pastor is generally inclined toward politics and has patriotic weaknesses, then he easily replaces his service with the other worldy interests. The temptation to conform to another authority awaits him here, be this authority leftist or rightist, and can fascinate him. History repeatedly showed us examples of such priests and hierarchs, who too easily negotiated with the political factors, and subordinated the eternal and celestial in the Church to purely terrestrial and ephemeral values. If a pastor for some reason considers that the most important thing in his service is to spread social justice and to search for the realization of some terrestrial paradise, then he easily and rapidly substitutes the intellectual values with different social illusions. Such pastors become businessmen, beekeepers, agriculturists in cassocks; they participate in the volunteer firefighters and gymnastic societies, totally plunging into different secular organizations. All these is always done with a noble concern for the need or desire to be contemporary and to live with the interests of the flock.
The above discussion centered on the need for the intellectual and external preparation for a future pastor, but as it was indicated, immoderation in it can easily bring a priest to secularization. Therefore, if a pastor has an innate taste for different kinds of cultural undertakings, then he can easily fall into the temptation of being fascinated by the mundane interests. A cultural foundation can be a useful tool in the matter of the pastoral guidance, but in no way is it the purpose of the life of a priest. Otherwise, it is easy to fall into a rather vulgar mundane passion and unnoticeably be converted into a "modern" pastor-writer, theatergoer, pamphleteer and so forth. To know everything that interests the flock is very useful and to guide it in this respect is also good, but to give himself in to this passion and to lose the spirituality, prayerful qualities and asceticism in contemporary matters is ruinous for a pastor and not useful for his work. The flock might want to hear a weighty word about one or another cultural phenomenon from a priest, but a word which is pastoral, i.e., the spiritual word, from the other world, based on the other criteria. A pastor might and even must know all this, but not plunge into this, not to substitute the values. The Gospel never promised optimistic prospects, it did not command a Christian and even more a pastor to be occupied with social reforms. It warned that the Reign of God is not from of world and taught to return to Caesar only what belongs to him, and in no way what belongs to God. From a priest therefore is expected mercy to those fallen, compassion to the poor, but in no way the building of a terrestrial paradise, neither an economic nor other mundane construction.
We must place absolutely separately that group of temptations, which some pastoralists put in the xontext of the temptations of the Lord in the desert. They consist of material temptation (the temptation by bread), the temptation of authority (the temptation of the reigns of the world) and the temptation of "holiness" (the temptation of wonderworking). We must speak about each of them in detail, since the other temptations adjoin them, and they can be better understood in this context.
Material temptation. Bread. In this field big enough difficulties in diverse spheres await for a pastor and pastoralist. This question is connected with the special theme of the material supply of a priest, his salary and so forth, to which a special chapter will be dedicated. In this context, we must speak only about the temptation by the material as a temptation of pastoral service, about the psychological side of this question.
As in all spheres of the spiritual making, a pastor first is a man, subject to general human weaknesses and temptations. It is characteristic of any person to worry about his personal prosperity and his close ones. "For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it." Therefore, these concerns for daily bread are completely normal. Temptation does not arise at all over a piece of bread, especially if a pastor has a family and does not have money. A priest’s inclination to give his children an education, to ensure the health and welfare of his family, and also to be neat and not deprived of the necessary things for himself is completely justified by moral law. The material temptation does not lie in this, this is not "the temptation by bread."
This temptation appears as another plan. A pastor can be tempted "to be like everyone." A leaning towards enrichment, luxury can appear in him, or, which is still worse, the desire "only not to seem poorer than the others." Instead of an indifference to the material benefits, an interest in supplying himself and his family with material, the desire to multiply his income, "to pull down the barns, and build greater ones" begin to grow in a priest. The priest himself begins to fear poverty, to suppress in himself the Evangelical feelings of compassion to those deprived, to forget that money is the "blood of the pauper." A priest then unnoticeably but gradually moves away from that which was commanded to him by the High Priest Himself, and transfers the center of his interests to the opposite side. He begins to shun the poverty, searches for acquaintances and connections with the rich and the notable, the special psychology of the earthly prosperity appears in him. He too easily justifies profit, makes in his conscience the union with the rich, is ashamed of miseries, modesty and need.
History and literature contain numerous direct and indirect accusations of the priesthood in the conforming to wealth. In historical experience, the idol of money too frequently drew in the priestly heart. The palaces of the western cardinals and archbishops, the rich apartments of our princes of church both in Russian monasteries and in the patriarch palace in Kharlovtsi, in Chernovitsi and other centers, supported by Habsburgs and therefore subservient hierarchy, examples of some priests who are homeowners and have bank accounts, — although all this is not very frequent, it creates a bad reputation for the priesthood in the eyes of the atheistic, Masonic and in anti-church propaganda. The laymen repeatedly accuse Christianity of the union with capital. The Church never took on the obligation, and must not take it, to spread economic equality and to destroy the capitalist system; but a pastor, who justifies wealth, who is afraid of poverty, and who looks for security, ---- is a direct contradiction of the Evangelical commandment and an excellent weapon for anti-Christian propaganda.
Briefly stated, this temptation of the materialism, or "the temptation by bread," is reduced to a psychological optical illusion. A priest loses the correct direction, he is attracted by what is unnecessary, perverts the hierarchy of values and worships that which has to be negligible for him and towards which it is necessary to be indifferent. A priest is not required to be poor, but he must not fear poverty nor be ashamed of it. A priest must not be preoccupied with the sermon of the social equality, but neither must he protect and justify the wealth and luxury.
In this question, there is a temptation that comes from the other side. Without having yielded to the temptation of wealth and conformity with the capital, a young priest can plunge into the "burning issues of the present" due to the inexperience and be led into yet another extreme.
Without having understood his task in this difficult question correctly, he can become fascinated by the stylized ideal of the Evangelical poverty. He may begin to preach about social equality, the arbitrarily understood "Christian communism" of the apostolic community of the first days of the Christianity, forgetting, that the similar kind of efforts looks like a sectarian inclination and it is unhistorical in its roots. All this will be no more than a stylization of bad taste. But going further, he can convert himself into an apostle of political communism, a preacher of some socialist party, which already is completely incompatible with his priestly vocation.
Summing up the above, it is possible to say directly that the role of a social reformer, which is not charged to him by the church, and is not the element of his pastoral activity, is not required of a priest. His center of its gravity is only in the spiritual sphere, and his measures of influence can be only ecclesiastical and worthy of his office. However, he must neither in his life, nor in the sermon anthe apologist of capitalism and a conformist with social evils, or the apostle of communism and a social tribune.
The temptation with authority. Power. This is no less alluring and a much more fine temptation in the life and duties of a priest. It does not at all consist of the narrow understanding of the self-seeking of a priest and his relentless thirst for ambition and popularity.
This is only where it begins. A pastor, accustomed to the rewarding of the clergy with different ecclesiastic and sometimes also secular rewards, easily yields to ambitious longings. He begins to calculate in how many years he will obtain the kamilavka, when he will become a protopresbyter, or whether he will be soon awarded a miter or another sign. The psychology of precedence is being developed as, for example, from what side of the bishop he will stand at the council services and what rank he occupies on the whole among the clergy. The Greeks and Arabs have no hierarchies of different rewards as exists in the Russian church (nabedrennik, different kinds of crosses, miter). The very principle of reward is not agreeable with the Evangelical ideology, according to which all taking some pains it was said: "great is your reward in heaven." All this is the consequence of the close alliance of the Church with the state.
But this is only the external side of ambition, and much more dangerous is that which excites the inclination towards spiritual authority in a pastor. The authority is actually given to him from God, but it, first, it is sacramental, of a mystic nature, and it must be diffused with paternal love and compassion for the flock. If a pastor enjoys different awards, then this can be easily excused by the heritage of the long captivity of the Church by the state. But if the thirst for spiritual authority above the flock begins to wake up in a pastor, then this is already a more dangerous symptom, which testifies of the certain distortion of his spiritual sight.
But where is this more delicate temptation revealed?
A priest wants to have the spiritual authority over the souls, forgetting that he first must co-suffer with them and is called for their spiritual revival, to the new life in Christ and transfiguration. This supremacy can be manifested in different ways. The most frequent form is a thirst to attain from the guided a "podvig," and ascetic struggle, which Metropolitan Anthony defined as follows: "Even deeply religious and pious ascetics, but little gifted with the pastoral spirit, become heavy officials for the flock." The young and over-zealous priest imagines himself to be the elder of the souls entrusted to him, demands unconditional obedience, up to reading of the certain books or having an interests in one or another sphere of public life. Entirely immoderate in this respect, pastors subject the entire life of their spiritual children to censorship, without considering the individual abilities of each of them, but mainly — his own gifts.
The second form of the same temptation appears in the sphere of teaching. Such a young and inexperienced pastor wants to be "the authority" for his flock at any cost. He considers himself to be the more knowledgable in all aspects, he interferes in everything with force and requires acknowledgement of his authority. Without being an expert in some questions, but pretending to be the one, he tries to support his authority by the priestly rank. In such cases, the degree of the truth depends no longer on the truth itself, but on the one who says it. Such a tempted pastor gives as argument: "I tell you as a priest" or "I tell you as an archimandrite" as a valid proof. It is even possible to hear: "I tell you as a deacon."
When not the content itself, but the place from where the truth is being announced, is supposed to be the criterion, then the weight of this truth does not increase. Neither the rank of a certain spiritual person nor the position of the diocese can support the uncertain truth in the eyes of a clever and critically gifted person. This tempting by authority and temptation of it must be eradicated by a priest and instead a clever, wise, weighty, substantiated word must be given.
No external honors, ranks and awards, search for authority or spiritual subordination of the flock must lead a priest, but rather service to the truth. He must always remember that alike is the Heavenly High Priest; he must attempt to serve to the others, but not to expect the service for himself.
The real authority, i.e., real spiritual importance appears by itself, as a gift from above, as a fruit of the present spiritual struggle of humility and asceticism. Those, who possessed this authority and weight throughout history, less than anyone else, reminded others of their dignity, position, external differences and diplomas in disputes. The truth always speaks for itself.
In this context arises such a detail of the pastoral life. It is natural for a priest to expect the signs of respect for his rank: asking for blessings, giving up the place, respectfully listening to his words, etc. But it is especially sad for his pastoral heart to encounter signs of irreverence, an intentional desire to insult, indecent gestures and words addressed to him and the rough attacks of an embittered heart against him. In this case, we must note two things. First, why is this most frequently undeserved attitude and anger directed to a priest? It is possible to explain this by the suggestion of the force hostile to everything spiritual and non-mundane. However, one should also ask himself about other things, like: has a priest given a reason so that his spiritual rank does not suggest any respect? It can be, that this priest does not give any opportunity to suspect himself in anything unworthy, but are not the priests collectively guilty in some treason to their spiritual vocation and their rank? Is not therefore this insult a kind of payback for the sins of the certain priests in their unworthy behavior, negligence, lack of spirituality? The second thing which must be noted is the fact that a pastor must accept any disdainful and malicious attitude with humilty and even appreciation, that he, too, is given "for Christ’s sake" an opportunity to accept the tribute of the persecution and profanation, and with the fortitude, modestly and worthily, to continue his confessionary struggle in the name of the Lord.
The temptation of "holiness" (wonderworking). This is the most dangerous temptation of all the pastoral temptations. Its danger lies precisely in the fact that it results from the motives of a higher order, from a tendency towards moral perfection and can unnoticeably lead a pastor into the sin of prelest, i.e., spiritual self-delusion.
A priest must look for holiness, for spirituality, the "heavenly state" (on St. Gregory the Theologian’s word). In his life and service, he stands beside the sacred thing. Daily standing at the Holy Table, he turns to be the mediator between the people, who search for holiness, and God, — the Source of holiness. He serves the Divine mysteries, prays, and touches the sacred things. In ordination, he is given the Grace which exceeds everything. According to St. Ephraim the Syrian, his service is higher than the Tsar’s. The deeper a pastor enters into the rhythm of his service, the more he plunges into the atmosphere of holiness. Touching the censer with the incense, he himself begins to smell sweet. And all this is completely proper; holiness must be the standard of the priestly service.
Any sacrament held by a priest is the daring appeal to God for a miracle. And with each divine service this miracle happens even independently of the personal merits of a priest, his mind, appearance, abilities. The water becomes blessed, sins are pardoned, the Eucharistic gifts transform into the Body and the Blood, icons, crosses, vestments, houses, anything becomes sanctified. The entire activity of a priest is the Eucharistic undertaking; at his prayer everything usual becomes blessed, uncommon, protected from the touch of that which is not ordained. In a word, a priest lives and acts in the atmosphere of wonders and the miraculous. His sphere is one of wonder working.
All this is lawful and comes from the very essence of the priestly service. A priest prays, solicits, appeals, and the Grace of the Holy Spirit fills everything, cures, transfigures, sanctifies. The longing of a priest for even greater holiness and darings is as well natural. The commandment of improvement is given, and there are no boundaries, since the limit is the Celestial Father Himself, i.e., the infinity of our nature.
And as once the tempter approached the Lord asking to show a miracle (to throw Himself from the roof of a temple, and the miracle will occur, when angels will carry Him on the hands), so the tempter also approaches an inexperienced priest at some moment of his life and tempts him in the same miraclulous direction. The difference lies only in the fact that there satan awaited the suicide of the Lord, tempting Him by the words of the Scripture (distorted on purpose); where here, a sly voice begins to tempt a young priest, suggesting, that precisely he, by himself, due to his own gifts and perfection, has already reached the special power and degree of holiness and can become a wonderworker. A priest is caught in the most elevated element of his service, in the ideal of perfection, in holiness. The tempting thought is suggested to him, that he already reached a special level and deserves perfection.
A pastor unnoticeably begins to assign to himself that what does not belong to him, but not to the Grace of the Holy Spirit. That which is given in any sacrament and divine service by the Holy Spirit does not depend at all on the personal gifts of a priest, but this very priest begins to see its dependence on his personal qualities and perfections, his spirituality, prayers, asceticism, etc. The similar error more often reveals in the sphere of mood and sensation, than in the mental-theoretical sphere. This shift is rather psychological, than national. A priest understands perfectly well that the blessing force belongs to the Holy Spirit, but the possibility to attain the greater sanctifying power of the Spirit he assigns already to himself, his spiritual merit, and exploit.
To this greatly contribute some ecstatic persons, which surround a pastor, chiefly the fascinated ladies, not deprived of the element of hysteria, who in their spiritual aspiration must worship, adore someone, and serve to him. The Russian ecclesiastic way of life produced a special expression for such hysterically behaving persons — "mironositsy (the Myrrh bearers)." This phenomenon is characteristic exceptionally of the Russian way of life. The Greek, Arab, Serbian church element do not know of such a deformed phenomenon due to their greater steadiness. Russian sincerity, great lyricism, and the melodiousness of our religious experiences carry this out to the highest degree and contribute to this temptation in daily pastoral life.
Such "devotees" necessarily revere someone, and rapidly find their object of adoration in a more or less outstanding pastor for themselves, especially in a good preacher, if he serves beautifully, chants well or, what is worse, if he is young and beautiful. Each of his words is caught in flight, his voice leads to agitation, and each step and gesture is interpreted with a special meaning. Such a pastor no longer can make mistakes, each of his words is the pearl of wisdom, his sermon obscures Chrysostom, and his prayers are fire before God. To his prayer rule they assign miracles, when it was nothing special in the medical sense, and where generally no miracle occurred. The pastor becomes in the eyes of these neurasthenics and, which is worse, in his own eyes, a special prayer master, spiritually gifted, he has special boldness before God, he heals, he works wonders. They find in him special gifts: one touch of his hand already cures the chronic ailments; he is even shrewd, he guesses thoughts, he predicts the future. In the well-aimed word of Metropolitan Anthony, such a pastor begins "to resemble John of Kronstadt." About him are invented legends while he is still alive. The worst of this is the fact that such an inexperienced, young pastor begins to yield easily to these temptations, to believe in his imaginary gifts, to enter into the role of such a "healer, praying master, saint."
For the maintenance of his reputation or on the habit of many to imitate others a pastor begins to work out his style, become stylized under someone who seems to him a perfect priest, he learns by heart special poses, says especially false-sweet sermons, unnaturally serves "with a tear and tender emotion."
A pastor from the first steps of such beginning worship must decisively and sharply (sharpness here is useful and justified) reject such false tender feelings and immediately limit this unhealthy and deformed phenomenon in the life of his flock. However, if a pastor allows such worship and carries it along and cultivates it, then he personally falls into this false mood, he entices himself and ruins the others.
The health and prosperity of a pastor is the special concern of such enthusiastic women. By itself, there is nothing bad in it. However, the danger is not in the concern itself, but in the "made-up legend." The rumors begin to spread: our father does not take care of himself, he indeed is not from this world, he is about to be ill with consumption, he exhausts himself, all night long he prays to God, etc. Here a priest should decisively and immediately reject such rumors, because in the majority of cases they are based on nothing. However, if a pastor actually undertakes special struggles of fasting and prayer, then "to make a living out of this" as holy fathers said, is totally unnecessary. Ascetiscm is asceticism only if it is hidden from the eyes of the people. An asceticism revealed to everyone, loses its value, both before God and for the ascetic himself.
A pastor must accept any concern for him which emanates from love. It is necessary to accept any offering, and thank people for the attention, BUT any kind of admirations, adorations, or legends one must reject decisively.
To summarize the above, we may note that a priest must warm up all the spiritual, celestial in him, and increasingly plunge into the atmosphere of prayer and sacraments fulfillment.. He must believe without doubt in the fact that he is called to work wonders. BUT he must not treat these gifts as his personally, nor consider himself a special master of prayer and the elect, but, on the contrary, he must subdue himself in his own eyes and in the eyes of the flock and, what is most important, to suppress any adoration and admiration decisively.
Everything enumerated cannot alone complete the question of pastoral temptations, and the tests of the pastoral conscience can appear in the most unexpected ways and places of his activwork. All that which disrupts the normal flow of the spiritual life of a priest or which can force him to turn away from the path indicated to him of service to the church and to the flock, all this must be recognized by him as a new temptation, with which he should begin to fight. This question must be related rather to the field of asceticism, where a pastor will find useful advice from the age-long ascetic experience of life, concerning the fight against temptations. The greatest sin is that which we consider insignificant and small. Therefore, the struggle must start at the very beginning of the appearing of a sinful desire, without waiting until this wish becomes accomplished in the form of a committed sin. This is the first thing. But second is the need to remember that frequently sins are presented to us in the form of the virtues. The tempter appears in the form of the "angel of the light." Bad wishes very frequently are born out of good motives. Often the sin entices us with different seemingly good pretexts and considerations, it would seem, of the most elevated nature, and only after we shall find ourselves in its power, is the sin revealed in its entire nudity. Therefore, it is very important for a pastor to possess the gift of reasoning and to know how to distinguish the spirits, from where they take their origin, — from God or from the enemy.
Material Support of the Priest.
Usually this question is not given enough attention in Pastoral Theology courses. It relates rather to church policy, problematics, and administration. However, because the basis of this question very closely relates to the realm of pastoral psychology, we cannot let it escape our attention, especially the duties and the mode of behavior for a priest. The sharpness of this question was realized in all times, material needs, no matter how simplified, still will worry every single person, which is why this question received proper attention throughout all ages.
In the Holy Bible much is said of a priest’s provision, his nourishment and possible difficulties in this field: "…as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee." (Joshua 1:5). The Apostle Paul writes these words in the Epistles to Hebrews: "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have" (13:5). In the first epistle to Timothy there is the same thought: (a pastor should be) "not greedy of filthy lucre" (3:3), the same is repeated in the epistle to Titus (1:7). Avarice is represented as one of the main sins not only of those in pastoral service but for all Christians, for in the second epistle to Timothy (3:2) the sign of the"perilous times in the last days" will be avarice of the people. The Apostle Paul calls this sin "the root of all evil" (1 Tim. 6:10). The apostle prohibits associating "altogether with extortioners" (1 Cor. 5:10), for they do not inherit the Kingdom of God, as well as drunkards, thieves, fornicators, etc. (1 Cor. 6:10). Covetousness is called idolatry (Coll. 3:5). We conclude all this is just from the text of the Gospel sermon. If in the Sermon on the Mount in St. Mathew it is said: "Blessed are the poor in spirit" (5:3), then the best manuscripts of the Gospel from Luke do not contain this last word, which has entered our present church text. We must read in St. Luke: "Blessed be ye poor" (6:20). A rich man shall hardly enter the kingdom of heaven. (Mat. 19:23). The parable about the rich and Lazarus sufficiently confirms this (Luke 16:19-31).
If the Savior in the tenth chapter of John gives us the image of "a good Pastor," then perhaps nowhere is the Judaic priesthood is exposed as vividly as in one of the last speeches of our Lord, dedicated to the Scribes, Pharisees and hypocrites. In vain do they think that it relates only to that historical moment and is addressed only to the Pharisees (regulators) and Sadducees (intellectuals) who were contemporary to the Savior. This speech is addressed to all religious scholars and legalists of all periods. "Devouring widows' houses" (Mat. 23:14), "paying tithe of mint and anise and cumin" (23) together with all sins of hypocrisy, external piety, formalism, etc. is decried in the formidable word of the Lord to the priests of all times. But even sharper and more merciless in respect to the question at hand is the accusatory speech of the prophet Ezekiel in his thirty-fourth chapter. It truly sounds as a reproach for all times to a negligent pastor and as the exposure of his vices. Here are these reproaches: "The shepherds of Israel Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock (3), with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them (4), fed themselves (8)," i.e. looked after their own self-interest, therefore the Lord promises: "I will deliver my flock from their mouth" (10). No lesser reproach is heard in the words of another prophet, Micah (3:11): "…and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? None evil can come upon us." The desire of Simon the magician to acquire the Grace of the Spirit with money (Acts 8:18) is a completely scandalous sin, from which comes the common noun of the sin of "simony."
Avarice and a predilection toward material prosperity are exposed as grave crimes, also, in the monumental works of the early Christianity. Thus, the "Didache" (ch.11) commands: "departing, the apostle must not take anything, except bread and the necessary things, until he stops somewhere. But if he demands money, then he is a false prophet." It is indicated in the same place, that "no true prophet, being in the spirit (in ecstasy) will assigning meal, unless he is a false prophet." As well a wanderer (chapter 12), who does not desire to work and live according to the rules of the voluntary povery, is demed as one "selling Christ." All is summed up in the words (ch.4): "do not be as one who stretches forth his hands to obtain, and conceals them when we must give," which is also repeated literally in the epistle of pseudo-Barnabas 19:9 and, with several changes in the firstt epistle of St. Clement of Rome (chapter 2).
"Pastor" Erma sketches a sad picture of the declining Christian society and clergy in the beginning of the second century. The clergy were caught up in the temptations of the world, presbyters argued between themselves over superiority, lived in luxury, deacons plundered the property of the widows and orphans, prophets were proud and searched for superiority, they predicted for money, there appeared social inequality — on the one hand, there was the wealth, and on the other — poverty (the Commandment 11:12). The so-called "Epistle to Diognetes" sounds as one of the last chords of the primitive, eschatologically disposed, evangelically poor apostolic church.
Though the voice of exposure against self-interest and avarice does not cease, and is heard from Christian teachers, bishops and councils of the following centuries, the state of things changes radically in essence. The church acknowledged by the state begins to strengthen its terrestrial order; the life of a pastor becomes calmer, fixed, provided for. The emerging administrative and managerial system of the church organization contributes to such construction. If the "Didaches" appealed for the fastest end, then Tertullian testifies that they prayed about the retarding of the end. The entire further history of the Church and pastoral activity is already the history of more or less firm priestly daily life established. This, though, does not at all indicate a material prosperity and enrichment of the clergymen, however, it is not the apostolic poverty of the first life cycle of the church. Poverty as an ideal, non-covetousness, become the subject of the pious desire in the cloistered life alone, or to be more precise, in the anchorite life. In the West St. Francis D'Assi, and the absolutely poor orders, and in the east the founders of our monastic "deserts," especially trans-Volga elders, still defend the ideal of Evangelical poverty. At the same time the abodes of Joseph defended their properties, and the poorest orders of the west were converted rather rapidly into the stable and far from poor organizations of the Franciscan and Dominican orders. This phenomenon, as cure d’Ars from France who lived in the nineteenth century and his literary echoes, is reflected in the priests — the heroes of Bernanos are but an exception. However, this does not completely mean that a priest in the subsequent times became synonymous with a capitalist, or exploiter, as the anti-religious propaganda presents.
However, what did the church practice work out concerning the question of the material support of a priest? And how a priest must perceive this practice?
Overall, life established three methods of settling this question: 1) to partake with the altar, i.e., to take payment for religious rites, 2) to obtain a established salary from the parish and 3) to receive a salary from the state or the central church authority. All these methods have their advantages and disadvantages.
1. To be partakers with the altar. The basis of this principle is given in the Holy Scriptures: "they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple, and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar" (1 Cor. 9:13). We must accept that this principle "to live by preaching," bequeathed by the apostles and brought to life by them, blessed by the long, centuries-old practice of the Church, became almost a common custom. Antiquity did not know another method of supporting its clergy. The other methods of setting of this financial question are suggested already in the present time and seem to be dictated by some new ideas. But what are the negative sides of this principle "to partake with the altar"? New and young priests and mostly those having "personal direction" usually give the following objections against this method of payment: A) It is humiliating for a priest to take money for religious services; b) one gets the impression of a certain simony, i.e., sale of the Grace of the Holy Spirit for money; c) this method brings abuses, extortions in the flock and self-interest uncontrollably develops in a priest, and affects his responsibilities; g) in poor and ill provided parishes such a system leaves a priest in an ill-provided position and and even reduced to beggary. In each position, except the first, there is an element of truth, which, however, can be softened by this or that improvement in the parochial and diocesan life. All these considerations should be discussed one by one.
Humiliation. This consideration is unjustified, a priest less than anyone should fear humiliation. An example of the absolute humiliation and resignation is given to us in the kenosis of the Savior, Who became poor, taking the image of a slave. An augmented sense of self-respect, typical of youth, must be banished from the pastoral heart. It always borders on pride and testifies about the excessive concern over ones authority. The payment of the fee to a doctor or attorney does not at all degrade people of these professions and their authority in the eyes of their clientele. However, if being paid for religious services subdues the pride of a young priest, then this is only useful for him. In connection with this, some young priests have a way of not taking money for religious services that only: 1. Testifies to their pride. 2. spreads rumors about them as of the benevolent. 3. It places in a false position those brothers who humbly accept payment for a serving a religious service. It is possible to do everything, including the receiving of payment, with dignity, and not to suffer of the depreciation of one’s authority. More will be said about the possible improvements in this method of the levy of the fee.
Simony. This sin should not evenbe mentioned in this regard, if you recall the words of the Apostle about "partaking with the altar" and see this payment not like payment for the grace of prayer, but as an offering to God, given from the loving heart of spiritual children, who worry about the fathers and their prayers.
The possibility of extortion and abuse can happen always everywhere and it does not depend upon the method of payment, but on the nature and disposition of those extorting, who will know how to find the methods to extort in the other conditions as well. The isolated cases of extortion from the side of a priest cannot be disseminated, generally, to the entire organization.
Financial insecurity in the poor arrivals is, perhaps, the most serious objection. Actually, a priest will be always better provided for in the urban, capital and generally rich churches than in one of the forgotten and neglected parishes. This is one example of how the sinful world leads to the evil of social inequality. Sharp contrasts in this respect always were present throughout history. Here it is necessary for the church authority to interfere; deans and bishops must have a special concern for the needs of the poor pastors. Here it is possible to recommend constant aid from the center or from the cashier’s offices of the priestly mutual aid, but this already exceeds the limits of our science.
2. The salary. (From the state or diocese). Many see this as one of the best present methods. A priest is not, as it were, abased by the levy of payment, the sense of "simony" does not arise, the abuses are impossible, everywhere reins justice and there are no poor and rich parishes. All this seems alike only at the first glance.
First of all, this principle is possible only where the church is recognized by the state and it is not isolated from it or, the dioceses are provided so, that they can give salary to the priests. There, where the church property is sequestered or the state hardly bears such "evil," as the Church, this method cannot be spoken of.
In reality this principle was used in the history of some states as for example, in Montenegro up to 1914, in some dioceses in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, some ranks of the clergy, as military priests, consistory clergy, in the foreign missions, embassy churches, schools, prisons. As the most recent example of putting this into action one must see the law of the separation of the church from the state in Yugoslavia in 1933, according to which the state collected extra tax from the salary of all the officials of the Orthodox confession, (which frequently disturbed those who did not desire to donate to the church), it gave a monthly grant for the church, which paid a salary to its clergy, converting it by such means into the church officials.
The negative side of this method of clergy support is obvious. First, the mentality of an official is being formed in a priest, who each month receives his salary. This can easily lead to formalism and the idea that "they will pay anyway." This contributes to the secularization of the clergy, breaks his connection with the flock, and creates a bureaucratic system where instead it must be like one family. Then recognized self-seeking develops in a priest, for he lives on the determined "table of ranks" and rises in his position as any official.
The very principle of relationship, sacrificial love, fatherhood, is erased in this atmosphere. Since this does not completely destroy the possibility to accept donations for religious services, then a priest becomes interested only in the advantageous cases, he does not care about those insignificant from the material point of view, does not react on the spot to the needs of his flock. Finally, this method, even if it frees a pastor from the possible "humiliations," on no account develops in him the humility which is connected with "partaking with the altar."
3. Remuneration by the parish. This method is somewhere between the first two. The parish gives to a priest the specific salary though benefits and money. The benefits are an apartment, heating, work in his garden and household. Furthermore, the parish appoints a sufficient payment for the living of its clergy that does not prevent the clergy from using free-will gifts and donations of his flock. A priest is more or less provided for within this practice, the parish is responsible for his welfare, and he is freed from concerns about daily bread. This method can be acknowledged as the best settlement of the question, taking into account some exceptions.
The act of paying a priest by a parish, flock or diocese must be perceived as an offering to the Church and to God, a sacrifice to Him, but not as a salary, payment, or fee.
As for payment for special services, we must make the moment of payment as graceful as possible. It produces a poor impression, if, for example, after confession all those present hear the rustle of paper or the ringing sound of a falling coin. It is better to place on the candle desk a box, into which the parishioners may put their mites. This frees a priest from the unpleasant impression, who gave how much for what. Specific fees for religious services are absolutely not permitted. The very conversations about the payment for a wedding, burials, baptism, etc. are offensive to the religious consciousness; they are the intrusion of the material into the sphere of prayer and grace.
In those churches where there are several members of the clergy, the division of the parish must occur in the proportion, established by the central diocesan authority, in order to avoid oppressions of the lowest members of the clergy. A dean should remember the needs of his brothers in Christ, who have less hope for the attention and concerns of the parishioners. One should also remind to young priests to be subdued in this question, not to pose with their benevolent deeds, but rather to remember the solid responsibility of the entire clergy.
The Family Life of a Priest.
This question represents a special feature of the clergy absolutely unknown to the Catholic world. Therefore we should first come to know the difference in the view on this side of life as seen by the Orthodox Christians and the Roman Catholics, touching as well upon Protestantism, though its representatives do not have priests in the real meaning of the word.
Roman Catholicism made the celibacy of the clergy legal in its canonical practice, making it obligatory. If the Catholicism sometimes allows the clergy to marry in its "eastern rite," as a rare exception, this, though, meets with no sympathy of the catholic society and the ecclesiastic consciousness. The celibacy became firmly established as an age-old practice, which Rome cannot and will not reject.
Orthodoxy not only allows, but appreciates married clergy. Celibacy is purely monastic, or for a long time was met with a caution. There are special time limits under canon law that pertain to the marriage of the members of the Orthodox clergy, and it is possible only before ordination into the sacred ranks. After ordination (hierotonia) a priest cannot marry.
Protestantism does not prohibit clergy marriage, and besides that that allows it after the appointment of a pastor to his service.
This is the brief outlook upon clergy marriage. Some historical information should prove the previously mentioned.
Christian antiquity had a more tolerant point of view on this question than that of the later Latin canonic code. The fifty-first rule of the Holy Apostles made celibacy non-obligatory. During the time of the First Ecumenical Council, according to the testimonies of the recognized historians Socrates (H.E. 1:2) and Sosomenus (H.E. 1:23), the church represented by Paphnutius (who seemed to be the defender of celibacy), stands in defense of the married clergy, understanding and foreseeing all the difficulties of celibacy for everyone.
But there were the other opinions in Christian society. The tide of a certain rigorism and immoderate asceticism often made demands which did not reconcile with the blessing and love of the Gospel morals on the one hand, and the church wisdom and caution on the other. The decisions of the Ganger Council clearly testify to the fact that rigorism made demands in the Christian realm. For example, the tenth rule of this Council declared anathema those who felt superior to the married because of their chastity. The Fourth rule of the same Council threatens those who think it unworthy to take Communion from a married priest. In the Thirteenth rule the Ecumenical Council asserts, that marriage should not be an obstacle for ordination, because "Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled" (Hebr. 12:4) and "Art thou bound unto a wife? Seek not to be loosed" (1 Cor.7:27); if a deacon or presbyter, under the pretext of piety will abandon his wife, let it be anathema.
By the eleventh century the Roman Catholicism (Pope Gregory the 7th in 1076) legalized celibacy and made it compulsory. The East responded to this phenomenon with extreme caution, if not to say negatively, allowing an unmarried man or a widower to seek to become a priest after tonsure into monasticism. In Russia by the law of 1864-1869, the ordination (hierotonia) of those keeping celibate was legalized only after the age of 40. The reasons are understandable. An event of enormous importance was the ordination of Moscow Spiritual Academy Professor Alexander Gorsky, bound neither with matrimonyl, nor with monastic vows, ordained by Metropolitan Philaret. As protection from possible disapproval by the Synod, Metropolitan Philaret first charged Gorsky to gather historical information about the permissibility of celibacy in the past. When the Metropolitan obtained such well-documented information, he offered the author of information to join the priesthood in order to promote him to the rank of a protopresbyter in a short time and to make him the rector of the Academy. The Metropolitan could answer the Synod’s questions with this exhaustive documentation by our bright church historian. All of Russia discussed this unprecedented fact, and this was considered almost a dangerous reformation attempt to imbalance the church way of life, settled throughout the centuries.
The view on this question has strongly changed in recent times. The ordination of Gorsky was not a single phenomenon. After the Moscow Council of 1917-18 the ordination of celibates became much more frequent. In the emigration they resort to that more easily than in Russia, without making it a required standard. The ability of a priest, not bound with vows of monasticism, to enter canonical marriage before ordination remains as the standard. It is understandable why the Protestant and Anglican view is unacceptable for us. Ordination is that boundary which separates the mundane sphere from the purely spiritual. After passing through the Royal Gates, a priest no longer can return to the thick of worldy interests and fuss. From this moment on, he must try to free himself from earthly temptations as much as possible. However, matchmaking, engagement, the atmosphere of love and honeymoon are simply unthinkable after he has given himself to the Holy service. Not depriving a priest of the delights of the family hearth, coziness and kindness of dear to him people, the Church cannot nevertheless convert into the secular the high vocation of a priest. Antiquity, in its generosity, went further. The episcopate was married, also, before the Trullan Council. The father of St. Gregory the Theologian, also the bishop of Nicea, was married and had children. And there are many such examples. After depriving the episcopate of the family happiness and leaving that only for presbyters, the Church nevertheless placed here certain time limits.
It is completely understandable why the Catholicism legalized celibacy and made it obligatory. When a priest does not have his own family, he more easily and freely gives himself to church activities, he is more mobile in the case of any shifts, missions, etc. He falls under the influence of the people less, and close to him, he has no concerns for wife and children and thus finds himself more in obedience to the church hierarchy. To a considerable degree Catholicism may construct such a well-proportioned and hierarchically disciplined building of its spiritual army due because of celibacy.
However, at the same time obligatory celibacy introduces a number of shady sides into the life of the clergy. It is necessary to show some of the psychological negative sides of celibacy, to say nothing of the larger accessibility of temptations, covered by the seemingly blissful shroud of the "housekeepers" and "close relatives." A celibate priest more easily becomes dry and egoistic, he does not have experience of the family life, and a paternal relation with the flock is unknown to him, especially to the young person, which prevents him from serving in this medium. He easily can begin to feel abandonment, solitude and melancholy, sometimes despondency, and his paternal feelings remain unexposed. This latter fact can pass into the more dangerous psychophysical complexes. Works of literature give some luminous examples of this ("the Gadfly" by Voynich, "The Ruler" of Trenev, also in E. Zola's novels).
However it may be, a candidate to the priesthood faces a question about the future arrangement of his life which forces some to put aside ordination until he makes a final decision. Not finding a wife that he likes, such a candidate can decide join the celibate priesthood. Here it is necessary to verify and to weight in depth all the possible pros and corns.
In this case, it is necessary to emphasize the entire irregularity of such an approach: the priesthood or monasticism cannot be "either this or that." Becoming a monk is not choosing one of the two mentioned ways, but is a totally unique and exceptional path. If one does not feel any certain affection for the monastic way, then to become a monk only because one did not find a bride, either because a special someone refused, or because monasticism is the easier way for promotion to the hierarchy, is completely erroneous. Upon graduation from a military school it is possible to choose between the infantry and cavalry, but after the seminary or academy graduation there must not be such selection. Those who go for monasticism exceptionally heed the call to the secluded life, either missionary or sociable.
It would be appropriate to indicate that Catholicism, due to its compulsory celibacy, does not encounter one of the temptations of our ecclesiastic way of life — the dissension and hostility between the white and black clergy (i.e. married and monastic). Because monasticism is the easier path to become an archpriest and jointo the church administration, the married priesthood cannot achieve the highest steps of hierarchy; therefore it can have hostility toward monasticism as to the careerist way in a world of educated monks. Catholicism does not know this. A simple rural cure, possessing abilities, can become a bishop with time and even get to a higher position. The monastic tonsure is necessary neither for the cardinal nor for the Papacy. The last Pope-monk was Gregory the 16th (Cameldulus), who at the time of his election (1831) still was not a bishop. Certain monastic orders gave birth for many talented bishops and popes (for example, Augustinians, Clunians, and Franciscans), but one of the merits of the Jesuit order is their fourth vow of monasticism: never to be a bishop.
In Orthodoxy, a number of the compulsory requirements of canonical nature are connected with the question of the marriage of a priest. Although they relate to the field of the ecclesiastic law and discipline, their recollection in the present context can be of an interest. A priest cannot be married to someone of another confession (4 Ecumenical Council, rule 14); his home must be Orthodox (Carph., rule 45 ); his children must not marry the heretics (Laod., rule 10, Carth., rule 30); the wife of a priest herself cannot be either widow or a divorcée, a fornicatress, or an actress (Apost. Rules. 18, 6 Ecum. Council, rule 3); in the case of improper behavior by the wife he must either divorce her or be defrocked (Neocaes. 8).
In accordance with the question of the married life of a priest appears a number of themes, which cannot be easily and conventionally solved. Here comes the special "problem of a priest’s wife," which nowadays, especially in the emigration, becomes very difficult.
In the ancient courses of patrology, this question belonged to the category of morals and manners and the selection of a bride had a nuance of tradition. The entire life contributed to this simple everyday interpretation of the problem. First is the hereditary priesthood. With a few exceptions, men did not enter the priestly class from outside. The son of a priest inherited the priesthood in the parish from his father or obtained a parish due to his bride, and was not an alien element in the spiritual medium. The same medium by the force of the age-old customs and because of the wise care of the Great Russian hierarchs Philaret of Moscow and Isidor of St. Petersburg wonderfully organized the matter of the spiritual training of the candidates to the priesthood and their wives. If a future priest passed the normal 10-year preparation of the school and seminary, or the highest one — 14 years; then, from the other side, in many dioceses of Russia there were diocesan schools for the daughters of priests with a specific program, wisely fitted for the future priests’ wives. In these schools, the dioceses’ students had, besides the general education subjects, also a wide church program including the study of the church history, a theological course, studying of the Slavonic language, church chanting and the Divine service rules. They paid special attention to upbringing in the church spirit, strict morals and secular decency, as well as to fostering of girls so that they could keep the household and bring up their children.
By such means, they prepared to devote themselves to the worthy living of their difficult life as a priest’s wife. Such everyday life facilitated the resolution of this complex question of the family life arrangement for a candidate for the priesthood. Now all this already disappeared into eternity with the destruction of the majestic establishment of former Russia and its well-organized and wise structure of life.
The Russian historical catastrophe brought about an entirely different setting of the family life of a pastor. Everything changed. The priesthood ceased to be a class, the state is no longer a friendly factor in the life of the church, there are no normal spiritual schools, the tradition of the morals and manners of the priesthood faded, and there are no remarkable Diocesan female schools. This cannot be restored, and the question must be set in a new way now.
The existence of the diocesan schools to a considerable extent resolved the difficult question of the organization of the future family life of a pastor and prepared the future priests’ wives. In the old times, there were also some "problems of priests’ wives" in the latent state. Now they arise with more sharpness and complexity.
The problem of being a priest’s wife lies in the very basis of the question. Many young girls are confused by the question of whether to become the wife of a priest. Internal psychological obstacles for this lie in different spheres and therefore are unequally estimated both by women themselves and by their future husbands. Here are some of these obstacles: A) the fear and shame to become a priest's wife, which still can be explained by the old prejudices of the Russian liberalism, which was condescendingly disposed to the priesthood. b) In the Catholic mode of the Latin countries, which are accustomed to celibacy of the priesthood, it seems strange and even a little indecent to be the wife of a priest. c) The fear of being deprived early of secular pleasures and purely mundane happiness (theater, dancing, social noisy life, the ease of secular relations inappropriate for the family of a priest, and so forth.); g) Less financial security in life and anxiety for the future of the children.
The sharpest point of this problem relates already to the very behavior of a priest’s wife in the rhythm of the work and life of her husband, a priest. If the future wife of a priest found in herself the courage to decide to become his wife, then in the very life and work of her husband she will meet with new difficulties, unknown earlier and more painful than the impossibility of entertainment or other things. Here it is necessary to speak about the special tact of a priest’s wife. Marriage is not always the complete belonging of the one to the other. In the internal, spiritual, intellectual field there always remains such a sphere, into which "the entrance is prohibited" for a woman. A military man has his official secrets, a doctor, scientist and attorney — their ethical standards, unassailable for the wife. Any clever woman understands this perfectly well and will never be jealous about her husband’s work, patients, clients, etc. This something, impermissible for a wife, must not disrupt family accord and warm relations.
But this "something" especially sharply enters into a priest’s life. In the ideal family husband and wife are used not to hide anything from each other, but a priest acquires the whole world of secrets, totally concealed and never shown to his wife. The fact is that a priest does not to a considerable extent belong to his wife spiritually and intimately, but is very deeply connected with many of those, whose life he knows better than anyone else, whose interests are as if his own, and he is connected with them with the bonds of the pastoral compassionate love, confession and so forth. He becomes one family with them, and this to a certain degree cuts his own legal family.
The special task of the wife of a priest and difficulties in this problem, lie in finding sufficient tact and internal accord in order not to prevent a priest from doing his great guidance of strange souls, their transformation, fostering and so forth. The flock, which came between the priest and his wife, is in significant measure a stumbling block for a wife and tests her consideration, tact and spiritual height. History iss full of sad examples where a wife, without being aware of all of her husband’s responsibilities felt unwisely jealous towards her husband; she harmed him, herself, and the flock because of her tactlessness.
In this problem, one ought not to fall into another extreme and to ascribe to his wife any of the responsibilities of the assistant and colleague of her husband. If she has such a gift and a priest himself will find this useful, if the circumstances will show such a necessity, then, it goes without saying, the participation of the wife in a matter of the parochial aid can be useful and fruitful. But this is not in any way the responsibility of the wife. There is no doubt that she can help with the matter of school, catechetical work, in the matter of hospital and social work, in the simple aid, where and when this will prove to be necessary and only with the approval of the pastor. It is nevertheless necessary to remember that it is better for the wife to be busy with the household and the family, to be simply the wife for her husband and the mother for the children, than to play the role of a colleague, friend at work, assistant in the labors of her husband, etc., which can introduce an unpleasant nuance, resembling the mood of the "leading society" before the revolution, a woman with "demands," etc.
Regarding the difficulties for the wife because of the intrusion into her life of the flock, it needs to be said that she will require special tact when there appears around a priest the unhealthy surrounding of different admirers and ecstatic women. In these cases, a correct understanding by the wife of her task and her gifts can liquidate this ill-character situation and tense atmosphere around a priest and avoid possible tragedy for him and his family.
The Behavior of a Priest, His Outward Appearance.
This question receives different levels of attention in courses of pastoral science. Metropolitan Anthony Krapovitsky pays little attention to it; protopresbyter Shchavelsky says nothing of it, Pevnitsky and Bishop Boris Plotnikov say a bit more.
The spirituality of a pastor serves as the leading principle in this problem. The priestly mood must be, first, spiritual, and not sinful. A priest must worry about maintening and developing spirituality within himself. No worldly interests must lead him, but rather those religious and spiritual. A pastor is called to change the world by prayer, sacraments, through the example of his personal spirituality. He must bear in himself the highest cultural values; personify the highest spiritual life and dignity of the heart.
We already discussed the need for a broad education for the pastor; besides purely theological questions, he also must be well-read in respect to general culture, to have knowledge of history, philosophy, literature, arts, etc. so that he can understand the interests of his flock, ennoble them, lead, correct, and influence his spiritual children.
For such successful leadership a priest must not fence himself off by the impenetrable wall from an interest in the world, he must investigate what happens around him. The question touching upon the benefit of secular civilization must arise for a priest as for one who is required to become aquainted with worldly distractions. In what measure is it permissible for him?
This answer cannot be found in canon law. The canons reflect the historical epoch in which they were formed. They can give guidelines, outline the principles which a priest must adhere to in his life, but cannot, and even must not accurately regulate forever, for all coming centuries, all the details of priestly experience.
In the canons, we find absolutely clear indications, compulsory for all times which touch upon the problem of inadmissible behavior. As for example, the rules: the eighth of the Ecumenical Council, forbidding the maintenance of fornicatresses, or the ninth rule of the same Council, forbidding a priest to run a tavern, or the forty-fourth Apostolic rule, the 17th rule of the Ecumenical Council, the 4th rule of the Laodicean, the 10th of the Trullan, the 5th and 21st rules of the Carthage Council, that forbid extortion. The examples given are obvious and no problem appears there.
Much more complex and more controversial is the question about the more usual entertainments, accessible to lay-people, but perhaps becoming suspect for a servant of the altar. These include, for example: reading secular literature, attending concerts, theaters, the cinema, the occupation of a priest with literature, or with scientific research not just in the field of the pure theology or ecclesiastical-historical science (as, for example, astronomy, natural sciences, etc.).
What must the governing standard be here? What is the general view of the Gospel upon life, merriment, entertainment, etc?
It is possible to say in advance that two dangers, two extremes await for us here: either to fall into an optimistic overestimation of culture and art, orto turn away from everything that is not included in the divine service, piety, theological thinking and asceticism, with rigor and pessimism.
The Gospel clearly indicates that the world lies in the evil, that the sin penetrates everywhere, that it is necessary to observe ourselves and to walk "not as foolish, but as wise" and not to become a part of the affairs of darkness. All temptations of the heathen world of "the disorderly cries and drunkenness" must be removed away from Christianity, especially from each pastor. But must we add to this all pleasure, happiness or normal human entertainments? Does the Gospel oppose all merriment? Must we then forbid all happiness, and turn the sermon of salvation thus to a gloomy cloud covering all life? Is it instructive to banish from the whole life or only from priestly habit all entertainment, merriment and searching for the beautiful in life? Must Savonarola be acknowledged as the ideal of the priestly service?
It is hardly necessary to prove that rigorism is not characteristic of the spirit of the Gospel. The example of the Savior, Who attended the suppers of simple people, marriage meals and nowhere denounced merriment, beauty, innocent pleasures of life, — does not justify of the gloomy attitude of the pastors of Savonarola’s type, typical of the Latins, Archimandrite Photius (Spassky) and Constantine Matveevsky.
But if merriment, pleasures, entertainment, and beauty are not forbidden for the simple people, for the flock, then how will a pastor who condemns everything, except piety in the narrow sense, soul saving literature and divine services, be able to understand his flock, how will he not repel it from himself? A priest who values music, theater, exhibitions of pictures and literature only as the evil charms of the devil, will never understand his flock, which lives by these interests. The flock will only stand away and fear such a priest, afraid of his censure and strict scolding at every turn. Such a priest will never be able to understand his flock, or give useful advice about whether one or another phenomenon is good or bad, if they ask him for such advice.
The sharpest is the question about the theater. In writings of the fathers, especially in Tertullian and Chrysostom this kind of art meets only irreconcilable and extreme denouncement. How many bitter words Tertullian said to the lovers of theatrical shows! How he condemns all the actors, gladiators, and musicians into eternal fire! Chrysostom is not much softer. But it is necessary to recall what the theater of their times was and whether there exists a certain difference with our operas, dramas and comedies.
If the theater of the second to fourth centuries were, as the folk shows of the Byzantine middle ages, full of rough and sensual details, resembling heathen bacchanalias, this is why the Apostle could speak at that time about "the disorderly cries, yelling and drunkenness" that could not serve to the ennobling of dispositions, and why the church condemned all this and warned the faithful not to fall into this explicit temptation. But theatrical art has something else; if offers medieval mysteries, different religious dramatizations, known in the West and East. These arts came to us through Kiev and Little Russia, but it happened absolutely legally, and the Church was sufficiently opened-minded to tolerate them and even to patronize them. Furthermore, it is necessary to have a look at the historical perspective: the theater of Tertullian’s epoch was full of erotic, immoral elements. The repertoire of our days contains many vulgar and obscene things. However, along with the frivolous repertoire and tempting plays, theatrical literature gave us an enormous number of excellent, purely artistic works. Shakespeare, Racine, Sheller, Pushkin, Chekhov and many others raise the soul above rough feelings, force us to think about something higher, take the spectator away into some other world, distant from banality and prose. It would not occur to sober thinking people to place the opera of our days, the Artistic Theater and serious symphonic concerts with those plays by mimes, gladiators and Bacchanailan dances. If we add to this that the artists themselves very frequently were and are deeply religious persons (Savina, Yermolova, Butova, Sadovskaya, etc.) who served the theater as a form of art, then any generalizations must be made with caution.
Therefore, this observation sounds like a terrible, unjust reproach and shows complete cultural insensitivity: "Woe to you, the theater-goers! Grief to you, gamblers!" Religion is right to rise against reckless card games, but it is not possible to place on one line the ardor of the card hang-outs with the artistic experiences of connoisseurs of pure art, which shows the large gap in the cultural and artistic instinct.
Various pastors and pastoralists had different opinions on this subject. Father George Spassky himself visited theater, cinema and concerts, since he wanted to know and help the others to understand what is good in the theatrical and musical world and what is necessary to stand apart from. Bishop Boris very wisely and humanely speaks on this topic. For him, the Church is not the inquisition. A priest must not be some kind of an obscurant, rigorist and ascetic. Ttemptation frequently hides not in a lighthearted mood, but in one gloomy, embittered and suspicious. On the advice of this pastoralist, entertainment must really refresh the body and soul; they must not soil and degrade the religious mood, they must not be the purpose, but only a booster agent in the vital difficulties. Following these orders, one can hope that the entertainment will not be dangerous.
Tact, spirituality and a prayerful mood brought up by years will show a priest in an error-free way, if that which serves as entertainment is good or bad. Reading native and foreign literature enlarges the horizon of a pastor, gives him more points of contacts with the flock and will help him to influence their literary tastes. Such irreproachable monks and teachers of the pastoral activity as Metropolitan Anthony Krapovitsky were excellent experts of the literature, they approved of similar tastes in their students and priests. There are many priests who are amateurs and connoisseurs of classical music, which helps them to have a rest from their occupations and is a means of purification of the soul from daily impressions. The priest brothers Kapustin knew perfectly well that astronomy did not disturb them from being spiritual and prayerful.
One should possess a sense of tact and measure. There can be a danger of being converted into a father-theater-goer, either a ballet lover or writer, who forgets about his direct responsibilities and substitutes for true intellectual values secondary entertainment. One must have a feeling of tact and measure.
There is one additional question that is fundamental: is it permissible for a priest, and in what situation and measure, to wear usual secular clothing?
There exist no canonical orders about the cut of spiritual clothing. Meanwhile the life and practice of the church worked out the form now known for vestments for priests. The sense of this tradition lies in that: 1) the vestment distinguishes the clergy from other ranks, 2) it restrains a priest from many words, gestures unworthy of his rank, from such actions, from visiting inappropriate places like the saloons, tempting shows, etc., 3) the vestment is to a certain degree a confession of our title. The entire cut and style of our vestments calls to staidness, modesty, strictness, chastity. The eastern, Byzantine cut (and similar to it the Russian cut, of course, only the cassocks) hides all the natural deficiencies of the body, stoutness or, on the contrary, beauty of the build. A cassock distinguishes a priest and makes it necessary for him to know how to wear it.
Usually the young priests with the tendency towards reforms in the realm where they are novices themselves, rise against the clerical garments which prevent them from being more mobile, more secular like others, and can even cause mocking looks and sometimes obscene remarks in the street.
For the purposes convenience the foreign priests even in the pre-revolutionary time were permitted to wear the secular garments after the divine services and in the unofficial places and to cut their hair and beards.
It is natural that in those states where the law forbids wearing the clerical garments (Switzerland, Turkey and some other countries), priests must implicitly submit to these resolutions of the civil authority, though in wearing of this or that type of clothing one ought not notice any Divine, dogmatic or canonical condition. The observance of the similar non-humiliating orders of authorities will only facilitate the actions of a priest in that situation, while breaking the law will cause unnecessary frictions between him and the authorities.
When the civil authority allows this, a priest should be in the proper vestments everywhere and most often he can, but when he needs to appear in working conditions, pertaining to his personal economic matters then naturally the priestly clothing cannot be compromised. (It is not possible to bring a rucksack or a bottle of milk from the market, wearing a pectoral cross and having one’s hair down the shoulders, which will cause smiles in the passers-by. A priest himself will feel awkward). Tact must prompt a priest the to know how and when to wear his cassock.
The Spiritual care.
The Value of Confession.
This department of pastoral theology is treated in guides for spiritual care in all confessions. It acquires special importance in the Orthodox and Catholic pastrology, in the contrast with the Anglican and Protestant. Confession is recognized as a sacrament, and this conveys special shading to this question, of which those confessions born in the epoch of the Reformation are deprived. Furthermore, only in Orthodoxy does confession have the essence of pure church tradition, not loaded down with scholastic and casuistic details, but rather a tradition faithful to the experience of the holy fathers and ancient asceticism.
An educational course gives a purely scholastic and theoretical approach to this art. This sacrament most individual and private due to its intimate nature is presented to the future pastor in scholastic schematics and examples. Much in the pastoral service depends on a blessed moment, on help from above, and this is not possible to teach. However, the human moment, the wisdom of a pastor, his prayerful and spiritual struggles enter into this sacrament more than into any other, and this must be explained to a candidate for the priesthood. The experience of asceticism, the writings of confessors, testaments of the holy fathers, — all this, systematized and fitted for mastering in school, must be the object of an academic course.
With the inimitability and individuality of the human personality, and consequently of each separate confession, a teacher of the pastoral science should attempt to generalize and to build schemata for this part of the science. It is possible to speak, for example, about the different types of confessing and with that to facilitate the work of a young and inexperienced confessor in his encounters with different types of sinners. The sins themselves can be grouped according to their peculiarity, as negative manifestations of the spiritual life. Here the danger is in the scholastic divisions and overly academic systematization, but this facilitates the study of this difficult part of pastoral science, which the fathers called the skill of all skills.
However, at the same time a priest often has to come into the contact with such cases such as cannot be subjected to classification and which do not fit into the narrow framework of moral theology. This matter concerns such special twists of the internal world of a man, pathologic phenomena and paradoxes, which relate more to the field of pastoral psychoanalysis and psychiatry.
These three themes (the typology of sinners, of sin and pastoral psychiatry) comprise the subject of the present portion of spiritual care. It is necessary to begin with some general notions concerning confession.
The Church not only appeals to God, not only reveres Him, or performs divine services in His honor; She richly and generously edifies by Her Divine service anyone who attentively listens to Her words. In their hymns, the Lenten Triodion and Oktoechos teach believers the secrets of the ascetic fathers, mystical experience, the truths of theology. The science of self-perfection in the struggle with passions and sins is taught in the poetic and edifying form of church hymnography. The Church provides, for the edification of believers, the canon of St. Andrew of Crete and other hymns of the Great Lent period.
In his job of divine service an Orthodox priest possesses a weapon of such as not only the Protestants, but also traditional Catholics are completely deprived. His ministration of divine services can be a powerful means for the education and guidance of believers. However, the main means of the spiritual care in a priest is the pastoral word in sermons, spiritual conversations, at confession and in other times. This word, based on the experience of the holy fathers, taken from the treasury of the ascetic struggles and the church writings helps a pastor to accomplish his spiritual guidance of believers not on the basis of personal experience and conjecture, but in connection with the history of the church. If one adds to this the special gift of pastoral love and compassion, together with the tendency toward the spiritual revival of that fallen, and not through a desire to rule souls, then in the hands of an Orthodox confessor will appear a special wonderful force, helping him in the matter of the spiritual care.
Let us remember the words of Metropolitan Anthony: "The majority of our priests do not know what a great spiritual force is located in the hands of believing clergy" ("Confession," p.4). A young, inexperienced priest, timid and little informed, very frequently is ashamed of those secret and intimate conversations which the majority of the spiritually weak, straying, and doubting and so on need. However, among the young clergy there also occurs an ailment of the reverse order: to be plunged immediately and deeply into pastoral spiritual care, to be tempted by the ideal of the "elder-confessor," the "startets," to expect from the flock unconditional obedience, etc. But as he becomes familiar with the experience of the church this ailment leaves a clever pastor sufficiently rapidly, whereas the first disease signifies the indifference of a young priest to the spiritual needs of the flock, and therefore it is much more dangerous than the second one.
We have already mentioned that pastoral service must not be limited by asceticism alone, that the business of a priest is much wider and deeper than was shown in the textbooks of seminary spiritual ethics. A pastor who limits his activity to just the Divine services and catechetical aspect truly underestimates his responsibilities and does not accomplish that which was entrusted to him. On the contrary, spiritual care, the ethical, ascetic aspect, undoubtedly turns out to be the one of the main tasks of his job. A priest who turns away from these questions thereby shows a lack of vocation and incapacity to satisfy the most essential requirements of his service.
It is not correct to limit the process of salvation only by ascetic and moral, spiritual care content. In the ascetic understanding of salvation, one can note a negative tone, i.e., a call to the NON-performance of this or that, and the positive, creative ("do good") tone is sometimes brought to complete passivivity, to an unwillingness overall to do anything. This "spiritual nihilism" is very akin to the "psychological monophysitism" and in no way corresponds to the way that holy fathers behaved and taught.
But while not limiting the Orthodox study of salvation in such a way and not to detract from its positive, creative element, nevertheless the ascetic, confessional, moral aspectt will occupy first place in the science of spiritual care. The reaching toward salvation begins from this; through the door of repentance the sinner approaches the confessor, asking for help and guidance. Therefore feeding (paseniye), as salvation (spasenie), is the main and first concern of a pastor-confessor. Whether one will intimidate a sinner or to give him hope; burden his helpless consciousness by the threatening tortures of conscience here and in the future life, or revive him through compassionate love and pull him out of the sinful abyss, depends on this. The task of a pastor is to suggest that although a man is a sinner, he also bears the image of God; and the image of God the Creator means that he can create something positive, that it is possible to change his spiritual state, and not to consider everything lost, and himself damned and spiritually dead.
Therefore, approaching the confession in general, and each sinner individually, a pastor must remember how accountable he is in this service. He should remember that in his hands is the possibility to intimidate and by this means to ruin the weak and culpable, but also to raise, revive and save him. "The gift to pardon is higher than the gift to correct by punishment," — wrote Metropolitan Philaret ("Letters to Archimandrite Anthony," volume 1, p. 28). That is why confession is: for a sinner — the day of repentance, beginning a new way of life, while for a pastor — the opportunity to approach the soul of the penitant, to begin his re-education and revival. In this revival, enormous possibilities are given to him: to lead the repentant, to direct his life along the new way, to make him the member of the Church and to introduce him to the mystical life of the body of Christ.
A confessor can suggest to the one confessing what the Christian understanding of life is, the world, creation, etc. The confessor who reduces confession to the usual schematic list of sins and virtues, who estimates the Christian life only as the sum of good deeds and the Gospel — as the moral study— such a pastor simply understands nothing in the matter of salvation, but is rather just a scholastic and casuist.
The admittance of sins by the confessing person is only the first step on the way of the Christian formation, turning away from previous culpable habits and, naturally, the expectation of some new pieces of advice. However, for a priest this confession is the beginning of the opportunity to be kind to a weak person. In the hands of a clever and thoughtful confessor lies the enormous power of transforming and enlightening a sinner.
Confession, as mentioned above, is the most individual sacrament, least of all lending itself to overall diagrams and rules, but the educational pastoral science is obligated to give its practical advice and introductory information from the experience of the Church.
The sacrament of confession is unique unto itself and requires understanding of some facets which concern: 1) the relative situation and content of confession, 2) the approach, mood and behavior of a confessor during the sacrament, 3) the external ritual, or, it is better to say, liturgical details.
1. The atmosphere of confession and its peculiarities.
The confession of a sinner, the dialogue between him and confessor, significantly differs from all general human conversations and social relations.
First, a man appears here in the completely opposite light, than in the ordinary life. If people always try to show their best side and to hide all their flaws so that the others would not think worse of them than they are, then in confession a sinner reveals all his negative sides, recollecting his sins and showing his humiliating side. A priest must seek for such a correct and spiritually useful confession, as the first condition. Any confession must begin from this, and it is necessary to teach this. In other words, those coming for confession and ashamed to speak about their sins, reduce the conversation to the general objects, "confess the sins of their close ones, but not theirs"; such people have no idea about confession and do not obtain any benefit from it.
Confession erases all partitions and gives to the contact of the confessor and sinner the nature of the absolute equality. A priest has to confess adults and children, men and women, simpletons and scientific wise men, average men, his fellow priests, bishops, tsars and rulers. All these categories of people have one general designation "the penitent," i.e. one seeking spiritual regeneration. Therefore the conscience of a confessor must be crystal clear for him to listen to confession of any person, his patience must always be limitless, the standard of righteousness — always flawlessly precise.
Hence the special relation of a "spiritual father" and "spiritual children" is born. The old-Russian language had a special expression: "a confessionary priest, confessionary family." Pastoral compassionate love generates such relations of the spiritual relationship, in which there must not be any kind of sentimentality. Obedience to the spiritual father must not acquire the nuance of a spiritual dictatorship; a confessor is not the "spiritual director," as the Catholics frequently call him. However, on the other hand, one ought not to forget the aspect of authority of a confessor and obedience of his spiritual children.
2. Approach, mood and behavior of confessor.
Being prepared for confession overall and approaching an individual confession, a priest must always remember that on him depends much in the matter of the sinner’s salvation. The Grace of God saves and revives on its own, of course, but it is given through a pastor and to him is entrusted the weighty confessional word. It is necessary for a priest to acquire and always build up in himself the following:
A) Spiritual experience, which cannot be acquired from a textbook immediately, but is obtained by the prayerful struggles, plunging into the word of God, paternal scriptures and contact with spiritual teachers. This experience is given through the work on oneself and, as the Metropolitan Anthony teaches, by the effort "to fall in love with people, with the man, at least, in the minutes, when he entrusts himself to you, and to God" ("Confession," p. 7).
B) Realization of the special character of his service as a confessor. Creating in oneself the special moral talent of compassionate love, which helps a pastor to revive the penitant, to become a participant of the atoning work of Christ.
C) Relating to sin as to a disease, more than as to a crime. Hence comes the effort to help the sinner, to cure him, to quiet his conscience, and inclination to love the sinner, to feel sorry for him, but in no way not to be fastidious to him and far less to expose and condemn the guilty.
D) Remembering the absolute secrecy of confession. The things told in confession can never and under no circumstances be reported by a confessor to anyone. A priest therefore must keep a secret and not give it away in the official talks, during police and judicial investigations and processes, he always must be alert. Neither with a hint nor with expression during the sermon or in the pastoral conversations a priest does not dare to say about what was told him in the sacrament of Confession.
E) Developing in himself clever and heartfelt attention, penetrating to the aforesaid, trying to examine the complex and sometimes intricate spiritual life of the penitant. Sometimes it is necessary to reach to the roots and sources of the spiritual disease of a man, as if to make a spiritual psychoanalysis. A pastor must develop the special gift of spiritual reasoning within him.
F) Obtaining exceptional patience and humility. The first is especially necessary during the prolonged and populous confessions, when a person, who does not know how to confess, begins to tell the things, which do not pertain to confession, everyday trifles and details or, condeming close ones, saying no word about his own sins. The second is needed, when some persons begin to teach a priest, pointing at his drawbacks, enveloping this in the form of making themselves guilty of the judgment of a pastor in this or that.
G) In the matter of compassionate love for the repentant, a priest must know how to understand everything in order to forgive all. However, at the same time a pastor must not forget that such general pardon must give no occasion for the weakening of believers’ morals. The paternal standard is "to love a sinner, but to hate the sin." Therefore, a priest must know the boundary of his compassion in order not to give a sinner the chance to continue his sinful habits further. People with "broad" views say: "Christ condemned no one, he forgave even a fornicatress"; but they forget that Christ, pardoning her, said: "Go and sin no more." A pastor therefore must remember his paternal authority to pardon, but also to bind and loose, when this is necessary. Condescending to the weakness of sinful humanity, he must not distort the Evangelical understanding of sin. Metropolitan Philaret wonderfully writes: "There must be condescension to the one who stumbled and fell, but the condescension to the negligent and stagnating in the downfall has an unfavorable result in society, cools zeal and extends negligence. It is necessary to take care of each one, but still more — of the spirit of entire society. May the Lord guide us to combine mercy and truth" (The Letters, 1883, p. 2).
3. The outward conditions of confession.
These concern the Liturgical moments of this sacrament and the very methods of confession. In relation to the Liturgy, a priest should know the following:
A) To try to develop the Eucharistic life of his parish more. Frequent communion must become the standard, not an exception.
B) Confession must not be indispensably connected with Communion. It is possible to confess not just on the eve of Communion. Such were the opinions among the pastors and pastoralists that the people who lived the strict Eucharistic life, who frequently confessed and took Communion, did not indispensably have to confess before each Communion.
C) Confession must not be limited to just the Lenten period of the year. It is good to take Communion more frequently, during each fast, on the great feasts, on personal and family days. This frees a priest from the large quantity of those confessing during Holy Week and other weeks of Great Lent.
D) Many advise to anticipate confession with a corresponding sermon. Sermons about repentance, by no means accusatory, but instructive, must be given more frequently, in order to warm up the desire for spiritual revival in believers.
E) It is necessary to decisively avoid general confessions, when people, who are ashamed to accept their sins, carry out only the formal side, without self-accusation, and consequently without a benefit for the soul, either.
F) Before confession a priest should read the given prayers and not forget to read the homily from the Book of Needs: "Behold, My Child, Christ standeth here invisibly."
G) After having listened to confession and suggested to the repentant what in this case the pastoral conscience considers to be necessary, one should read the first prayer of absolution of the Book of Needs: "Oh Lord God of the salvation of Thy servants…" since it contains appeal to God about the reconciliation of the sinner with the church, forgiveness of his sins and giving to him an "image of repentance." The second prayer, "May our Lord and God Jesus Christ…" is actually even non-Orthodox. It is known neither to the Greeks nor to the other Orthodox and it was not in our Books of Needs in the old times. It came to us from Peter Mogila and bears the Latin stamp, assigning the forgiveness of sins to a priest: "And I, His unworthy priest, do forgive and absolve thee…." Unfortunately, the majority of priests read it, omitting the substantially important first prayer.
This comprises to main Liturgical reminders for a confessor. It is also possible to point out the difference between our manner of confession in comparison with the Greek one. There the Litany about the forgiveness of sins is read, both prayers before confession stand in the reverse order and there are some absolutely special, not existing in our church, prayers of absolution. The Greeks also preserved the ancient institute of the "confessionary fathers," which we forgot, but the tracks of which are still preserved in the Books of Needs.
The Slavonic Book of Needs contains "the Special Preface and Legend," about "What a confessor should be like," before chapter seven "About Confession." Besides the different indications of an exhorting nature, at the end of this Preface we read: "if someone without the imperative certificate of the local bishop dares to listen to thoughts and confessions, he is worthy of just punishment as one breaking the divine rules, because he ruined not only himself, but also those, who confessed to him, and remained as non-confessed..." However, not a single priest of the Russian church had ever seen these certificates from the bishop for several centuries, and not a single bishop used such plenary powers to allow the clergy to confess.
It is a different matter in the East. The Greek "Euchology" contains the special office: "The Prayer of Ordaining to the Priesthood by an Archpriest." Here is its content.
As usual, the deacon says: "In peace let us pray to the Lord." The Archpriest reads the prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ our God, Who gave a gift of the apostolic and confessionary service to Peter and other ten disciples, and commanded to bind and loose transgressions of people, Thyself fill with grace and show worthy of the apostolic and confessionary service, Thy servant (name) through my humility, in order to bind and loose the sins of the unworthy. To Thee are due all glory, and honor, and worship, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of the ages."
After this, the Gospel of John is read: "The first day of the week … early, when it was yet dark" (20:19 and as follows).
The Archpriest, after reading the Gospel part, finalizes the office with such a formula: "The Divine grace, which ever healeth that which is infirm and supplieth that which is wanting, passing through my hand, ordaineth this most pious subdeacon for deacon; let us therefore pray for him, that the grace of the All-holy Spirit may come upon him."
In the East and in old Russia in such way ordained into the special service of the "spiritual rank" priests could serve the confession of sinners, coming to them. This did not introduce any depreciation of the sacrament of the Priesthood. Of course, every priest, lawfully ordained, possesses the sacramental authority to bind and loose. However, the Church does not permit him to undertake that discipline, until he acquires adequate vital and spiritual experience.
Certainly, large spaces of Russia, rare parishes, great spiritual needs, and in particular, abnormal conditions of our life cannot be satisfied with such a small number of confessors, set by the archpriests. That is why young, recently ordained priests, without any spiritual experience, happen to heal inveterate diseases and to become confessors.
This difference in the two pastoral practices astonishes our compatriots while being acquainted with the Greek custom. In the eighteenth century Metropolitan Raphael Zaborovsky spoke out negatively in regard to this, indicating that if a priest is permitted to serve all the sacraments, then why is one of them is forbidden. However, one should say that this is not even a prohibition, but a certain limitation, that takes in account the age of young priests and their inexperience; it is of disciplinary, but not sacramental, nature. In practice, the Russian church and hieromonks were not permitted to marry people, but embassy and naval hieromonks could fulfill this sacrament.
We repeat that the prohibition fromour Books of Needs to confess without a special certificate from the archpriest, when this certificate no Russian priest ever obtained or saw, attracts attention. In that case, one should not put this into the Books of Needs.
However, such certificates were given in old Russia. Here is the inscription on them from "The Collection of Monuments on the History of Church Laws": "The letter, which is given to a priest, when they ordain him into a spiritual father" ("The Collection of Monuments on the History of Church Laws," Petrograd, iss. 1, 1914, p. 49)
"Our humility, according to your application, blesses the most honest among the reverent monks NN to be a spiritual father in order to receive confession of the Christians coming to him. A confessor should not be flattering, money-loving, gluttonous, ambitious, irascible, vain, rancorous or vindictive, but be gentle, subdued in everything, possessing hatred to the illusory goods of this world, patient, fasting, alert, studying the Scripture, understanding the Apostolic rules and the Church canons, one that keeps purity of the heart, merciful, reverently accomplishing priestly divine services and sacraments, sensitive to divine suggestion, since such, on the word of the Lord, are given Grace to understand the secrets of the Heavenly Reign. He must check the hearts of the people, coming to him, their transgressions and thoughts, and give them advice in accordance with the established rules, to expose some, have pity to the others, to call everybody to the soul’s salvation. Therefore let him think whom to bind, and whom to loose, depending on what they deserve..."
The ancient Russian practice did not differ from the Greek— such is evident from the ancient manuscript "Potrebnik." So for example, in the manuscript books of Novgorod Sofia's library (number 1061, 1062, 1066, 1067, 1085, 1087) such note is contained: "Young priests still cannot dare to accept a single soul for confession."
We forgot the ancient Russian and contemporary eastern practice so, that even in the official periodical of the Spiritual Academy of 1896 is given the indication that under the imperative certificate it is necessary to understand the "protégé certificate," with which the ordained acquires all the hierarchical rights. This is not correct. The protégé certificate is the certification from the diocesan archpriest in the legality of ordination; but the certificate about which the Book of Needs and ancient canonical monuments speak, is the special authority to the accomplishment of the confessionary service, connected with the mentioned office of "ordaining into a confessor."
If this ancient practice cannot be revived under our conditions, then one should not enter it in the Books of Needs in order not to confuse the conscience of the priests. The young priests, remembering about the ancient practice, should perceive their position of being a spiritual father with more care.
Speaking of the method of confession, it is necessary to recall that confession is an individual sacrament and each repentant is unique, while each confessor can have his personal methods, and therefore there is no possibility to give any monotonous and exemplary prescriptions, how to confess.
A confessor can prefer the recognized form of this sacrament, but a penitant can have his own typical features, which require adaptation to his psychology. Confession can be conducted in the form of questions and answers: yes - no, I am guilty, yes I repent, etc. This is the more simplified method, both for the people who do not know how to confess and for those who feel shy to reveal some sinful thoughts, it is even easier, but it has a formal aspect which resembles interrogation. Confession can be in the form of a conversation, deprived of formalism and reducing everything only to the enumeration of ones misdeeds. Very good confessors often preferred exactly this form of confession (elder Ambrose of Optina Hermitage, Metr. Anthony, father Alexis Nelyubov). Some confessors prefer not to speak themselves, but to give the penitant a chance to express everything himself. This gives a confessor the opportunity to concentrate internally, to pray to himself, but in this case a penitant is supposed to be confessing frequently, openely, and used to participate in the sacrament.
However it may be, a priest must not only listen to, and then, after giving advice, read the prayer of absolution during confession, but is obliged to pray to himself while a repentant confesses him the sins. The best is the Jesus prayer. It helps to the sinner with its spiritual force and strengthens a confessor himself, purifies and clarifies his spiritual sight.
Frequently one can hear from those coming for the spiritual doctoring about their inability to confess and the lack of knowledge how to express what is in the heart. Even if the repentant do not recognize this, then it can be easily revealed during confession; many do not have a clue, of what confession consists, of what is necessary to speak, on what to focuse their attention.
Therefore a confessor needs to prepare the guided for confession. It is necessary to give sermons about repentance, to use every opportunity to direct the thoughts of people toward confessionary themes, it is necessary to edify and to enlighten people in conversation. Some people, without thinking about the long line for confession, that a priest has insufficient time and that he is a man with limited attention as are others, simply talk profusely on all possible subjects, except the main and only necessary thing: their sins, repentance and tendency towards correction.
Some people, touchy, rancorous, and egoistic, etc. begin to tell a priest about the sins of their neighbors, to condemn, completely forgetting their own transgressions and flaws. Others suddenly ask the most difficult theological and philosophical questions, which "torment" them, for example: on the meaning of suffering, why God allows that, about "the tear of a child," completely forgetting that confession cannot be a seminar on such themes and be dedicated to their problems. It is necessary to explain that confession is one thing, and spiritual conversation is an entirely different matter. There are some who begin to tell about their further plans or of what they think concerning one or another question. One can also meet with this type of penitant, who loquaciously and unctuously try to prove their spiritual knowledge and imaginary theological erudition to a priest, what is very far from simple confession, i.e., simple acceptance of their sins. Sometimes one meets with the man, not recognizing himself guilty in anything, treating himself "as the one who has done nothing special," avoiding to say in confession something shameful about himself, or simply keeping silence. It is still possible to give many diverse examples, but all this only proves the fact that only a few people are aware, what confession must consist of, what repentance is and why the Lord established this sacrament.
A good analysis of repentance we find, reading father A. Yelchaninov’s "Notes" (first edition., p. 64): "The pain from the sin, aversion of it, its acceptance, confession, determination and desire of deliverance, mysterious transformation of the man, accompanied by tears, with the stress of the entire organism, purification of all levels of the soul, a feeling of lightening, happiness, peace."
If this is important for a sinner, then a priest should remember the words of Metr. Anthony: "The deeper you are imbued with the consciousness of your personal distance from that spirit of all-embracing love and compassion, with which must be filled a Christ's pastor, the more you mourn over your heart-hardness, the nearer to you is Divine Grace, the more accessible your soul is for the bright enlightening." A priest must humbly appeal to God to give him understanding and to guide him, for the softening of his heart, for the gift of the spirit of compassionate love and the guidance wisdom" ("Confession," 14).
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The Typology of Sinners.
In this chapter will be given the common survey of the most frequent types of the repentant, and the brightest examples of those spiritual states, which require a wise pastoral word and thoughtful attitude.
A Simpleton. That is the rarely encountered type of a Christian in the world of civilization and epoch of the progress as an example of the repentant sinner. This is the model of the most easy to deal with sinner for a pastor. In old Russia and perhaps somewhere in the East, in the situation of everyday and patriarchal Christianity these people comprised to the majority of the repentant. Their mind is not overloaded with rational things; the heart is opened to the loving paternal word of a confessor. By the social position these are the people, not poisoned by the fuss of the urban life and by the illusory wealth of civilization. These are peasants, old nurses, servants from the patriarchal families and the mass of monastic simpletons from the disappeared from the surface of the earth, but numerous in the old world monasteries.
Realizing the sin and being culpable is very clear in these people. They probably did not read the treatises on the moral theology, works of ascetics, they did not hear about the categorical imperative of Kant, but their conscience is exceptionally sensitive and uncompromising. The sin burdens them; they are afraid of it and try to be freed through their sincere repentance and prayer of the confessor. Therefore they approach confession from the moral side. They will not plunge into discussion with a confessor on the different philosophical subjects, but they neither will disguise the sins. They, first of all, are resigned are meek. They eagerly listen to the homily of a priest and are very grateful to him. They easily innumerate their sins, frequently adding: "what to hide, father, each time I stepped, I sinned," or "have sinned by a word, matter, thought, and all feelings," and they will mention the most burdening sins. They do not have problems; a sin is undoubtedly a sin. They neither have ambiguity, such as: on the one hand, this perhaps is a sin, but, if one takes into account this and that, perhaps, this is not a sin. After confession of such person a priest is often surprised with clearness of the conscience of the repentant and even can find something edifying for himself in the subdued approach of this simpleton to the Church, God, a priest, and confession. This type of people increasingly disappears.
An Intellectual. This is the complete opposition to the image of a simpleton. With his past, education, cultural heritage, and according to his attitude to the Church and approach to the sin he bears something complex, painful for himself, and for the confessor this is the test for his pastoral patience and experience.
The highly intellectual type is characteristic of any culture and nation. A confessor always needs to approach such person differently than he approaches a person without intellectual demands. But the type of the intellectual is the product only of the Russian history, unknown to the western culture. It was affected by the historical, cultural, everyday life changes, not characteristic of the European civilization. This type in its classical appearance of the 19-20th centuries will probably be swept from the face of this planet by the historical process, but in its essence it bears some typical Russian features, which will remain in life, however the history turns.
Here are these essential features of an intellectual: 1) the increased rationality, from where comes the habit to speak, quoting the authoritative writers; 2) the indiscipline of thinking and absence of that what distinguishes the people of the Roman culture, namely: the steadiness and the clarity of thoughts and formulations; 3) traditional oppositional character of any authority and hierarchical quality, whether it is the state or ecclesiastic; 4) the characteristic absence of the common life style and the fear of any settlement like a family, class, church society; 5) generally the tendency for nihilism, unlimited by the type of Bazarov and Mark Volokhov, but easily preserved in the spiritual life as well; 6) the influence of some acute tendencies, like the decadence, which is manifested in the brokenness and mutilation of the soul. It is possible to mention more things, but what is said seems sufficient.
In its approach to confession this type is frequently very difficult both for itself and for a priest. Almost no one could get rid of the dust of these former illnesses. The symptoms of the past frequently come up to the surface and the unhappy feels himself a prisoner of the ex-habits. This confusion of the soul is born in the way of thinking and method of expression. Such people are often not capable of clearly formulating their soul state. They almost always are in the captivity of their moods, experiences, problems. They do not even know how to mention their sins, they beat around the bush, sometimes accept the fact that they do not know how to confess. They do not have clear consciousness of the sin, although they are not completely deprived of the moral feeling. Vice versa: this is the part of people with the high moral level, punctilious to themselves, incapable of any prejudicial act; they are in particular the carriers of the public honesty, the people with "crystal-clear souls." But in the internal life they are in the captivity of reasoning and mundane wisdom. Their confession bears the rational character; they love to find reasons, not to agree with the given opinion. They are prepared to start debates at the confession and to keep to the "special opinion." They bring their excellent dialectics to the confessionary table. From their diffuse confession ("somehow, to a certain degree, I thought, how to explain this?") they pass over to the remote co-questioning. Without considering that people stand in the long line for confession, they go into the theological philosophizing, forgetting, that confession in no way is a convenient moment for this. One might hear: "The question about the sufferings of people terribly torments me, why God allows the sufferings of the innocent children?" And so on. They frequently complain of their "doubts." Weak faith is typical of this category of the repentant.
Father A. Yelchaninov, spiritually experienced and thoughtful, wonderfully described them: "This is the sinful psychology, to be more precise, the mental mechanism of a fallen person. Instead of the internal understanding they possess the rational processes; instead of the confluence with the things — five blind feelings, truly "external"; instead of the perception of the whole — the analysis. The people, who are primitive, possess the strong instinct and are incapable of the analysis and logic, are much closer to the Heavenly image" (the Notes, p. 63).
The complacent conscience. Unfortunately, this is the one of the frequently met cases in the confessional practice. These are the people, regardless of the fact, if they are intellectual or poorly educated, possessing little conscience in the spiritual life, and affirmed in some religious complacency. The special spiritual prosperity is their distinguishing feature, nothing disturbs them. The code of their moral requirements is very scant, and they try not to think over the spiritual questions, considering this to be optional. They do not have spiritual hunger, and their moral horizon is much narrowed. It is possible to reproach them in certain spiritual self-love or at least in self-sufficiency.
These people very frequently: 1) mention their merits, external positions in the confession, firmly believe in their "services"; 2) they eagerly confess the sins of the close ones (the husband, wife, children, mother-in-law and so forth.) 3) more frequent they simply accept that they do not have any special sins, that they killed no one, stole nothing, and generally are culpable of nothing. They created themselves a whole series of the known moral frames, calming formulas and apologies. Leon Blua, the sharp and caustic writer, an uncompromising Christian, French catholic, called such people "the spiritual bourgeois." This is not a social type, but the carrier of the known spiritual appearance, precisely, of calmness and religious complacency. Blua mercilessly chastised these bourgeois in all his novels, diaries, articles and notes. The spiritual bourgeois thinks and speaks with the general phrases, i.e., by the memorized light-weight formulas, with which he calmed his conscience of a very small volume, and lives on the basis of these "general phrases." Blua wrote in the two volumes of "The Exegesis of the General Phrases"— one of the most caustic and scathing exposures of such complacent and unconscious in the religious sense people. Here are some examples of such "general phrases" from the collection of Blua and from other sources: "The sin is an overall phenomenon, it is not allowed to sin"; "Well? Essentially these are minor sins"; "The Gospel, you know, became obsolete and it is not applicable to our life"; "Of course, father, I am not a monk..."; "I as a cultural man..."; "Well, you know, God does not need all this, God does not require so much."
All this testifies about the complete spiritual illiteracy, the elementary insensitivity to the spirit of the Gospel. A priest must explain much to such people, to make them understand, to reveal things. It is necessary to get busy with the basic catechization of such Christians, what is impossible during confession. It is necessary to dedicate to this subject repeated sermons, to instruct patiently and gradually for a long time.
Such people need to learn everything in the Christianity anew, that the sin is the disease of a soul, that sinful nature is a consequence of the common for all people first-born sin, that to fight with the sin is necessary at the very beginning of its appearance, that the division of sins into the small and big ones is damping dangerous for the spiritual life, that the sin is not only the evil matter alone, but it roots in the depths of the soul, in inveterate passions. One should explain them, that each Christian must be a devotee, ascetic, go with the narrow way, which leads to salvation, but not with the wide, directing to hell, that the Gospel and the Church cannot become obsolete, that this is the eternal notion and reality and that if they do not correspond to our habits, then neither the Church, nor the Gospel must be adapted to these habits, but the person should be subordinated to the discipline of the Church and the commandments of Christ. And many other things.
It is necessary to try to wake up in such people the aversion to the sin, the mortal memory, spiritual sobriety, submissiveness to the voice of the Church, desire of the spiritual regeneration and transfiguration into the "new creature" at any cost.
The over-anxious conscience. This type of the sinner is the complete opposition to the indifferent and irresponsible Christian, whose example was given above. This is also a very difficult case in the pastoral confessionary practice especially because it comes out of very pure and elevated motives. If the spiritual bourgeois does not understand, in what he can be culpable before God, then the possessor of the scrupulous conscience, precisely the opposite, is crushed by the consciousness of his blame. Such despondency with the sin makes from him the man who is spiritually weak, cowardly, and barren. He imagines himself the carrier of all possible sins, the vessel of evil, the slave of the devil, etc. He frequently begins to consider him doubting in faith, and in himself, in the mercy of God, and the possibility of salvation and so forth. This is the one of the forms of the spiritual disease, which can be cured only by an experienced confessor, but not a rigorist or exposer.
Metr. Anthony (The Confession, p. 28) determines them so: "these are the over-anxious people, who love to check their sensations and full of a constant bustling fear, not to miss or prove to be defective. It can seem to them that they themselves are sick, or that their children are ill, or are about to, etc., frequently they fall into even larger misfortune, into the so-called blasphemous thoughts, when in their head, completely against their will, to the thought of the name of Christ or the Mother of God are added different obscenities, and the more they fight with this, more persistently they throng in their heads. The inexperienced people with horror begin to consider themselves blasphemers, and inexperienced confessors tell in them about the heavy sin of blasphemy, "about the blasphemy on the Holy Spirit as the greatest of all sins." This is the one of the sharpest sins of an over-anxious person, and his scrupulous conscience still discovers other sins, which suppress the unhappy and lost person.
Here are several examples of such a state: 1) "I am lost, I will sin anyway, I cannot fight with my inveterate habits"; 2) the fear to lead the neighbor into any temptation and to be responsible for the others’ sins, and as a consequence —the withdrawal from the contact with people; 3) the fear of sexual desecration by thoughts, visions, dreams, etc; 4) the fear of the fasting breach and so forth. All this testifies about some slavish fear before God and the unhealthy pettiness of his behavior. One clever and thoughtful Catholic confessor and good psychoanalyst Schulte says in his book that during confession he encountered people, who admit, that they fear to step onto the newspaper with the name of God, the cross or another sacred image in the street. This fear leads them to some stupor, almost to mania. So it happens in reality: such fears and thoughts border on with psychiatry, obsessive ideas, etc. He gives examples of the priests, who during divine service get overwhelmed with fear, not to forget to commemorate one or another name or to pronounce incorrectly the sanctifying formula, or not to forget to pick up from the diskos the crumbs of the body of Christ. Schulte calls these types of the over-anxious people "mementists, consecrationists, phragmentists." Similar cases also occur in the orthodox priestly way of life. At confession such priests confess precisely the fact that they fear not to say any essential important formula or not to forget to hold one or another sacred action.
This pettiness leads to even larger small-mindedness and over anxiousness, kills every creative beginning, develops suppression by the sin and leads to the bigotry.
Here a confessor is expected to give wise word and correct orientation in staying awake spiritually and at the beginning of asceticism. It is necessary to cheer up the repentant carrier of the over-anxious conscience, to strengthen and sober him in every possible way.
Children. The special difficulties arise before a priest with the confession of small children. This happens for different reasons. First, not everyone has a special gift to talk with the children in the correct tone, truthful, natural. Secondly, there comes the atmosphere of confession. Parents do not always give the proper upbringing to a child, develop in him the church understanding, they do not know how to prepare him for confession at home, especially for the first one. Therefore it depends on a priest to arrange the correct attitude in children, to tell them about repentance, to explain everything connected with it, to wake the corresponding mood. The difficulties during confession arise from distinctiveness of the childish psychology, different from psychology of the adult people. If a priest erroneously speaks in the incorrect tone, for example, trying to imitate the imaginary childish world, then this will create the wrong approach to the soul of a child. Children feel naturalness and sincerity much more strongly than anyone else.
A priest must influence a child directly, without superfluous debates and abstract ideas. It is necessary to affect conscience, to wake it up, to call to sincerity with oneself. "The beginning of wisdom is the fear of God." This must be suggested to children from the early childhood. Fear of God is not as a panicky feeling, but the reverent respect to the Heavenly Father, mixed with filial love. The utilitarian relation to the sin and virtues cannot be developed in a child with the help of juridical and mercenary notions: if you behave yourself well, then God will send you everything good, while if you conduct badly, then God will deprive you of this and that. This is unworthy of the Christian understanding of adoption by God and of the Evangelical sermon of love and morals. The Evangelical moral very frequently lacks exactly this equilibrium and concept of justice (the reward to vine-growers not on the human justice, but on the mercy and love of God). A priest must not misuse the threat: God will punish you. It is necessary to bring up the primacy of love in a child’s soul from the earliest years, but not of fear; of filial love, but not servitude and hireling. A confessor must find this equilibrium between the fear of God and filial love. It is necessary to gradually develop the truly Christian feelings of love for the Gospel, devotion to the Church, love for purity, holiness in the soul of a child, to give examples of the saints, who gave everything, including themselves, to God.
It is especially necessary to pay attention to the childish tendency towards lies, using of other people’s things, mockery and sarcasm towards the weak, tendency of children to torturing the animals, to the habit to wriggle and be generally insincere, to the inclination to roughness, etc.
Young people. If in the confession of children large enlightening for a priest is in their sincerity, openness, readiness to repent sincerely in their sins and behavior, and to cry easily from the consciousness of their faults, then with the confession of young people at the age of 16-20 years a priest frequently faces some internal reservation and unwillingness to allow the close approach of a confessor’s look. It may happen that a young man or a girl of this age come for confession on demand of their relatives, or following the former tradition, or even with a sincere desire and religious feeling, but already fuddled by the false shame of this age. However it can be — the largest obstacle for young people is some reticence, shyness, and distrust.
This is the most critical time of the entire life of the man. Here occurs an abrupt change in the soul of the man, formation of his nature, change of the previous sensations by the new ones, which passed through the hearth of the rationality of perception. This is "the time of hopes and tender melancholy"; period of romantics, stormy fascinations and bitter disappointments; the time of the first searches of the inquisitive mind, appearance of the first doubts, waking up of temptations of disbelief and distrust to the previous authorities. In these years mostly develops pride, self-love, settling of the superiority in everything, occur the first encounters with the mysteries of existence, both physiological and metaphysical; for the first time wakes up eros and the sex already gives to know about it. A young man and a girl are especially sensitive to everything false and fake in these years, and, how paradoxical it may seem, they easily yield to the temptation of poses, roles, phrases, far-fetched images: first they play the role of the denying and insurgents, then — of the disappointed or skeptics; they are tempted with everything mysterious, although the mind wants to subvert all, that is beyond its jurisdiction. "Secrets, the language of hints, reticence from the adults" impel a young soul to entrust everything secret to a diary, which in these years is written with a special ardor, but often the phrase and desire to play a role does not leave the young and "disappointed" romantic; he is not absolutely sincere with himself and still continues to pose on the pages of his diary.
This type of the repentant is especially difficult while confessing, since a careful priest fears not to touch the fragile vessel of the soul and some secret springs. A priest must beware of, on the one hand, not to insult young shyness and reticence, but on the other — not to prove himself to be too irresolute and negligent in confessing the thoughts. Nothing can be missed in the confession of such young man (girl), a priest should help the bashful conscience to tell about everything frankly, but at the same time he cannot too roughly invade the secret corners of the other soul and push one to the sin, saying perhaps something that did not even come into the head of the repentant, not to tempt, not to destroy some very secret peace.
If a priest generally knows how to approach sinners, he developed in himself a feeling of commiserating pastoral love, if he wants to be not a terrible exposer and moralist, ready for penance and lecture, but a real spiritual father, then he will succeed, even with the reticence of the collocutor, to make him inclined to himself, to suggest confidence and the need to tell sincerely about his sins and misdeeds. And then, after the usual confession in daily sins, when the one confessing becomes silent and does not dare to speak about the main thing himself (about the sin of lechery, or the habit to take other people’s property or even to steal money from the parents, etc.), here, in the form of a wise and experienced confessor’s advise, one must gently say: "Maybe, there’s a sin, which you feel shame to confess? It can be, you did not tell everything on the previous confessions? Or forgot, and then recalled and no longer dared to say it to the confessor? (Metr. Anthony, "The Confession," p. 30). When "the repentant, seeing in you not the terrible exposer, but the commiserating to him friend, will finally say about his crime, do not terrify and do not be indignant, since he sufficiently repented that, but only complain, why he did not say about this earlier, on his previous confessions"(the same source).
It occurs, that for confession come young people, who arrived on the coercion of the family or for another reason and indicate, that they have nothing to say, that they do not believe in the need of the sacrament of confession, that in reality they do not properly believe in God, as they believed in the childhood. To this a priest should pay considerable attention and treat it with caution. Certainly, confession is not the convenient time for the theological debates, but it is necessary to do everything possible that this youngster would not leave a priest dissatisfied, wounded or offended. Then he can move aside from confession and the church for a long time, perhaps forever... It is necessary to appoint him the time for the particular conversation, to show him special attention and friendly love and with all methods to try to warm, interest him and show kindness. It is very important to arouse the interest to the questions of existence and sense of existence, to the goal of life, to the limitedness of this terrestrial circle and senselessness of its autonomous existence without dependence on the Highest Element. The doubtful young mind begins to protest against all dogmas and authorities; it requires reasonable and scientific explanation of its bewilderment. It is very reasonable to support the voice of this love to philosophizing. An inexperienced, poorly educated priest greatly fears the awakening of the "cursed questions" in young people, seeing a dangerous fermenting element in them. This is the perfect error. The appearance of demands and questions in young people is the beneficial soil for the answers from the religious point of view. They testify about interest, outstanding abilities. A priest needs to work a little more with such souls, to dedicate them his attention and time, to pray about them, to recall his own young time of "storms and impulses." It is necessary to command trust to oneself. It is necessary, that they would see in a priest not the "servant of cult," backward and old-fashioned, but such, that everybody would come to him with the open soul and see in him a sensitive, educated, but more important, sympathizing person, capable of understanding other people’s search. One should not repulse such young people from books and philosophical inquiries, but, on the contrary, open before them even larger horizons so that they would feel the entire limitedness and untruth of materialism and atheism.
"The Sense of Life," the book of Count E.N.Trubetskoy, the books of contemporary to us apologists of the Christianity, who made their way from Marxism to idealism (Frank, Bulgakov, Berdyaev) will wonderfully help in these conversations.
The ill and dying. Confession on the sick bed always acquires the more acute nature than in the ordinary situation. The disease very frequently softens the man, subdues his pride and self-confidence and makes him more accessible to the pastoral influence and his word of edification. Often only on the hospital bed and in his last days of terrestrial existence the man properly and seriously approaches the questions of faith, the other world life, and remorse. Late repentance about the life spent in vain appears in many. Disappointment in all the past enthusiasm and ideals leads to the painful realization of uselessness of the entire life.
But frequently another thing happens. The disease is accepted simply and with the subdued consciousness, — "it must be that way." A patient although regrets about everything that occurred, but attempts to purify his conscience confessing in these recent days or hours, he requests to help him in confusion, catches each word of a confessor, as of that sent from above, awaits edification, entreats to prepare him for the terrible hour of death. There is nothing more consoling in the activity of a confessor than to meet with such examples. When death finds the man subdued, meek and opened, then it is possible to speak with such a dying about the future life with especial benevolence, without trying to calm him with hopes as if for the fast recovery. He needs and must be told about the preparation for death, to soothe him with hope and faith for all covering mercy of God, suggest that he moves not into some unknown and distant country, but returns to his heavenly fatherland, to the loving and good Heavenly Father. He should say less gloomy words about eternal tortures, the terrible Judge, about inevitability of ordeals, and give little more comfort in the sorrowful dying minutes, little more words about the adoption by God, about God as the Father. It is useful to tell about the dying minutes of the Christian devotees of piety, about those, who easily died as for example, prot. A. Gorsky, the rector of Moscow Spiritual Academy, with the last words: "I want to go home, home" or Prof. Bolotov, who said: "how good are the dying minutes," archim. Macarius Glukharev, the chief of Altai mission, who said: "Christ's light enlightens everything" or Christopher Columbus's word: "Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit" or finally James Beme, the famous German mystic and the man of the great Christian purification: "now I go to Heaven." A priest is called to ease the mortal melancholy in every possible way and give hope for the bright future, no matter how difficult the confession of the dying was. Very well, if a priest succeeds in softening the heart of the ill in order to give Communion to him during the disease several times.
But one can meet with the reverse picture. A priest meets sometimes with the complete spiritual deafness of the ill. This happens due to the bad influence of the youth, going into the liberal and materialist studies, maybe occultism or theosophical doctrines, complete absence of the church habits, probably, the dissolute life, excesses and any kind of sins, — all this eliminated from the man the similarity to God. Death disease is only senseless suffering for him, and he looks at death only as at the physiological phenomenon, one in the line of the others. Frequently in such people awakens the irrepressible bitterness against all; the inevitability of death leads them into the powerless fury; envy and hatred for the healthy is spilled; conscience, damped from the old years, feels nothing spiritual. The voice of a priest does not reach the soul, but sometimes excites in such embittered people the desire to say something evil and insulting or, in the better case, to smile sarcastically and to state that the spiritual comfort, Communion, confession are not his concern, and he has quit with God, the Church and priests long before. It is necessary especially intensely pray for such unhappy, appeal to God of their wonderful conversion at least in the last minute. One should never despair and it follows to visit such patients in making the most repeated rounds of the hospital again, but to be careful, "not to stick," in order not to give them occasion to be embittered and to blaspheme sacred things once more.
Generally with the sick a priest must be especially tactful. However, from the first time, if the sick himself does not request, one should not start speaking about the necessity of Communion; it is possible to ask about the disease and the mood, about different everyday things, if the sick requires material support, to try to help him from the charitable sums of the parish. Then it is possible to ask, if he desires to obtain religious soothing, to pray, maybe to confess and to take Communion.
Pastoral wisdom and tact require all this. The ill frequently are over-anxious, they fear, that Communion is the sign of the close end. Very frequently one can hear: "I am not going to die... I do not feel myself that bad... well, when I feel worse, than I shall ask you, father, to confess me." It is necessary to count with this, nobody should constrain anyone in the religious life, but it is necessary to insist in the proper time. The great responsibility lies on a priest, if someone from his flock dies without confession and Communion.
Therefore carefully, delicately and without intimidation it is necessary to strive that the sick themselves would ask for the help of a priest. But a pastor must bring the words of joy, hope, mercy, Evangelical light, but not inquisitorial cruelty, or juridical approach to the sin, not accusatory attitude to the human infirmity.
On the Sin Generally.
The second topic is about the forms of the sin, about the separate sins, with which a pastor has to meet at confession. But before one should make the certain general introduction of the ascetic-theological nature, which can help a priest in the difficult task of teaching the repentant, how to fight with sins.
It is necessary to point simultaneously at the unsatisfactory elucidation of this question in the majority of our textbooks on the moral theology. The understanding of the sin as the evil matter, only as the evil matter, specific fact, and specific case penetrated in our school, into the seminar textbook, and even into the consciousness of the majority of believers through the Latin scholasticism. Usually the same way they understood the virtue: as a good deed, some positive fact in our spiritual life. The incorrect elucidation of the apostolic words "faith without works is dead," which gave birth to the famous in the West medieval dispute about the need or needlessness of deeds for the faith, (which are understood to be separate from the faith), came also to us, and are strongly based on the consciousness of the majority. Both the virtue and sin are realized by almost everybody as specific cases. The stress is wholly set to a deed, a fact, but not onto the generating them internal spiritual factor, i.e., one or the other state of the soul, and its content. Hence our textbooks of the moral theology, deprived of its paternal leaning towards the asceticism, were converted, on the well-aimed word of Metr. Anthony, into the dullest "sinology." These manuals made the longest enumerations of sins, dividing them to the sins "against God," "against the neighbor," "against the society," etc., — all this, incidentally, is completely alien to the paternal tradition, — but they forgot and perhaps never knew of the study of fathers-devotees, who realized through their own experience, what the sin is, where its roots are, in what its origin is, what the means for to fight with it are. These seminar and academic guides on the moral theology were useless because of their killing scholasticism and dry casuistic. These moralizations could not inspire anyone to live like a Christian.
Therefore "The Manual for the Christian Moral Study" of bishop Theophan the Recluse must be acknowledged as a remarkable phenomenon in our spiritual literature. Well-read in the holy fathers’ works and due to his personal experience taking root in the asceticism, he gave the excellent and really ecclesiastic elucidation of this question. He reminded the Russian society that the sin must not be we limited only by the single notion of the evil matter, negative fact. That what occurred as the evil matter is nothing else but the revealed in the outside world consequence of our internal soul content. In the depth of the soul is concealed the complex tissue of different spiritual moods, recollections, habits, vices, etc., which can wait to manifest themselves for a long time, but, hiding, await for the opportunity in order to come outside. The person, spiritually ill-informed or inattentive, does not have an understanding that he is in the power of the whole series of the most complex and dangerous spiritual illnesses, which built their enduring nest in the hiding-places of his soul. He comes to senses only if the sin in the form of the concrete evil deed went out to the surface and showed itself as a certain negative fact. Then the man begins to regret exactly about this committed sin. He confesses this, definite misdeed and awaits its forgiveness. He does not realize that it is necessary to fight with the deeply taken root vice, and not with these or those manifestations of it. But a priest, full of the scholastic separation of sins into the large and small, mortal and simple, against God, neighbor, society, etc., will not know how to give efficient useful advice to the penitent. The one confessing repents the committed evil act, but a priest himself does not know how to teach him to eradicate sinful habits and to cure the sick soul.
The merit of bishop Theophan the Recluse is great, for he reminded the Russian society, distant from the church, not competent in the matters of religion and asceticism, that in the spiritual life are important not only the good and evil deeds, but the internal content of our soul, the spiritual aspiration, from which proceed these or those actions. Theophan the Recluse, who woke in us the great interest to the Holy Scripture, to the holy fathers’ writings and asceticism, reminded lay-people, and what is more important, the pastors, where the center of gravity in the spiritual life lies, — in that "spiritual battle," about which our ascetics wrote.
One should mention also the considerable master thesis of S.M. Zorin "The Asceticism," in which he, counterbalancing the ecclesiastic-liberal publicist writings revealed the authentic treasures of the holy fathers’ asceticism. The book of Zorin, scientifically substantiated, opened to the reader the systems of our ascetics, based on the personal ascetic experience. These are not the office abstract reasoning about the morals, but those, checked throughout the centuries with the experience of the church tradition.
The creations of the father-ascetics of Optina Hermitage and the Athos monastery of Panteleimon richly illustrated the mentioned books. A priest thus is given a possibility to be correctly disposed to the question concerning the sins and spiritual life, and give useful edification and aid to those coming for his advice. Here it is only possible to outline briefly two basic themes, especially important for a priest during confession: 1) Passions as the source of our sins and 2) The gradual genesis of the sin in us (p. 170).
The Orthodox doctrine about passions.
The paternal asceticism worked out the theory about passions as the source of sin in us in its centuries-old experience. Fathers-ascetics were always interested in the original source of one or another sin, but not the committed evil matter itself. This latter is only the product of the sinful habit or passion implanted in us, sometimes named as a "sly thought" or "sly spirit." In their observation of the sinful habits, passions or vices fathers-ascetics came to the number of interesting conclusions, which in their writings are elaborated in detail. These vices, or sinful states, are very many. Venerable Hesychius of Jerusalem asserts: "many passions are concealed in our souls; but they reveal themselves only if appear their causes." The experience of observations and fight with passions made it possible to bring them together to the known diagrams. The most common diagram belongs to venerable John Cassian of Rome, then follow: Evagrius, Nile of Sinai, Ephraim the Syrian, John "The Ladder" Writer, Maxim the Confessor and Gregory Palama.
According to these writers all the sinful states of the human soul can be reduced to eight main passions: 1) gluttony, 2) lechery, 3) avarice, 4) anger, 5) grief, 6) despondency, 7) vanity, 8) pride. Some writers sometimes simplify this to 4 members of the diagram of passions, but the eight-member one is classical.
It is appropriate to ask, why the fathers of the Church, rejecting any scholasticism and systematizations, so persistently keep to this 8 member diagram for the division of vices in our soul? Therefore, we answer, that by their own observation and personal experience, together with the experience of all the ascetics, they came to the conclusion that those mentioned 8 sly thoughts, or vices, are the main stimulants of the sin in us. It is possible with the known carefulness to introduce new subdivisions, but in the main thing we will nevertheless come to these eight vices. This is the first thing. Furthermore, in these ascetic systems of passions the great internal dialectical connection is observed. "Passions, similar to the chain links, are connected one to another" — teaches venerable Isaac the Nitrian (the Philocalia, volume 1, p. 469). "Evil passions and dishonor are not only introduced one through another, but also possess similarity" - confirms St. Gregory Palama ( Discussion 8).
This dialectical connection is checked by all writers-ascetics. The passions are enumerated by them precisely in this sequence because genetically one passion hereditary originates from another one. These writers wonderfully tell in their ascetic creations about how from one sinful habit unnoticeably appears another, as one of them roots in another, generating those following ones.
Gluttony is the most natural of passions, since it appears from the physiological needs of our organism. Any normal and healthy person experiences hunger and thirst, but with the immoderation in this need the natural becomes unnatural, and consequently vicious. Satiety and immoderation in nourishment excite carnal moves, sexual impulses, which due to the impetuosity lead to the passion of lechery, with all possible prodigal thoughts, wishes, dreams and so forth. For the satisfaction of this shameful passion the man needs means, material prosperity, money surplus, which leads to the appearance of the passion of avarice in us. From there originate all the sins, connected with money: extravagance, luxury, greediness, stinginess, love to material things, envy and so on. Failures in our material and carnal life, in our calculations and carnal plans lead to anger, grief and despondency. From anger are born all sociable sins in the form of irritability (nervousness), impetuosity in words, quarrelsomeness, abusive attitude, embittered state and others. All this is possible to describe in more detail.
There is another subdivision in this diagram. The passions, recently named, can be either carnal, connected with the body and our natural requirements: gluttony, lechery, avarice; or spiritual, origin of which must be searched for not in the body and nature, but in the soul of the man: pride, grief, despondency, vanity. Certain writers therefore (St. Gregory Palama) look at the first, if not leniently, then nevertheless they consider them more natural, although not less dangerous than the passions of the spiritual order. Division of the sins into dangerous and small was radically rejected by the fathers.
Furthermore, writers-ascetics distinguish in this diagram of passions some, proceeding from vices, directly from the evil (three carnal passions and anger), and the others, which come out from virtues, what is especially dangerous. In fact, after being freed from the age-long old habit, the man can become proud and be surrendered to vanity. Or on the contrary, in his tendency towards the spiritual improvement, even greater purity, the man uses all the efforts, but succeeds in nothing, and falls into grief ("which does not accord with God" as the ascetics say), or even more malicious state — despondency, i.e., hopelessness, apathy, desperation.
It is possible to divide passions into those opened and secret ones. It is very difficult to hide the vices of gluttony, avarice, lechery, anger. They burst to the surface with every opportunity. But the passions of grief, despondency, sometimes even of vanity and pride, can be easily disguised, and only the experienced look of a thoughtful confessor with great personal experience can reveal these hidden illnesses.
Fine psychologists, father-ascetics, on the basis of their experience know that the danger of passion is not only in the fact that it penetrated into the soul of the man, but also that it has power over him through the habit, recollection, unconscious inclination to one or another sin. "Passion, — tells St. Mark the Hermit, — voluntarily bred in the soul by the deed, rises then in its appreciator forcedly, even if one does not want that" (the Philocalia, volume 1, p. 567). But Evagrius the Monk teaches us so: "The things we have passionate memory of, were perceived with passion in reality before" (the same, p. 600). The same devotee teaches that not all passions rule the man equally for long. The demons of the bodily passions leave the man, since the body grows old with years and physiological needs decrease. However, the demons of the soul passions "persistently stay till the death itself and disturb the soul" (the same source). The manifestation of passionate inclinations is different: it can depend either on the external exciting reason, or on the habit based in the subconscious. Evagrius writes: "the sign of passions, which act in the soul, can be any pronounced word or bodily motion, from which the enemy learns, if we do have in ourselves their thoughts or have rejected them" (the same, p. 612).
As different are the reasons and stimuli of bodily and spiritual passions, then so different must be the healing of these vices. "The spiritual passions come from the people, and bodily ones — from the body," — we find in the lectures of this father-ascetic. Therefore, "the motion of the carnal passions suppresses abstention, and of the soul passions — spiritual love" (p. 600). Approximately the same says venerable Cassian the Roman, who especially detailed worked out the study about the eight main passions: "The spiritual passions must be doctored by the simple healing of the heart, whereas carnal passions are cured in two ways: by external means (abstention) and internal ones"(the Philocalia, volume 2, p. 20-21). The same devotee teaches the gradual, systematic treatment of passions, since they stay in the internal dialectical connection. Passions: gluttony, lechery, avarice, anger, grief and despondency are connected together by the special certain affinity, on which the excess in the previous step gives beginning to that following... Therefore one should fight against them in the same order, passing in the fight from the previous to those following: in order to conquer despondency, first it is necessary to suppress grief; in order to extinguish anger, it is necessary to trample avarice; in order to get rid of avarice, it is necessary to tame the prodigal passion; in order to suppress this lust, it is necessary to restrain gluttony" (the same source, p. 22).
Approaching confession this way and listening to the confessions of the penitent in their different sins, a confessor must draw his own attention and the one of his spiritual children to this internal system of our spiritual life. He must teach and help to get freed from bad and inveterate vicious passions. He must teach to fight not with the evil deeds, but with the generating them sly spirits or thoughts. The deed is done; the word is said, as well as the evil matter is already committed. No one cannot make everything that already happened something that had not happened at all. But to prevent similar sinful phenomena the man always can, as soon as he will look into himself, attentively analyze, from where proceeds one or another sinful phenomenon and to fight with the passion that created it.
Therefore with the repentance of the man in the fact that he frequently allows himself to be angry, to scold his wife, to be irritated with children and colleagues, it is necessary to, first of all, draw attention to the passion of anger taken root in him, from which originate these cases of irritability, abusive expressions, "nervousness," etc. The person, free from the passion of anger, is merciful and good-natured and does not know of such sins, although he can be subjected to any others.
When the man complains, that he has unclean thoughts, dirty dreams, prodigal desires, then one should advise to fight with the implanted in him (probably since his youth) prodigal passion, which leads him to unclean dreams, desires, looks and so on.
In exactly the same manner with admitting oneself guilty in the frequent judging of the neighbor or in the mockery over the others’ drawbacks a priest should point at the passion of pride or vanity, which generates the conceit, leading to these sins.
Disillusion, pessimism, bad mood, and sometimes also misanthropy proceed from the internal factors as well: either from pride or despondency, or from grief, which is "not in accordance with God," i.e. not the salvation sorrow. The asceticism knows the salvation sorrow, i.e., dissatisfaction with oneself, one’s internal state, or own imperfection. This sorrow leads to self-control, to the greater strictness to oneself. But there is such sorrow, which originates from the human estimations, vital failures, the motives which are not spiritual, but emotional, that all together is not leading to salvation.
Plunging into the patristic literature on this subject, being taught and teaching the others, a priest will bring enormous benefit to him and his flock with efficient advice, by spiritual support and authentic guidance not from his fabrications, but from the experience of the church and from the spiritual men of the antiquity.
In exactly the same manner, teaching people to lead the virtuous life, a priest must indicate that God pleasing life is composed not only from the fact of good deeds, but from the corresponding good moods of our soul, from that, with what our soul it is living and where it strives. From the good habits, correct emotional mood, come good facts, but the value is not in them, but in the very content of the soul.
Thus, not the good deeds in their real concreteness, but the virtuous state of the soul, the general tendency towards holiness, purity, God resemblance, towards salvation, i.e., to the similarity with God, — this is all to what must call a confessor his spiritual children. Not sins as the separately committed concrete facts, but passions, vices, sly spirits, which gave birth to them, — these are the things against which a confessor must set the penitent. In that who came for confession it is necessary to wake the repentance in his sinful, generally unhealthy state of his soul. Confession consists of the decisive desire to be freed from the captivating us sinful states, i.e., passions, mentioned above.
It is extremely important to bring up in oneself and in those spiritually guided not the juridical understanding of the good and evil, but the paternal one. It is necessary to suggest to believers, that "the virtue is that state of the heart, when a deed made is truly favorable," - teaches St. Mark the Ascetic (the Philocalia 1, p. 558). He as well says: "The virtue is one, but it has various deeds" (p. 558). Evagrius teaches, that the "active life (i.e. the practice of virtues) is the spiritual method how to purify the passionate part the soul" (p. 604). It is important to suggest together with Mark the Ascetic that the "the Heavenly Reign is not retribution for the deeds, but the blessing of the High Priest, prepared for the faithful slaves" (p. 559). One should not think that "deeds by themselves are worthy of the Gehenna or the Reign, but that Christ will give His due to each as our Creator and Atoner, while not as the Regulator of things (p. 561), and we accomplish good deeds not for requital, but for the retention of the purity given to us." It is necessary to teach not to obtain the juridical reward, but the Grace of the Holy Spirit, to make the soul Its abode. Like this taught all the fathers of the Church, but most of all — venerable Macarius the Egyptian, and in our time venerable Seraphim of Sarov. Otherwise, good deeds for reward are converted according to Evagrius into a trade. (The Philocalia 1, p. 634); one should compare this statement with that of venerable Hesychius of Jerusalem (the Philocalia 2, p. 183).
Speaking descriptively, the orthodox understanding of confession and repentance differs from the Catholic precisely in this point. The Roman legacy and pragmatism influenced it. A Latin confessor is much more a judge during confession, whereas an orthodox one is mainly a healer. Confession in the eyes of a Latin confessor is most of all a tribunal and investigation process; in the eyes of an orthodox priest this is the moment of a medical consultation.
In the Latin practical manuals for confession a priest is suggested exactly this view on confession. It is accomplished in the frames of the logical categories: When? With whom? How often? Under whose influence? And so forth. But always the most important in the eyes of the western confessor will be the sin, as the evil deed, as a fact, an act of the sinful will. A confessor makes his judgment on that who had committed a negative deed, which requires its retribution according to the rules of the canonical code. To an orthodox confessor, on the contrary, are more important not the sinful facts, but the sinful states. He, as a healer, attempts to show the roots of a disease, to reveal the deeply concealed abscess as the source of any external evil act. He does not as much utter the judicial sentence as he gives healing advice.
The juridical point of view pierces the Latin theology and their church life in all directions. Looking at the sin or virtue as at the evil or good deed, they place their logical stress on this perfect reality. A quantity of good or evil deeds interests them. Thus they come to the sufficient minimum of good deeds, and hence derive the doctrine about the over-merits, which in its time gave birth to the known doctrine about indulgences. The very concept of "merits" is purely juridical and not characteristic of orthodox writers. The Latin legacy mastered the formal understanding and quality of the moral behavior. They introduced into their moral theology the study about so called "adiaphoras," i.e. indifferent deeds, neither evil nor good, which through our scholastic textbooks little by little penetrated into the consciousness of the seminarians and priests. From there it penetrated to our textbooks on the moral theology, the point of view of responsibility and irresponsibility for the sin, the doctrine about collision of responsibilities, etc., in other words, the manifestation of the ethics of the law, but not the ethics of grace.
It is possible to schematize the aforesaid this way. For the western consciousness the main value is in the logic circuits, in the juridical understanding of the sin and virtues, in the rubrics of the moral casuistry. The orthodox consciousness, brought up on the tradition of the paternal antiquity, is based on the experience of the spiritual life of writers-ascetics, who perceived the sin as the spiritual infirmity, and therefore attempted to heal this infirmity. They belonged more to the categories of the moral psychology and deep pastoral psychoanalysis.
Therefore a priest during confession must always try to penetrate into the hidden spheres of human sub-consciousness, unconscious sinful habits, into the "depth of the soul." It is necessary not to expose the certain deed, not to judge for the committed sin, but to attempt to find and to indicate to the penitent, where the root of his sins lies, what passion in his soul is the most dangerous, how more easily and more efficiently to eradicate these inveterate habits.
It is good, when the repentant mentions all the committed sins or reads them on the note in order not to forget any sin; but he should be focused not so much on these sins, but on their internal causes. It is necessary to wake up the consciousness of the generally sinful nature in the man, when he understands one or another sin. Father Sergius Bulgakov noted that a confessor must not so much focus on the "arithmetic of the sin," but on the "algebra" of it.
It is appropriate to mention the words of Metr. Anthony from his "Confession" (p. 39-40) to confirm the aforesaid: "This discernment of our soul ailments and their doctoring is incomparably more correct, than the accepted by the Latins enumeration of sins and sinful deeds of people. To fight only with the sins that were revealed in the actions, would be so unsuccessful, as to cut off the waste grass, instead of pulling it out with the roots and throwing it away. Sins grow from their roots, i.e., passions of the soul... Exactly in the same manner it is impossible to calm oneself by the fact that one makes comparatively few sinful deeds: it is necessary to foster the eternal good tendencies and mood in oneself, of what consist the Christian perfection and salvation. Ten Commandments of the Old Testament prohibit sinful deeds, but the Beatitudes of Christ propose no deeds, but states. Perhaps only peacemaking can be called an action, but indeed it is accessible only to those believers, who filled their souls with sincere kindness to people. The endless argument of the theologians of Europe about that, if a Christian is saved by the faith or good deeds, reveals their general incomprehension of our salvation. If these theologians do not want to learn from the Savior the correct understanding, then Apostle Paul even more clearly depicted it: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." Not deeds or actions themselves are valuable in the eyes of God, but the constant mood of the soul, which is described in the words given above.
2. The second theme, which should be discussed in a question about different sins, is the theme about the gradual development of the sin in us. Holy fathers left us numerous valuable observations, regarding this, in their writings.
The very wide spread error of the Christians, who come for confession, consists of the fact that one or another sin "somehow, suddenly, from somewhere, neither from that, nor from this captured the will of the sinner and forced him to commit precisely this bad act." In the teachings of holy fathers it is clearly shown that the sin does not appear is in the soul of the man "neither from that nor from this" or "from somewhere." It had been long time since a sinful act, or a negative phenomenon of the spiritual life penetrated in one or another way into our heart, unnoticeably settled there and built its nest, transforming into a "sly thought" or passion. This act is only the verdure, the birth of this passion, against which it is necessary to begin the struggle.
But the asceticism knows something more important and calls to the more efficient fight. For the purposes of the spiritual hygiene, or, it is better to say, spiritual preventive maintenance, the ascetic works propose to us the detail developed analysis of the gradual conceiving and development of the sin in us.
In the works of such renowned spiritual writers as St. Ephraim the Syrian, St. John "The Ladder" Writer, prep. Hesychius of Jerusalem, venerable Mark the Ascetic, St. Maxim the Confessor and others, we find this description of the origin of the sin, made on the basis of their own observation and experience: first of all the sin is conceived not on the body surface, but in the depths of the spirit. The body by itself is not guilty and is not the source of the sin, but only the instrument, through which one or another sinful thought can appear. Every sin does not begin suddenly, automatically, but through the complex process of the internal ripening of one or another sly thought.
Our official books, in particular the Oktoechos and the Lenten Triodion are full of prayers and chants about our salvation from the devil’s temptations. "The start of temptation" is the involuntary motion of the heart under the effect of any external perception (visual, auditory, gustatory and so forth) or a thought, which arrived from the outward, saying to do this or that. These are the arrows of the devil or, according to the expression of the asceticism, "the start" or attack of a sly thought that can be very easily dismissed. Without detaining our thought on this sinful image or expression, we immediately repulse them. This thought dies off as swiftly as it appeared. But if one detains this thought, gets interested in this tempting image, it enters more deeply into his consciousness. There occurs the so called "preoccupation" or the combination of our mind with the attacking thought. The fight can be rather mild at this step of development as well, although it is not that simple as in the first stage of the start of the attack. Not being able to deal with "preoccupation," but focusing on it and thinking it over seriously, internally examining the pleasing us outlines of this image, we enter into the stage of "attention," i.e. that we are almost in the power of this temptation. Mentally we are already captivated by it. The following step is called "satisfaction," when we internally perceive the entire charm of the sinful action, construct in ourselves even more exciting and carrying along images and give in not only in the mind, but also by a feeling into the authority of this sly thought. If at this step of development of the sin one does not give it a decisive repulse, then we are already in the authority of the "wish," or consent with the sin, after which there is only one step to the accomplishment of one or another misdeed: be it embezzlement, trying the forbidden fruit, an insulting word, hand blow and so forth. The different ascetic writers call these different steps differently, but the matter is not in the names and not in their elaboration. The fact is that the sin does not come to us suddenly, unexpectedly. It passes its natural stage of development in the soul of the man, precisely: being conceived in the mind, it penetrates into attention, feelings, will and finally is carried out in the form of one or another sinful act.
Therefore a confessor in his lectures to those fasting before confession can explain this complex process of the spiritual life, warn against dangerous temptations, call to the struggle with sly thoughts, point at the roots of our sinful deeds, i.e. passions or sly thoughts, and explain, how the sin gradually captivates us.
Here are several useful thoughts, found in the ascetics’ works. "The coming bad thought is an involuntary recollection of the previously committed sins. The one who still fights with passions, tries not to allow such thought to become a passion, while the other, who already conquered them, drives off the very first preoccupation" (the Philocalia 1, p. 553). "Preoccupation" is the involuntary motion of the heart, not accompanied by any images. It is similar to a key; it opens the door into the heart for the sin. That is why the experienced people try to catch it at the very beginning, — so teaches St. Mark the Recluse (the same source). But if a thought itself is something that comes from the outside, then nevertheless it finds in the man the certain weak place, toward which it feels most convenient to be directed. Thus, same St. Mark teaches: "Do not say: I do not want, but a thought attacks by itself. Though you do not like the very thought, then you are sure to love its causes" (p. 554). This means that in our heart or mind there is already some reserve of the previous sinful habits, which react more easily on the attacking thoughts, than by those people, who do not have such habits. Therefore, the means of fight are in the gradual purification of the heart, which ascetics call "steadiness" i.e. the constant observation of themselves and the effort not to let a bad thought to enter into the mind by any means. Purification or steadiness is accomplished with unceasing prayer best than with anything else, for that simple reason, that if the mind is occupied with the praying thought, then in the same time no other, sinful thought can rule our mind. Therefore St. Hesychius of Jerusalem teaches: "As without a large ship it is not possible to swim across the deep, it is not possible to banish a sly thought without appealing to Jesus Christ" (the Philocalia 2, p. 188).
The Pastoral aid in the matter of Confession.
Apriest very soon will see, serving as a spiritual father in confessions, how little his spiritual children are educated in the understanding of repentance and spiritual making. In the course of time this becomes even more noticeable and with the increasing rate of withdrawal from the Church this gets the threatening size. The simple people still preserve great sincerity and simplicity in confession of their sins from the old times. However, the intelligentsia has long ago stepped aside from the legends of the pious old times. A priest can frequently hear at the confession that a person does not know how to confess, he does not know what is necessary to say. A priest will soon note this problem among his flock. If we add to this the completely anti-Church mood of the society and people around, moreover if there is no possibility to organize preparations for confession under the given conditions, then a priest will see, that his feat of being a spiritual father became exceptionally difficult these days.
What means did the priests have in the old, more favorable times and how could they possibly help to the flock in the matter of the preparation for confession?
In the old times everything helped a priest. The entire way of life of the state, society, big cities, schools, family to a greater or lesser extent contributed to the maintenance of the Church and to strengthening of the traditional foundations. The Church was not separated from the state, used its support, and there was not only any anti-religious propaganda, but vice versa, the state helped, with what it could, to strengthen the church way of life.
Many schools and secondary schools were closed in the first week of the Great Lent and the compulsory fasting of students was held in the churches. There were mass festivals in the Cheesefare week, but with the first peal of the Lenten bell merriment ceased everywhere. In the evenings they tried to go and listen to the canon of St. Andrew of Crete, this most perfect work of the spiritual poetry, finest psychoanalysis and knowledge of the human soul. The images of this canon wake the confessionary mood. In the houses only the lenten food was given. The entire way of life was changed. Theaters were closed; only spiritual concerts were permitted, except the first, fourth and the Passion weeks. All got prepared for confession and taking Communion: from the tsarist court to the last hovel —everybody honored those holy days. The old and young (some — with the skeptical attitude towards this need) went to the church; there came schoolboys, servicemen, officials, merchants and craftsmen.
It is natural that all this made it easier for the penitent to be concentrated on the great sacrament of confession, and for the priests — on the forthcoming exploit of their spiritual service. Almost nothing interfered with the fasting time life. Sometimes they object, that much was compulsory and formal. This has the certain base, but a kind of coercion is the form of the discipline and order and has its psychological side, which cannot be denied in the matter of the religious upbringing.
The fostering care of the church about fasting and confession seemed difficult and unnecessary for some in the youth. But those, who from the childhood were brought up in the atmosphere of piety, tradition and fear of God; who knew the entire beauty of the Lenten custom, the strictness of fasting and happiness of coming out of the fast, who learned to subordinate their desires to the requirements of the church regulations since they were children, know, how much it gives in the matter of self-education and work on oneself. The ones, who did not have any of these early recollections, whose life flew in disorderliness, those are deprived of the richest symphony of the church and spiritual experiences. It would be almost impossible for them to come to Church and plunge into the life of the temple. These people do not usually know how to confess, what to tell to a priest, what the requirements of our traditional asceticism to sinners are and how it can help in the matter of the spiritual revival. Unfortunately, everything said is pitilessly swept by the destructive "progress" and turns of the history. The former way of life cannot be restored.
A pastor is not called and cannot reconstruct the social and state order. But he can influence the family, first the small, and then also the greater, and thus bring up the small church cells, in which children will be suggested the need of the Christian discipline, and perhaps even in the atheist way of life there can be recreated a certain counterweight and the church tradition can be brought up.
A pastor can suggest with his sermons the abstention from the amusements during the fast or, at least, in its certain period. He can appeal to the flock to keep the fast, in what his home must be an example; he must develop the Eucharistic feelings and life.
In the preparatory weeks before the fast a pastor must say the sermons, which explain the need of fasting and salvation character of confession. When the fast begins it is good to preach about the causes of the sin, understanding of the holy fathers of the sin and passions, development of the sin in us. Furthermore, it is necessary to teach about the different types of sin, which are frequently encountered in the community, but that are poorly realized; to reveal the concealed reasons for one or another vice or sinful habit. Some pastors by the brief word of edification before confession help the penitents to understand, what happens at the moment in their souls and mention to those who had come at least the main sins. They should be reminded that in front of the confessionary table it is better not to tell about their everyday plans, to complain of the relatives or to start religious debates, but to say to the people that confession is the moment of admittance of their sins, their enumeration with the repentant mood and desire to fight with them and not to repeat more.
For this purpose the church practice worked out the number of auxiliary measures. It is necessary to recognize that many get so confused at the confession, that cannot say a word, murmur something, justify themselves by the fact that they made nothing terrible, they do not feel their sin..., and this only proves their inability to confess. This is the great responsibility of a confessor to teach people how to confess.
In the childhood many got used to confess their sins with the help of a previously made note. There is nothing bad in this, since it gives the possibility to pre-think their misdeeds and not to forget or conceal anything. People stop doing that with time, but this is a very good method of preparation for confession.
In the old prayer-books there was special daily confession of sins before oneself at the end of the evening rule, where the main types of the sinful states and deeds were mentioned: by "deed, word, thought, overeating, judging, hatred and so forth." The similar enumerations of sins are very useful for a priest to remember, when he finds it necessary to ask that being confessed these or those questions.
In the old-Russian way of life there were the printed publications, sold in the monasteries and book shops, where the sins were enumerated; they had the name of "general confessions" or "renewals." The most known is said to be written by St. Dimitrius of Rostov. In many monasteries of old Russia, where frequently they had a small quantity of confessors and large fraternities, such "renewals" were very common and with their help the monks and often arriving pilgrims loved to confess their sins. These "renewals" are widespread at the Holy Athos Mountain up to the present day.
Here is the frequently used text of the confession of sins before a priest from the face of the repentant.
"I confess to the Lord my God and in front of you, reverent father, all my countless transgressions, which I committed up to the present day and hour. Daily and hourly I sin with ingratitude to God for His great and countless good deeds and care about me, a sinner.
I have sinned by indifference to God, by non-following of God’s commandments, feasts, fasts, praying rules and other church established canons, by contempt and deviation from the help to the holy Temple and those in need. I have sinned by the false shame to show myself a Christian, by absent-mindedness during the prayer, the negligent making of the cross sign, by missing divine services and by carelessness. I have sinned by the insincerity at confession, by inconsideration to divine services, sermons, to the reading of spiritual books and negligence to salvation. I have sinned by doubts about the faith, by the superstitious prejudices, visiting fortune tellers, extrasensories, sorcerers, by guess-work and by the game of chances. I have sinned by bitterness, contradiction, complaints, willfulness, reproaches, evil words, lie and laughter. I have sinned by the idle talk, judgment, flattery, disobedience, by the insult of the neighbor, swearing, disrespect to the parents, negligence about the needs of the family, not bringing up the children in the law of God. I have sinned by dreaming, reveling in sinful thoughts, passionate glances, masturbation, by tempting behavior, the breach of chastity, and violation of the conjugal faithfulness, indecent behavior and lechery. I have sinned by gloomy thoughts, despondency, idleness, desperation, thoughts about suicide and complaints. I have sinned by slyness, self-interest, fraud, ill temper, offences, rashness, perfidy, irreconcilability, by the retention of debts, stealing and stinginess. I have sinned by pride, vanity, self-praising, hostility, ambition, grudges, hatred, discords, intrigues, swearing and simulation. I have sinned by sarcasm, vengeance, by the use of stimulants, by smoking and drunkenness. I have sinned by buying of unnecessary things, greediness, mercilessness, envy, anger, slander, impudence, carelessness and irritability. I have sinned by gluttony, generally by excesses in drinks and food, laziness, by the useless expenditure of time before the television set, watching vulgar films and listening to the violent and exciting music. I have sinned by deed, word, thought, sight, hearing, sense of smell, taste, touch — by all my spiritual and bodily feelings.
I repent all my sins and appeal for forgiveness. (Have not you made any other sin, which burdens the conscience and is shameful to be mentioned?). Moreover, I repent and ask for forgiveness of the sins that I did not confess because of my forgetfulness.
Pardon and absolve me, reverent father, and bless to partake the Holy and Life-giving Christ Gifts, for the remission of sins and for eternal life. Amen."
The good means for help to the penitent is reading of the spiritual literature, like: "The Philocalia," "The Ladder," Abba Doropheus, "The Paterics" and other monuments of the ascetic writings. However, much of this must be recommended with precaution, since it is "to much hard food" for the novices, the people, who never lived the church life. Therefore a pastor must be very reasonable not to repel yet weak people with too severe requirements, given in the mentioned books. In the cloister custom "The Ladder" and "The Philocalia" are not given to any young monk, since they contain thoughts and requirements too strict for the unstable man. Such increased level can cause a feeling of hopelessness, immoderate severity, mercilessness, etc. in a young person, and it easily leads to loosing interest to this type of literature.
Therefore it is very good to begin from the works of bishop Theophan the Recluse, St. Tikhon of Zadon, from the letters of Ambrose of Optina Hermitage. It is possible to advise to read St. Ignatius Bryanchaninov or Archbishop Plato of Costroma, or "The questions for the Repentant" of the exarches of Georgia Iona. These books are to a considerable degree useful for a confessor himself, since they teach him, on what he should be focused specially, while preparing for the accomplishment of the sacrament of confession. The only external deficiency of all these books can be the old-fashioned language and manner of writing. But this can be overcome, since the internal value of these works greatly exceeds this secondary drawback.
Speaking about the similar kind of books we finally focus attention on the remarkable "Confession" of Metr. Anthony Krapovitsky, which presents this question to a degree, equally interesting for both the confessor and the repentant. It introduces the number of questions on the asceticism and explains by simple, literary and very lively language that, what any orthodox person should know about the preparation for confession (Published in Warsaw in 1928).
Sins against God and the Church.
How scholastic the division of sins in the manuals on the moral theology into the sins against God, neighbor, society, family, etc. It might be, we saw, that holy fathers know the other division: to passions or sly thoughts; and for the more convenient enumeration of sins, and confession it is necessary to single out the special group — the "sins against God and the Church."
They are very numerous, covering the whole network of fine spiritual states, from the most simple to the most hidden ones and, as it seems at the first glance, innocent. Briefly it is possible to bring these sins together to the following:
1) Unbelief; 2) skepticism (weak faith) 3) superstition, 4) blasphemy and swearing, 5) the absence of praying habit and church life, 6) spiritual delusion (prelest).
Unbelief. Hardly a convinced atheist will come for confession, and even if he comes, then in order to conduct senseless debates or rather to laugh over the sacrament and a priest. Metr. Anthony advises ("The Confession," p. 22-23), if these conversations are not serious, then to send him away. But if only the arrived will reveal the least desire to find in a priest support in his difficult moral state, a confessor must with the entire carefulness, tolerance of compassionate love, meet him half-way and have a talk with him right there, by the lectern, or, if the circumstances do not let doing that, to appoint the time for the special conversation at home.
Very frequently in such cases the matter is not at all in the atheism or struggling against God, but in the certain weakening of faith, in the coming doubts, fluctuations in the religious convictions. Here a priest must remember that doubts themselves already prove the presence of the certain, at least minimum faith. With the complete absence of faith, there cannot be any doubts. It is useful for a confessor to recall about the "saving disbelief of Thomas" that is glorified by the Church in the chants.
Revealing the genesis of such doubts or the loss of faith, about which the person says, it is necessary to try to find the reason for the happened change. It can be the consequence of age, of the period of storm and impulses, when generally everything is being doubted and the young mind rises against all the authorities and traditions; it can be the influence of bad conversations with people, who digressed from the faith and divert the others from it; it can be the consequence of different occult and theosophical influences; it can also be, that the loss of faith occurred with the loss of the carnal innocence, with the carnal downfall. On this latter insists Metr. Anthony ("The Confession"). It is interesting that another moralist of the opposite direction, Tolstoy, explained the presence of religious doubts in the same way.
Only a thorough, prolonged and patient conversation of a priest with the doubting person can be of help here. This conversation must be of the apologetic nature, substantiated scientifically and philosophically, but not with the aid of the obsolete seminary textbooks with little arguments, with the references only to the lives of saints and the miracles beside the relics of the obsequious men. Relics, saints, obsequious men and the like cannot be any argument for the people, who strayed among the different theorists and modern philosophers. Here serious apologetics is necessary; one should not fear the problems, and the present philosophy. It is necessary to approach this type of questions fearlessly, since the Orthodoxy has nothing to be afraid of. But for this it is necessary to be, first of all, a pastor, who is clever, educated, deeply believing, afraid of no questions, but ready to bombard the collocutor with questions and to put him in a spot. It is very important to recommend the corresponding literature as for example: "The Sense of Life" by E. Trubetskoy, the books of Vl.Solovyev, Frank, Lossky, Berdyaev (the apologetic ones) and many others.
Weak faith. This sin is much less sharp, but more sticking. The worst atheists and anti-theists are not so many in the world. If we take a better look at the soul of so-called atheists, then it is not difficult to find that in the essence they are not atheists at all, but "those strayed among three pines," who, not having thought enough, yielded to somebody’s influence, repeat the memorized phrases, difficult to understand expressions, only in order to show their imaginary erudition.
As far as having weak faith is concerned, very many sin with it, and it is harder to get rid of it. Here the apologetic conversations will not help much. A certain effort of will, work on oneself is necessary here. If in the consciousness of some there is something that is called atheism, then this, so to say "atheism" is theoretical, it is the negation of existence of God by the mind. But together with weak faith the practical atheism is easily revealed. The person does not deny the existence of God in the consciousness, but with his life and behavior contradicts the ostensible existence of faith in him. He not only easily doubts the omnipotence of God, His providence and mercy, but with his deeds and structure of his life he contradicts to that what his mouth preaches. His life is in contradiction with the Gospel. He does not want to go deeply into the truths of faith, to follow the commandment of the Lord: "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 17:3). He fears theological discussions, and the dogmatic life of the church repulses him, since this can shake that little he possesses, shake his naive faith in some minimum of religious truths, by which he limited his flat theological world view.
This person wants to make Christianity primitive by all means, like faith of simpletons, referring (very unsuccessfully) to the example of the apostles-fishermen and forgetting the most educated Paul, martyr Justin the Philosopher, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, St. Athanasius and the great Cappadocians, who defended the faith at the councils, deepened the treasures of theology and piety. Such a skeptic would want to represent the Christianity as an everyday religion, as the Old Faith protection of the ancient piety and so on. He has nothing in common with the problems of the present. He does not realize the fact that the history went forward, that the Christianity undergoes attacks from the side of materialism, modernism, pseudoscience, theosophy, occult doctrines, etc. He is frightened with everything what can destroy his religious carelessness and the unstable building of his weak faith. Such terrible for him expressions, as "the history of religion, criticism of biblical text, philosophical analysis of the Gospel, religious philosophy" etc., sound like unbearable blasphemy. He tries to escape to the desert of his intellectual ignorance.
Patiently, but with little hope for success, a priest has to work a lot with these weak and cowardly skeptics.
Superstitions. This sin is especially spread and difficulty eradicable. It so easily gets along together with, it would seem, strong faith and church habits, that usually they pay no attention to it, treating all its manifestations as the normal way of things. It is possible to explain it by the remnants of heathen beliefs, which all nations have, what is like double faith for a Christian. Superstition hides in the form of different signs, belief in the mythical creatures (domovoi — the house ghost, leshy — the forest ghost, mermaid, etc.), belief in happy and unhappy days and numbers. It is possible to find the man who is educated, civilized, even the member of the church, but does not dare to go to a trip either to begin any business on the 13th of any month, or to sit down at table, where the invited are 13; or believing in the black cat, the hare crossing the road, the chimney-sweeper, in the inevitability of misfortune with encounters with a burial procession or with a priest, etc. These people, which often protest against different religious rites and are dissatisfied by the strictness of the church orders, themselves believe in the guess-works, predictions, horoscopes, into their own and other people’ dreams. It is probable that they in their time gave tribute to theosophy, occultism, spiritism, magic and so forth and it can be that till the present day are not yet free from that fascination.
Speaking about these latter, it is necessary to say that it is rare that any sin leaves so many indelible traces in people, except the participation in the theosophical movements and practicing occultism. Some painful mark remains on the face, as if the burden of the never repented sin; and the eyes acquire some unhealthy reflection; the main thing, the soul becomes distorted for life. Those, taken the mouthful of the poison of occultism and theosophy or especially fashionable Steinerian anthroposophical poison almost always remain with immured religious consciousness. As the loss of innocence, or excesses in drinking, these studies pervert and spoil the man. These secret studies and their different theories about "karma," souls’ rebirth, yoga forever make the man the slave of these prejudices. For such people "there is no religion higher than the truth," and the Christianity is only one of other religions, more precisely, the syncretism of different eastern studies. Rarely anyone, from those who were in the chains of theosophy and occultism, could be freed from them once and forever. The damage will remain for life. These people come for confession, but they would not confess to a priest their adherence to these studies; however, sooner or later the consequences of these spiritual bends will appear in the soul of such unhappy.
Here a priest should possess great erudition and education, since the occultists and theosophists themselves are extremely well-read and armed by different information in the majority of cases. It is necessary to fight with them with truly scientific means, religious-philosophical facts, arguments of psychology and psychoanalysis, but not with the legends or school apology.
To all discussions about the "fate," about that what is supposed to be, phrases like "this is my fate," etc., it is necessary to contradict with the sensible thoughts about the free will, moral responsibility, value of personality in the man. One should remember that occultism and theosophy, according to successful expression of Berdyaev, are never capable of revealing the secrets of existence, but they only attempt to give away some secrets. It is necessary to force the man to think over his freedom from the determinacy of natural laws, social conditionality, from the servitude of pseudo-authorities of different spiritual leaders and so forth.
Blasphemy and swearing frequently get along in the people, who consider themselves to be believers and orthodox. Here are involved, first of all, the mockeries on the difficult to understand and therefore seemingly unnecessary and obsolete church customs; neglecting of the fact that the average man loves to call "a rite"; blasphemous expressions about the sacred, telling funny stories about priests. A weak man does not have sufficient courage to rebel and protect the church truth, when he is present at the similar conversations and hears obscene words.
Here belong detracting God and sacred things; here are involved complaints to God for his as though merciless attitude towards the man, for the "innocent" sufferings, which are necessary to bear.
The bad custom of swearing and recalling of the name of God in vain is especially spread. This so unnoticeably penetrates into the daily life and becomes such an inherent habit, that to get rid from it is more difficult than from any great vice. In certain nations (the Serbians, for example) the abuse of the sacred name of God interlaces with the most disgusting curse.
An ancient Israelite either did not write the name of God in the Scripture at all, leaving the space, or he placed instead of it two signs of "Jota" (instead of Yahweh), but in any case he did not allow himself to pronounce the name of God or to abuse it. However, in the society the bad habit to say it frequently not at all to the point is spread everywhere. In any case there is no need or physical necessity in that; abstaining from this bad habit, the man will not suffer at all. Therefore to release oneself from this is a purely volitional matter, and it is necessary to take upon oneself an obligation and to be persistent in its performance. Similar to judging, this sin is the matter of usual disorderliness. Thus, a confessor should appeal not to the scientific authorities, not to the apology, but simply influence the psychics and will of the repentant. In this region the staying power of the man and his determination to truly repent, i.e., to change his sinful line of life, can especially be revealed.
Absence of ability to pray, as the more special case of not belonging to the church, is encountered very frequently. In the contemporary Christian society deprived of the framework of the church life and tradition, this is the almost everywhere spread sin. A priest must ask, if the penitent prays and what the fruits of his prayer are; if the prayer gives him spiritual consolation or it is a heavy duty, from which he tries to deviate under different pretexts; if he reads prayers from the prayer-book, if he has the established praying rule and habit to pray, or like many people, almost not leading the church life, he prefers a prayer with "his words"; if he reads the Gospel daily; if he had read the Bible at least once in his life, if he commemorates daily the names of his close ones, alive and departed, if he prays for "those who hate and offend us," towards whom he has a bitter feeling of offence and hostility; if he goes regularly to the church or limits himself only with some feasts, the Passion Week, Pascha, Navity and the name day; if he follows the church fasts and how he carries out these days, and many other things. Sometimes it is revealed that the one who came for confession is completely deprived of the praying habit, does not recognize any discipline in this sphere and generally lives out of the Church. The contemporary state of forgetting about the church life accustomed very many to this non-Christian life out of the church.
A priest can hear that they are not used to pray with a prayer-book, and that they do not have any idea about the evening and morning rules. If to show and to read at least some evening and morning prayers to such people, then this would be a revelation for them, and in the case if they would accept with humiliation the advice of a priest to read these prayers daily as a must, this will serve to the great benefit for their souls, and possibly, at the following confession they would confess, how much this praying rule gives to them. Sometimes one could hear, that the known evening prayer (O Master that lovest all men, will not this bed be my grave?) became known to them because in the novel "War and Peace" old Countess Rostova reads this prayer before to sleep.
It is necessary to teach the repentant to get ready to take the Holy Gifts by compulsory reading of the assumed rule for the preparation to Communion. In connection with this it is necessary to insist on the so-called govenie, i.e., going to the church several days before confession, listening to the corresponding confessionary canons and chants.
The prayer is the temperature of the spiritual life, the index of the healthy or sick state of the penitent’s spirit. It is necessary to attempt not only to read prayers and to take part in the services in the church, — one should be taught to obtain the gift of prayer, the habit to pray, to love it, to wait for the praying hour. It is necessary to teach to love music of the church chants, the Slav language, colorfulness and vividness of the Liturgical symbols, the church splendor, etc. One should enter into the praying element.
This leads to the question about the exercise in praying. The skill of praying is to the known degree the skill to use one’s attention, not to be scattered, not to repeat the words of prayer only with lips, but also with the entire heart and entire thought to participate in praying. Here is important the so-called in asceticism "clever making" i.e. getting accustomed to be attentive in the prayer. The excellent means for this is "Jesus prayer" or even, multiple and slow repetition (better with the rosary) of the specific prayer "Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." There is much ascetic literature on this praying exercise, gathered predominantly in "The Philocalia" and in the other paternal creations. The more contemporary and more literary interpretation of this doctrine is given in "The Sincere Stories of a Pilgrim to His Spiritual Father."
Jesus prayer is especially good and important, for it is connected neither with time nor with place. It is possible to read it everywhere and always, at work, in the street, traveling, at home. It distracts our attention from the tempting, empty, irritating objects, and teaches to concentrate one’s mind and heart on the sweetest name of God. Though, in this spiritual making without guidance is concealed the danger to fall into the spiritual delusion, the pseudo-mystical state, about which it will be said below in more detail.
Frequently, after touching upon the question about the prayer, a confessor will hear, that a certain person has more difficulty to pray in the church than at home, that the church form of praying is unusual and strange for him, that everything distracts him in the temple, and to pray at home is better. Maybe, these persons and right, but this must not serve as the justification for their out-of-church state. It is necessary to teach them that the prayer has council character in the church, it is supported by the prayer of other people and the priest, that the very situation in the temple is the atmosphere, which subjects one to the prayer more than in the ordinary room, that the church prayer is the experience of the age-old tradition and it reaches God faster. The church prayer is higher in every respect than the home, individual one, which is good for the accomplishment of the praying rule. The sin of being out of the church body is manifested in different forms, but most frequently in the absence of love for divine service, for the understanding of the church life. The people, deprived from the childhood of the church upbringing and its traditional way of life, do not at all realize what the divine service is. These are some rites, in their opinion for some reason very long services, the repeated "Lord, have mercy."
A priest is guilty himself in many respects, if he does not know how to fascinate by the divine service, if the service is not fine-looking, there is poor reading, tasteless chanting of the concert numbers, inability or unwillingness to explain the sense of the chants, to open the entire content of our Liturgical divine service. If a pastor in the divine service behaves himself not as a craftsman, but as an artist, then he will be able to draw many to the church.
The more particular form of the same absence of the church life is a loss of the Eucharist feeling and the stoppage of the Eucharist life. Many take communion once a year, some — still more rarely but consider themselves to be the believing people. Some accurately go to the church, but only are present at the Liturgy, without participating in it internally. Even from the times of Basil the Great and John Chrysostom the Eucharistic life began to weaken, as they noted in their writings, but they did not realize, what point the withdrawal of the Christians from the Church will reach in our time.
The majority of believers completely forgot that the Church has the Eucharistic character and it requires participation in its life. Not taking Communion is falling out of the church life. One must constantly take Communion, as frequent as possible. One should go to the Liturgy not only to listen to the beautiful chanting, a good deacon and to watch the magnificent ritual of an archpriest and council services. One cannot only be present at the Liturgy. It is accomplished so that the faithful, who came to this Mystic Supper, would participate in it. "Drink ye of it, all of you…" — hear all the faithful, but turn a deaf ear to it. "With the fear of God, and with faith draw near!" — hear everybody, but it occurs, that a priest takes away the Chalice into the Altar, from which no one was prepared and therefore could not take Communion.
A priest must, first of all, realize this himself. He must call everybody to the frequent communion, to the revival of the Eucharistic life and to the awakening of the Eucharistic consciousness and feeling.
Finally the sins against the church discipline most frequently are revealed in the non-fasting. "God does not need fasting," — say the contemporaries, knowing nothing and not familiar with the Holy Scripture. "In Russia only simple peasants and merchants were fasting," — will say those remembering the old times, but saying this they will only admit that they do not know the old life at all. Besides the intellectuals, who freed themselves from any church tradition, very many were fasting in the higher society, in the medium of petty bourgeois, merchants, among the simple people, and in the firm medium of the old faith believers.
It is necessary to call and get accustomed to the fasts, recollecting the example of the Lord Himself, Who was fasting for 40 days; recalling the life of the devotees, whom fasting helped to restrain their nature and carnal lust; reminding of and confirming this by the references on the chants of the Lenten Triodion, what and how much gives the fast. The Church does not prescribe the Lenten menu; the history of fasting is very instructive and the regulations of the certain monasteries introduce much variety. That what is considered lenten in Russia, in the east is considered luscious, since there, if someone is fasting, then he does it according to the cloister regulations, eating neither olive oil nor fish. Not one or another Lenten menu is important, but the principle of fasting, abstention itself. Together with keeping the physical fast it is necessary to teach abstention in words, thoughts, feelings, etc. Fasting, it is necessary to try not to fall into the sin of the Lenten gluttony, to gorge on although Lenten, but tasty viands.
Spiritual delusion or Prelest (from prelshat’— to delude) differs significantly from all the other sins against God and the Church. Similarly how in the asceticism passions proceed from the evil and take root in it, when the others have the good as their substantiation (pride and conceit together with some as if conquered sins); all the enumerated forms of sin in exactly the same manner have as their cause the deficiency in one or another spiritual gift or state, as for example: disbelief, deficiency in faith, unjust faith, absence of the praying habit, and the church life, etc., when there exists the special spiritual state, the source of which is the seeming surplus of the spiritual gifts. This is the so called "spiritual delusion" or spiritual enticement, — the sin especially known in the ascetic literature, in the monastic medium, among the people, inclined to the increased spiritual sensitivity.
It consists of the fact that such people imagine themselves as those who already reached some special fruits of the spiritual life, the proof of what are different dreams, seen by them, mysterious voices in the night silence, calls somewhere, etc. These people are frequently very mystically gifted, but because of the absence of spiritual-ecclesiastic education, absence of an experienced confessor and because of the tendency of the surrounding people to listen to their tales and yield to their influence, they easily acquire numerous supporters and organize sectarian movements. This begins from the stories about their confused sleeps with the claim for prophetic revelations. Then it passes to the following phase, — seeing in reality either any radiance or even different sky-inhabitants: angels, saints or even the Mother of God and the Lord-Savior Himself. They all report to this visionary the most unbelievable and senseless revelations. Sometimes such unhappy have the best motives, but lack the proper spiritual guidance of a strict, sober and thoughtful pastor. Frequently it was possible to note this in the people, who dedicated themselves to "the clever making," those doing Jesus prayer with enthusiasm, but without any guidance. All the ascetic literature is full of stories about those, who fell into the spiritual delusion (prelest’), precisely when practicing the clever spiritual steadiness, what is characteristic, while having no guidance.
A priest sometimes has to deal with such painful phenomena. The ecstatic ladies or simple women bother a priest by the stories about dreams and visions, and this serves him as a test for his patience. It is necessary to grow unused to the similar inclinations, to suggest not believing in dreams, to find out, if such a person holds Jesus prayer and if he is not deluded by the uncontrolled "clever making." Metr. Anthony advises to ask such visionaries, if the appearing saint was with the cross and if he blessed him with his cross or not, but, what is still more important in order to distinguish the true mystical endowment, the holy one from the false, is to look if this visionary is easily irritated, telling his stories about dreams and visions. "On the teaching of the fathers, — says Metr. Anthony, — anger and irritability, accompanying these stories are the sign of spiritual delusion of the one, who saw the visions, and their falsity."
It is dangerous, of course, to frighten the man and to put out the authentic fire of his spiritual life. Therefore a priest should be especially careful: if among his spiritual children there are people with the actual spiritual gifts, then it is necessary not to give these gifts to fade, at the same time looking after this person that he should not fall into spiritual delusion. It is necessary to encourage the praying attention, to teach to do Jesus prayer, to preach about the ascetic study on this theme, but together with all this vigil that the fascinated people would not fall into willfulness, would not begin to deviate from the paternal directions and due to it fall into the spiritual ruin.
Sins against the Neighbor.
The sins against God and the Church relate to the field of apologetics and pastoral asceticism, according to their content. The asceticism supposes to see the already settled image of a Christian, who is ready to fight with his drawbacks and passions, while unbelief, weak faith, incorrect faith more relate to those who has not come yet onto the road of struggle with the sin.
The sins against the neighbor and society should be placed in the category of the ascetic doctrine about passions. The Church writers, who focused their attention on the science of the self-perfection and struggle against sins, look at these sins not like only at the evil deeds, but at the manifestation of the hidden soul states, which are called passions or sly thoughts in the asceticism. That is why a confessor should teach his spiritual children to root out the causes of the evil deeds in them, the passions themselves, since the evil deed may be irretrievable.
The passion of gluttony is more often manifested as the habit to eat much, without measure, or as the passion for different tasteful sensations, on the language of asceticism — "gustatory pleasure." Here is appropriate to speak of the use of fasting, i.e. suppressing of one’s body necessities to the church regulations about abstention. It is as well necessary to combine fasting of the body with the spiritual one, i.e. curbing one’s thoughts, feelings, and movements and so on. The Church with Its Lenten chants wonderfully teaches us in this: "We are fasting with the fine, good for God fast: the true fast is the forbidding of the evil, abstinence of the tongue, unwelcoming of rage, and lust, judgment, lies and breach of the oath: to deplete those is true and favorable fasting" (The verses on the evening of Monday of the first week of Great lent). All of our ascetic literature is full of the useful advice concerning this sphere. A confessor must understand himself and suggest to the others, that fasting is the virtue not only of the monks and those in schema, but it is the necessary means for everyone, who wants to devote himself seriously to his spiritual life, get freed from his habits and become more sober. "This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting" — these are the words of the Lord, which a confessor and any Christian should remember. The Protestantism, that excluded this virtue from its regulation of the moral commandments, or the Catholicism, which brought fasting to a very light-weight abstention — do not know the entire force of this important weapon. No matter how difficult fasting in the modern life conditions is, it should be preserved and regenerated in the Christian way of life. It helps and supports the praying mood; it subdues the man and frees him from the number of the other evil habits.
To the passion of lechery, as to the one, taking the special place and connected to the other incoming questions of the asceticism and psychology, a separate chapter will be devoted.
Avarice is more often manifested in the form of stinginess and the opposite to it wastefulness. Most clearly it reveals in the form of envy, from which anyone is hardly free. Beginning with the innocent and hard to notice sizes, but then developing, it captivates the man, introducing all kinds of unkind feelings to the heart. Envy gives birth to the class dissatisfaction with one’s position and income. Envy, moreover, easily transforms into ambition. It easily hides in the clothing of searching for justice, — the moral category, by the way, not known to the Gospel and paternal doctrine. Our society so much believes in the positive qualities of this category that esteems it as the basis of the social relations. The ancient piety and truly Christian life, in the way as it existed in Byzantium and ancient Russia, were free from this notion. Then they were searching not for the right or justice, but for the truth. This was kept in the consciousness of our ancestors and simple Russian people before the revolution.
Teaching the flock to beware avarice, a confessor must remember, that the strife to plant on this planet any social paradise is alien to the Christianity. The Christianity does not search for the recipes for the universal happiness. The belief in some wonderful future on earth, where justice will rule, does not at all coincide with the Christian understanding of the real life. The belief in the present, on this Earth, the Christ’s Reign, were considered as the pseudo-teaching of chiliasm by the Church. The Christianity never had pretensions to the construction of the terrestrial city. It called and is calling to "the sought City" and the reign "not of this world." The Gospel teaches to build the Heavenly Reign inside of us, to create the internal peace in the soul, but not be deluded with the possible fantasies of the terrestrial common happiness. That is why out asceticism is built on completely different, than the social building, categories. The Christian asceticism does not curse the wealth, but neither calls to the compulsory socialism. It is aware, that it is hard for the rich to enter the Heavenly Reign, but does not draw communist conclusions out of it. To imagine St.John Chrysostom and St. Basil the Great as socialists only because they did not justify enrichment as the goal of life, was possible only in the pre-revolutionary years in Russia, when everything, up to the Gospel and the church history was about to be used for destroying of the age-long way of life.
That is why a pastor should not at all call his flock to the social ideals. He must teach that enrichment as the goal of life is a sin; that avarice is a harmful passion; that envy leads to malice and hatred against the neighbor; that money is not the evil by itself, but avarice, i.e. slavery to the materialism, capital, profit, and together with that stinginess, and wastefulness are sins in the face of the Evangelic sermon.
Anger, in the number of other passions should be the subject of the special attention of a priest, he should explain to his flock about the separate branches of this vice, which usually hide under the different proper forms, impossible to mention, but the main types of this passion, clear to a priest, should be singled out for his flock.
Frequently the penitent confesses this sin as nervousness, on the physiologic or psychic reason. Naturally, this passion reveals itself more easily through the nervous system, but the reason is not only in the nerves, but in the rooted habit to vent one’s irritation on everybody and everything one can lay hands upon. Irritability, easy ability to flare up, absence of peace in the family life, quarrels because of trifles, hatred towards the close ones, vengeance, unforgivness, hard-heartedness, cruel attitude to the surrounding and many other things are only the visible displays of this passion. Met in children and young people, it is sometimes combined with offensiveness, non-tolerance of innocent jokes. Anyway, here the anger verge on another passion — pride.
Fathers-ascetics give a lot of precious pieces of advice for the struggling against the passion of anger. The one of the most effective is "the righteous anger," i.e. turning of the irritation onto the passion itself. Really, to be angry with one’s own sins and drawbacks is leading to salvation.
The venerable John Cassian the Roman, in his "Review on the Spiritual Struggle" teaches: "We are allowed to get angry, but for salvation, i.e. on ourselves and on the coming bad thoughts, to get angry with them and not yield into sin, that is not to accomplish them as a deed, what would be ruinous for ourselves" (the Philocalia, 2, p. 62). And venerable Hesychius of Jerusalem teaches, that "the anger is usually destructive; if it is turned against the demonic thoughts, then it breaks and destroys them; if it seethes against people, then it destroys our good thoughts concerning them"… "Anger is given by God, as the shield and bow, and is alike, if it does not turn away from its purpose" (the Philocalia, 2, p. 173). The same advices venerable Nilus the Sinait to be "meek with people, and loving to fight with the enemy, for in that is the natural use of anger, to struggle with the ancient dragon with hostility." (The Philocalia, 2, p.252). "The one, who is not forgiving demons, is not unforgiving with people" (p. 253).
If anger is permissible and even useful against our internal enemy, i.e. sinful thoughts, coming from the demons, then in the respect to the close ones our teachers, the fathers of the Church; advise us meekness and only calm and patient attitude. One should even argue without bitterness and anger, for irritation will move on to another, will infect him, but will by no means convince in our rightness. "If we meet with the pagans, — says John Chrysostom, —we shall block their mouths, but without anger, bitterness. If we do this with anger, this will not be the zeal, but passion. Zealousness is a virtue, but anger — a vice" (Discussion 17 over the Acts of Apostles).
The note of Metr. Anthony in his "Confession" is very precious: "A confessor must ask all the penitent, if they nourish malice towards someone and if they have reconciled with the people, with whom they quarreled and if it happened that they cannot see them in person, if they reconciled with them in the heart. One should explain as well, that on the Athos Mount confessors not only forbid the monks, who have anger for someone, to serve in the church and partake the Holy Gifts, but while reading the rules, they should omit the words: and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors, in the prayer "Our Father" in order not to be liars before God. With this prohibition a monk is reminded that now he seems not to be a Christian, if he cannot read the Lord’s Prayer" ("The Confession," p. 43-44).
This is the extremely precious advice for those who suffer from the unforgiving, who will "no way forgive the offending him neighbor, so great the injustice was" and so on.
It is efficient as well to pray for those, who easily lead us into the temptation of anger. The feeling of meekness and love for those whom we hate and with whom we get angry, gradually takes root in the heart.
The third means, which should be put on the first place, is the prayer about giving us meekness and driving away of the spirit of anger, vengeance, offence, unforgiving, etc.
At last, the advice of a confessor, who insists on the reconciliation with the offended, helps a lot; it is necessary, even if we feel ourselves being right, to decide to ask for forgiveness the one, with whom we are in hostile relations.
As far as grief and despondency are concerned, a confessor should remember that they are not the primer disease of the soul, but, more usually, the derivation from the other spiritual states. These vices are born from the self-conceit and self-confidence, or from pride and lack of resignation. The Christianity possesses the known pessimism, for it has to do with the history and progress, faith in the terrestrial well-being, in the social justice, etc. But the pessimism, with which is sick the out-of-church mankind, placing their trust in their forces, the power of mind and personal abilities, is radically alien to the Gospel. The pessimism of Buddhism, of Schopenhauer and other thinkers cannot be reconciled with the Christian hope. Such pessimism is the hidden form of what the asceticism calls despondency. This is "the loss of the spiritual cheerfulness about God, which is nourished with the hope for His merciful plan about us" (Metr. Anthony "The Confession," p. 68). Sometimes this feeling is manifested in the form of boredom, tiredness with life both spiritual, and simply physical; sometimes it is enveloped in the feeling of nagging anguish, anxiety, unaccountable depressed state, about which so psychologically profound wrote Danish philosopher Kirkegor, who obviously experienced very sharp attacks of such anxiety. Because this feeling borders with not so much moral, but the psychical worries, it will be discussed in the section about the pastoral psychiatry, psychoanalysis and the usage of these disciplines in the pastoral practice.
Despondency, grief, anguish, anxiety are sharply experienced in the youth, the period of storms and impulses. Then a young soul frequently cannot understand, in what the matter is, why such wonderfully interesting and fascinating literature characters like Child-Harold, Pechorin and Byron himself suddenly become the source of dangerous spiritual states. A confessor should be most attentive to these questions, especially with youngsters, patient, flexible, compassionate. These two passions, that seem not so dangerous, can, however, lead to the irreparable consequences with lack of attention: hopelessness, despair, suicide.
One of the most common sins is, no doubt, the sin of judging the neighbor. Many do not even realize, that this sin, so everyday-like and seeming insignificant, in reality is the beginning and source of the other, more dangerous sinful habits. A confessor must keep in mind and suggest to the penitent the following:
1. First of all, this sin is closely connected with pride. Judging the drawbacks of the others, the man supposes himself to be better, smarter, more honest, and pious than the others. Therefore, one should doctor his passion of pride and self-conceit.
2. The man is not given the right to judge the others for their deeds and deficiencies. The Savior Himself commands us: "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" (Math. 7:1-3). Apostle Paul reproaches the Romans: "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand" (Rom. 14:4). The final judgment belongs to God. Our judgment is the anticipation of the Dread Judgment of the Lord.
3. Our judgment is never impartial. We judge under the influence of the momentary impressions or offence, irritation, anger, different "moods." There exists the precious psychological observation that usually we judge our personal deficiencies in the others, without noticing it: a limited person, who thinks himself smart, judges the others for limitedness, even stupidity; a proud and self-conceited usually gets indignant because of the self-conceit of the close ones; the one with avarice sees in the others the manifestations of this passion, like wastefulness, not noticing that he is stingy himself, and therefore is subjected to this passion too, etc.
4. Moreover, doctoring this sin, one should not let out of sight one more psychological idea. It is typical of the human mind to pronounce judgments. In this manifests our ability to reasoning, thinking. Therefore, composing the conclusions about someone, the man not always sin with the passion of judging. He may absolutely impassively and non-indignantly make this or that conclusion about the person, his qualities, deeds, behavior, but not judge him for all this. It will be the statement, yet not judgment. Denying his ability to make statements, the man would reject his ability to think and reason. It is common of everyone, in this or that way, and even necessary to say the statements: the teacher — asking the pupils questions; the critic — while reading the literary work; the boss — estimating the work of the employees. But such statements as: the student is little gifted, the work is done with negligence, the poems are bad, etc. — are not at all the sin of judgment and there is no need to confess them.
But usually, when making statements about the qualities and deficiencies of the neighbor, there enters the element of envy, self-conceit, bitterness and of passion on the whole, and our statement obtains the character of arrogance, there comes partiality, one-sidedness, and it converts into the sinful judgment.
It would be of use to show the people who are used to judge the others’ deficiencies, the example of that monk, who is recollected in the Prologue on the eve of March, 30 and to whom, in spite of his multiple deficiencies, but the absence of the vice of judging the others’ sins, everything was pardoned by God. Not judging the others but admitting all infirmities and sins, he did not extol himself over the others, but resignedly admitted his sins.
To the so called "minor sins" — lies, as well as close to them rumors and idle-talks can be added. Untruth came so profoundly into the conscience of the modern society and took root in it so firmly, that it became the inseparable atmosphere of life. This sin takes on the various shades, starting with exaggeration, boasting, and alike, and ending with undisguised lies. People often do not realize that the seeming to them innocent forms of a lie are sinful in reality. Exaggerations in the stories and "piling it on" are almost not noticed by the people. They speak of their merits in order to show themselves in a favorable light, and the others’ drawbacks are represented more somber, than they are in real life. They try to portray the offensive expressions of the others by the intonation of the voice, and reproduce their phrases as rather mild ones, as if there was nothing reprehensible. Not noticing that, people often distort the truth, try to make the others believe it and even assure themselves so, that the distorted reality seems true to them. Like that people get used to the created by them images of untruth, take it for truth and are unnoticeably ensnared by the thin web of lies.
Together with this comes another type of the excused lie — the everyday deceptions: " say, that I am not at home" — not wishing to see the unpleasant person; "diplomatic" diseases instead of the sincere rejection of the participating in the undesirable matter or meeting; joke frauds, frauds of April, 1 and so on — all this, at the first glance are totally innocent and harmless, but in the essence they slowly harm the truthfulness and honesty and teach the person to lie with an easy conscience.
Here can be added the deceits of the sick, in order not to scare them, assuring of the suffering person, whose life could even be in danger, that he has nothing serious, etc. Making this, they are justifying themselves by the utterance from the psalm: "A horse is a vain thing for safety" (Ps. 32:17), totally misunderstanding the words of Prophet David. In reality the inexact translation distorts the meaning of the true phrase, i.e.: "A horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength" — not vain is "the safety horse," but the horse can turn out to be the false salvation, to deceive the hope of the horse-rider, that it can carry him out of the danger.
At last a lie can appear shamelessly and undisguised, in all its satanic danger. A lie in this case becomes the second nature of a person, he gets accustomed to lies, and he needs lies to make his thoughts be understood.
A lie in a small, seemingly innocent exaggeration "for the sake of a witty remark" or like a joke little by little takes hold of the man, so that he easily compromises his conscience even in the questions of the importance of principles. In the sake of saving someone or something they think it possible to make bargains with lies of principle, to compromise with the anti-Christian ideas, etc., for with this it seems to be possible to facilitate one’s lot. Compromising with conscience is the typical disease of the century. On the apt remark of one Russian thinker, the mankind now "has not lost its mind, but lost its conscience."
Nothing can come from the devil, but the devilish; nothing comes from lies but lies. A lie, — small or big, "justified" or obvious, flippant or real, — is always a lie and only a lie, and nothing can come out of it, but false, pernicious and in the final run devilish, i.e. anti-Christian, consequences.
The Lord is "the Way, the Truth and the Life" (John 14:6), they come to Christ only through the truth, but not through lies. And only Christ leads to the Father. Only the truth shall make you free (John 8:32).
With lies, i.e. with distortion of the truth, comes the sin of idle-talk, i.e. unnecessary, excessive, unfounded usage of the gift of the word. Sometimes people from necessary words come over to the useless and pointless conversation. The words are spent with no need, in chatter; the time is spent only to say something. For such people words start to loose their sense and purpose. The word, as the expression of a thought, becomes idle, meaning nothing. The time passes in such idle-talks, and it could be used in the other way, for edification, rational communication. The words stop being seasoned with salt (Col. 4:6). They become meaningless, and a long conversation does not bring any use to anyone in the final run.
One should note that generally the words in the idle-talk become as if empty, not expressing the thought. "Logos" in the Greek means both "a word" and "a thought." The word must express some thought, the work of mind, some truth. Exaggerations, repetitions, senselessness of expressions turn the entire conversation in something with no meaning. The gift, handed to the mankind in the sake of annexing to the Verity, is spent in vain and little differs from the pronouncing of the words by a parrot, starling, or by any irrational creature.
Piling on of the adjectives, when it is possible to do with the single one, but expressing the very sense of the thing or phenomenon; abuse of the superlative degrees of comparison or the ones, like "staggering, colossal, exceptional, ideal, terribly important," saying nothing about the absurd: "it was funny like hell" and so on — all this testifies about the lowering of the significance, which the word should serve. Working out good, clear and moderate style in oneself is not at all the literary caprice, but it speaks of the clarity of thoughts, steadiness of the mind and faithfulness to the true meaning of the word.
Idle-talk, condemned by the prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian, and untruth, condemned by the Lord Himself, exist due to the same thing. Therefore a confessor should make the penitents accustomed since their childhood to be careful using the words, loving the truth and to never justify any form of a lie. A child should be suggested rather to tolerate the punishment for some misdeed, than to distort the truth and hide behind the invented justification. Sooner or later the truth will come out onto the surface and will bring to the one, who said lies, more troubles, than he could have in the firm predilection to the truth.
"But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment: for by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned" (Math. 12:36-37). A priest, teaching the others, should himself remember of the importance and value of the word: he should not allow himself idle-talks and verbosity. It is necessary that the word coincides with the sense, kept in it. But one must remember more, that our "verbalism" is the manifestation of the given to us human mind, which unites us with the very hypostatic Word, Which is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
It is very difficult, but especially necessary to write about the sins against the 7th commandment of Moses. No other sin has so many complications, as this one is. The difficulties, connected with this sin, can be brought together into the main three: 1) the first difficult moment lies in the nature of the sin itself; 2) the second one is laid in the psychics of the penitent; 3) the third depends on the confessor himself: his irresponsible attitude, inexperience or shyness. Let us discuss each of these difficulties.
1) Carnal sins due to their nature are the most spread, enduring and therefore dangerous, because they are connected to the one of the most strong human instincts. In the very human nature, that of the living being, possessing sensuality, temperament and the child-birth organs, is put everything, what appears to be the cause of these sins. Hardly, any of the mortals were entirely free from the temptations of flesh. It is easier to meet a humble, not proud, modest by his nature person, who therefore is satisfied with the most important and necessary for life, and that is why being little subjected to the passions of gluttony and avarice; not having any inclinations to "the moods," i.e. a man of the simpler mould of the soul and because of that not subjected to any grieves, melancholy, pessimism, despondency and so forth.
But there are almost no people, if not at all, who to this or that extent, were not subjected to the call of the flesh and physical temptations. Carnal sins — are the most common for the human nature, that is why some ascetics thought them to be if not less dangerous than pride, then more explicable. Human nature, not curbed by ascetic exercises but roused by temptations from the outside, hardly can, if not totally destroy this instinct inside, then correctly use it and direct it to the proper way. If to add to this the entire atmosphere of modern life, with its tempting films and literature, with the technical prevalence of everything tempting for the ear, sight, sense of touch and smell, with the system of combined education of boys and girls, with the common beaches and sports grounds, the cult of the semi and completely naked body; and if to take into account the profound downfall of the moral feeling, — then all this together strengthens the sin and can make it irresistible without the special help from above and the firm decisiveness of the repentant. Here one needs an experienced, thoughtful, responsive confessor, understanding the whole importance of the task that is set before him.
2) The psychics of the repentant sometimes complicate the difficulties, connected with this type of sin. It is possible to point at the two extremes. The ones are justifying themselves and under the influence of the people of the same age, doctors, and seemingly scientific advice of the naturalists persuade themselves, that it is necessary for the health, that abstention is harmful for the mental sphere and nervous system, etc. The others, on the contrary, feeling shy to confess these intimate sides of the personal life, avoid giving the direct answer and mention general things. Without exposing themselves at confession in these sins, they do not obtain the proper spiritual support; not experiencing the shame from confession, they easily yield in the same vices. It must be added, that in the majority of cases, the lack of the minimum healthy and Christian chaste upbringing harms the whole matter. The modern schools, which are anti-Christian, or even atheistic, do not give to youngsters the proper fostering, but very often — a bad example. Beaches and sports grounds do not aid in the correct physical development and healthy maturing of the flesh. Children begin to ask early questions, especially when they observe the life of animals, to which parents are shamed to answer steadily, carefully, but truly, without hushing up, which is more harmful than sincerity. The same age group, where there always will be the children, who learnt all, can direct the mind and imagination to the false way. Common bedrooms in the closed educational institutions, common camps and summer colonies, dark corners and secret stories about something, that only affects the soul and mind, — all this creates the unhealthy spiritual atmosphere.
3. A confessor sometimes falls into these opposite dangers and increases the problems. Some priests, by their shyness, spiritual purity, naïve ill-informed position in the great variety of carnal sins, do not pay proper attention to this sphere of life of the penitent. If being secretive, the repentant does not confess his carnal downfalls; a confessor (maybe due to the lack of time) might not ask this question. He will not touch the intimate questions, lead by his pseudo-shame, for the repentant did not mention them. But the repentant feels shy to admit his vices, temptations, intemperance and secret thoughts in front of the confessor (especially the known one). Another priest, on the contrary, with his excessive straightforwardness, can push the young mind to the way, completely unknown to him and bring not yet waken instincts to life. In this case it is necessary, more than anywhere else, to be able to keep the proper balance and find the middle, golden way of tact.
It seems useful to discuss 2 main questions: 1) the bifurcation of carnal sins, and 2) the struggle with them, both spiritual-ascetic, and psychoanalytic.
(How unpleasant it would be to discuss carnal temptations and vices in detail in such way, it seems necessary anyway, not to obscure, with the possible conscientiousness to highlight these delicate questions).
Some manifestations of carnal sins.
The asceticism of holy fathers teaches to struggle with any sin when it just starts to be developed. "Strike the dragon in its head"— says the wise ascetic rule; i.e. defeat the sin as soon as it leans out of its hole. That is why a pastor should suggest fighting not only with "the ready forms" of the committed carnal sin, but with the small thoughts, dreams, play of the fantasy and so on. One should remember that the sin appears not in the body at the beginning. The body is not guilty, non-sinful by itself. In Adam and Eve’s downfall the sin first appeared not in the depths of the flesh, but on the heights of the spirit. Not the matter, but the most perfect and closest to God spirit, Lucifer, fell down and became the source of the evil. The same way, in any definite personal human case, the sin starts its activity not necessarily in the bottoms of flesh, but in the thoughts, imagination, in the play of dreams and pictures, using this or that organ of flesh for its real embodiment (womb, throat, sexual system). Owing to this, one should begin enumeration of the carnal sins with their spiritual sources, but not with the carnal consequences. Besides, there must be remembered the words of the Lord that in the reign of the New Testament sermon sins not only the one who fulfils adultery by deed, but "that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her." That is why a pastor has to remember about this fight with the most delicate and seemingly "innocent" thoughts. We shall start in the gradual order of ascending to the highest degree of sinfulness, remembering that even the smallest sin is still the sin and that the difference between the minor and more important sins should not calm down the conscience of the repentant and the confessing priest.
1. The fornication thoughts usually develop as the recollections of the seen, heard or felt. They are easily aroused by the surrounding atmosphere: immoral fashion, adverts, films, books, etc. In seclusion, often at night, in the darkness they especially acutely and powerfully overwhelm the man.
2. It can be caused by the tempting talks in the society, different anecdotes for to provoke the laughter or to show one’s erudition, the presence of young people in the merry surroundings, camps, children colonies and so on, where it is easy to yield to such temptations. Some, not to show their backwardness, exercise in the similar art. Here belongs the singing of dubious songs, indecent graffiti’s in the public places, swearing, indecent words and all types of obscenities.
3. Different vices of youth, beginning with the same anecdotes, pictures or revelations in the darkness of the bedrooms, lead as a result to the vicious self-satisfaction, which is very dangerous: first, it is connected with the concentrated work of imagination, and secondly, pursuits the unhappy so relentlessly, that can make him the absolute slave of this sin, destroy his health, drive him to idiotism and physical weakening.
4. The carnal sin itself, i.e. copulation, not sanctified by the sacrament of Marriage.
5. Adultery, often being justified by the sickness of the other half of the conjugal union.
6. Carnal excesses in the very conjugal union.
7. All kinds of perversion of the sexual instinct, leading to unnatural carnal sins: pederasty, lesbianism, bestiality, etc. This latter manifestation of sex is not the obligatory consequence of the modern immorality, but nowadays the attitude to sins stands close to this immorality. There is nothing new in the carnal perversions. According to the testimony of Ap. Paul (Rom.1), many unnatural sins were very widespread in the Roman society. Not by chance the same terms are borrowed from the pagan mythology and are connected with the characters of antiquity: the Bible narrates about the Sodomite sin, Plato in transparent way says of love to young men and boys. Perversion was chastised by the middle age inquisition. Dante put such type of sinners into the special circle of his "Inferno," it is easy to find examples, confirming this, in the literature. But if the sin is not new, then the relation of the modern social opinion to it changed drastically in the latest time. The antiquity beat such people with stones or executed them as perverts. Nomocanon judged them very severely. Even if to pass forward, one can note the striking change. In the end of 90-s of the past century and the beginning of the 20th century the social opinion in England was very much scandalized with Oscar Wilde’s process. The fact of his unnatural love could not cover his literary talent in the English moral conciseness. They branded him with infamy and the judicial process over him was very strict. 50-60 years ago a similar phenomenon was accepted by the society as intolerable, monstrous. Nowadays these vices got widely spread and are considered to be bearable and acknowledged, and Wilde’s process causes reprimand by its strictness and Puritanism. In the great works of the French literature there are some personalities, who openly conduct the propaganda of this vice and this does not arouse any scandal in the society, and nobody is properly prosecuted.
The sin of any kind is dangerous not only by itself, but also with the consequences, with which it affects the internal world of the man. These consequences of the sins of flesh are especially perceptible and disastrous for the spiritual human health. They are dangerous from the purely physical side and the spiritual one as well.
In the physical sense these sins corrupt the man, draw to the even stronger and more frequent breaches of the 7th commandment. The human desire is not satisfied, but constantly requires more. The voice of sensuality cannot be satisfied with the very performance of lust. The sin is either repeated or it searches for the new, sharper means of its manifestation. From one, less sinful tendency, the man passes to the different types of carnal sins and, without noting himself, becomes the slave of the carnal passion. Lust is not dulled — it requires more often and stronger that it would be given food. This leads to the bodily corruption and even larger lust. The body is being weakened in its natural and legal needs, the organism is being destroyed because of the unrestrained nature of the man, and there appear consequences in the form of different diseases: weakening of the memory, blunting of the will, etc. All this the Apostle wonderfully expressed with the words: "Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body" (1 Cor. 6:18).
But the moral consequences of carnal sins are much more terrible, for the sinner is corrupted spiritually. He begins to allow himself many tings, what he would not allow himself, preserving his chastity. He loses his internal integrity, his conscience is decomposed. At many things the fornicator looks differently, than the chaste: he excuses that, what earlier he would not allow himself, finding for this the number of "the valid" reasons. Something he explains like natural requirements, commands of the "hygiene and health," something he justifies with aesthetical notions. The entire integral world view of the Christian is being destroyed. Sinful becomes permissible and necessary. The new regulator "everything is permitted" appears instead of the strict moral principles of duty, purity, and honesty. Without noting himself, the sinner falls down and is corrupted bodily as well as morally, easy and without restraint. Very frequently the consequence of a carnal downfall is the loss of the previous faith, religious principles and strict morals. The sinner muffles in himself commands of conscience, the faith in Godly requital, into the terrible responsibility before the judgment of his conscience, and the Dread Judgment, of the other world. Fades the belief in God, what is colorfully described by Metr. Anthony in his "Confession" (p. 55-57).
After this appears the desire to kill the sometimes awakening voice of repentance, the one seeks for the self-oblivion in wine, narcotics. The man deviates from the medium of his previous friends and close ones, who did not follow his way. He converges with the company of the similar to him, the unhappy slaves of their passions. All this involves him more, the bonds of sinful habits increasingly bound him stronger, but there are no moral, volitional and physical forces any more. But this is not all! Frequently the one can note the tracks of the committed sins: the tempted girl feels herself a future mother, but the fear of public shame leads her to the thought about destruction of the new life in her womb. She decides to get rid of the fruit, and the culpable of her downfall in many cases contributes to her criminal plan. One, as it seemed natural, "normal" for health sin, led to the new sin of infanticide. The girl herself can go along the way of "free love" since that moment. The principle "everything’s permitted" enters into its legitimate rights and the ball of sinful instincts tightens the soul, mind, will and aspirations of those fallen more strongly.
It is appropriate and opportune to time to switch over to the pastoral measures of fight with these passions. Here, as in the entire asceticism, one should distinguish the measures of prohibition from the measures of warning. One thing is the therapeutics of the sin; another — the hygiene. One relates to the healing of the already ruling illnesses, another has by the task prevention of the appearance of a new one. One should admit that the first gets much more attention in the ascetic works and manuals on the moral theology than the second one. That is why it is necessary to stop on these preventive measures, though we should say all needful about the second one.
Advice to the repentant against the passion of lechery can be the following:
1. First of all it is necessary to destroy the prejudice in the minds of the Christians, that the satisfaction of carnal lust is dictated by the considerations of naturalness and health. By the way, the Holy Fathers of asceticism understood "the natural" not like the ugly and unrestrained satisfaction of the passions of womb and flesh, but like that what actually necessarily comes out from the natural needs of the body. "The natural," according to their doctrine, cannot be sinful and evil. So, for example, Maxim the Confessor, who distinguished the 2 wills in the man, — the natural and gnomist (rational), considered the natural will to be always directed to the good, because there is no evil in nature. Lechery and licentiousness are dictated to us not by nature at all, but by our passion to sin and to be delighted with this passion. Our self-justification dictates us to transgress the commandments of purity and chastity "for health." However, not all the doctors and scientists keep to the point of view of satisfying lust early and immeasurably. The history and the experience of abstention teach exactly the opposite. The people who are pure and restrained in every respect in the majority of cases do not know many illnesses; preserve the cleanliness of their heart and clarity of mind. But disorderliness in this respect does not stop on lust of flesh alone, but also painfully excites the mind and pushes the fantasy on the way of creating attractive and dirty images. It goes without saying that the sins of flesh very frequently lead to getting ill with different bad diseases. A pastor must with all his forces oppose to this false and completely unscientific view on the physical life of the man. He must in every way possible contribute to the retention of physical purity, avert the weak and unstable from the dangerous way, strengthen their will in the fight with passions and advise them to remain true to the commandments of the Lord and to their conjugal responsibilities.
2. Together with this a pastor must advise to deviate from those temptations, which can lead to this sin. It is necessary to persistently advise people, who have an illegal connection, to break these relations and to run far from this temptation. Those, who did not yet harm to their innocence, but under the influence of a poor company already stand on the way to seduction, should be decisively put aside from the ruinous influence of their comrades, or maybe, the attracting woman. It is not necessary to fear to offend someone or to prove to be a poor comrade, old-fashioned, "a Puritan" in the eyes of the contemporaries. A pastor can help in this case, giving examples of pure life from the literature or the lives of saints.
3. Against the persistent impulses of the young organism, the unhealthy dreams and with the good tendency to be protected from a downfall it is necessary to know how to counterpose all the ascetic means. To them belong first of all the abstention of the womb and throat. Fasting, this powerful, but, unfortunately, forgotten virtue can protect from the temptations of flesh better than many other things. However, the satiety of the womb and inflaming oneself with alcoholic beverages only more excite the fire of lust. Bows to the ground as well help greatly to fight with the same impulses. Physical labor is also good; the moderate sport, if it is conducted in the situation of chastity, also helps to the fighting with this passion.
Venerable Abba the Nitrian writes: "The prodigal passion is multiplied with four things — oversleeping, eating to the satiety, idle talk, provoking laugh, and adornments of the body" (the Philocalia 1, p. 329). It is important to note that, on what writers-ascetics repeatedly focused attention, i.e., that judiciousness of the others’ deficiencies frequently conducts to the multiplication of prodigal wishes in the man. Condemning the others in smaller things, the person falls into the greater sin of the carnal longings.
Furthermore, it is important that the seemingly calmed lust in the man, in reality is concealed somewhere deep in the hiding-places of sub-consciousness and from time to time reminds of itself, waking up in the thoughts or dreams, different unclean recollections of the past. Evagrius-monk in his "About the Active Life" writes as follows: "The natural bodily movements in the sleep, without shameful dreams, show that the soul is to some extent healthy; however, the interlacement of such dreams is a sign of the fact that it is sick. In this case be aware that dreaming about the unknown persons indicates the rests of the old passion, and seeing in dreams certain persons indicates the new stinging of the heart" (the Philocalia 1, 613). In this case the role of sub-consciousness in no way must be disregarded by a pastor, who gives advice, not by the repentant themselves, confessing to a pastor their long ago forgotten, but from time to time awaking culpable desires.
But together with these three pieces of advice a pastor needs to wake the consciousness of sinfulness in the soul of that being confessed. It is necessary to fight with unhealthy prejudices and corruptive surroundings, and also, with the sin itself. This must be concern of a priest in any case, but with the presence of carnal sins this must be an especially important concern. It is necessary to arouse aversion to these sins, wake up the feeling of shame and persuasion in the incompatibility of these bad habits with cleanliness and asceticism, which go through the study of Christ. A pastor must show the repentant that the sins of this kind especially contaminate the soul and corrupt the body. "He that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body." The ideal of the Christian orthodox life is the special purity of the soul and body, intactness of the mind and heart, their nonparticipation in the bad thoughts and wishes. The designation of our physical shell is to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. The fathers of the Church teach about nature, that should become Godly, Ap. Peter writes (2 epistles, 1:4) that we are called to be "partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust"; the entire teaching of Ap. Paul it is pierced by the thought of sanctity, to which the Christians are called, about the fact that our body is the temple of God; the entire John’s writings, as well as his Gospel, and epistles are filled with praising of chastity and purity. The combination of holiness and lewdness, physical purity and disorderliness of thoughts and feelings is impossible. Our designation is not in the satisfaction of the body, but in its glorification, in its preparation to incorruption, since we "are bought with a price" (1 Cor. 6:20, 7:23).
Writings of the holy fathers extremely highly teach about the value of our human nature. Our moral ideal is resemblance to God; God-Logos honored us when he became Human God, not Angelic God; the Christian asceticism does not have any contempt towards flesh, any Manichaeism, pseudo-spiritual dualism, etc. More than that, Ganger local council condemns fanatical asceticism. But together with all this physical purity is basic and inherent for our moral sermon. Chastity, veneration, the entire history of monasticism, images of hermits, St. John the Baptist and the most pure Virgin-Mother of God must always be before the eyes of a Christian. No matter how great the burden of flesh was, no matter how great the temptation and our ability to sin and fall was, it is necessary to always wake the readiness to repent inside, to grieve in the downfalls and feel shame because of our misdeeds. A priest must call to that those, who came to confess him their sins of this type. It is necessary to suggest love for cleanliness, the enlightened image of the man, who does not know any dirty motives. A priest must open the eyes of the repentant, that the sins of flesh are not something dictated by the voice of nature and health, but on the contrary: by the unbridled game of fantasy and disorderliness of our will. It is necessary to point at the fact how strictly the Church judges in its canons those, who make possible for themselves to sin against this commandment. By showing the strict punishment a priest must not repel the repentant from the Church, but to wake up the conscience of believer and arouse in him the fear of God. This is already the beginning of salvation.
This way a priest can hold the wavering will of a young creature, ready to surrender to the ruinous examples under the bad influence of associates; and to go to save those, who already stepped on the sinful way. If the pastoral trustee love is sincere, if the power of his persuasion is great and he possesses sufficient moral authority, a pastor can help those, who began to sin and to live the lewd life. Here it is important, in the first place, to arouse the feeling of shame and repentance and, secondly, to assure in the love and possibility of forgiveness of the Heavenly Father, receiving the repentant with open arms. A priest on no account can show to the repentant some feeling of his superiority or contempt to the weakness of the sinner. The penitent must cause no feeling of fastidiousness in a priest, but great compassion, and he is obligated to show him the possibility to return on the way of purity and repentance. The Evangelical images of the prodigal son and repentant sinner, examples from the lives of saints, from the history, of those, who after the great downfall nevertheless returned into the Paternal house and from the perishing people became clean, revived to the new life. A priest is given the enormous possibility through the sympathy and paternal word, and spiritual support to contribute to weak people’s salvation. It is necessary to arouse hope for mercy and forgiveness, just as the faith in the possibility of new, clean and God-pleasing life in these souls.
Everything said above does not however settle the entire problem of the sex. The sexual instinct, the strongest in the man, is connected with the number of the parallel questions, which should be known to a pastor. The task of the pastoral guidance is not limited only by the fight with these sins and sermon of purity, but a pastor must penetrate in the complex questions, connected with the sex.
The contemporary psychoanalysis went far ahead in this sphere and highlighted the number of acute problems. It is not necessary, of course, to assume all the prerequisites and conclusions of the psychoanalysis, but to omit this theme would not be wise for a pastor. Let Freud's theories suffer one-sidedness, but one should take into consideration both his and other scientists’ observations on the psychoanalysis.
Thoughtful attitude to the problem of sex makes it necessary to recognize that it is not limited only by the breach of the 7th commandment. The sins against this commandment of Moses are still sins; one should not soften them, but the problem of sex cannot be the theme only for the moral theology, since it does not fit into the framework of the moral code.
This problem is much more profound and wider than they often think of it. But the main thing, it is much more tragic, and any simplification of it leads not to its settling, but to irresponsibility. This problem must be regarded not only in the sphere of the moral theology or asceticism, but also of the moral psychology or pastoral psychiatry.
In order to avoid the incorrect understanding or interpretation, it is necessary to emphasize the attitude of a pastor towards the sins, connected with carnal passion, one more time.
1. The sex and sin. The most obvious in the discussed theme is what was said above. It is completely unquestionable that any manifestation of sex stands on the boundary of sin, if not in the sphere of sin. Ascetic steadiness in this respect is compulsory and only the abstention of thoughts, feelings and the very impulses of the body can protect the man from a downfall. But the very problem of sex is not solved only by the asceticism. It helps to fight with the sinful manifestations of sex, but everything that is connected with this problem, is not settled only with it. A pastor must especially draw his and the repentant’s attention to the ascetic feats in this field. But not everything is limited with these feats, since the theme of sex is wider than its sinful manifestations in the life of the man.
2. The sex and sexual life. It is very important not to identify these two questions in order not to fall into the incorrect generalizations. The concepts of the sexual life and sex itself are not at all synonyms. The sex might not manifest itself in the sexual acts, since it is much more profound, and metaphysical. This means that it does not at all coincide with the functions of sexual life, which lie in the sphere of empirics. The sex is the natural force, deeply rooted, which can have nothing in common with the sexual functions. The sex can manifest itself differently. It will be clear from the following that the man is given the possibility to free the sex from the sexuality, from the possible sinful manifestations. Before the man lies the task of the transformation of his sexual energy, its erection to the highest steps, completely free from any sins, from the obscurity of lust. The man with the strong coefficient of sex, in other words, the bright personality, gifted with different characteristic features can be, with the correct direction of will, mind, feelings, etc., not subjected at all to the rough phenomena of sexual lust.
3. The sex and creation. The metaphysical roots of the sex, which, as it was said, do not at all coincide with the lowest sexual functions, are especially vividly manifested in the creative gifts of the man. There is the direct proportionality of these two forces in the man and there exist many historical examples, which can confirm the aforesaid. The personalities with the great gifts in any sphere of the spiritual life (literature, music, art, politics, social life) in the overwhelming majority of cases were energetic sexually. Pushkin, Turgenev, Tolstoy, Beethoven, Chopin, Raphael, Tyutchev, Bunin, Napoleon and many others were the creatures with the extremely high coefficient of sex and everyone in their measure and in their time paid tribute to sex. Its metaphysical roots in them frequently broke through into the sphere of the most real empirics of the sexual life. Their creative impulses were always combined with the manifestations of the sexual energy. In the natural relation these manifestations did not know perversion. It is possible to mention a number of other persons, whose coefficient of sex pushed them into the sphere of abnormal manifestations of the sexual energy: Oscar Wilde, Andre Gide, Marseille Proust, Tchaikovsky, Leonardo da Vinci, Miguel-Angel, Bakunin. In some this was manifested in the distortion of the sexual preferences, in the others — in the so-called Oedipus complex. But all of them were the bright personalities in the sense of sex. Many tragically lost the fight with the unbearable burden of this energy: Origen castrated himself, Otto Vayninger committed suicide, literally crushed by the tension of sex, pursuing him, some lost their mind, after falling into erotic insanity, etc.
The sex, as it was said, might not pass wholly into the field of physiology. One can be a very bright personality, gifted in the sense of sex as well, stand out against the ordinary people for the great individual store of energy, but this in no way means that this person is a debauchee or is lost in the sexual sense. Sex can pass into the rough carnal passion and distort that positive, what is placed in it. It is impossible to destroy the natural inclination to sex; castration is not the resolution of this question, since the sex is given to the man not by some dark powers, not by the evil source of the world, but by the Creator Himself, — for the reproduction of mankind. The negative fight is not the fight. In this question the religious answer is expected, and it consists not of the destruction of the fact that is predetermined in The Eternal Council, but of the overcoming of that darkness which can easily appear in connection with this. If the sex is tightly connected with the creative gifts of the man, then the man is expected the creative defeat of the things that can seem as the evil and passion. This defeat must consist of creative disclosure of those gifts, which are characteristic of such strong natures. This giftedness, connected with sex, can be profaned, it can easily convert into the simple physiological functions, connected with excesses; but the same giftedness can be elevated onto the highest steps as well, or as they say, become sublimated into the noble manifestations of a strong personality. In this connection arises the problem, successfully named as "the changed Eros"
4. The sex as Eros. The sex in its metaphysical sense as the gift of strong personal qualities both in the men and women, can be manifested in life differently. If we understand the sex in the average sense, as the man's sexual life, or on the language of asceticism as lust, then this is the only one and together with that the lowest form of these manifestations. To identify the sex with "libido sexualis" means to make the problem narrow and rough. The sex with the effort of mind and will can be directed to the other functions, having nothing to do with physiology. There the theme of sex and Eros comes to the foreground.
The concept of Eros is extremely important for the Christian asceticism and, in particular, for our theme. It is necessary for the persons, not knowing the finesses of the Greek philology, to make a preliminary observation. Rich Greek language worked out the whole series of the refined concepts for the expression of one or another nuance of love. Much was written about this, but for the correct understanding of our theme, it is necessary, at least briefly, to mention the certain notions. The Greek genius knows the following expressions for love: agapi — love in the general meaning of the word, often not relating to the content of the word; storgi — as collective, social love, or preference that is given to the family, patrimony, people, etc.; fili as love between friends, for filos means "a friend" in Greek; this term indicating love underlines some highest form, the calm, perhaps, more spiritual step of love. Filtron puts into the concept of love something charming, almost magic, since in its literal value this word indicates "the amorous beverage"; finally, eros, that can indicate passionate love, even longing, but is not limited to these senses at all. Eros can indicate not at all the heathen idol of passion, but hot, blazing, fast love. Much was written about these nuances in the philological treatises, and theological works. Let us mention only the "The Ethics of the Changed Eros" of Prof. Vysheslavtsev, the book, which each pastor must know and which can help a lot in the difficult questions of the sex; P. Phlorensky's comparisons in his "The pillar and the Assertion of the Truth" are interesting. The book of A. Nigren, "Eros el Agapé," just as of H. Scholz, "Eros und Caritas" are meaningful and worth of attention.
The Christian writers of the Greek culture wonderfully informed of the finesses of their native language and free in the choice of one or another expression of the word "love," skillfully used the first one, and then — the others of these expressions. Frequently it is possible to find in the works of the Byzantine theologians the fragments, in which are used two, three or four of the terms given above. This was only for the sake of shading of one or another sense, which was expressed by the writer in the certain case.
Already long ago Wilamowitz-Moellendorff in his capital labor about Plato noted that Plato does not use the word "agapi," just as Ap. Paul avoids the term "eros." But this Plato’s expression of "eros," very early acquires the rights of the citizenship in the Christian theological literature and even, in particular, in the ascetic treatises. But the fathers of the Church frequently resort to the notion of "eros," as St. Gregory the Nicene willingly names our love for God by the word filtron, i.e., gives to this love the sense of something charming, exhilarating, that fascinates. The western writers, as this was indicated by Sholts, in the book quoted above, rather follow Ap. Paul, but more greatly use their Latin "caritas." The same are blissful Augustine, Dante and Pascal.
However, the word "eros" is frequently and willingly used by our holy devotees, ascetics and mystics. This word, of course, could have its sense, which it acquired in the average consciousness, i.e., of the especially sensual love, similar to "libido" of Freud’s psychoanalysis. This impelled the author of "The Divine Names," so-called pseudo-Areopagit, to write several lines in defense of the use of this word, vulgarized by the simple people. But the educated theologians like St. Maxim the Confessor, the elevated ascetic and educated Hellene, repeatedly uses this notion for the designation of our love for God. We will find this word especially frequently in the works of St. Photius of Constantinople, St. Gregory Palama and by many mystics of the Orthodox East.
We found it appropriate to stop at these details of the terminology, since the word "eros" in the works of the contemporary writers is very frequently used as a conditional concept, a technical term. It contrasts with the notion "sexus" in the works of such an outstanding and thoughtful Catholic psychologist as Johann Klug, in his book "The Depths of the Soul." In this context the word "eros" approaches a rather metaphysical concept of the sex, while "sexus" indicates its physiological, which means, lowest function.
The word "eros" in this context has its great advantages and explains well some possibilities of the spiritual life. As it correctly noted A. Nigren, "eros" significantly differs from agapi. This latter understanding of love in no case must be received as a certain highest step of eros. Agapi is completely independent of "eros" — these are the two completely independent concepts. Agapi never was the certain stage on the way of the transformation of "eros" in the understanding of the Greek culture. The word "eros" in Plato’s works is already aware of the stages of the usual, vulgar word and heavenly "eros." So, "eros" is sublimated, but together with that it does not lose its characteristic properties of Eros and becomes the substantially important task for a pastor in the questions, that are now discussed by us.
Prof. Vysheslavtsev built his bright and very useful book on this thought about the possibility of the development of "eros" from the low, vulgar forms, i.e., from the purely sensual love to the forms that are most elevated, spiritual, on the basis of the study of that monument, which was known as "The Areopagitics" in the theological science, or the creation of a certain author of the 5th or the beginning of the 6th century, who for long was identified with apostolic St. Dionysius the Areopagit, but has nothing to do with him. In the treatise "About the Divine Names," entering into "The Areopagitics," the author speaks about the fact, "that the crowd does not understand the sense of the divine name "eros," identifying him with physical and sensual eros, that is not the true "eros," but its reflection" (chapter 4, p. 12). Somewhat earlier, the author calls not to be confused by the name "eros," for this notion can be elevated, changed and clarified. Below (15) it is said about the different steps of this eros as the power of "unity and blend": divine eros, angelic eros, reasonable (spiritual), emotional and physical. Here is important the fact that the author of this remarkable treatise, wonderfully familiar with the spirit of the Greek language and its richness, without hesitation applies the same word both to the steps of love and to the high steps — angelic and divine. It will not come to the mind of any person, and was not in the thoughts of the author to assign to angels or Deity anything sensual, passionate. At the same time not the deficiency of expressions forced him to use precisely this term "eros," and no others. From that rich variety of expressions for the indication of love the author could, if he considered that necessary, use any other word, nuance, but he does not do this because he sees in the word "eros" the possibility of bringing up from the lowest steps to the high ones, from the physical to the elevated, spiritual, i.e., enlightened love.
If we still have other doubts about the origin of "The Areopagitics," whose author could be under the influence of the neo-Platonic mysticism, or these works arose in the medium, not entirely orthodox; then the number of other writers of the Christian world, whose orthodoxy cannot be more suspected in any way, willingly used precisely this concept "eros," as the most corresponding, on the spirit of the Greek language, to that content, which the Hellenic genius puts into it.
The interpreter of "The Areopagitic" creations, the pillar of monasticism and Orthodoxy, St. Maxim the Confessor countlessly uses the word "eros," expressing in the majority of cases precisely that passionate love, inclination, which the Christian spirit has to the highest Eros, i.e., love for God. We will find this word used by such Hellene as St. Photius of Constantinople and also used by sublime ascetic St. Gregory Palama, who was under the strong influence of the Areopagits mysticism, to say nothing about the others.
Prof. Vysheslavtsev's book is valuable for it gives a pastor the leading idea of help to those, who feel themselves the prisoners of the lowest forms of sensuality, of help precisely by the call to bring one’s inclinations from this rough sensuality to the highest steps of the spiritual existence, to the search of Divine Eros. In this book is valuable that thought, that the lowest can be sublimated, that the man is not in the hopeless captivity of his sensuality, but he can turn onto the path of sublimation, purification and transformation. The rough powers of the empirical sex, i.e., lust, can find their way out upwards. The sensual source placed in the man can be refined and changed. It as the metaphysical force should not be compulsorily reduced to the rough physiological commands of flesh, but it can rise to the spiritual apexes. The man must be called to sublimate his eros creatively. The ascetic fight with passions is only one of the forms of this struggle. Lust can be conquered by the ascetic practice at the given moment, but this will not free the man from that source of strength, which is given to him by nature. Fasting, prayer, repentance, avoiding temptations will not eradicate that what is characteristic of the natural forces of the man. But these forces must not compulsorily be lowest, sensual, and sexual. The creatively strong personality must direct these forces into the positive sphere: aesthetical, scientific, social or any other. Therefore it is necessary to a pastor, together with the moral ones, to give other pieces of advice, to engage the spirit of the man by something positive, to call to the disclosure of his creative gifts not in the lowest sphere, but in the highest and ennobling one.
It is also important that Vysheslavtsev tells about the power of imagination. Entire psychoanalytical study about sub-consciousness is connected with this. Much is born in the images. "The erotic charms of the fascinating image are based on the fact that it immediately forms the chaos of the subconscious inclinations, and the image, capable of changing the chaos into cosmos and beauty, what is the wonderful image by itself" (str.77-78). The play of fantasy in the sexual life is enormous; the images of something attractive and calling to the sin can be substituted with the other images, different work of imagination, creative work. Healthy literature, music, artistic pictures, scientific work, strife for the knowledge can lead the captivated imagination into another sphere. Therefore the advice of a pastor to the repentant concerning these sins must be to a certain extent, and together with the purely ascetic advice, directed towards one’s occupation with the study of one or another subject, artistic, official, social, military or any other sphere. "The lewd dream," about which says Metr. Anthony in "The Confession" (p.59), must be substituted with the pure ideas, the authority of which will not allow the presence of anything dirty in the mind and heart of the man. Metr. Anthony says the same, as Prof. Vysheslavtsev: "One needs to fill his soul by the other, better content, must love Christ, the native land, science, school, moreover, the Church, parents, business associates, whom you dedicated your life" (p.61).Those committing the sin of carnal lust are absorbed by some image of the other sex or by the images of sensual pleasure. So let this person dedicate himself to the other thing, get attracted by something sublime, what will help him to step away from the captivating his imagination objects.
"It is difficult to defeat carnal lust, but it is possible, — says Bishop Porfirius Uspensky. — It is necessary to anger the mind, when lust appears, and to start the work, which distracts attention from the object of delusion and pacifies craving. In such a case the simple prayer: "Lord, have mercy!" has great power ("The book of My Existence," 1, p.454).
5. Marriage. This theme also must be thought over by a pastor, since any simplification can lead to the incorrect conclusions. First of all, one should not think of marriage as of a certain panacea from the obtrusive temptations of lust. According to the church doctrine, marriage is not the open door to the excesses of the body. The Church prays about the gift of chastity to the bride and groom, about keeping the bed clean, about the identity of bodies and souls, about the honorable marriage, and the undefiled bed… Marriage is not permission for something unrestrained, for certain disorderliness. There must be place for abstention in marriage. Possible diseases of one of the spouses, the period of the expectation of a baby, etc. doom another half to abstention and to certain ascetic life.
It is not possible, from the other side, to reduce the sense of marriage to the child-bearing alone, as it is characteristic of the Roman-Catholic view. In marriage, on the doctrine of the fathers of church, the great significance is given to its spiritual side.
The theme of the sex does not comprise only to the sphere of marriage. This latter is legal and blessed by the Church form of satisfaction of the human needs. The child-bearing proceeding from it receives its natural development; however, this does not complete the sphere of the marital life. Marriage might not be fruitful in this sense because of different circumstances. But one way or another, the sex will reveal itself independently, since it is more profound than its physiological manifestations. The sex in the sense of the strongly gifted personality searches for other, than physiological, manifestations. This gifts or that side of a conjugal union requires other spheres for its embodiment. Creatively strong nature can remain stable and bright, completely regardless of the fact how the sexual life flows. With years the lowest functions of flesh can already become silent and not require satisfaction, whereas the highest tendencies of the bright personality will still continue to search for their embodiment. The sex, in its highest sense, will go along its way, independent of the temperament and tendencies of the other half of the union. And precisely in this situation marriage, directed only towards the lowest manifestations of sex, will be doomed to many disagreements, in order not to say tragedies.
Tolstoy's marriage can serve as a vivid example of the past century. The indisputably gifted in many respects creator of "War and peace," having physiological, artistic, and intellectual talents, in the certain time of his life searched for acceptance of his bright personality in the sphere, having nothing in common with the conjugal life in its narrow sense. Absorbed in his moral-religious search, Tolstoy, to the detriment of his artistic genius, went along the way, completely different from that, what his wife imagined their conjugal life to be. The young girl, who fell in love with Sevastopol officer, selflessly devoted to him, the excellent wife and mother, the loyal admirer of his creations, she could in no way share the interests of Tolstoy of the second-half of his life, when he began to mow, plough, stitch boots, place furnaces for peasants (which, one should say, were not good at all and produced smoke). The happy at first marriage subsequently became little bearable in the sense of the disagreement of the highest interests of one and another half of this marital union. In the course of time Tolstoy went through the early enthusiasm of the family interests, children, their illnesses, etc. Concerns about their future no longer could draw Tolstoy's attention; he searched for some eternal truth and new ways; but, on the other hand, his wife could not follow his enthusiasm, forgetting her direct responsibilities of the wife and mother. The tragedy of the Tolstoy disagreement is known, and we should not stop on it. It follows, however, not to justify one side alone: Leo Nikolayevich, and to condemn his wife, who did not become "tolstovka." In this case, the once happy marriage in the overall meaning proved to be a torture and failure in the spiritual sense.
Usual life is full of the similar examples. The disagreement of the spiritual aspirations of the spouses cannot be covered even with their faithfulness to each other. Besides the physical relation, marriage without fail requires the spiritual closeness. This does not at all mean that the husband must be dissolved in the interests of his wife, and the wife must be the loyal assistant and ideological friend of her husband.
It is hardly necessary to require that the wife of a professor would look for the notes for his works or get interested in the surgical or astronomical searches of her husband. But, on the other hand, the perfect indifference of the husband to the education of children and to the internal world of his wife just as her incomprehension of his internal life, attest to the fact that this marriage had a deep disagreement in it.
The strength of the mutual love in this case is inferior to sharply revealing selfishness. One personality completely shades the other, disregards it. This selfishness is the ancestor of all disagreements in the mutual life of the two persons of different sexes. Selfishness, which according to St. Maxim the Confessor comes from not knowing God (letter 2), generates all the other passions ("About Love" 3, p.8).
Egoism can be defeated only with the opposite force, i.e., love for others, which brings to God, since "we know love for God and name it not as the one that differs from that love for the close ones, but as wholly one and the same love" (The Letter 2, 401 D.). This divine love is based on the same force of craving, as teaches the same father of the Church ("To Falassius").
Generally, it is necessary to note with the special accent, that the same Maxim the Confessor, who so much taught about love and together with that about "eros," as about "agapi," can be very interesting in this context. In the mystical enlightenments about the world he saw to the highest degree interesting panorama of the tragic separation in the universe. Entire space is contemplated by him as split with the first-born sin into certain divisions: to that understood by the mind and unknown, to the heavenly and terrestrial, to the paradise and universe, to the male and female beginning. Maxim the Confessor with the exceptional force of enlightenment, as no one other, experiences this sinful state of the universe. But he as well definitely confesses his faith and hope for the fact that this tragic state of the world, this splitting of humanity into the male and female beginning, can be overcome and defeated precisely by the force of love. Maxim following the Areopagitics, so much and profoundly teaching about eros and the possibility of its sublimation, teaches at the same time about the healing force of love agapi, which, as we saw, should not be perceived as the highest step of eros, but as the force, independent from it.
The Pastoral Psychiatry.
That what nowadays they call "the pastoral psychiatry" already acquired the right of the citizenship in the western science since the certain time, while in the orthodox East this is the almost unknown sphere of the pastoral activity. It must not be understood as the certain additional part of the Book of Needs or Nomocanon, since it does not belong to the field of the pastoral asceticism, but is the certain parallel sphere of the pastoral spiritual care, which nevertheless should not be left by a priest without attention. Several preliminary observations seem to us necessary concerning this question.
The spiritual care and confession in particular are the spheres inaccessible for the outside observation. Resolution of the spiritual life questions, connected with confession, passes "in foro interno." A confessor is present at confession only as a witness. The confessionary secret is absolute.
But there is another thing. There is a region that is more intimate and more thoroughly hidden by the penitent, than the sin. There is something in the human soul, what is not sinful and, that most of the penitent do not suspect of, is hidden from the look of the conscience and, even more, not subordinated to the conscience itself. There are certain hiding-places of the soul, which a sinner himself does not examine and perhaps does not suspect that they exist. There are such states of the soul, which require entirely different estimation, than the ascetic and moral-theological one. These states, which cannot be determined by the categories of the moral theology and which do not enter into the concept of the good and evil, the virtue and sin. These are all the depths of the soul, which belong to the psychopathological, but not ascetic sphere.
An educator, judge, pastor and doctor look differently at the emotionally unbalanced person. Is it possible to consider that the certain acts of such persons are only the sins, which should be subjected to penance? Is any anomaly of the emotional life — a breach of the moral law and standards of the code of asceticism? Is any anomaly more a disease, than an evil matter? Do they put a question, where the boundary between the ethics and psychopathology passes?
It is possible to define with the known risk of schematization "the pastoral psychiatry," as an attempt of coordination of the work of a psychologist (or psychiatrist) and of a pastor in the most intimate spheres of his activity. One should not think that a pastor can enlist a psychiatrist to that what was opened to him at the confessionary table. Rather it should be allowed, that a pastor himself must be somewhat familiar with the psychoanalytical observations, must read one or two books on the pastoral psychiatry, plunge more deeply in what the moral psychology is, in order not to condemn as a sin that what is only a tragic bend of the emotional life, the riddle, and not the sin, the mysterious depth of the soul, and not moral depravity.
Here arise some questions of the fundamental character, on solution of which will depend one or another attitude to the object.
1. Is it permissible from the point of view of the Orthodoxy, to speak about the pastoral psychiatry? Is it possible to combine this discipline with the basic principles of our hereditary of the patristic and church legend ethics and asceticism? The similar approach to the question cannot but cause surprise. But, by the way, one could repeatedly hear such questions. Precisely the connection between the pastoral psychiatry, and ethics and asceticism can cause surprise. The essence of the matter lies in the fact that psychiatry does not lay claim to those spheres, which belong to asceticism. Asceticism is occupied with the fight against sins and passions, while the pastoral psychiatry attempts to penetrate in those spheres of emotional life, which in no way can be qualified as the sin and evil. Asceticism gives wise advice, obtained from the fathers and teachers of the Church, for the recovery from sins and vices: pride, despondency, avarice, vanity, gluttony, lechery and the like. Psychiatry searches for the deep reasons of those spiritual states of the man, which root in the secret hiding-places of the soul, in the sub-consciousness, in the hereditary or acquired contradictions of a human being. Psychiatry focuses its attention on the fact that in the essence does not interest asceticism: obtrusive ideas, phobias, neurasthenia, hysteria and so on.
From the point of view of the Orthodoxy and the church legend, there is no reason for seeing any obstacles for the usage of any psychiatric or psychoanalytical data in the activity of a pastor. Psychiatry principally must not contradict the pastoral service, not interfere with it or diminish the value of the spiritual care. In the work of a pastor can be used all means of aid to the souls on the way to salvation. The pastoral psychiatry is not equal to asceticism in the terms of its value, their spheres are adjacent, but they do not exclude one another, because psychiatry does not interfere with the region of the pure theology. Its search is in those spheres, where asceticism does not have a direct application. Psychiatry in the hands of a pastor is the booster agent for detecting not the sin, but the pathologic phenomena, connected with mental, i.e., with emotional, but not spiritual diseases.
2. It is possible to look at the discussed question in another way. If it is permissible and completely reasonable to speak about the psychiatric booster agents for the actions of a pastor, i.e., about the pastoral psychiatry, then it is permissible to raise the question about the fundamental admittance of psychiatry, as it is, or to place stress on the pastoral psychiatry. This means: is it possible generally, from a theological, pastoral, spiritual, ecclesiastical point of view to allow psychiatry to those spheres, where, it would seem, one should speak only of the spiritual, but not medical. In other words, with what right a medical discipline will be permitted to be not only in the modus operandi of a pastor, but also generally into the sphere of the spiritual life.
If we agree with the fact that the pastoral psychiatry must not interfere with the field of asceticism, then should not one exclude any right of the interference of a medical science with the existence of a various complex emotional phenomena? In other words, must not a pastor consider that these phenomena, from the point of view of the Church, do not at all exist? Is not any complex emotional phenomenon a simply sinful state? Should not one generally attribute all that what happens in the soul of a human to the field of asceticism? Should one, from the point of view of the Orthodoxy and the church legend, exclude any moral psychology, and pass it over to the region of the moral theology? Are not all the mentioned neurasthenia, phobias, maniacal states, etc. only the sins?
The mind attempts to simplify everything and to exclude all the problems. The answer in that case suggests itself: all this is only a sin, the holy fathers knew of no psychoanalyses, but they could heal the depths of the soul and sin itself, fought with the evil, and not with the riddles of the soul. With such posing of the question the very word "psychiatry," and moreover "the pastoral psychiatry" is the encroachment upon the bequeathed by fathers-ascetics orthodox understanding of the sin and fight with it. In that case the question is turned only to the simplified ethical estimation of everything that the man harbors.
In fact, is it not easier to look at all this as at the consequence of the first-born sin, as at the sign of our general sinfulness and tendency towards the sin? In its essence everything happening to the man is the consequence of his limitedness and mortality. Mortality and diseases are the consequence of Adam's downfall, since in the first-born sin the man lost his previous heavenly state. Emotional anomaly (neurasthenia, hysterias and so forth) go back to the one common reason --- to the first-born sin. But can the matter be limited only with mental illnesses; are there any other diseases and general inclination of the man towards them the consequence of the same Adam's sin? In the heavenly state the man would hardly experience these different illnesses. But all these pathological cases are the facts and not the play of imagination and over-anxiousness alone. Is it possible in that case, from the point of view of asceticism and the church legend, to cure these illnesses? Does the orthodox asceticism admit the medicine and can it come from the evil one?
The answer is out of doubts: it will hardly come to someone’s mind to forbid, from the point of view of the Orthodoxy, to use doctor’s advice. Assuming that the first-born sin caused mortality, and consequently sickliness, then should one plunge into the problems of allowing the treatment of the man and saving him from the premature death?
If generally all diseases must be subjected to healing, then the special diseases, the emotional ailments must not be the exception from this rule. Otherwise the Orthodoxy must oppose to any psychiatry, but not only to the pastoral one and hospitals for the mental patients should be shut.
The question is in that: is any disease evil? There is no doubt, that it is the consequence of the first-born sin, but is any disease itself the evil, which is only subjected to penance? Is it necessary to treat neurasthenia only by some ascetic means? Do mental illnesses stand at the same level, as the sins of pride and avarice?
St. John Chrysostom writes as follows: "There exists the evil: lechery, adultery, extortion and other vices, worth of the most great censure and punishment. But there exist, or better they are called the evil: hunger, tortures, death, sickness, etc. This is not the evil, but is only called like that. If this was evil, then it would not be the reason for the good." Hence it is clear that before a pastor in the soul of the repentant reveal themselves: theft, judging of the neighbor, pride, carnal passions; but during confession, or in the pastoral practice, out of confession, there can appear: obtrusive ideas, maniacal states, neurasthenia, etc. We repeat, that the cases of pure psychopathology, just as one or another ailment or the sin of judging the neighbor, — everything together are the consequences of the first-born sin. But it is not possible to bring all these consequences under the unique concept of sin. Only the third of the given examples are sins.
A pastor, called not to judge, but to save the world, to change it with the rays of the Favor light, to contribute to the creation of "the new creature" in Christ, must know how to perceive all these phenomena thoughtfully, sensibly and compassionately and give his advice to the each one. In the case of the physical infirmity a pastor can help with his prayer and encouragement; in the case of sin he must instruct, expose, reproach and perhaps punish; in the psychological case he himself, first of all, should understand, with what he deals, wisely treat and help such person.
Starting the difficult matter of the spiritual care, a pastor must not draw the psychiatrist to his work, but in a certain measure be prepared himself, concerning the requirements of psychology and pastoral psychiatry. This will not at all injure his Orthodoxy and spirituality. Psychology was always included into the program of the spiritual educational institutions, and this can be somewhat extended so that candidates into the priesthood could become acquainted with the new manuals on moral psychology, pastoral psychiatry, psychoanalysis, adapting them to the conditions of the orthodox pastoral service.
It was indicated above (part 1, chapter 2), that a priest while estimating the man must in particular remember of his freedom, personality and moral merit. Now one should dwell upon the question about the internal difficulties of human nature, with which a pastor meets. There is the danger of simplification and optimistic approach to the personality of the man. A priest does not dare to build the deceptive estimations of the human nature, when everything is not that satisfactory in the soul of the man. Wise philosopher said that the soul of the man has no harmony. Berdyaev was right, when he spoke much about the conflicts and contradictions in the man.
The modernity complicates life and in many respects distorts the personality of the man. The type of the successful person or the thinking of nothing simpleton disappears from the face of the earth. Parents, an educator and a pastor himself need to think thoroughly in each case, where one or another internal bend, those irregularities in the development and the habits, by which much in the life of each person is determined, come from.
Earlier it was indicated that the inclination to freedom and love is characteristic of the man. But it was said as well, that the man does not so easily reject anything, as he rejects freedom. Moreover, freedom itself is given to us without our will and free agreement, what leads to the very difficult positions. It was said, that the human personality is unique and that it is the most valuable thing the man possesses and that distinguishes him from the members of the herd or beehive. But indeed one should in no way forget that in each personality there are many things that are not born there; that each "I" is composed from many qualities not belonging to it.
If to think that over in a better way, then it will become clear, how easily the man gives away his freedom and becomes the slave of conditionalities of the medium, party, passions, habits. A pastor, as an educator, is entrusted to develop and bring up the freedom of the man in a good direction. At the same time he should examine what belongs to the man himself, and what comes from the medium and genus.
In each personality according to the psychological terminology act: phenotype, biological type and genotype. Phenotype is what the man is by himself, what he has personal, his gifts, and his content, that what makes his personality. These are, so to say, his hypostatic features. Of this consists the understanding of the personality that it is unique, that it is not a copy, but something, what was not and will not be in the history any more. But, after looking more attentively at any person we shall see, that besides his personal qualities, each one carries in him that what they traditionally call biological type. The medium, friends, upbringing, personal experiences can somehow be reflected in the personal gifts of the man and in one or another case can make a useful person and a good worker from a mediocrity, the same way as to mangle, vulgarize and spoil a gifted from his birth person. The authority of heredity, the voice of blood and ancestors are very strong in the man. The same Berdyaev, so ardently preaching his "personalism," had to acknowledge in his autobiography that in his "I" there was much from "not-me," but from the family and genus. This all is genotype. In this respect is interesting the attempt of such analyses of the ancestral beginning, made by Emil Zola in his "Rugon-Macars."
Therefore the man seems to be an intricate knot, a certain complex tissue, woven from many and frequently contradictory data, which do not make it possible to make the simplified generalizations. One might speak about the psychological or moral types only with many reservations. The usual division into the phlegmatic and sanguine persons is oversimplified. Now they speak more frequently about the cyclic recurrence and about schisms (discontinuity), the terms, which originate from the Greek language. The first word "cycle" indicates "circle" in Greek - (it can be compared with a quietly flowing river), in which the lifts and lowering of the moods can be subordinated to some pace; in it the happiness and suffering do not alternate so sharply. In the second one, the emotional moods are subjected to the sharp "schisms," breaches. In the nature of such people rule undercurrents, waterfalls, not subordinated to the rhythm; there can be frequent and unexpected changes from the silence to the storm.
But however it may be, all this does not make it possible to relate the people into one or another group without taking into account the different circumstances: the temperament qualities, all conditions of pheno-bio-genotype. The man always remains subjected to the different kind of the unexpected contingencies, which require considering him not as an absolutely complete type, but subjected to different chances. Therefore a pastor must always be ready to see the possibility of different contradictions in the man. The man is a riddle, hieroglyph, which requires attentive observation and cannot be so is easily deciphered.
In fact, how many contradictions are placed in each soul! Jealousy and love, happiness and desperation, inspiration and apathy, tendency towards creative perpetuation of oneself and the ghost of death, erasing everything and placing limit to all, the thirst of freedom and charm of the servitude. Is it so easy to understand what caused one or another mood, or act? It suffices to recall the appearance of Tsar John the Terrible, the cruel despot and hangman, on the one hand, and the devout, waiting for humility. In the newspapers they wrote that Parisian hangman Deybner was a very kind person, he took care of students and gave money for their education. In each person is placed that, what Klug calls "the genius" and "the demon." By "the genius" one should not understand that what we usually define like genial, but that what pulls the man upwards, to the light, to God, while "the demon" one should understand in the sense of the spirit, leading to the low, evil, banal, dark. In each person there is some mixture of the opposite beginnings, some "light and shade." This can be the fading daylight, the messenger of the night; or, on the contrary, this is the morning star, which predicts the coming of the new day. All these are not yet final qualities of a virtue or sin, but the signs of something hidden, be it the hope for the positive creation, or the alarming sign of the coming obscurity.
Since a pastor is called to give a hand and to contribute to the "sublimation" of the low beginnings in the man into something high, then he is obligated to follow attentively the development of the emotional qualities of the guided. He can help in time, encourage and save, but can also miss the threatening signs of the nascent disease, which is not a sin yet, but can become one very easily because of his inattention. The things that a pastor does not know how to use, always use the others, "which come from the other side."
How often we hear about the moods! What great power they have over the man. Moods are not always sinful, but can become alike. A vigilant priest must use them. Among these moods anxiety occupies a very important place. This is the strange emotional state, which is underestimated by many. For many psychiatrists and psychoanalysts it is often the form of psychasthenia, which depends on the education, medium, health, overall nervousness. But this is the simplified understanding. This is one question, if "the mood" is good or bad, if it is the work of the sinful habits. But these moods by themselves can be not sinful. In particular, the very anxiety is not a sin, which it is necessary to punish pastorally. But is it possible to miss this emotional state, to which Kirkergor drew so much attention? He wrote the remarkable book, "Begriff der Angst" ("Le concept de l'angoiss"). For him anxiety is not the fact of psychotherapy, but the consequence of the first-born sin.
To determine anxiety as a sin is a too surface approach. It actually is the consequence of the first-born sin, as any unhealthy phenomenon. But to miss this phenomenon means to miss the necessary moment for averting the worse and truly sinful phenomena. People, who live with moods, what is so characteristic among some intellectuals, in the medium the Chekhovian characters, who lived by some "elusiveness," are very frequently sick with this sensation of anxiety, which differs from fear. Fear is always the dread of something determined (war, death, epidemic, misfortunes, etc.), while anxiety is terrible, for it does not know its object. This is the unaccountable state of uneasiness, which a pastor must think over, give his advice in the correct moment and dispel that danger, which can lead to the ruinous consequences. The empty "mood" is "unsettledness" of the incorrectly living soul, what cannot be denied, but it is not possible to think of the moods only as of a whim or something definitely sinful. Andre Gide in his "If the Seed Does Not Die" narrates about the boy of 11 years (the book is autobiographic), who without understanding, what death is, with the news about it fell into some unaccountable state of anxiety, "une angoisse indéffinissable," inexplicable sadness as a burst open weir, which does not restrain some inland sea.
This sadness or anxiety must be noted in time, one should not let it be developed, must balance it with something healthy. This is not a psychic illness alone, neither a simple sin. This is not at all the state of despondency, known to fathers-ascetics, but some predisposition to the emotional sensitivity, which can turn both into the evil, and into the good. It is possible that this is some special sign of giftedness of the man, which one should know how to use.
One of the perhaps most terrible elements in the man is the element of the moods, with which it is sometimes so difficult to manage and to direct them into the appropriate river bed. Could it be that the best motives of the man are born from the "moods" or anxiety? Might it be the sign of certain poetic, romantic inclination? Was it not for the moods that the better works of art and poetry were created: the lyric poetry of Lermontov and Tyutchev, the pathetic symphony of Tchaikovsky, his Trio and the 2d concert of Rachmaninoff? What anxiety did these sounds give birth to and was all so satisfactory in the soul of the man, when he wrote the immortal words and sounds? But did not these moods and anxieties lead the others to desperation, despondency and even suicide?
"What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?" (1 Cor. 2:11). Who will guess the complex riddle, which is the man himself? And if very few of the artists and musicians remained in the strip of light, and the others left it for the sake of their secret gloom, - then did not this frequently prick the conscience of an inattentive and careless pastor?
It is high time we passed from these general psychoanalytical observations to the real evidences of that what the pastoral psychiatry worked out lately. First of all it is important to find out the distinguishing features of mental illnesses and the degree of unbalanced state, in order to outline the possibilities for the pastoral interference. Here it is necessary to meet with the wide variety of opinions of the separate scientists, different approaches to the phenomena of mental illnesses, which all together considerably complicates the matter. But nevertheless, without plunging into the divergences and details in the secondary questions, one can reduce the fruits of the pastoral psychoanalysis and psychiatry to some common main postulates.
First of all, all emotional illnesses can be divided into two main groups, of endogenous and exogenous diseases. The endogenous are the inherited mental illnesses, i.e., such, in which the genotype predominates over the phenotype. However, such emotional illnesses, which are acquired as the consequences of any infection or a nervous break-down, are called exogenous, thus the phenotype and biological type predominate over the genotype. Here occurs the so called "Erlebnis-struktur." In his valuable book the rector of the psychiatric institute in Holland de Bless comes to the conclusion that in the 14 types of the psychoses a pastor can help only in the innate cases.
Besides this division of the emotional anomalies by their origin, the manuals on the pastoral psychiatry divide mental illnesses into psychoses and psychoneuroses. In the first, the disease of the mind and consciousness exists to a larger or smaller degree, while in the second ones the mind is touched to the lesser degree, and the center of the unhealthy state lies rather in the sphere of the nervous activity. In psychoses they distinguish either: 1) the total stoppage of the cerebral activity (feebleminded, idiots, "fools") or 2) psychoses as the consequences of some illness (typhus, meningitis), or 3) psychoses from poisoning: a) from without (from alcohol, morphine, cocaine) and b) from within (from the improper action of the kidneys or thyroid gland); here some psychiatrists place 4) melancholy and anxiety (Bless), what perhaps requires greater caution in their treatment. As psychoneuroses specialists count the different types of: 1) psychasthenia, in the form of obtrusive ideas and fear of the space and solitude; 2) neurasthenia in its most usual form, where the activity of the man (a disease not of the will, but of the might) is affected. Finally the very special position occupy hysteria, one of the most dangerous forms of mental illness, from the religious point of view, since it is very strongly manifested precisely in the religious sphere and is closely connected with it.
In the indicated work of Bless just as in the very important book of Robert de Sinéty, S. J, "Psychopatplogie et direction" (Paris, 1934. pp. 20, 255), it is possible to find valuable indications for the practical guidance of a priest.
Since in these books, written by the prominent Catholic scientists, much rests on the Papal encyclicals, on the legalizations of the Roman canonical code, on the theological assertions of Thomas the Aquinas, not all can have the identical value for an orthodox priest, not all the conclusions are applicable for us. But that, what proceeds from the purely scientific medical observations, and the general practical hints, is appropriate for us. It is very useful for an orthodox priest to get acquainted with these works in order to select for oneself, thinking maturely, what can prove to be similar to the spirit of the orthodox pastoral guidance and conditions of our life.
It is possible to accept this practical observation for the general guidance: facing with possession of the different kinds of fears, with "scrupulousness" and psychasthenias, it is useful that a pastor would try to strengthen the will of the patient, to defeat his fears and anxiety, to weaken the overanxiousness of conscience and to distract the attention of a patient from that what presses onto his imagination. In such cases the influence of a pastor can be very useful. A priest, after revealing such state of the soul, could, both at confession, and in the particular conversation, influence the patient and help him to come out of those deadlocks, which he creates himself.
The view of the specialists on the so-called maniacal states is much more pessimistic. Some of the psychiatrists (Bless) consider directly that any interference is useless, since it is not possible to re-convince such sick consciousness. Any attempt of the influence will lead to nothing but the more clearly expressed manifestation of mania. One should rather gain the complete confidence of the victim of this illness, change the themes of conversations and distract his attention from the pursuing fear of poisoning, solitude, space, etc. There is no need to speak about any responsibility of such sick person. His will is paralyzed, the mind is fuddled, and he is in the captivity of his fears. With the incorrect treatment frequently there can appear complications, just as in the presence of the incorrect upbringing in the childhood. In such cases a pastor needs to search for help in the prayer, in the sympathy and possibly in soothing of the sick.
Generally in the complex cases, which can confuse the conscience, a pastor must always remember that sympathy and kind attitude are better than the superfluous strictness, for he meets with the sick will or sick mind. A priest faces not with the abstract types of diseases, but with those requiring sympathy and treatment sick people.
Hysteria occupies a very special position in the number of emotional distortions. If all the mentioned above cases of different fears are encountered in the pastoral practice comparatively rarely, then the cases of hysteria present the completely opposite phenomenon. Hysterical men and women are more in number than we think. One scientist said that everyone is a little hysterical. But it is important for a priest that the disease of hysteria more easily finds the contact points with the religious manifestations. In the Russian church way of life this phenomenon is called "mironosnichestvo — the Myrrh carrying." This is the increased exaltation of the religious feeling, which searches for the object of adoration and admiration in a priest. Any gifted pastor, preacher, serving beautifully, undergoes the danger to be the object of such admiration. Russian way of life suffers from this enough, but one should not think that this is only our typical feature. Among the people, who live the intensive spiritual life, hysteria finds its victims very frequently. Maurice Dide ("Hysteria and the human evolution") finds that hysteria is encountered much more rarely in the active orders, than in those, which lead secluded life (Ursulinka, Carmelites, etc.). The increased mysticism easily contributes to the manifestation of hysterical inclinations. Bless indicates that "a hysteriac is the cross for a pastor and the object of temptation the believers" (p. 103). Difficulties for a pastor and educator hide in the fact that this illness can easily be concealed under the innocent forms. Bless even does not consider hysteria to be an independent disease; or there exist manifestations of hysteria, which take root somewhere much deeper. Nevertheless science is not totally helpless in this sphere: it knows the distinguishing features of such hysterical manifestations, easily determines the hysterical type and therefore already worked out a number of the booster agents for their ease.
The opinion that the hysterical manifestations are caused only by the sexual sphere of the man is forgotten long ago. Although the very name of the disease gives, it would seem, the reason for such estimation, and although in the antiquity they considered that it is characteristic only of women, nowadays the scientists think otherwise. The reality itself shows that hysteria is widespread among men. True, women are more subjected to it, than men. The sphere of the sex, of course, plays not the ultimate role in this case, but everything is explained not only with it.
Hysteria differs from the other emotional illnesses even by the fact, that its signs are clearly manifested and accessible even for the surface observation. These signs are revealed in the emotional and physical spheres. The mental signs can be brought to the following:
1. Light changeability of moods and sudden moves from one extreme to the other.
2. The tendency to live in the unreal and connected with this desire to seem someone greater, than the reality allows. Maurice Dide especially insists on the fact that hysteriacs love to play a role. This scientist says: "For a hysteriac the entire life results in performing a comedy, but their heart even does not participate in this at all." Theatricality and imitation are very characteristic of a hysteriac. Bless indicates that a hysteriac can represent himself as "an imagining patient," as an over-anxious person; sometimes he plays the role of an eternally misunderstood person, who does not find response in the medium, which underestimates him; sometimes this can be of entirely reverse character, since a hysteriac counts himself a pariah, forgotten, unnecessary. This skill to play a role, to transform himself hiding behind one, then — behind another mask, is explained by his possession of the easy receptivity, special feature to fall under the influence and even by light susceptibility to hypnosis. Therefore it is never known, how much time one or another mood will endure in such a patient. In the religious life, says Bless, hysteriacs can easily pass from bigotry to indifference.
3. One additional distinguishing feature in the moods of hysteriacs is connected with the certain "infantilism" (childishness). A hysteriac constantly wants to be in the center of attention, to attract interest and even sympathy to him. The same theatricality pushes a hysteriac to the role of an unhappy patient, but he can also pass over to threats; if this does not help, then tears come for help. Hysteriacs are generally easily subjected to tearfulness.
4. Such detail in playing of a role can be of interest: a hysteriac loves to threaten with suicide. He willingly speaks, that life bored him, that he decided to end his life by suicide, but somehow, amazingly the help comes to him in time and saves him from the loop or poison. Suicides are extremely little among hysteriacs, according to the evidence of Dide.
5. Predisposition to lies, frequently, artistic lies, is also the lot of hysteriacs, which is explained by the same desire of playing a role, and to the life in unreal. "Myth-mania," pose, falsity — these are distinguishing features of hysterical nature, in the opinion of many psychiatrists.
6. "The mental anarchy" — is also one of the special features of this category of mental patients.
Not only these emotional and mental signs give a hysteriac out. There are the purely physical ones, which are indicated by the psychiatry.
1. Long ago certain sufferings, about which complain hysterical persons, were already noted: A) the sensation of a nail in the head "clavus hystericus," b) the sensation of some ball in the throat "globus hystericus" This last phenomenon is sometimes not only self-sensation of a hysteriac, but also it is accessible to the hearing of other people. Hysteriacs speak in a special voice, which does not make clear sounds, but is as if cracked, excited, jingling, as if due to the presence of some pea in the vocal system. However, some scientists are ready to accept that these signs of a ball or hysterical aphonia are not the lot of hysteriacs alone. Fear, anxiety, breaks down can also cause a similar phenomenon, but nevertheless this is encountered with hysteriacs more frequently.
2. Blunt of a feeling of touch and sometimes even insensitivity to some painful feelings together with the increased sensitivity to touch to the other parts of the body, are typical for hysteriacs and testify about the force of auto-suggestion.
3. The easily caused laughter or tearfulness.
4. Hysterical fits can sometimes end with the attacks of epilepsy, or ones close to it.
5. In the Catholic world occur the cases of stigmatization, which can frequently appear due to hysteria. Their pastoral books do not like to mention this.
6. The absence of sleep and appetite also frequently accompanies hysterical phenomenon.
The reasons and source of this illness are determined differently, they are numerous and diverse. In the opinion of some, hysteria to a considerable degree is hereditary, at least, predisposition to it. Others consider that the incorrect upbringing especially in the years of maturing can influence the development of hysteria (Bless, Maurice Dide). Many scientists agree with the fact that the external reasons can be the agents of this illness: the war with its dangers and horrors (Bless, Dr. Kurt Bloom); disappointment with the unsuccessful career, worries, connected with false denunciations and charges in the law court, death of close ones and even the fear of exams, earthquakes, the fear of sexual temptations and many other things (Bless).
The possibility of aid in the case of hysteriacs is differently estimated by the scientists. In the mild cases, especially in the period of maturing, doctors do not look at the sick hopelessly. Under the observation of a doctor and in the course of time hysteria can be cured. In the more complex cases the disease can be cured with difficulty. Concerning the more difficult cases of hysteria Bless says his opinion: "the present victims of this illness befit neither for marital life nor for monastic one. These unhappy people make unhappy the members of their family, converting their life into real hell." He gives the remark of one clever confessor: "If ordination into the monks is a difficult matter, then marriage is still more difficult, since in the marriage there is no preliminary period of being a novice."
What can a pastor make? Not everything, but in any case much. He must learn about the number of measures for the persons, subjected to hysteria: 1) to speak less about his illness and not to turn attention to the opinion of the sick, 2) since much depends on the good will of the patient himself, then a pastor, as a doctor, must arouse in the sick desire to be cured and confidence, 3) to avoid any religious excesses, special "exploits," 4) firmness and constancy in the spiritual guidance of such people, who, seeing, that their contrivances do not help with this confessor, easily change their spiritual leaders, 5) change in the situation (domestic or school one) in the case, if it is harmful for the sick and prevents a pastor or doctor from carrying out of what they find necessary, 6) the fight with whims and tearfulness of children, 7) the specially vigilant attitude to the patient, who is in the period of maturing.
Because of the impossibility to mention all the interesting cases and useful advice, we send you away to the reading of the Pastoral psychiatry and consider it timely to raise the question: Which is the practical value of the pastoral psychiatry? Can a pastor obtain benefit for himself and his activity from the acquaintance with this subject?
If in the previous times the medicine and psychiatry occupied in the eyes of many people the position hostile to religion, then the situation considerably changed in our time. A doctor must not compulsory be a materialist, the present science does not at all contradict the faith and church consciousness, the presence of many profoundly believing scientists, working in the field of the natural sciences, medicine and psychiatry. Psychoanalysis, not at all compulsory of Freud’s type with laying stress on the sexuality, — all this together makes it possible to speak about the objects of the present chapter completely differently, than it was done one hundred years ago. Many believing scientists, especially in the West and in the Catholicism, willingly remain the obedient sons of the Church. On the other hand, the Catholic hierarchy itself wonderfully understood the need and benefit of collaboration of the science and Church. There are many guiding books on the pastoral psychiatry, written not only by the spiritual persons, but also by the believing doctors.
A. Remers, the author of the book "Psychiatry and the Spiritual Care" (Berlin, 1899), writes: "Between the contemporary psychiatry and the Christianity is possible at least the mutual understanding." (p. 12)
In the beginning of the present chapter was expressed the warning, not to mix up the plans of the spiritual care and medical science. The absolute mystery of confession does not allow a pastor to draw a doctor of the mental illnesses to the confessionary lectern, just as a feeling of tact in a pastor will not allow him to send the repentant into the hospital for mental patients. A pastor is not called to make the diagnosis of the mental illnesses, since this is not his business; but the knowledge, concerning this sphere, will cause no harm, since this will allow him to understand the emotional problems of the guided more easily and in the degree of their well-being. Acquaintance with the scientific data and methods will make a pastor more careful in his moral estimations. A pastor, after learning much, will not make the false steps and give incorrect advice in the doubtful and alarming cases.
It is not possible to make any generalizations in the brief course of lectures; even life itself does not tolerate generalizations and schematic conclusions. In each individual case it is necessary to act with "caution," very carefully and to get filled by the spirit of compassion and pity, attention and internal tact.
It can be especially important to advise a pastor not to yield to optimism and self-confidence in his difficult and responsible work of the soul guidance. Fulfilling the pastoral duty, he must entrust everything to the mercy of God, Who is not only the impartial Judge, but also the loving Father.
The Pastoral Image According to Apostle Paul
Archbishop Athanasius (Kudyuk)
The pastoral service of the apostles must be an ideal for the pastoral service of each true pastor of the Orthodox Church of Christ.
The apostles burnt with love for their holy service and for That, Who called them to this service. This love for Christ and for the pastoral service inspired them to such feats, which, it would seem, exceeded the human forces. The book of the Acts of St. Apostles and apostolic Epistles tell us about these great pastoral feats of St. Apostles, in particular, Ap. Paul. On the way of their pastoral service there were many very serious and diverse obstacles: contempt of the educated heathen world, stagnation of the religious and everyday life traditions of the Jewish people, the low moral level of the heathen nations and, generally, the evil intention and contrivances of the enemies of the Christianity. But all this was overcome by the phenomenon of "of the Spirit and of power" in their service (1 Cor. 2:4).
Enlightening and admonishing believers, the apostles called them to the development of internal, spiritual-conscious, beneficial life, life in Christ and with Christ (2 Cor. 13:5; Gal. 2:20).
The secret of the apostolic love for people was in their love for Christ, in their insurmountable desire that in all would be formed Christ (Gal 4:19). Representing with their life and activity realization of the highest source of the Christian morals, the apostles were in its complete sense "the light of the world" (Math. 5:14), "all things to all men, that I might by all means save some" (1 Cor. 9:22).
The apostles with their life showed us the example, what a pastor of the church of Christ should be like; they testified before the world of the sublimity and salvation character of the pastoral service. In their Epistles, together with the narration of the essence of the Christian doctrine, they gave although not numerous, but bringing life, beneficial commandments about the sublimity and holiness of the pastoral service. Let us stop at the farewell conversation of Ap. Paul with Ephesian pastors (Acts 20:17-38) and on his Pastoral Epistles to Timothy and Titus.
Expressing the due praise to Ap. Paul, St. Gregory the Theologian told in his time: "I shall not speak about his works, vigils, fears, suffering from hunger, thirst, cold and nudity, about the evil plans of the unfaithful against him, about the oppositions of the faithful to him. I hush up about the persecutions..., jails, bonds, accusers, law-courts, daily and hourly deaths, about dangers, earning the living by the manual labor, about the benevolent preaching of the good... Who will properly describe his daily care, tender-heartedness to everyone, care about all churches, compassion and fraternal love for all? Whenever someone stumbled, Paul felt infirmity as well. Another was tempted, and Paul caught fire... He thanks for some, reproaches the others; somebody he names his happiness and crown, the others exposes in folly. Those who walk righteously, he accompanies and co-works with zeal; and those, who walks in the evil, he stops. He excommunicates, cries, then he cheers up, he rises with the high, then subdues with those subdued... He searches not for his own benefit, but for the benefit of the children, which he bore in Christ with the good news sermon. The same is the purpose of any spiritual authorities: to despise in everything the personal, for the benefit of the others! That way is Paul; that way is anyone similar to him in the spirit! (St. Gregory the Theologian. Creations. Part 1. Publ. 3, Moscow, 1889, p. 39-41).
On the remark of blissful Augustine, a pastor of the Church of Christ must always have the Pastoral Epistles and deeds of Apostle Paul before his eyes.
In the farewell conversation of Apostle Paul with Ephesian pastors (Acts 20:17-38) the servant of the Church can find the deep disclosure of that spirit, with which must be imbued his service in the field of Christ.
In this farewell conversation Ap. Paul, saying about the performance of his duty — the pastoral service for them among the different kind of obstacles, finds out the attitude of the true pastor towards his flock. He worked for the Lord tirelessly "with all humiliation"; the Christian sense together with humbleness, supervised all his actions. In spite of the ill-plans of the Israelites, he always preached fearlessly. Repentance and faith were the subject of his sermon. He said that also in the future sorrows will be expecting him, of what he, however, was not scared of and did not value his life for the sake of bringing the good news of Christ. So great was the selflessness of the Apostle!
Representing his own example as the model of imitation, the Apostle gives admonishment to the pastors: "take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock" (Acts 20:28). "Take heed — that is beware of — as if says Apostle Paul — that the lamp of Christ’s light (i.e. the teaching of Christ) would not fade in your hands. For if it will, with what should you enlighten the others then? The one, who does not have light, cannot share it with the rest. Thus try to preserve this light among your flock, in order that you and all the faithful, enlightened by you, could be in the pure Evangelical teaching, in the holy and reverent life. I lay this duty on you first of all because you are put to be the guards and protectors of that Church, which Lord Jesus Christ purchased with his own blood."
Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock — these are the two main responsibilities of a pastor. To take heed unto oneself — means to watch oneself strictly, personal deeds, actions, cleanliness of thoughts, intentions, desires, — the entire way of life. Furthermore, a pastor must listen to the flock, studying their necessities and needs, preventing the appearance of errors and vices among them, eradicating the existing vices; he must arouse in the guided the desire to leave sinful life and to begin new life according to the faith.
To listen to oneself and to watch the flock is necessary also because the church of Christ both from without and from within is threatened by the enemies. From without it is attacked by "the fierce wolves"; from within — by the Christians themselves: "also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them" (Acts 20:29-30). Owing to this Paul once again calls them, his listeners from the pastors, to the wakefulness, inspiring them, reminding of his three year activity, and entrusts them to God (verses 31-32).
Further Ap. Paul recalls that he satisfied his needs and the needs of his colleagues by his hands’ labors. He was doing it because he remembered the words of Lord Jesus Christ: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:33-35). Therefore the activity of a pastor of the Church of Christ must be imbued with the spirit of unselfishness and love for the flock.
This brief farewell conversation of Ap. Paul in Militus with the presbyters of the Church of Ephesus includes the program of the vital activity of a pastor of the church of Christ. Here in each line are commemorated the "spirit" and the "force" of the Christian pastoral activity in the matter of the Good News of the Gospel.
Qualities of pastors according to the Pastoral Epistles.
The epistles of Ap. Paul to Timothy and Titus are called pastoral both due to their content and the title of those persons, to whom they were dedicated (Timothy was the bishop of Ephesus, the dear disciple of Ap. Paul; Titus — the bishop of Crete). Transferring to them the authority on the control of Ephesus (1st Tim. 1:3) and Crete (to Titus 1:5) Churches, Holy Apostle Paul teaches them that, how "thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15). The Holy Spirit, which impelled the great Apostle to write these inspired Pastoral Epistles, undoubtedly meant all the officials of the Church in all times. Let us stop on those verses of the Pastoral Epistles of Ap. Paul, in which the qualities and responsibilities of the pastors of the flock of Christ are mentioned.
In the 3rd chapter of its first Epistle to Timothy Ap. Paul writes: "If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work" (verse 1).
The desire of episcopacy Ap. Paul admits as a good matter. Although the Apostle speaks only about bishops, under this word it is necessary to understand being a presbyter in the present meaning of this word, because the specific terms for their designation were not yet distinctly worked out in the apostolic time. The word "episcopacy" is used here in the sense, in which we use "being a priest" now.
The one who desires, according to the apostle, to be a priest, desires a "good work." The desire here must be understood in the sense of internal inclination to the church of Christ’s service. Being a pastor is called a "good work" in the sense of the highest service to God and people. But one desire, strife is insufficient; it is necessary to have the corresponding qualities. What are they?
From the second verse of the chapter 3 of the 1st Epistle to Timothy (see to Titus 1:5-9) the talk is about these qualities.
Calling the others to the heights of the Christian life, a pastor of the Church of Christ himself must give the example of such life to the flock (see the 1st of Peter 5:1-5); therefore he must be "blameless" (1st Tim. 3:2) and "holy" (to Titus 1:8).
Although we know that in the world "there is none righteous, no, not one" (Rom. 3:10), a pastor must be chosen from those, who are free from vices or passions, i.e., from the constant inclination to this or that type of sins. Vice is the lowest, last stage in the development of the sin (thought — sin — vice). Who sank into a vice (passion), that lost power over oneself, he became the slave of the sin. According to the words of St. John Chrysostom, "the vicious should not rule, but obey, since the chief must be brighter than any lamp and lead the irreproachable life so that everybody would look at him and according to his example would direct their own lives." This freedom from vices must be the distinguishing feature of the life of a pastor.
Under "holiness" we understand the constant inclination towards doing good things.
"The husband of one wife" — when the Apostle wrote his Epistles, polygamy was permitted in the heathen medium, and also among the Israelites. Such people, after becoming the Christians, on the advice of Ap. Paul, must not strive for becoming a priest and be pastors of the churches of Christ. On the one hand, they would not have sufficient time to feed the flock of the Lord, since in each family of this type arouse many family questions, which would distract the official from the Church; on the other hand — any man, who had relations with several women, and any woman, who got to know several men, become corrupted by the body and soul, lose chaste, pure, holy attitude to people. The spirit of vice, dirtiness of sinful thoughts, the fight with which is very difficult, move into them.
According to the Church doctrine, by these words a pastor is forbidden to have the second marriage, no matter if this will be prior to or after the ordination to the priesthood. At the basis of this requirement lies the profound thought about the moral and physical chastity of a pastor.
A pastor must be "vigilant" — in accordance to the interpretation St. John Chrysostom, one needs to realize the necessity of the constant steadiness, concerning oneself, abstention and moderation in everything, and together with that, the indefatigable care about the flock. On the other hand, a pastor must sensibly look at the arising questions, requirements and events in the public life. He must sensibly weigh all the circumstances, conditions of time, in order to direct the Church life and service correctly.
He must be "sober," i.e. preserving himself in the celibate or marriage cleanliness. In the literal translation from Greek the word "sober" indicates the person, who has the sensible mind, not obscured by the motions of passions. But since everything proceeds "out of the heart" (see Math. 15:19; Mark 7:21-23), then it is necessary to understand the moral purity of the heart and abstention from the carnal passions, ribaldry, tempting movements and indecent looks, because, according to the expression of Blissful Augustine, "the unclean eye is the messenger of the unclean heart." In each man the chaste sees a brother either father in Christ, in each woman — a sister or mother in the Lord. Such feelings must accompany a pastor during all his life.
"Of good behavior" or "not self-willed." Good behavior, tact, internal and external calmness, decency, fear to commit anything that is unpleasing to God, timid desire to approach Him and together with it the feeling of deep resignation, understanding of the personal unworthiness — these are the qualities, which must be common of any pastor.
Together with spiritual decency a pastor must possess the external decency, for example, it is not appropriate of a pastor to be ceremonious and pompous; a pastor can repulse from himself, and with that from the Church, the sympathy of people by his slovenliness, untidiness in clothing, in the methods and treatment and the like. People are used to focus attention first of all on the appearance, since it is easier to observe.
He must be "just" in his thoughts, in the labor, attitude to people, God, to his rank; all his life and activity should bear the mark of truth, irreproachability. The honest does not take the other people’s material (things or money) and spiritual things (the others’ glory or merits), he is sincere and just to everybody. With him it is easy to live and work, to subordinate to him is easy and joyful.
The understanding, that he constantly walks in front of the All-seeing, Just God helps a pastor to be honest.
"Given to hospitality." Hospitality — is the same as philanthropy. We all are "strangers and foreigners" on the earth, all are children of the One Heavenly Father. All the commandments are united in one word for us — "love," i.e. take into your heart everyone, with whom you deal now. "Share your modest meal, — teaches Blissful Geronimo, — with the poor, strange and together with them with Christ himself."
"Apt to teach." The duties of a teacher are the first responsibility of a Christian pastor. "For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!" (1 Cor. 9, 16). According to the thought of St. John Chrysostom, in order to be teaching, it is necessary to possess the extensive, all-sided religious knowledge, what is possible only on condition of the detailed study of the word of God.
A pastor must teach not only with a word, but also by the example of his life. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" - gave the commandment to all of us Christ the Savior himself (Math. 5:16).
A pastor must "not be given to wine." The drunkenness of a pastor is loathsome before God, it can be seen from the fact that it in the Old Testament it was forbidden to the priests under the threat of death (Lev. 10:9; Jez. 44:21). No drunkards shall inherit the kingdom of God — says the Apostle (1 Cor. 6:10; Gal. 5:21). "Drunkenness - says St. Gregory the Theologian, is a heavy sin in a lay-person, and in the cleric is the sacrilege." According to the 42d apostolic rule, "a bishop, presbyter or deacon, fascinated by gambling or drunkenness either should stop, or will be expelled."
He should be "no striker" (fighter), "not a brawler." Such a man, who easily loses self-control, is inclined to roughness, not abstained in speech, cannot be a good pastor. Such qualities reveal in the man deficiency in self-possession and repulse people from him. A pastor must not dare not only to raise his hand onto the other, but should not chastise him verbally. His tongue, blessing God, must not curse the man, created on the similarity of God (James 3:9-10).
"Not greedy of filthy lucre." The self-interest is an idol, which stands up between the soul of the man and God. The avaricious is an idolater. This passion is one of the most terrible and devastating. A pastor, who more than someone is called to serve God alone, must in the every possible way surmount the tendency towards the money grubbing.
The Apostle calls avarice the idolatry and the root of all evil. "And having food and raiment, let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows"(1 Tim. 6:8-10).
The different kind of trouble and misunderstanding arise in such a pastor, who suffers from money-grubbing. Such a pastor not only undermines his personal authority and respect, but also defames the pastoral service; he insults the best feelings of believers, who address him as a disciple and follower of Lord Jesus Christ.
Material support of the clergy. Certainly, this does not mean that a pastor must take nothing from his spiritual children for his labor. The Savior himself said to the apostles, and in their face — to all pastors: "The workman is worthy of his meat" (Math. 10:10). In his first Epistle to Corinthians St. Ap. Paul writes: "Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? Who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? Or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? Say I these things as a man? Or saith not the law the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? And they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar. Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel"(1 Cor. 9:7-14).
But any material aid for a pastor must proceed from the care and love of the flock, but not as a matter of extortion. "That is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things" (Gal. 6:6). "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn And, The laborer is worthy of his reward" (1 Tim. 5:17).
Further, a pastor must be "holy, temperate" i.e. have modest and peace-loving disposition, similar to Christ the Savior and His disciples. This internal arrangement of his soul must be expressed in the outside — in his words and behavior, in the meek and benevolent treatment of the people.
It is natural that gentleness of a pastor must not be converted into weakness and indulgence of the human vices, especially of "the powerful of this world." Meekness does not exclude strictness and the dreadful exposure of the human errors and vices, as shows the example of High Priest Christ the Savior (Math. 21:12-13; and chapter 23) and the apostles (1 Cor. 5:1-5).
"Not soon angry" (Titus 1:7). Common for all the Christians responsibility — live peaceably with all men (Rome 12:18), there is the principle responsibility of serving to God of peace. Peace with God, the flock, colleagues, conscience — this is what enriches a true pastor.
Anger derives the man from the normal state. Obsessed with anger, he is capable of rough words and destructive actions. If despitefulness is blameworthy for any man, then even more —for a pastor of the church of Christ, called to be the example to his flock (1 Tim. 4:12).
"One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)" (1 Tim. 3:4-5).
If a pastor is careless and disorganized, muddled by his nature, so that his home is in disorder, then how can he manage to deal with the large and complex family, which is the Church? Under the "obedience" one must understand the obedience of children to parents. "Who will believe, — tells in St.John Chrysostom, — that the one who does not know how to hold his son in the obedience, will force the stranger to listen to him."
Under "justice" is understood the life, which corresponds to the high status of children of clergymen. Blissful Theothilactus says: "With all the honesty, which means, — by word, deed, and clothing as well." Even if a pastor himself is model-like, a vicious wife or bad children can tempt the believers; weaken their respect for a pastor.
"Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil" (verse 6). Those newly converted, not yet possessing the sufficient knowledge of the Holy Scripture and the necessary experience of the church life, with a certain success in the pastoral service can be conceited about himself and do much harm to the church, similarly how the devil, after getting proud, made a rebellion against God.
"Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without," i.e. a good public opinion about himself, "lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil" (verse 7). "Reproach" — is the mockery and contempt towards a pastor, when something prejudicial is known about his life. This "reproach" can harm him as to a servant of the Church, and also to his spiritual children, who would not be able to respect him.
The same moral qualities the apostle requires also from deacons, adding, that they must be "not double-tongued, not given to much wine, holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience" (1 Тim. 3, 8-9).
"Not double-tongued" i.e. not two-faced, hypocritical or insidious. In the apostolic time deacons were the superintendents of the common church property and, therefore, in the matter of charity were like mediators between the priests and the flock. Occupying this position, they could, for example, slander to the bishop either presbyter on someone of the lay-people, or, on the contrary, show the pastors in the eyes of the people in the unfavorable light, etc., that is why the Apostle requires honesty and truthfulness especially of deacons.
"Not given to much wine" and "not greedy of filthy lucre." As the superintendents of the common church property in the matters of charity, deacons happened to use their official position for the personal enrichment. Because they served at the Vespers, they, having access to wine, could overindulge in drinking. Therefore the Apostle mentions to Timothy that for deacons there must be chosen people, "not given to much wine" and "not greedy."
"Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience." Under the mystery of faith the Apostle understands that entire truth revealed by Jesus Christ. Precisely this deacons must hold in the pure conscience as the assistants of bishops and presbyters not only in the material matters, but also in guiding the people. The Christian faith and Christian life are in the internal interaction, and pure conscience, as the result of the honest life, serves as the support of the firm ground of the cleanliness of faith. Generally, continues the Apostle everyone should .".. let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon being found blameless" (verse 10).
The Apostle does not indicate definitely how this test should be carried out, but this matter must be clear from the context.
After admonishing in relation to the moral qualities of servants of the Church, the Apostle concludes: "For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 3:13).
The expression "a good degree" the majority of the interpreters explain in the sense of the hierarchy. So that sense becomes such: carrying out the duties of the lowest service in a good way, can be promoted to the following ranks — of a presbyter or a bishop.
Under "boldness in the faith" is meant not only the courage and persuasiveness during the sermon of the word of God, but also the full of hope and happy encounter of Christ, when He will arrive to give everyone his due.
Thus, in this admonishment to Timothy and Titus apostle Paul determines the very essence, spirit and nature of the pastoral activity. This is the manual, to which each servant of the Church must constantly appeal.
Excerpts from the Scripture.
“His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter” (Is. 56:10-11).
“And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding” (Jer. 3:15).
“For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered” (Jer. 10:21).
“Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness. They have made it desolate, and being desolate it mourneth unto me; the whole land is made desolate, because no man layeth it to heart” (Jer. 12:10-11).
“Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD. And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD. Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jer. 23:1-6).
“Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads. As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house" (Iez. 3:8-9).
“Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. Again, when a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul" (Iez. 3:17-21).
“And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them” (Iez. 34:1-6).
“Woe to the idle shepherd that leaveth the flock! The sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened” (Zech. 11:17).
“The priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts” (Mal. 2:7).
Advice of Father Alexander Yelchaninov
(+1934 г.) to Young Priests.
Pastoral work must be individual and creative. The method, frequently practiced, becomes routine.
Any word or lecture make sense and have value only if they come from the personal spiritual experience, knowledge. Any word, said only with lips, is dead and false, and the listeners always distinguish this error-freely.
The "pastoral" texts (I extract for the manual):
"But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children" (1 Thess. 2). "I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some" (1 Cor. 9).
It is necessary to teach people to confess. How often instead of a confession you hear the absolutely everyday conversations, boasting, quoting of the good opinions about oneself, complaints on the close ones and on the difficulties of life. Partly this comes from the ignorance, lack of the church culture, partly — from the sinful confusion, weakness, when a person cannot and does not attempt to see himself, when he does not have neither habit, not desire to look into the soul, there is no aversion to the sin, there is no tendency toward the light and thirst for purification.
One should try that all coming for confession, would carry out of each fasting at least one good habit — for example, the compulsory two-times prayer, in a day, non-judging, etc; one should persistently instill, check — then it automatically becomes a need.
It occurs, that, being prepared for confession, a fasting person at times experiences the fear of sin, sincere repentance with tears, and, after coming to a priest, he feels nothing, does not have fear or grief. Is it possible to expand the limits of the sacrament? Cannot it be considered that the sacrament of confession includes everything: fasting, prayers, repentant feelings, and that the moment of the very confession is only the final, although the crucial point?
Any priest must be well informed concerning the sphere of nervous and mental illnesses — this is absolutely necessary in the practice of the spiritual guidance.
This is the usual case, when that being confessed, and together with him a confessor take the phenomenon of the purely nervous character for religious experiences, or when a priest does not know how to determine the hysterical foundation of many phenomena and by the fact only worsens the position. But frequently there happens the reverse — the painful condition of the soul, burdened by the sin and intricate and obscured by the unsolved conflicts is taken for a nervous disease. They know the cases, when one confession cured inveterate and hard, supposedly nervous diseases, against which all the medical means were powerless, without leaving a trace.
The frequently confessing person, not having any deposits of sin in the soul, cannot but be but healthy. Confession is a beneficial discharge of the soul. In this sense the value of confession and generally of entire life is great in the connection with the blissful aid of the Church.
The first, too early confession (there are children of 6 years who are the perfect babies) disrupts the simplicity, entirety, directness by the artificially waked self-examination? For some children, especially "baby-like" I would postpone confession for a year or two.
Today children (10-12 years) asked me (obviously after a great argument between themselves), what the asceticism is. I answered - the "system of the exercises, which subordinates the body to the spirit." "And what are the very first exercises?"
—1) to breathe with nose,
— 2) to eat not to be totally sated (not to take the second portion),
—3) not to sprawl in bed.
This can be a theme for a big independent conversation with children.
We, allowing the frequent confession and communion, sometimes forget the rescuing force of the fasting duration, which is possible only in the Great Lent with the frequent and special services. Then during a week the man has living and convincing experience of the struggle with sin, the happiness of the victory over it, he sees the results of his prayer.
The hopelessness of the position of many repentant, the apparent hopelessness of their position ("Anyway, I will do the same, there are no forces to fight with the sin") is in the fact that these people are out of the Church. Their salvation is in entering into the Church Body, into the contact of love with the brothers. Our church practice loses the council nature of the sacraments, including the sacrament of confession.
I frequently note the desire to go through confession painlessly for themselves in those being confessed: either they try to get off with the general phrases or they speak about trifles, hushing up that what could actually burden their conscience. There is the false shame before a confessor and generally — the cowardly fear to begin to stir one’s life, full of small and customary weaknesses, earnestly. However, the true confession, as a blissful upheaval of the soul, frightens by its resoluteness, need to change something, or even simply to think about oneself. Here a priest must be resolute, not to fear to destroy this calmness and to attempt to cause a feeling of true repentance.
To the over-anxious people, suspicious to any motion of their soul, torturing themselves and their confessor by the unstoppable digging in the soul, finally ending by the complete confusion, one should forbid the introspection and the detailed testing of their conscience and transfer them to the simple, but nourishing diet of prayer and good deeds. In these two exercises the soul simplifies and develops the feeling of the Truth; after what one can again return to the personal trial.
For those not repented, hard-hearted, I think, the public confession before the entire church as in the ancient times would be necessary.
In the practice of our pastoral service a question about how a confessor should guide neurotic, hysterical people, those with the abnormal psychics, is little developed. According to my observations, the praying stress and exploits of the fast frequently even more greatly strengthen their internal chaos and not only do not put them right, but cause the explicit harm. Here the own methods are necessary, they can be sometimes directly opposite to those, which are applicable to the normal people.
One frequently does not know how to start confession. It is necessary to help him, wake in him the repentant feeling, to pose leading questions — if within this period there was any spiritual life (fight with the sin, prayer, self-compulsion, the effort to become better), if he succeeded in anything, has not he stepped back? What sin he considers the heaviest? Which virtue — the most important?
It is necessary to advise the most frequent possible resort to the sacrament of Communion. The lesson, taught once a year, will teach nothing.
During confession very many, if not all, most of all need that a priest would pray with them. With this prayer in common the heart softens, repentance intensifies, and the spiritual sight becomes more sophisticated.
The lessons of the past lent.
No matter how you are tired, show maximum attentiveness, do not hurry.
It is better to show to everybody the absolute love, leniency, sympathy, not to frighten anyone away with strictness.
Even if they incorrectly confess (are vain, mention their virtues, tell in detail the circumstances of life), — do not be blunt, do not stop — many unhappy come only in order to cry about their hard life.
One should distinctly read to that being confessed the prayer before confession:
"…accept also Thy servant [name] who repents of his sins which he has committed, overlooking all that he has done, pardoning his offenses and passing by his iniquities…" , etc. Frequently in the indifferent, after the prayer, wake up the feeling of repentance.
The main thing is to attain the sincere repentance, if it is possible — the tears, with which the details are not necessary, but for the appearance of which the detailed and concrete story is often necessary.
To give penance to all. Penance is the reminder, lesson, exercise; it gets accustomed to the spiritual exploit, gives the taste for it; it is necessary to limit it with the exact terms, for example, to read 40 Akathists and the like (the story of X, how he did not feel like to stop the daily reading of Akathists, when the time ran out). The possible forms of penance — bows, Jesus prayer, getting up for the Midnight Office, reading, fasts, alms — to whom and what is more necessary.
The normal order of confession: The prayer and a brief advice of how to confess. To let one speak out, without interrupting, only helping, if he keeps silent. The prayer about obtaining of the sincere repentance to the being confessed and forgiveness of his sins;
Giving advice. Absolution.
One could not doctor the others’ souls ("help people"), without having cured oneself, to bring into order the others’ emotional property with the chaos in one’s own soul, to bring peace to the others, without having it in oneself.
Our help to people is often not in the system of the deliberate actions, influencing their soul, but in the invisible and unknown for us action of our spiritual gifts on them. When Anthony the Great asked his taciturn visitor: "Why don’t you ask me about anything?" the latter said: "It suffices to look at you, Holy Father."
How much clothing means. With the clothes, and form is connected the entire complex of feelings, notions, emotional motions. In particular, a priest must not, I feel, put on the civil clothes. Removing his clothing, he unavoidably acquires the "non-priestly" condition, to some degree becomes unfaithful to the personal priesthood.
Any person who is a Christian, and especially a priest, must be always ready to reject everything for God’s sake, when God will require that.
One should not hesitate to visit even the doubtful in the church sense families. I know according to the experience — they will be glad, everywhere they meet you with great happiness, do not let go, say thanks.
Advice of father John of Kronstadt. One should not get accustomed to serve, even religious rites — always should do it with reverence, thoroughly get prepared for the Liturgy (it is possible to divide it into parts during the day). One should not raise eyes during the service.
Not to act.
Not to shut the doors before anyone who comes, whoever it is.
Not to reject money (pride).
To confess everyone who comes in the manner like this is his last, dying confession.
A priest listens to the tearing confessions, with absolute compassion, and, at the same time, he does not get tired, does not feel himself crushed by the avalanche of the human sin and grief, that brings him down, — because he takes it (with the power of the priesthood blessedness) not upon his heart. So it is necessary to live that way.
There is the necessity to have besides parishes and the common church life that, what in ancient Russia was called "the small church" — i.e. such clusters of the church warmth, small churches of the individual families, where would be achieved the contact of people, impossible in the large, intersperse by the complement and fluctuating parishes. The responsibility of a priest is to guide such groups, whose purposes can be different — study of the Gospel or church services, the care of the sick and poor. But the main thing is not even in these tasks, but in the contact of people with each other. It is difficult even to suppose, how many lonely and running wild in this solitude people live among us.
When I think over, what to say, the real process of theological and verbal creation almost always begins in me, and the sermon itself becomes a reproduction. It means that it is necessary to accomplish this first process aloud, in the people’s presence. But for this there are two conditions — the filled heart and total simplicity.
In order to speak without preparation, it is necessary to have in the head the precise theme, dismembered to the basic ideas. But the main creation must happen during the sermon; otherwise you burn out while being prepared, and present only the cold ashes to those listening to.
It is necessary in a sermon or a general conversation somehow discuss the typical "stumbling places," "domestic heresies," with which is infected the majority of those coming for confession. Here are some of them, the most common ones: God should not be feared; the primacy of morals; the saints are the egoists; the negation of fasting; the negation of the Old Testament; the superiority of the home prayer.
Members of "the Christian Science" reproach us, the Orthodox, in weak faith and the inability by the force of the spirit to overcome personal illnesses. Their argument is that Christ freed us from the servitude of flesh (Rom. 8).
What to say to this?
— The gift of healing by the Christians is not the gift of omnipotence and divine power above nature...
Indeed the apostles themselves were ill, many righteous men (St. Ambrose) till the end of their days suffered from incurable diseases.
This is explained by the fact that until we live in this "body of death," we bear all the consequences of this — to the Total Resurrection — "always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus" (2 Cor. 4:10).
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The editor: Bishop Alexander (Mileant)