Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Holy Spirit, Priests and Spiritual Fathers - Part One

Fr. Meletios Webber, the Abbot of St. John of San Francisco Monastery was in town last weekend and gave a retreat that I recorded.  I also got to spend a couple hours with him recording an interview on the "grace of ordination", the role of the priest in parish life and his role as a spiritual father.  Some of the questions I ask in the interview:  What "lack" is made up by the Holy Spirit in ordination?   Does the priesthood make a man clairvoyant and infallible? Is your parish priest your default spiritual father? What if you don't like him? Do you have to take advice given to you in confession if you think its wrong? What about penances? What does it mean if your priest floats 3 feet off the ground? All this and more...  Listen HERE


Lazarus said...

I had the blessing of hearing Father Meletios give a talk at St. Barbara Monastery in Santa Paula, CA a couple of months ago. A very humble and inspiring man.

Josephus Flavius said...

Awesome. Reposting.

MR said...

Bravo. Very good interview. Can't wait to hear the next part(s).

mtg said...

One quick correction, Steve. Fr. Meletios was a parish priest in Missoula, MT, not Bozeman.

s-p said...

mtg, correctomundo. He did his PhD in Bozeman. That's what happens when an old man works without a script. :)

Alexander said...

I have two links on this matter , that you might like:

Enjoy! :-)

s-p said...

Thanks Alexander, I've actually read those on your website before. Excellent material and I'd encourage the readers to check them out.

Alexander said...

You should also check what Saint Ignatius Briachianinov has to say on the matters of Spiritual Paternity and obedience . They were real eye-openers for me. I have the book in Greek, it had to do about monasticism, but the chapters on obedience were very enlightening , indeed! It is this one:
It has two chapters on misunderstandings on spiritual Fathers who demand obedience though they (The Fathers) are not ready yet spiritually. If the Greek translation is any good the Saint Ignatius did not "hold his punches" if you get me..

It would be nice if someone could post those chapters in english because this matter is a thorny one.

Here is a small part , that I found on the internet, from this book:

“Obedience makes the subordinate one with the one he obeys. The Holy Writ says: ‘and the flocks conceived before the rods’ (Gen. 30, 39) […]. One may say: the subordinate’s faith can replace the elder’s inadequacy. Wrong! Faith in truth saves. Faith in lies and in diabolical deceit
harms! This is said by the Apostle. For those who willingly perish, he says: ‘…they
received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God
shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be
damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.’ (2 Thess. 2,
10-12) […] In our times, we observe a general degeneration of Christianity. […] And
it is a great blessing for us and great joy that we were given the possibility of being
fed with the crumbs that fall from the Spiritual table of the Fathers. The crumbs
themselves do not constitute the most adequate nourishment. But they can (although
not without leaving us with feelings of privation and hunger) save us from spiritual

It has much more in those chapters, and the paragraph above is just a (small) taste.

I Greece we call such cases of the Guru-like spiritual fathers: Elderism. ("Gerontismos")

s-p said...

Alexander, YES! "The Arena" is one of the best books I've ever read. He does not hold back hard words, for sure! (Unfortunately they always apply to someone else I know..... sigh.)

Alexander said...

>Unfortunately they always apply to someone else I know..... sigh

Well, I think we know the same guy!

Here is something from Elder Paisios on this as well

...I would further like to say that there does exist another, third group, within our Church. They are the brethren who remain as Her faithful children, but who don't have spiritual concord between themselves. They spend their time criticizing one another, and not for the general good of the struggle. The one monitors the other (more than himself) to see what he will say or write so as to ruthlessly nail him. However, if this person had said or written the same thing, he'd certainly have supported it with numerous passages from the Holy Scriptures and the Fathers.

Great harm comes of this; for while the one injures his neighbor, the other strikes him back before the eyes of all the faithful. Oftentimes, disbelief is sown in the souls of the weak, because they are scandalized by such people. Unfortunately, some from among us make senseless claims against the others. We want them to conform to our own spiritual character. In other words, when someone else doesn't harmonize with our own character, or is only mildly tolerant, or even a little sharp with us, immediately we jump to the conclusion that he is not a spiritual person.

We're all needed within the Church. All the Fathers, both the mild and the austere, offered their services to Her. Just as the sweet, sour, bitter and even pungent herbs are necessary for a man's body (each has its own flavor and vitamins), the same is true of the Body of the Church. All are necessary. The one complements the spiritual character of the other, and all of us are duty-bound to endure not only the particular spiritual character, but even the human weaknesses we each have.

I thing I over copy/pasted today. :-D

cdgilpin said...

I got to spend a retreat weekend in Manton several months back- One of the more memorable times in my life. Fr. Meletios and his crew are very congenial and hospitable, not to mention very funny at times as well!

Anonymous said...

I really loved Fr. Meletios book "Bread & Water, Wine & Oil." The podcast was very cool as well. Good look into what constitutes charism at Ordination. I would describe it as God's further promise to qualify those He calls into the ministry. Quite different than the RC indelible character as Fr. Meletios points out. As Lutherans we struggle with this and ordination has become highly misunderstood, reduced to purely "for the sake of order" or something else that is more spiritual in some way, but as yet undescribed. Cool Podcast! Keep them coming, please!