My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True Lord, God, and Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
SPIRITUAL PRIESTHOOD AND THE
REMISSION OF SINS. [Part II]
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, Greece
There are THREE CATEGORIES OF HEALERS.
Firstly, there are those spiritual fathers who hear confessions, and are also familiar with the Orthodox therapeutic method. They know how to heal people, so that THEY REVIVE, ARE ILLUMINED AND DEIFIED.
Secondly, there are spiritual fathers who administer the Mystery (Sacrament) of Confession in A LEGALISTIC ATMOSPHERE. They feel that God is angry with sinners, so they attempt to placate Divine Righteousness, or at least they perform their task in a MORALISTIC WAY. When a Christian tells them that he has committed theft, they are content just to explain why they might not steal and to urge him not to do so. These confessors, however, have no idea of the darkening of the nous, which leads a person to steal and to commit every sin. They also have no idea how to help Christians towards ILLUMINATION of the nous and or how TO LEAD THEM TO DEIFICATION. Thus Christians remain unhealed and make the same mistakes.
Thirdly, there are simple monks who are not Priests and so CANNOT PERFORM THE Mystery [Sacrament] of Confession or read the prayer of absolution, but who know the therapeutic method. Because they have DISCERNMENT, they can perceive the fundamental problems troubling the Christian and can guide him on the way to deification (theosis). Of course these monks send Christians to Priests for the Mystery of Confession. SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE IS NOT THE SAME AS SACRED CONFESSION.
iN “Orthodox Psychotherapy” I write about this category as follows: “When we speak OF REMISSION OF SINS WE SHOULD UNDERSTAND IT MAINLY AS THE CURING OF PASSIONS. Thus we see clearly today that ‘GIFTED’ monks heal us without having Sacred Priesthood. Being clear-sighted, they perceive the problem which is troubling us, they give us a remedy and a method of healing and so we are cured of what was inwardly disturbing us. The existence of such holy men is a comfort for the people.”
In general, the remission of sins has A TWOFOLD MEANING. It refers, first, TO THE CORRECT THERAPEUTIC TREATMENT that will enable the nous to be liberated from the control of the rational faculty and the passions, and then to be illumined by the grace of God, which comes about through a person endowed with Divine grace, who has personal spiritual experiences. This is the absolutely fundamental task. The second meaning IS THE PRAYER OF ABSOLUTION BESTOWED ON THE PENITENT ORIGINALLY by the Bishop but later also by Priests whom the Bishop empowered to administer the Mystery (Sacrament) of Confession. This prayer IS THE CONFIRMATION OF HEALING AND RE-ADMISSION OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE OF THE CHURCH. Therapeutic precedes the prayer of absolution and also continues after confession.
This is clear from the Holy Tradition of the Church. Someone who has committed a sin would follow the therapeutic method for years on end, and then the Bishop would read the appropriate prayer of absolution. Thus the Christian would be admitted to the Divine Eucharist and would partake of the undefiled Mysteries of the Body and Blood of Christ. The prayer of absolution was THE OUTCOME OF THE HEALING THAT PEDEDE IT. IT WAS THE CONFIRMATION THAT THE PERSON HAD BEEN HEALED AND COULD THEREFORE PROCEED TO HOLY COMMUNION IN THE Body and Blood of Christ. Someone who has SPIRITUAL PRIESTHOOD and knows how to heal can assist in healing the passions and reviving the dead nous. Finally, we can draw the following conclusions: Bishops, as SUCCESSORS TO THE HOLY APOSTLES, and Priests, as representatives of the Bishop, perform the Mystery of Confession and all the Mysteries (Sacraments) of the Church. Even if they are UNWORTHY the grace of Christ STILL ACTS THROUGH THEM. Saint John Chrysostom states, “GOD DOES NOT ORDAIN ALL, BUT HE ACTS THROUGH ALL.”
The gravest sin is THE DARKENING OF THE NOUS AND ITS SUBJECTION TO THE RATIONAL FACULTY AND THE PASSIONS. This DARKNESS and CAPTIVITY of the nous results IN TRANSGRESSIONS OF GOD’S COMMANDMENTS. The Apostle Paul says, “WALK IN THE SPIRIT AND YE SHALL NOT FULFIL THE LUST OF THE FLESH” (Galatians 5:16). The REMISSION OF SINS IS MAN’S HEALING, WHICH CONSISTS IN THE LIBERATION AND REVIVAL OF THE NOUS AND COMMUNION WITH GOD.
This does NOT justify Protestants, in all their many forms, because THEY COMPLETELY REJECT PRIESTHOOD AS WELL AS OTHER TRUTHS REVEALED BY CHRIST AND UPHELD BY THE Church. Monks endowed with Divine grace respect ordained Priests. We should mention, however, that Priesthood , WHICH IS THE FOUNDATION OF SACRAMENTAL PRIESTHOOD, WILL CONTINUE IN THE AGE TO COME. [Source: Orthodox Heritage]
“Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Divine and Glorious Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God