• Please remember: Pray for Ukraine in the Prayer forum; Share news in the Christian News section; Discuss religious implications in FFA: Religious Topics; Discuss political implications in Politics (and if you don't have access, PM me) Thank you! + Fr. George, Forum Administrator

"better to have at least 2 spiritual fathers from different places."

J Michael

Cave Dweller
Joined
Jan 20, 2011
Messages
14,234
Reaction score
1,247
Points
113
Location
People's Republic of Maryland
Faith
Byzantine Catholic
Jurisdiction
Here and now (well...sometimes...)
Bizzlebin said:
better to have at least 2 spiritual fathers from different places
.

The above is from another thread in Convert Issues. It didn't seem appropriate to discuss it in that thread/forum, and I just couldn't let go of it. I know the issue of spiritual fathers has been discussed numerous times on this board, but I've never come across, either here or anywhere in my reading over the last 20+ years a statement like that. Good grief--it's difficult enough, especially in the U.S., to find ONE spiritual father worthy of the title--depending of course on how that's defined!--let alone two...or more!!! And how would the spiritual son or daughter reconcile possible very conflicting advise/counsel/guidance from different spiritual fathers, especially if they were somewhat new to the faith?

In what universe do people have "at least 2 different spiritual fathers"?? Where does this stuff come from??
 

Ainnir

Merarches
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Apr 29, 2015
Messages
8,899
Reaction score
1,863
Points
113
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Antiochian
My bishop has basically described our parish priest as our default spiritual father. I’ve also learned that you really have to ask someone to be your spiritual father and should not do so lightly. So it seems one can have no spiritual father, though everyone needs a confessor (usually your parish priest). And your confessor doesn’t necessarily have to be your spiritual father and vice versa.
 

TheTrisagion

Hoplitarches
Joined
Nov 9, 2012
Messages
18,063
Reaction score
468
Points
83
Age
43
Location
PA, USA
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Antiochian
.

The above is from another thread in Convert Issues. It didn't seem appropriate to discuss it in that thread/forum, and I just couldn't let go of it. I know the issue of spiritual fathers has been discussed numerous times on this board, but I've never come across, either here or anywhere in my reading over the last 20+ years a statement like that. Good grief--it's difficult enough, especially in the U.S., to find ONE spiritual father worthy of the title--depending of course on how that's defined!--let alone two...or more!!! And how would the spiritual son or daughter reconcile possible very conflicting advise/counsel/guidance from different spiritual fathers, especially if they were somewhat new to the faith?

In what universe do people have "at least 2 different spiritual fathers"?? Where does this stuff come from??
I prefer 7 spiritual fathers, so I have a different one for every day of the week. Also, 7 is the number of perfection, so there is a mystical reason for it. That being said, for all the worst sins, I wait until Thursdays, because that spiritual father is way more chill than the other guys. My Monday guy is mostly for appearances because it looks good showing up the day after Sunday for some additional spiritual brownie points. The Tuesday guy has the best coffee and cookies, so I try to make that one in person whenever possible.
 

Asteriktos

Strategos
Joined
Oct 4, 2002
Messages
40,538
Reaction score
974
Points
113
Faith
-
Jurisdiction
-
And how would the spiritual son or daughter reconcile possible very conflicting advise/counsel/guidance from different spiritual fathers
Solution:
1) obtain a commemorative coin from a "Tour of the Holy Land" (value is irrelevant); genuine Byzantine coin works as a substitute
2) leave the coin on the altar and have it blessed as some would an icon
3) cut a length of rope 7 feet long and form it in a circle
4) ask for the three favorite Psalms of each of your spiritual fathers; pray them now
5) cross yourself and say the Trisagion prayer
6) cross the circle with the coin to bless it
7) throw the coin in the air
8) if the coin lands inside the circle then you abide by the advice of the spiritual father you first had
9) if the coin lands outside the circle then you abide by the advice of the spiritual father you got after the first
10) if God keeps the coin then both spiritual fathers are crypto-Carpocratians and should be fled from as from fire

Simplicity itself.
 

LizaSymonenko

Hoplitarches
Staff member
Global Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Nov 7, 2007
Messages
16,916
Reaction score
1,090
Points
113
Location
Detroit
Website
uocofusa.org
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A.
Having more than one makes absolutely no sense. How will you reconcile if they give different advice... will one be considered superior to another? If he is superior...than why do you even need another one?

As was stated above... we all have a Father Confessor... Even though we may confess to numerous priests, as we travel, etc. Our home base priest knows us the best... and he will be able to decipher if we are in need of additional counseling or penance...

A Spiritual Father is something completely different. Few of us living in the secular world, especially in the West where monasteries, etc. are few and far between, actually have a Spiritual Father... nor should we run and get one thinking it will make us holier... because it could do the exact opposite.
 

RaphaCam

Patriarch of Trashposting
Joined
Oct 22, 2015
Messages
10,362
Reaction score
1,535
Points
113
Age
25
Location
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Website
em-espirito-e-em-verdade.blogspot.com
Faith
Big-O Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Exarchate of Gotham City
I kinda did this after my chrismation out of ignorance. When the priest that wasn't supposed to be my spiritual father found out, he asked me: "Did you commit murder? An abortion? Arson? No? So you should have waited for your own confessor."
 

Dominika

Merarches
Staff member
Global Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Dec 23, 2011
Messages
8,572
Reaction score
953
Points
113
Age
31
Location
Poland
Website
www.youtube.com
Faith
Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction
Antiochian Patriarchate/POC
Indeed, no sense. I've seen once meme a person driving a car with numerous GPS appliances. All of them were showing the same goal, but the driver obviously couldn't focus, as lookin at one, second, third GPS appliance.. And the description was: person with numerous confessors (or spiritual fathers or without spiritual father at all, but the sense is obvious).
 

brlon

Sr. Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2015
Messages
160
Reaction score
100
Points
28
Location
UK
Faith
None
Jurisdiction
None
In similar vein, one bishop commenting on spiritual fatherhood and obedience suggested that many lay people (particularly those new to the faith) were apt to visit monasteries believing they must seek a blessing from the hegumen every time they wished to visit the lavatories.

Things which may be appropriate for monks and nuns do not necessarily apply to lay people who do not need to, or for whom it may not be fitting, to attempt to live a full monastic life outside of a monastery or monastic community.
 
Last edited:

Dominika

Merarches
Staff member
Global Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Dec 23, 2011
Messages
8,572
Reaction score
953
Points
113
Age
31
Location
Poland
Website
www.youtube.com
Faith
Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction
Antiochian Patriarchate/POC
Indeed, no sense. I've seen once meme a person driving a car with numerous GPS appliances. All of them were showing the same goal, but the driver obviously couldn't focus, as lookin at one, second, third GPS appliance.. And the description was: person with numerous confessors (or spiritual fathers or without spiritual father at all, but the sense is obvious).
This, "When you have numerous confessors"

Source (as after a few days it may be disappear from direct FB link)
 

Stephen2

Newbie
Joined
Oct 15, 2019
Messages
24
Reaction score
5
Points
3
Location
Greece
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Eastern
No, the spiritual father is only one. Because he helps you in everything, it is not something to share to two people.
 

Bizzlebin

OC.Net Guru
Joined
Nov 9, 2005
Messages
1,479
Reaction score
485
Points
83
Location
New Kidron
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Geek
The above is from another thread in Convert Issues. It didn't seem appropriate to discuss it in that thread/forum, and I just couldn't let go of it. I know the issue of spiritual fathers has been discussed numerous times on this board, but I've never come across, either here or anywhere in my reading over the last 20+ years a statement like that. Good grief--it's difficult enough, especially in the U.S., to find ONE spiritual father worthy of the title--depending of course on how that's defined!--let alone two...or more!!! And how would the spiritual son or daughter reconcile possible very conflicting advise/counsel/guidance from different spiritual fathers, especially if they were somewhat new to the faith?

In what universe do people have "at least 2 different spiritual fathers"?? Where does this stuff come from??
Glad you asked! I agree that there are differing definitions to spiritual fatherhood, and made a thread about a year ago—I had collected references to spiritual fatherhood that all came from very recent sources and was hoping to find some pre-modern sources. While I don't want to get into the question of whether one can have a legitimate spiritual father today in the most intimate sense, I found that the sources were divided into a few "clusters" of saints that spoke about the topic. That greatly limits where we have to look. So let me start with those pre-Reformation saints, first with St Gregory Palamas.

There are lots of weird anomalies with dating in his early life, but these contradictions seem to be largely limited to the most recent (mostly online-only) sources, which try to make sense of his spiritual fathers in a serial fashion—that's an anachronism. There seems to be little disagreement that he got to Mt Athos no earlier than 1316 and left no later than 1325 or 1326, possibly due to the Turks: that's just under 10 years (some sources say < 8, starting from 1318). He was with his first spiritual father for 2 or 3 years (reportedly St Nikodemos Of Vatopedi: https://pemptousia.com/2014/07/sain...f-st-gregory-palamas-the-monastery’s-saints/; it gives different dates but the years are consistent), his second for just over 8 (St Nikephoros: https://www.biblicalcyclopedia.com/P/palamas-gregorius.html), and his third for at least 2 more (namely St Gregory Of Sinai, according to Pr John Meyendorff). Now, according to my math, that is about 13 years, out of 10 (or maybe even 8), which means that he couldn't have had those spiritual fathers for that length of time if he had them only one after the other. In other words, they must overlap: he had, as is normative, *multiple* spiritual fathers.

Unfortunately, we just have such limited information about dates of spiritual fathers that it isn't easy to look at many other saints like this. But we can look at their teaching. That presents another problem because they often talk about one spiritual father specifically, but not *exclusively*. In other words, it's like the old joke "Which month has 28 days?", where the obvious answer is February but in actuality they all do—talking of a specific spiritual father in the singular doesn't in any way exclude the others. So let's consider a quote by one of the other sources we have about spiritual fatherhood, particularly one which gets into some of the grittier details:

"
The person who from fear of punishment hereafter has placed himself as a slave in the hands of his spiritual fathers will not choose, even if commanded to do so, relief for his heart's suffering or deliverance from the bonds of his fear.
"

—St Symeon The New Theologian (153 Practical And Theological Texts: 65)

Ignoring some of the other language (he is using fear in a positive sense, he elsewhere makes *clear* allowances for disobeying a spiritual father, etc—don't let the shock value here worry you), note the use of the plural. It is not even controversial, or a special point he has to explain, or any similar such thing. It is just "spiritual fathers", clear as day.

So that covers a sampling of the "heavy hitters" from the middle centuries, based on what I collected from the earlier thread. There are numerous other references to plural "spiritual fathers" among those few saints who spoke on the subject, but I don't want to include those because they could be talking about spiritual sons in the plural as well and I want to keep this post brief—look them up if you wish, as they are *plenty*. If we go even earlier, we can find even more:

"
Abba Moses then said: "True discrimination comes to us only as a result of true humility, and this in turn is shown by our revealing to our spiritual fathers not only what we do but also what we think, by never trusting our own thoughts, and by following in all things the words of our elders, regarding as good what they have judged to be so..."
"

—St John Cassian (Philokalia: On The Holy Fathers Of Sketis And On Discrimination)

This might at first appear to be an instance that could go either way, since both the spiritual fathers and sons are given in the plural. But the same quote continues: "In fact, even before someone is granted the gift of discrimination, the act of revealing his base thoughts openly to the fathers weakens and withers them.". Boom: singular son, plural spiritual fathers. This is interesting not just in itself (as an earlier attestation of numerous spiritial fathers), but because it shows that many other cases I didn't quote above, where the plurality is confusing, have a real possibility of talking about *multiple* spiritual fathers, too. Which ones? It's hard to say, so I won't! But the fact that these writers make such an effortless transition in plurality shows, yet again, that having a plurality of spiritual fathers was just so standard that it didn't even bear special attention to detail when mentioning it. Now let's go in the opposite direction in time, to make sure we're not just covering East and West, North and South, but also the early, middle, and current periods of Holy Tradition:

"
Be careful what you say to the spiritual fathers that you have chosen for confession.
"

—St Porphyrios (Collected Counsels)

This quote kind of mixes the concept of fatherhood and confession (which I hope to clarify in another post below—St Porphyrios was taught that the 2 are separate), due to the colloquial usage, but note the use of the plural case. He is not telling people to have a singular spiritual father, but again *multiple* "spiritual fathers", so this tradition continues to the present day—not just as a curiosity or unusual practice but in unbroken continuity in actual lives of saints. It also makes clear that one's spiritual fathers are not their dictators, their controllers, or any such things: we are to be discerning in what we say to them, *not* say everything (this echoes St Symeon and the others, in their larger pedagogical context), and avoid a spiritually abusive form of submission where we hide our disagreement and just "go with the flow" because of their position. This is another direct teaching of a saint.

One more, this time from Great Britain. Achm Zacharias Zacharou recounts a saying of St Sophrony, and provides an answer to why this doesn't oblige a person to the advice of a spiritual father. And then he says this:

"
Sometimes we go and ask advice from one spiritual father, then we think, "I might ask another spiritual father to see what he will say.". Then we receive two different words, which does not mean that either of them made a mistake. The mistake is ours, because if we asked one spiritual father and we received a word, but did not keep it, when we go to ask the second spiritual father, we are no longer the same persons. Our state is different, it became more complicated, and we receive another word, which probably corresponds to the new state we have acquired because we have not paid heed to the first word.
"

—Achm Zacharias (https://pemptousia.com/2020/08/vigi...ticism-conversations-with-archim-zacharias/#2)

While this also does not quite answer the question of conflicting advice, it demonstrates that it is not even a real problem in the spiritual life. Going to multiple spiritual fathers is taken as a given. As with all the other fathers, it's not even a point he has to argue, it's just obvious: orthodox Christians have multiple spiritual fathers. So that is yet another lineage of elders (only slightly connected) saying the same thing—whether in an English-speaking country or the old country, the advice remains the same. I can provide more saints that speak to the same issue, if needed.

And I don't even have enough time to talk about The Way Of The Pilgrim, St Seraphim's conversation with Motovilov (where he knows Motovilov went to many other before him), and the other Russian sources, just to certify that this is indeed a universal teaching of the Church as well as a current one—it not just multiple spiritual fathers, but in some cases even temporary ones, random ones, and long-distance ones. But I'll leave you with this quick blurb by Pr Ted Bobosh about decisionmaking, which hopefully will further help with the question of obedience (and what it is *not*), discernment when there is uncertainty, and keeping people as children (which is abuse, not fatherhood):


Now that that's all clear (at least hopefully!), can you tell me where you heard that someone was only to have 1 spiritual father? What saint or council from Holy Tradition were you given that says such a thing? Or, if it wasn't given to you by a parish presbyter, where did you read it?
 

Bizzlebin

OC.Net Guru
Joined
Nov 9, 2005
Messages
1,479
Reaction score
485
Points
83
Location
New Kidron
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Geek
My bishop has basically described our parish priest as our default spiritual father.
Can you provide a source for that from a council or a saint, ideally pre-Reformation?

I’ve also learned that you really have to ask someone to be your spiritual father and should not do so lightly. So it seems one can have no spiritual father, though everyone needs a confessor (usually your parish priest).
There is a fairly good talk about that which is one of my go-to references for spiritual fatherhood by Met Anthony Bloom. Unfortunately, though I have a copy, I cannot find it online. But this other talk, while not covering the finding of a spiritual father, does cover many of the other basics that apply to each one:


And your confessor doesn’t necessarily have to be your spiritual father and vice versa.
Indeed they should be different. Since I need to finish explaining the role of fatherhood vs confession in the quote I gave to @J Michael, I'll note that St Porphyrios was with 2 monastics on Mt Athos in his formative years, Frs Panteleimon and Ioannikios. One heard his confessions. The other acted as a spiritual father. They were very careful to keep these duties separate, as one wouldn't want to give the impression of mixing up public liturgical functions (sacraments, like confession) with private opinions and advice (eg, spiritual fatherhood).

"
You see my job is not to solve the problems that people bring to me but to pray for their salvation. That's why I did not become a priest or a spiritual father; I wanted to help people in a different way. If I lived in the world as a priest, my door would always be open. I would have to respond to every need at all times, help everybody equally, no matter what their situation. I would first need to take care of my parishioners and devote whatever time was left to other people who sought my help. I would be interested not just in the faithful but also in those who had no faith, the atheists, and even the enemies of the Church. Or, if I was a spiritual father, and someone accused another person to me, I would have to get the two of them together to try and figure out what's going on. I would pick up the phone to find out how someone else was doing, who had a temptation, or faced a certain problem and so on. How would I ever have peace of mind?
"

—St Paisios (With Pain And Love For Contemporary Man: The Church In Our Times)

I quote him because he got tangled up in all sorts of problematic stuff, got called out by St Porphyrios, and in some ways has an approach opposite that which I use. And yet he's saying the same thing here. In other words, even looking at people on different ends of the "spectrum of tradition", the teaching is the same: liturgical ministry (including the presbyterate) and spiritual fatherhood are distinct—not just far away or long ago, but right now.
 

Bizzlebin

OC.Net Guru
Joined
Nov 9, 2005
Messages
1,479
Reaction score
485
Points
83
Location
New Kidron
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Geek
Having more than one makes absolutely no sense. How will you reconcile if they give different advice... will one be considered superior to another? If he is superior...than why do you even need another one?
"
I remember, once, I had talked to a priest and prepared him for ceasing service. But then, when he informed his spiritual father and his bishop, they disagreed. So, he remained an active priest despite the problem he was facing. Some time later he was struck by a car. The priest was walking on the pavement, when a car got off the street, ran him over and left him dead on the spot! It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
"

—St Paisios (With Pain And Love For Contemporary Man: The Church In Our Times)

A bit of a tongue-in-cheek response to your question, but I think it clearly shows not only that a bishop is distinct from a spiritual father, as well, but that *both* can be *dead* wrong. There is no magic method for discerning the truth in all things, for the truth is not an objective reality but Jesus Christ Himself. Further, I think the question of "superiority" is not the best one to ask, because that can easily lead to thinking of the Church in terms of power (Mark: 10.42). Instead, we are to think of the Church as service (Mark: 10.43–45). We don't have multiple spiritual fathers because of fear, or uncertainty, or "spiritual security" (though in these trying times those are all common concerns), but because the Church is about deep loving relationships between persons.

As was stated above... we all have a Father Confessor... Even though we may confess to numerous priests, as we travel, etc. Our home base priest knows us the best... and he will be able to decipher if we are in need of additional counseling or penance...
That may or may not be the case. I'm not sure about a hard law that mandates the presbyter to have a *private* relationship with a parishioner. Thus there may be no special connection between one presbyter vs another. Not sure how you're using the term "father confessor": a confessor is one thing (often a presbyter), and a father another thing. But someone's parish presbyter does not have to be their confessor, even though it is convenient.

A Spiritual Father is something completely different. Few of us living in the secular world, especially in the West where monasteries, etc. are few and far between, actually have a Spiritual Father... nor should we run and get one thinking it will make us holier... because it could do the exact opposite.
That's an interesting point: there are plenty of warnings against getting even *1* spiritual father.
 

Bizzlebin

OC.Net Guru
Joined
Nov 9, 2005
Messages
1,479
Reaction score
485
Points
83
Location
New Kidron
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Geek
Indeed, no sense. I've seen once meme a person driving a car with numerous GPS appliances. All of them were showing the same goal, but the driver obviously couldn't focus, as lookin at one, second, third GPS appliance.. And the description was: person with numerous confessors (or spiritual fathers or without spiritual father at all, but the sense is obvious).
Hopefully the above sources have cleared up some of the confusion. And I think that there are some issues with the meme you shared. Let me tackle a few.

First, where is the driver going? It is where the GPS unit is telling him. And where is the Christian going? Hopefully where Christ is telling him. The question of spiritual father really doesn't even come up directly here, unless perhaps one suggests that the spiritual father is a second GPS unit drowning out the voice of Christ—which can happen, as per the above story from St Paisios.

Second, where is the GPS unit getting its signal? From GPS satellites. GPS works by triangulation, so you actually need at least *3* satellites (technically 4, if you need 3D data vs just a 2D map location, such as when you are flying/orbiting/etc at higher elevations above the surface: https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/tutorial_geodesy/geo09_gps.html). Thus, if one still wants to make out GPS to be related to spiritual fatherhood, the very physics (laid down by our Creator) upon which GPS is based tell us that we need *multiple* spiritual fathers like we need multiple satellites. Indeed, at least 3, in this case: and having 3 certainly helps with tie breaks, if there is no other option.

Third, I've not suggested talking to all the spiritual fathers simultaneously. If they were all in the same room at one time talking over one another, that would indeed be a difficult situation. But I've explicitly said "from different places" (which isn't always possible, but that's the idea), so that situation is precluded. I've also had GPS units that disagreed ({cough}Garmin{/cough}). It definitely helps to check multiple sources—even if the GPS signal is right, the map could be wrong.

I hope this little bit of meme analysis sheds some light on why maybe, just maybe, we may not want to get all of our spiritual direction from an image macro.

St Solomon wrote about the need for many counselors (Proverbs: 15.22: that's another contradiction of the meme, BTW), and I think this applies not just to spiritual fathers but to other discussions. And, in a way, it is the very principle on which a seminary is built: a seminary does not succeed because of abstract credentials or "authority", but because of the many voices which work tirelessly to make the even larger choir of saints heard, all of which proclaim Christ. However, there are many things which seminary simply doesn't—and can't—cover. Granted, I'm still surprised by the reaction to this—multiple spiritual fathers is something I was taught at the *catechuman* level—but now we all know. And I think that's one of the strengths of having a forum: we all have things that we do not know, both individually and collectively, and we can use the forum in the same way to (hopefully) hear the saints. I know your theological education has been extensive, so I'm glad that you've also come by and shown that these saints, these stories, and these widespread teachings of the Church are—along with the other staff—not something you've been taught. In other words, a single person's "lived experience"—or even a that of a larger sampling of people, however well meaning—is always limited: reflecting God, the faith is just so vast! This is why we are careful not to assume our own experiences are definitively right, but rather seek to always expand our love so that we have the true experience, which (Who!) Is Jesus Christ.
 

Ainnir

Merarches
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Apr 29, 2015
Messages
8,899
Reaction score
1,863
Points
113
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Antiochian
Can you provide a source for that from a council or a saint, ideally pre-Reformation?



There is a fairly good talk about that which is one of my go-to references for spiritual fatherhood by Met Anthony Bloom. Unfortunately, though I have a copy, I cannot find it online. But this other talk, while not covering the finding of a spiritual father, does cover many of the other basics that apply to each one:




Indeed they should be different. Since I need to finish explaining the role of fatherhood vs confession in the quote I gave to @J Michael, I'll note that St Porphyrios was with 2 monastics on Mt Athos in his formative years, Frs Panteleimon and Ioannikios. One heard his confessions. The other acted as a spiritual father. They were very careful to keep these duties separate, as one wouldn't want to give the impression of mixing up public liturgical functions (sacraments, like confession) with private opinions and advice (eg, spiritual fatherhood).

"
You see my job is not to solve the problems that people bring to me but to pray for their salvation. That's why I did not become a priest or a spiritual father; I wanted to help people in a different way. If I lived in the world as a priest, my door would always be open. I would have to respond to every need at all times, help everybody equally, no matter what their situation. I would first need to take care of my parishioners and devote whatever time was left to other people who sought my help. I would be interested not just in the faithful but also in those who had no faith, the atheists, and even the enemies of the Church. Or, if I was a spiritual father, and someone accused another person to me, I would have to get the two of them together to try and figure out what's going on. I would pick up the phone to find out how someone else was doing, who had a temptation, or faced a certain problem and so on. How would I ever have peace of mind?
"

—St Paisios (With Pain And Love For Contemporary Man: The Church In Our Times)

I quote him because he got tangled up in all sorts of problematic stuff, got called out by St Porphyrios, and in some ways has an approach opposite that which I use. And yet he's saying the same thing here. In other words, even looking at people on different ends of the "spectrum of tradition", the teaching is the same: liturgical ministry (including the presbyterate) and spiritual fatherhood are distinct—not just far away or long ago, but right now.
I only read maybe the first third of the link. I like Met. Anthony and didn't disagree with what I read of the talk. None of what you're saying here has anything to do with having more than one spiritual father. I think when this subject comes up, it would be good for you to consider how others are using this term, and to also separate the issues of spiritual abuse.

If the concern is to avoid spiritual abuse, it's better to talk about that specifically. What it is, what it is not, how to recognize it, and the limits of the role of various clergy/people in our lives. Having two spiritual fathers is not the answer here. One might have a subsequent spiritual father if the first one dies or there is a sharp disagreement and separation. But not two at the same time. One can also get a second opinion if something feels off. One can simply "disown" their spiritual father if something feels off. If there's clear abuse, I'd argue the person should flee (right or wrong; see my sig).

I believe how my bishop meant spiritual father was not in the sense of a monk and his elder. We are lay people. Yes lay and monastic alike are called to be like Christ, but where we all are on that path is different. As far as I know, lay people do not owe their priest the kind of obedience a monk might owe his abbot. In the parish setting, "spiritual father" is more simplistic than that. It is more like a mentor relationship, and you don't have to obey the advice you're given. I could have mistaken him, of course. But I think what I described is how a lot of lay people understand their parish priest as their spiritual father.

I may come back with other thoughts, but today is today, so it will be completely dependent on whether I put myself in a food coma later. :giggle:
 
Last edited:

J Michael

Cave Dweller
Joined
Jan 20, 2011
Messages
14,234
Reaction score
1,247
Points
113
Location
People's Republic of Maryland
Faith
Byzantine Catholic
Jurisdiction
Here and now (well...sometimes...)
I just spent a long time writing a long reply to @Bizzlebin. Never mind. Way, way too much prolixity on both sides, so I'll keep it simple and go with what @Ainnir wrote above, plus this:

@Bizzlebin said
Now that that's all clear (at least hopefully!), can you tell me where you heard that someone was only to have 1 spiritual father? What saint or council from Holy Tradition were you given that says such a thing? Or, if it wasn't given to you by a parish presbyter, where did you read it?
Let me put it this way---It's not what I have read or heard, but what I have not.






Oh...and Happy Thanksgiving to all!!!!
 

xariskai

Archon
Warned
Joined
Dec 27, 2008
Messages
2,287
Reaction score
557
Points
113
Faith
Orthodox
Bizzlebin said:
now we all know. And I think that's one of the strengths of having a forum: we all have things that we do not know, both individually and collectively, and we can use the forum in the same way to (hopefully) hear
Not sure I have ever seen so many Bizzlebin prooftexts and arguments one after the other in a cluster where not one single prooftext or argument presented is not a massive failure of logic, exegesis, and/or purported documentation. Some of the worst prooftexting and argumentation I have seen in this forum ever.

"now we know" indeed! The hubris of this remark is absolutely off the chart.
 
Last edited:

xariskai

Archon
Warned
Joined
Dec 27, 2008
Messages
2,287
Reaction score
557
Points
113
Faith
Orthodox
None of what you're saying here has anything to do with having more than one spiritual father. I think when this subject comes up, it would be good for you to consider how others are using this term, and to also separate the issues of spiritual abuse.
+++
 
Last edited:

JTLoganville

High Elder
Joined
Jan 19, 2015
Messages
952
Reaction score
357
Points
63
Location
Pennsylvania
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Greek Orthodox
.
I know the issue of spiritual fathers has been discussed numerous times on this board, but I've never come across, either here or anywhere in my reading over the last 20+ years a statement like that. Good grief--it's difficult enough, especially in the U.S., to find ONE spiritual father worthy of the title--depending of course on how that's defined!--let alone two...or more!!! And how would the spiritual son or daughter reconcile possible very conflicting advise/counsel/guidance from different spiritual fathers, especially if they were somewhat new to the faith?

In what universe do people have "at least 2 different spiritual fathers"?? Where does this stuff come from??
Our Lord counseled that no one can serve two Masters....albeit in a context of economy rather than economia.

Nevertheless: Case closed.
 

Bizzlebin

OC.Net Guru
Joined
Nov 9, 2005
Messages
1,479
Reaction score
485
Points
83
Location
New Kidron
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Geek
I only read maybe the first third of the link. I like Met. Anthony and didn't disagree with what I read of the talk. None of what you're saying here has anything to do with having more than one spiritual father. I think when this subject comes up, it would be good for you to consider how others are using this term, and to also separate the issues of spiritual abuse.
Spiritual abuse is a real concern, but this goes beyond that. St Paisios's example (of the presbyter who died) may involve the use of "economia", but his other example doesn't involve such abuse: it's just a clear distinction between roles. Similarly, St Porphyrios's spiritual upbringing is a fairly standard distinction between spiritual father and local presbyter/confessor. I'm not sure if any of the other examples of multiple spiritual fathers assume abuse, either, or even have abuse particularly in mind. It's just a matter of upholding Tradition.

If the concern is to avoid spiritual abuse, it's better to talk about that specifically. What it is, what it is not, how to recognize it, and the limits of the role of various clergy/people in our lives. Having two spiritual fathers is not the answer here. One might have a subsequent spiritual father if the first one dies or there is a sharp disagreement and separation. But not two at the same time. One can also get a second opinion if something feels off. One can simply "disown" their spiritual father if something feels off. If there's clear abuse, I'd argue the person should flee (right or wrong; see my sig).
I'm still waiting for the Patristic source(s) where "one spiritual father" (at a time) is a thing and multiple spiritual fathers are disallowed.

I believe how my bishop meant spiritual father was not in the sense of a monk and his elder. We are lay people. Yes lay and monastic alike are called to be like Christ, but where we all are on that path is different. As far as I know, lay people do not owe their priest the kind of obedience a monk might owe his abbot. In the parish setting, "spiritual father" is more simplistic than that. It is more like a mentor relationship, and you don't have to obey the advice you're given. I could have mistaken him, of course. But I think what I described is how a lot of lay people understand their parish priest as their spiritual father.
I've tried to distinguish between confessor, spiritual father, and presbyter (though not all sources are so clear here). If you have a different category or definition in mind, then please do post it. I don't suggest that a parish presbyter should be owed "the kind of obedience a monk might owe his abbot", but I'm not seeing a whole lot of Patristic material for a presbyter to be in a "mentor relationship" with a layperson, especially not an exclusive one.
 

Bizzlebin

OC.Net Guru
Joined
Nov 9, 2005
Messages
1,479
Reaction score
485
Points
83
Location
New Kidron
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Geek
I just spent a long time writing a long reply to @Bizzlebin. Never mind. Way, way too much prolixity on both sides, so I'll keep it simple and go with what @Ainnir wrote above, plus this:

Let me put it this way---It's not what I have read or heard, but what I have not.
Ah, so you have also noticed the general dearth of pre-Reformation Patristic material on spiritual fatherhood. Then let me rephrase: have you ever heard from any Patristic source that a person must be limited to one spiritual father at a time? If so, where?
 

Bizzlebin

OC.Net Guru
Joined
Nov 9, 2005
Messages
1,479
Reaction score
485
Points
83
Location
New Kidron
Faith
Orthodox
Jurisdiction
Geek
Our Lord counseled that no one can serve two Masters....albeit in a context of economy rather than economia.

Nevertheless: Case closed.
Yep, that's a great example of a verse that could be taken outside of the Patristic teaching to mean that we should have *no* spiritual father, because that would being serving someone besides Christ! There's a similar situation with the whole "Do not call anyone on earth your father" (Matthew: 23.9 | OSB/NKJV) thing. Of course, St Paul talks about "those who rule over you" (Hebrews: 13.17 | OSB/NKJV) in the plural, so one doesn't have to dig very far to find that authority—even if it's the Trinity—involves clear plurality of persons.
 

xariskai

Archon
Warned
Joined
Dec 27, 2008
Messages
2,287
Reaction score
557
Points
113
Faith
Orthodox
"I'm still waiting for the Patristic source(s)" where multiple spiritual fathers are disallowed."
Classic.
Claims multiple simultaneous spiritual fathers is ***NORMATIVE*** in the Orthodox Church. Dozens of Orthodox Christians here in multiple threads have all in unison disbelieved and disparaged his pet theory. Now demanding sources to disprove it!


"The misplaced burden of proof fallacy is a logical fallacy that takes place when someone tries to dodge their responsibility of providing proof of their claim, which is a central part of making an argument. They may do this in the following ways:
  • Pretending they already offered evidence (when they haven’t)
  • Shifting the burden to someone else by demanding they disprove the claim
  • Shifting the burden to someone else by demanding they prove the validity of their opposing claim
When carrying out a burden of proof fallacy, one may use any combination of the tactics listed above.

Example:
Person A: I claim X is true.
Person B: Prove it.
Person A: Can you prove it’s not true?" - https://www.developgoodhabits.com/burden-proof/


Let us recall this thread asked for *his* evidence for the pet theory which he has had the temerity to claim is NORMATIVE in the Orthodox Church. Dozens of Orthodox Christians in this forum here and elsewhere have said they don't believe our friend's pet theory, some even saying it is of the devil. Where the burden of proof should legitimately be should be obvious. So what do we have now?

Not a shred of credible evidence has been presented other than complete sophistry.
Uses a pet chronology -his sources have the "wrong chronology" but he has the "right one." How?
Posts a "source" for his pet chronology that doesn't agree with him and doesn't say any of what he say it does.
Massive fail "prooftexts" -terrible exegesis, grammar, logic- every last one.

So now what?
"You guys do the proving!"
"I'm still waiting for the Patristic source(s)" where multiple spiritual fathers are disallowed."

Biggest Problem is our friend AFFIRMS HIS PET THEORY IS ***NORMATIVE*** (his word) in the Orthodox Church.
-but no one seems to realize it but our friend!
Problem is no credible evidence has been provided; if allowed or normative for 2000 years there should be some shred of credible evidence.
Shouldn't multiple contemporary voices exist for something, not just bad prooftexts from the past, if actually "normative" for/in the Church?
As far as the burden of proof fallacy is concerned, no one here in multiple threads here believes it is allowed and wanted credible evidence, so burden of proof is on our mostly heterodox friend, not on us.

J Michaels said:
I've never come across, either here or anywhere in my reading over the last 20+ years a statement like that. Good grief--
In what universe do people have "at least 2 different spiritual fathers"?? Where does this stuff come from??
As far as anyone can tell the answer is crystal clear: it comes from Bizzlebin, full stop.
We have seen no other credible source, ancient or modern.
 
Last edited:

J Michael

Cave Dweller
Joined
Jan 20, 2011
Messages
14,234
Reaction score
1,247
Points
113
Location
People's Republic of Maryland
Faith
Byzantine Catholic
Jurisdiction
Here and now (well...sometimes...)
Ah, so you have also noticed the general dearth of pre-Reformation Patristic material on spiritual fatherhood.
How do you arrive at THAT conclusion? (That's really more of a rhetorical question--no need to waste time and energy obsessing about more rectangles, as it were.)

Then let me rephrase: have you ever heard from any Patristic source that a person must be limited to one spiritual father at a time? If so, where?
This is not really a rephrasing but a repetition which deserves, by way of reply, another repetition, after which I think I'm done with this nonsense..." Let me put it this way---It's not what I have read or heard, but what I have not. "

I refer you to @xariskai 's masterful post just above, which is far better than anything I can come up with.
 

brlon

Sr. Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2015
Messages
160
Reaction score
100
Points
28
Location
UK
Faith
None
Jurisdiction
None
With apologies in advance for the misappropriation of Scripture, those long and convoluted arguments bring to mind the phrase "...but he, wishing to justify himself..."
 
Top