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Was "Spiritual Fatherhood" A Thing Before Modern Times?

Bizzlebin

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I've already gone through some basic searches, plus the quote threads pinned here on the forum, but have turned up nothing. I'm looking for quotes directly about a "spiritual father" before about the 17th century—and specifically the modernistic notion (not godfather, the clergy who baptized someone, etc)—and not from a modern text that reads "spiritual fatherhood" backwards into a story. Thanks!
 

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I've already gone through some basic searches, plus the quote threads pinned here on the forum, but have turned up nothing. I'm looking for quotes directly about a "spiritual father" before about the 17th century
“Abba Rufus [early c. 4th century Desert Father] said, ‘He who remains sitting at the feet of his spiritual father receives a greater reward than he who lives alone in the desert.’” -Paradise of the Fathers (recommended)

Referencing earlier Fathers Abba Rufus continues:, "I have seen four orders in heaven: in the first order is the sick man who gives thanks to God; in the second, the man who observes hospitality and for that reason, gets up to serve; in the third, the man who crosses the desert without seeing anyone; in the fourth, the man who obeys his Father and remains in submission to him for the Lord’s sake. The one who was living in submission was wearing a chain of gold and a shield and had greater glory than the others. I said to him who was guiding me, “Why does the one who is least have more glory than the others?” He answered me, “he who practices hospitality acts according to his own will; he who lives in the desert goes away of his own free will; but the last one possesses obedience. Having abandoned all his desires, he depends on God and his own Father; it is because of this that he has received more glory than the others.’ See, my child, how good obedience is when it is undertaken for the Lord. You have partly understood the elements of this virtue, my children. O obedience, salvation of the faithful! O obedience, mother of all the virtues! O obedience, discloser of the kingdom! O obedience opening the heavens, and making men to ascend there from earth! O obedience, food of all the saints, whose milk they have sucked, through you they have become perfect! O obedience, companion of the angels!" -ibid
 
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augustin717

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Sounds like a modern affectation.
The OP is referring to laity , I assume., not to monastics.
 

xariskai

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The goal (as I understand it) is not to become subservient to rules but to emulate the master.
The OP is referring to laity , I assume., not to monastics.
Maybe -but "spiritual father" before about the 17th century..." might be understood more generally.

As I understand it it was not exclusive to monasticism.
Cf. one of the early "paradigms" of "spiritual fatherhood" was St Paul to the Corinthians:
"For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel... Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ" -1 Cor 4:15; 11:1


"
 
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Bizzlebin

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The goal (as I understand it) is not to become subservient to rules but to emulate the master.

Maybe -but "spiritual father" before about the 17th century..." might be understood more generally.

As I understand it it was not exclusive to monasticism.
Cf. one of the early "paradigms" of "spiritual fatherhood" was St Paul to the Corinthians:
"For if you were to have countless tutors in Christ, yet you would not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel... Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ" -1 Cor 4:15; 11:1
Yep, I'll take that one. I'm going through the Philokalia and found a similar quote from another Desert Father (under St John Cassian's chapters), but that's it so far for early stuff. And I would categorize St Paul's words differently than the modern understanding, at least until there is more evidence of that being his intended meaning—as evidenced by widespread (in time, place, and status) usage.
 

xariskai

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I would categorize St Paul's words differently than the modern understanding"
Can you elaborate? Not sure what you mean
 

xariskai

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"I'm looking for quotes directly about a "spiritual father" before about the 17th century ...not from a modern text that reads "spiritual fatherhood" backwards into a story. Thanks!
Are you personally suspicious is that spiritual fatherhood is some sort of "modern innovation"(?); if so what led you to that suspicion? (if you don't mind sharing)
 

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Sounds like a modern affectation.
The OP is referring to laity , I assume., not to monastics.
Yeah, that is another question, but would be my follow-up question. I'm getting a few more hits now that I'm doing a plaintext search in the Philokalia, but it's still *extremely* rare, particularly with the "modern" caveat: it's unambiguously a mentor relationship (and even then not a prolific topic) in the 9th-century St Theodoros The Great, the 11th-century Symeon The New Theologian (and his disciple, St Niketas Stethatos, which isn't surprising), the 12th-century St Peter Of Damascus, and the 14th-century St Gregory Of Sinai (and famous colleague St Gregory Palamas). More references than I was expecting, but still very late and incredibly sparse (ie, only 4 "lines")—and their writing seems to suggest it is not only for monastics, but even then only a particular optional path.
 

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The term "spiritual father" may be new but I haven't looked into the history of the term, but the concept of a spiritual father has always been around. Historically it has been your priest who is your spiritual father since he is the one you gave you communion and listened to your confession. With a more interconnected world, I have noticed it is starting to be a more distinguishing term for a spiritual elder who, though isn't your local priest, you look up to for spiritual guidance and at times confession. Although I personally believe your priest is who should be ideally your spiritual father, I have noticed people for often finding like a monastic for example, and having him as one.
 

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Are you personally suspicious is that spiritual fatherhood is some sort of "modern innovation"(?); if so what led you to that suspicion? (if you don't mind sharing)
I *know* that numerous aspects of "spiritual fatherhood" are a modern innovation, particularly in a very decontextualized parish setting. I like to fact-check even my own assumptions, so I wondered if this change was not merely a rare Orthodox practice run amok, or an entirely innovative fabrication. Part of the reason is its association with so much schism, loads of abuse, and non-canonical groups—if you find the frequent usage of one particular just-hastily-canonized modern saint, a fascination with "apostolic succession", and a damned-if-you-don't attitude towards [singular] spiritual fatherhood, chances are *very* high that you have a breakaway group (or soon-to-be), possibly a cult. At least I can rest a little easier that spiritual fatherhood has some pre-modern basis, which is what I'd assumed until the other day when I got thinking. Still not IDed with the parish priest in any way, shape, or form—and the references I found had many "you are always automatically blessed to disobey if..."s—but at least it has some actual historicity, however sparse.
 

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The term "spiritual father" may be new but I haven't looked into the history of the term, but the concept of a spiritual father has always been around. Historically it has been your priest who is your spiritual father since he is the one you gave you communion and listened to your confession. With a more interconnected world, I have noticed it is starting to be a more distinguishing term for a spiritual elder who, though isn't your local priest, you look up to for spiritual guidance and at times confession. Although I personally believe your priest is who should be ideally your spiritual father, I have noticed people for often finding like a monastic for example, and having him as one.
Ouch, ninja'd by mere minutes. But read my above reply: a parish priest is *never* a spiritual father by default, by canon law, or by any legitimate teaching—not that I've ever read. The relationship of "spiritual father" is entirely optional, and is not sacramental confession, and *never* involves involuntary penances (read the clear anti-abuse exceptions in the noted saints, above).
 

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"If unclean thoughts trouble you, do not hide them but tell them at once to your spiritual father and condemn them. The more we conceal our thoughts, the more they multiply and gain strength... Whoever discloses his thoughts is quickly healed." -Sayings of the Desert Fathers

I'm getting a few more hits now that I'm doing a plaintext search...even then not a prolific topic) in the 9th-century St Theodoros The Great, the 11th-century Symeon
No "spiritual fathers" prior to the ( 17th century)>now "9th century" (the latter rapid advance with the help of late night digital searching) seems a rather hasty methodology. Am including a short bibliography below as an aid to more fruitful search.
Not to belabor the obvious, but if there were no "spiritual fathers" prior to the ( 17th century)>now "9th century" to what should we suppose the term fathers in the early "Sayings of the Desert "Fathers" refers? This should surely suggest early spiritual fathers of some sort of itself, no?

I *know* that numerous aspects of "spiritual fatherhood" are a modern innovation, particularly in a very decontextualized parish setting. I like to fact-check even my own assumptions, so I wondered if this change was not merely a rare Orthodox practice run amok, or an entirely innovative fabrication. Part of the reason is its association with so much schism, loads of abuse, and non-canonical groups—if you find the frequent usage of one particular just-hastily-canonized modern saint, a fascination with "apostolic succession", and a damned-if-you-don't attitude towards [singular] spiritual fatherhood, chances are *very* high that you have a breakaway group (or soon-to-be), possibly a cult. At least I can rest a little easier that spiritual fatherhood has some pre-modern basis, which is what I'd assumed until the other day when I got thinking. Still not IDed with the parish priest in any way, shape, or form—and the references I found had many "you are always automatically blessed to disobey if..."s—but at least it has some actual historicity, however sparse.
I believe abuse is absolutely an issue of paramount concern that anyone should consider individually, and the Church collectively, but the tradition itself is ancient; the importance of spiritual fatherhood for Orthodoxy in the words of Ivan Kireyevsky as "more important than all possible books and ideas" is nothing remotely new. The former, I think, would make a better thread (question of abuse and its avoidance); "debunking" the tradition is throwing the baby out with the bathwater to say the least, I think, especially in such haste...





 
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Bizzlebin

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Not to belabor the obvious, but if there were no "spiritual fathers" prior to the ( 17th century)>now "9th century" to what should we suppose the term fathers in the early "Sayings of the Desert "Fathers" refer? This should surely suggest early spiritual fathers of some sort of itself, no?
Hah, that's why I asked. And to be clear, I've not moved the goalposts here: I'm the very person who posted all those pre-17th-century finds! I already hit CCEL and some other common spots, so the question had me intrigued. And thanks for the bibliography: I don't want to get into the modern works inasmuch as they will project current ideas backwards (which is why I clarified about the *usage* of the term "spiritual father" and not it's mere presence), but I think using them, in turn, as a further biblio is a safe bet. I'll mark them for study!
 

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Hah, that's why I asked. And to be clear, I've not moved the goalposts here: I'm the very person who posted all those pre-17th-century finds! I already hit
Ha, OK; given the rapid pace of your digital discoveries of new boundary marks over the course of this thread, pushing the point of suspected innovation from the 17th, to the 9th century (Desert Fathers hail from the 4th; and perhaps St. Paul from the 1st) we might expect we could arrive in minutes at Moses -perhaps even Sumer -within the hour...

I'll stop with the above bibliography & miscellaneous early quotes & title; Godspeed and good searching.
 

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"one particular just-hastily-canonized modern saint"

Who are you referring to?
 

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John 4:24
“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
Romans 4:12
“And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.”
King James Version (KJV)

Father Abraham is our spiritual father if we walk by faith in Christ Jesus Our Lord.
 

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Think of the children's song "Father Abraham had many sons"....simplifies everything.
 

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"one particular just-hastily-canonized modern saint"

Who are you referring to?
That would be St Paisios The Athonite. Repeatedly censured and corrected by Church authorities, by nearby saints (very publicly by St Porphyrios), etc. Works that would have been rejected (if not burned) had they been written at a different time and by someone with less of a following. Statements regarded prophetic—particularly by people who were not spiritually sober or were openly flirting with schism then—that are borderline unfalsifiable (ie, they can't be subject to the same comparative scrutiny that doctrinal statements would be), have aged about as well as red meat, and that have borne even more demonic fruit in these past few years (*much* more schism, disobedience of hierarchs, especially-unhinged conspiracy theories, fear of creation, and so on—regardless of his intent there, that's the fruit that's revealed). At least there is the small irony that the EP did the canonization, so the angry schismatics are tied up in knots because they need him to be right (if not an infallible super-saint!) but they simultaneously need the EP to be wrong (read http://forums.orthodoxchristianity....ons-of-elder-paisios-and-fr-porphyrios.67594/ for one statement; probably a better place to direct further questions, too).
 

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John 4:24
“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
Romans 4:12
“And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.”
King James Version (KJV)

Father Abraham is our spiritual father if we walk by faith in Christ Jesus Our Lord.
That's the reason why I was so careful to ask about particular usage. Because "spiritual" can mean many things (as can father!). For example, are we talking about being "one in spirit", meaning "of the same mind"? Or are we talking about spiritual in the sense of heavenly powers? Or are we talking about any of the numerous other senses, like of the Holy Spirit, simply something non-physical, and so on?

I agree that St Abraham is our spiritual father, in one sense, and if that is the sense that was universally meant by the phrase "spiritual father", I probably would not have even thought to ask the question! But the term has been used to describe everything from commonality across thousands of years (a good thing) to spiritual slavery (an evil thing). So as I was thinking about the term—and how I'd never been given an older reference in years of work within parishes and monasteries—I figured that it might be something to dig a little deeper into—it's good to challenge ourselves.
 

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It is ironic that you consider spiritual fatherhood something new, denying it ancient, while the situation is exactly the opposite: in ancient times they were, now they are not or almost not.
A spiritual father is, oddly enough, a spiritual (holy and able to teach) person who, through prayers and instructions, "gives birth" to another person for life in Christ.
Here is what St. Ignatius Bryanchaninov says about it back in the 19th century (I quote inaccurately, from memory): "spiritual mentoring (fatherhood) in the form described by the holy fathers is not available to our time because of the impoverishment of spiritual mentors. Our destiny is to live according to the advice: to read the Holy Scriptures, the holy fathers, and consult with like-minded people, making decisions on our own."
Well, the fact that the concept of spiritual fatherhood goes back directly to the apostles has already been said here.
 

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Why is there an impoverishment of spiritual mentors in modern times? We need them now more than ever.
 

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If it's an innovation, it's a proper one. For most of history, Orthodox priests were considered prominent and trustworthy members of the societies around them. Since nowadays we have to opt-in (and even try hard) for them to be a prominent and trustworthy part of our personal lives, spiritual fatherhood can strengthen that bond.
 

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That would be St Paisios The Athonite. Repeatedly censured and corrected by Church authorities, by nearby saints (very publicly by St Porphyrios), etc. Works that would have been rejected (if not burned) had they been written at a different time and by someone with less of a following. Statements regarded prophetic—particularly by people who were not spiritually sober or were openly flirting with schism then—that are borderline unfalsifiable (ie, they can't be subject to the same comparative scrutiny that doctrinal statements would be), have aged about as well as red meat, and that have borne even more demonic fruit in these past few years (*much* more schism, disobedience of hierarchs, especially-unhinged conspiracy theories, fear of creation, and so on—regardless of his intent there, that's the fruit that's revealed).
Well, there are many testimonies of his intercession going around. Of course, one might subject them to criticism, but one might as well just be humbled, figure at least some of these people must be telling the truth, and pray for him.

The godparents I chose for my coming child, who are great friends, have a particularly strong devotion to him, and they feel their prayers are answered. Yesterday the to-be-godmother was talking about how her pet snakes repeatedly crawled toward his icon (among so many) and stayed there, and how this makes sense since he had such a strong connection to animals in general.

Yes, St. Porphyrios rebuked St. Paisios publicly, but they're also reported to have regarded each other as holy men. How many saints had far worse mutual feelings towards each other? So who are we to say "I am of Paisios" or "I am of Porphyrios", if they're both servants of Christ, each assigned his role? Sometimes we get so obsessed about the specifics that we forget the basic lessons of the good book.

I don't think I'll just change your mind saying things you probably already thought of, but he who has ears to hear...
 

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Why is there an impoverishment of spiritual mentors in modern times?
Because of the fall of piety. Just yesterday I listened to a priest who claimed that it is normal to look at a woman with lust. He can be a spiritual mentor, yes. But what kind of spirit?
And this is just one example, but there are a lot of them.
 

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If it's an innovation, it's a proper one. For most of history, Orthodox priests were considered prominent and trustworthy members of the societies around them. Since nowadays we have to opt-in (and even try hard) for them to be a prominent and trustworthy part of our personal lives, spiritual fatherhood can strengthen that bond.
Eh, that gets more problematic. It would be more correct to say Orthodox *bishops* were "prominent and trustworthy members of the societies around them". The Church has given us a diocese-centric model, not a parish-centric one—and that's part of the reason why I wanted to be very clear about sources (and meanings!) here, because a little lost subtlety and some hand-waving later and you've got "Byzantine Congregationalism", at best.
 

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It is ironic that you consider spiritual fatherhood something new, denying it ancient, while the situation is exactly the opposite: in ancient times they were, now they are not or almost not.
A spiritual father is, oddly enough, a spiritual (holy and able to teach) person who, through prayers and instructions, "gives birth" to another person for life in Christ.
Here is what St. Ignatius Bryanchaninov says about it back in the 19th century (I quote inaccurately, from memory): "spiritual mentoring (fatherhood) in the form described by the holy fathers is not available to our time because of the impoverishment of spiritual mentors. Our destiny is to live according to the advice: to read the Holy Scriptures, the holy fathers, and consult with like-minded people, making decisions on our own."
Well, the fact that the concept of spiritual fatherhood goes back directly to the apostles has already been said here.
I've read St Ignatius Brianchaninov's words quite a lot, along with other recent saints, and that is a part of why I was wanting something with a little more historical pedigree—in particular, before certain other theological, sacramental, and ecclesial changes took place (mostly in the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation). I didn't even get to my tertiary question in all this, which was probably the most important and deals with expanding the dyadic system of some Christian governments (eg, state/church) into a triadic one (this gets back to a distinction between Kingdom and Church, and much else); the worldviews—and assumptions—of some of the other comments are just so different from mine that the thread took a vastly different turn. I was—and do remain—convinced that a ministry of teaching and instruction is utterly foundational, but I was wondering whether that ministry was completely different from the priestly one (secondary question—yep, it is, and it has many boundaries, and is often more suited to monastic relationships—which gets back to the Kingdom vs Church question, etc) and whether it has historically gone by the name "spiritual fatherhood" (primary question—yep, in some cases).
 

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Yes, St. Porphyrios rebuked St. Paisios publicly, but they're also reported to have regarded each other as holy men. How many saints had far worse mutual feelings towards each other? So who are we to say "I am of Paisios" or "I am of Porphyrios", if they're both servants of Christ, each assigned his role? Sometimes we get so obsessed about the specifics that we forget the basic lessons of the good book.
Agreed that it is problematic to use saints to promote division. This is why the whole drama is so painful around St Paisios: his life and works have been used this way *constantly*—with much viciousness against hierarchs by such schismatics. Whether or not other local Churches decide to challenge his canonization is probably better discussed in the linked thread, but I will be glad for the day when more of his works have been examined in sobriety—by non-schismatic theologians—and all the craziness disappears.
 

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Why is there an impoverishment of spiritual mentors in modern times? We need them now more than ever.
I think there is such an impoverishment because of pride: wanting to correct the "other". In everything from modern guidebooks (notably St Nikodemos's infamous book) to a modern seminary education, there is a tendency to create a class system and view others as either inferior or, at minimum, in "need" of our meddling. But the best spiritual fathers (not meaning here "parish priests") I've met do not act this way: maybe they'll answer a question if asked and occasionally offer a word "in season", but their primary concern is their own soul and work. Their ministry is not a projection of their need to dominate, or fix, or even "help" the "other", but first a foremost one of dominating their passions, fixing their own misconceptions, and helping their own lives turn more and more towards Jesus Christ. That they have a particular ecclesial or civil role is almost an afterthought. Their fatherhood is thus a natural result of their ascetical life, bearing real fruit in those that come to them freely, not merely a "spiritual kidnapping" (eg, by *supposed* ecclesial mandate) of souls that are not their own. In other words, people come to them voluntarily, and they do not even try to help them, per se (not without *God's* particular blessing), but continue to live the godly life they always have and, as St Seraphim Of Sarov says, thereby save thousands around them. That we have so few people like this—and instead so many people who want to "save" us—is why we have so few spiritual fathers.
 

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Eh, that gets more problematic. It would be more correct to say Orthodox *bishops* were "prominent and trustworthy members of the societies around them". The Church has given us a diocese-centric model, not a parish-centric one—and that's part of the reason why I wanted to be very clear about sources (and meanings!) here, because a little lost subtlety and some hand-waving later and you've got "Byzantine Congregationalism", at best.
They were relatively very prominent and trustworthy, at least. As compared to the average guy. If that's still the case in any small town in a huge chunk of 21st-century Brazil, I really doubt it wouldn't be the case for, say, 16th-century Serbia. The word "father" applied to them still held some good analogy for the faithful, I'm sure.
 

RaphaCam

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Agreed that it is problematic to use saints to promote division. This is why the whole drama is so painful around St Paisios: his life and works have been used this way *constantly*—with much viciousness against hierarchs by such schismatics. Whether or not other local Churches decide to challenge his canonization is probably better discussed in the linked thread, but I will be glad for the day when more of his works have been examined in sobriety—by non-schismatic theologians—and all the craziness disappears.
Thank God they won't, no matter how much a couple of people may want to augustine him out of well-agreed holiness. I trust the Holy Spirit won't let that happen.
 

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That would be St Paisios The Athonite. Repeatedly censured and corrected by Church authorities, by nearby saints (very publicly by St Porphyrios), etc.
Any online non-Greek sources on this? I'm not asking cause I'd disagree with this (not a fan of St. Paisios myself) but just curious.
 

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They were relatively very prominent and trustworthy, at least. As compared to the average guy. If that's still the case in any small town in a huge chunk of 21st-century Brazil, I really doubt it wouldn't be the case for, say, 16th-century Serbia. The word "father" applied to them still held some good analogy for the faithful, I'm sure.
Heh, that is another one of those "Well, actually..." things. The word father was applied in the context we're speaking of here (as in teacher, but more; note the Desert Father usage—they were often lay "monks"), the one who baptized the person (St Paul uses this sometimes), the godfather, and also the [proto] Patriarchs (Alexandria, Rome, etc). I'm actually not sure when "father" became applied to presbyters at all (another great question!), and especially in the distorted form it is used today. I don't use that form myself because it is just too confusing (you'll note I use Pr when referring to a presbyter). And it takes away from not only the usage as applied to bishops (which is confusing, as well, yet at least fairly ancient), but also the earlier voluntary use of the title—what other honorific are we to use to distinguish between a presbyter and someone to whom we freely emulate as a spiritual father (who may or may not be a presbyter)?
 

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Thank God they won't, no matter how much a couple of people may want to augustine him out of well-agreed holiness. I trust the Holy Spirit won't let that happen.
"Well-agreed" is probably too strong. I've read a fair bit about him but most of it boils down to stories from people who were (or still are) not spiritually sober. St Augustine has over a thousand years of usage and careful criticism (more than a little which actually traces back to St Ambrose's theology, but I digress) from other saints who nonetheless honor him as a saint, so it is possible that will be the outcome with St Paisios; I do also trust the Holy Spirit will reveal the truth of the matter, not that "my will" is necessarily done.
 

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Any online non-Greek sources on this? I'm not asking cause I'd disagree with this (not a fan of St. Paisios myself) but just curious.
The main sources in English are translations or adaptions from Greek, so that is most of what I know about, too. Given his prominence in the current schismatic crises, I expect far more to come out in the next decade or two. There have already been statements released by non-Greek bishops outside of Greece (increasing these last couple years) telling people to beware of some very St-Paisios-adjacent "teachers" and teachings, so it is only a matter of time, IMO.
 

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The main sources in English are translations or adaptions from Greek, so that is most of what I know about, too. Given his prominence in the current schismatic crises, I expect far more to come out in the next decade or two. There have already been statements released by non-Greek bishops outside of Greece (increasing these last couple years) telling people to beware of some very St-Paisios-adjacent "teachers" and teachings, so it is only a matter of time, IMO.
Source?
What are the St.-Paisios-adjacent teachings that we are to avoid?
 

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Source?
What are the St.-Paisios-adjacent teachings that we are to avoid?
I'm aware of some inner goings-on, of course (canonist, consultant, etc), but here's one I can publicly talk about and link since it's already been leaked and commented on elsewhere: https://d50c890e-3c75-49a9-96bb-e3d...d/41320a_36adfe6edcc043caaeb876fc5ddec42b.pdf . The bishop is trying to be very careful and not inflame the situation further (the people afraid of cancel culture—who are in fact the perpetrators of cancel culture—would be even more remiss if they thought they were being censored by a canonical bishop for their uncanonical teachings!), but be assured that this is a small window into a much larger series of crises, nearly all of which are *very* St-Paisios-adjacent. That's as far as I plan to go on that topic in this thread as we're already drifting far beyond the OP.
 

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Oh well, Anthimus, metropolitan of Ungrovlachia in the 17-17century says if his priests that they care and know nothing about the divine scriptures or services, the only thing they know is how to eat prospéras and sweet bread / colaci.
 

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I'm aware of some inner goings-on, of course (canonist, consultant, etc), but here's one I can publicly talk about and link since it's already been leaked and commented on elsewhere: https://d50c890e-3c75-49a9-96bb-e3d...d/41320a_36adfe6edcc043caaeb876fc5ddec42b.pdf . The bishop is trying to be very careful and not inflame the situation further (the people afraid of cancel culture—who are in fact the perpetrators of cancel culture—would be even more remiss if they thought they were being censored by a canonical bishop for their uncanonical teachings!), but be assured that this is a small window into a much larger series of crises, nearly all of which are *very* St-Paisios-adjacent. That's as far as I plan to go on that topic in this thread as we're already drifting far beyond the OP.
Well feel free to PM me. 🤷‍♀️ I'm not trying to derail the thread or even debate. I'm honestly trying to fill what are apparently some significant knowledge and experience gaps and it was sounding like the St.-Paisios-adjacent warning was directly connected to your warning against what I'm gathering is a specific application of spiritual fatherhood. Regardless, it's a shame this priest had to write that letter.
 
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