Strength and Hope

Edification, consolation, aids to Theosis. There are enough Orthodox blogs out there willing to point out in greatest detail what is wrong with this world. Holy Orthodoxy isn't about lamenting over what is wrong so much as rejoicing that what is wrong with this world can be made right, can be deified.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Speaking to Elder Cleopas: What advice do you give to priests who confess many people?
The priest-confessor is very accountable for the position he occupies. He judges in the Name and in the place of Christ. He cannot bind anyone in any way without examination, nor can he loose just any sin whatever in any person. In order not to err he must know very well the Sacred Canons, the tradition of the Church, the liturgical life of the Church, the teachings of the Holy Fathers, and especially Holy Scripture. Also, he must be firmly established in faith, have fear of God, love for men, and a fatherly heart towards everyone. He must judge as carefully and fairly as he can, impartially, keeping in mind each person’s nature, age, social position, conduct, education, health, culture, degree of understanding and obedience, and before all, his faith in and fear of God. He must confess people with much diligence and attention, without haste, first listening to what the people say and then asking questions, beginning with spiritual things—the man’s nature, faith, prayer, church attendance—and then about human and physical things. He should not go into detail in asking about sins, in order not to scandalize people, especially the young, by indiscreet questions. He should not show surprise or upbraid anyone for the sins he confesses, nor should he ask who exactly he sinned with, and especially he must not tell anyone the secrets he heard in confession. The Sacred Canons say that anyone who publishes the secrets of confession must bind his tongue and resign from the priesthood and the hearing of confessions.

And a question to Elder Paisius Olaru of Sihla Skete: Does it seem easier to you to be a spiritual father of laymen or of monks?
It’s harder to pastor monks and priests than laymen, because they have given vows and have a great responsibility since they know the word of God and the sacred canons, but still do not do their duties. That is to say, they sin with their will and knowledge. Laymen have less responsibility, and many sin from ignorance. Here is fulfilled the Gospel saying, “To whom much is given, of him much will be required, and to whom little is given, of him little will be required.”


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