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Κυριακή, 8 Φεβρουαρίου 2009

OBEDIENCE THROUGH EGO

An excerpt from the book "With Elder Porphyrios. "
I discussed a related matter with the Elder. It was about a certain "strict" spiritual father who had refused to satisfy the wish of one of his spiritual children; this spiritual child wanted to visit Elder Porphyrios and discuss with him a serious personal matter.
This incident had left a painful im­pression on me and I articulated it to the Elder. He shook his head sadly and whispered, "What can I say? He is, you see, also a spiritual father."
The Elder was always careful and lenient in his opinions of others, especially when it concerned priests who made mistakes. Rather than making characterizations, he preferred to speak in parables: "You know, when a Latin missionary gets a papal order for some mission, he immediately gets on the plane at Rome. When the plane arrives at the destination airport of, lets say, an African state, he opens a sealed envelope and reads what his task will be. He is obliged to carry it out, even of he does not agree. It obviously does not happen like that with us Orthodox."
I understood what he, more-or-less, wanted to tell me. Be­sides, it was not the first time that I had discovered that there are also some spiritual guides in Orthodoxy, fortunately only few, who are essentially inspired by a papal spirit. They de­mand that their orders be carried out, quite indifferent to the inner resistance of their spiritual children. They cultivate a completely unorthodox way of thinking. They impose disci­plinary authority, since they are afraid of freedom.
It was not long before the dictatorial discipline bore results; the same spiritual child of the "strict" father informed the friends that urged him to see Fr. Porphyrios that he no longer wanted to see him. On a visit to the Elder I said to him, "I think that he doesn't come to see you, not because he doesn't want to come, but because he is being obedient to his spiri­tual father. The Elder surprised me by saying to me, "He is being obedient, because his spiritual father's advice indulges his ego."
It was the first time I had ever heard the Elder speak to me openly about spiritual errors. I knew that he did not do it out of personal susceptibility. The Elder did not invite people to visit him. (I was aware of only one exception to this, and this was only after the fervent pleadings from the friends of a preju­diced man, who was immensely troubled. In essence, it was their own indirect invitation). The Elder did not want fans. He simply helped everyone who hurried to his cell. Perhaps he spoke to me like that because he wanted to reveal another trick of the devil amongst the Christian ranks. I thought to myself, "Well then, the motivation for that man's obedience was simply the indulgence of his ego..."

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