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Author Topic: roles of spiritual director, priest, godparent  (Read 237 times) Average Rating: 0
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Феофан
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« on: December 11, 2012, 01:59:18 AM »

Can you give me a synopsis of the role that should be played by one's spiritual director, priest and godparent?  If you don't have a spiritual director does your priest inherit that role automatically and in total?  If you are not breaking any formal rules or overtly sinning to what extent should a godparent or even priest try to intervene in your inner life or your private life if you haven't asked for their opinion or involvement?  If my priest inquires about my personal or inner life am I obligated to answer any and every question he might ask? What about my godparents?  It's my understanding that it's essential we divulge everything about ourselves to our spiritual director but I doubt either of my godparents or even my priest would understand me if I tried any further than I have.  So I'm considering not divulging anything more than whatever is required to be in good standing with the church regarding external observances, behaviors, etc.  (including regular confession of the sins I know of).  I guess I think their role is to guide me in the proper performance of external behaviors - perhaps suggesting good books to read, etc.  but the actual diagnosis of my soul should only be entrusted to a qualified spiritual director in whom I do have complete confidence.  Does this sound about right or pretty wrong?  What exactly is a spiritual director and how can you find one if you're not a monk?
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formerly known as theophan_c
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« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2012, 02:32:24 AM »

I don't like the term "spiritual director." It sounds, well, clinical. More commonly, there are spiritual fathers. But, these are not so many as may be supposed by those with more book than experiential knowledge of Orthodoxy, and the role of a spiritual father in a monastery is far different from (even a monastic spiritual father) out in the world.

I see in your many questions and in your desire for what seems to be to be precise and universal answers something that is very common amongst American (and even Russian) converts. People want to be told what to do. But, the thing is, God has given us spiritual freedom. It's not for anyone to take that from us, and it's not for us to surrender it--that is guruism and is not Orthodox.

We confess our sins to the priest who hears our confession--whether it be the local parish priest or another--it is a priest we know and trust, a priest who prays for us. And we are free to go to another priest for confession if we do not feel comfortable with that one.

A spiritual father--in the fullest sense, that's not something everyone either has or needs. The priest who hears one's confession can help with much of what we need. God will take care of the rest. if there's a need, he will send someone in whatever capacity--a spiritual father, a friend, etc.

Godparents are important--but their primary role is to sponsor candidates for baptism, to encourage as God enlightens them and to pray. They often play a role in raising people in the faith.

Neither a confessor, a spiritual father, or a godparent is some kind of spiritual police--God forbid. Each person has a conscience given by God. Each has a calling to repent and to draw near to God who loves us.

I don't know what you mean by "diagnosis of my soul." Were I you, I would flee this like the plague.

Our holy fathers warn us against unnecessarily divulging all that's inside us. It is not helpful, and can often do us harm. Beyond what we confess, I don't see what more there is to reveal.

In monasticism, there is something called "revelation of thoughts," but this is not for us. And I think it is not a current universal practice in Orthodox monasticism because there are few qualified spiritual fathers.
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« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2012, 05:41:48 AM »

Can you give me a synopsis of the role that should be played by one's spiritual director, priest and godparent? 


A spiritual director is pretty much the same thing as a guidance counselor.

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What exactly is a spiritual director and how can you find one if you're not a monk?

A "guidance counselor" except he is a counselor in spiritual matters. EWTN programming
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« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2012, 05:45:37 AM »

Think of the High School Preliminary College Counselor - That is similar to a spiritual director except he is discussing academics and theology.
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Феофан
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« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2012, 11:37:49 AM »

Our holy fathers warn us against unnecessarily divulging all that's inside us. It is not helpful, and can often do us harm. Beyond what we confess, I don't see what more there is to reveal.

yes, thanks for this... I will be more recondite when responding to their open ended questions.  It seems God will have to be my spiritual Father!   Wink
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