The Person of the Spiritual Father and the Gift of Discernment

St. Agrippina of Rome

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,


(to be chanted or recited)

Glory be to You, revealer of the Light. Glory be to God in the highest, And on earth, peace and good will toward men.

We hymn You, we bless You, we worship You, we give thanks to You For Your great glory.

Lord King, Heavenly God, Father Almighty, Lord, Only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit;

Lord God, the Lamb of God, the Son of the Father, Who take away the sin of the world, Have mercy on us, You Who take away the sin of the world.

Receive our prayer, You Who sit at the right hand of the Father, And have mercy on us.

For You alone are Holy, You alone are Lord, Jesus Christ, To the Glory of God the Father. Amen.

Each day I will bless You, And I will praise Your Name Unto the ages of ages.

Make us worthy, Lord, To be kept this day without sin.

Blessed are You, O Lord, the God of our fathers, And praised and glorified is Your Name Unto the ages. Amen.

May Your mercy be with us, O Lord, As we have place our hope in You.

Blessed are You, O Lord, Teach me Your Commandments. (3 times)

You have been for us, O Lord, A refuge from generation to generation.

O Lord, I said, have mercy on me; Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.

Lord, in You have I taken shelter; Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God.

For in You is the source of life, And in Your Light we shall see light.

Extend Your mercy On those who know and confess You.

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, Have mercy on us. (3 times)

Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, Have mercy on us.


On June 23th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics and Teachers of Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Agrippina the holy Marty of Rome; Saint Mark, Bishop of Ephesus; Saints Aristoclis the Presbyter, Demetrius, Athanasius.

THE HOLY MARTYR AGRIPPINA. Saint Agrippina was born and brought up in Rome. She trained herself from childhood to live by the Gospel, expelling the stench of the passions from her heart with the sweet-smelling perfume of purity and chastity. She was betrothed to Christ the Lord, and suffered as a bride of Christ in the reign of the pagan Roman emperor Valerian. She endured beating with staves until her bones were crushed. An Angel of the Lord appeared to her to strengthen her, until she surrendered her soul to God under fresh tortures. Her friends, Vassa, Paul and Agathoniki, took her holy relics to the island of Sicily and buried them there. A church was later built there in her name, where countless miracles were wrought over her holy relics. She entered into eternal rest and was crowned with glory in the year of our Lord 275 AD.

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.


Holy Epistle Lesson: Roman 3:28-31; 4:1-3
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 7:24-29; 8:1-4


The Righteous Judgment of God
Geronda Paisios of Mount Athos

Q. Geronda, what is the righteous judgment of God?

--The righteous judgment of God is His forbearance, which also contains humility and love. God is very Righteous and Just, but also most Compassionate; and His compassion surpasses His justice. I will give you an example to help you understand. If some person never had the opportunity to learn about God, he would not be judged according to the condition in which he is found, but according to the condition he would be in if he had come to know God. Otherwise, God would not be just. Divine Righteousness has its own mathematical principles. One plus one sometimes equals two and sometimes two million."

By Metropolitan of Nafpaktos Hierotheos
[source: Hesychia and Theology: The Context for Man's Healing in the Orthodox Church]

The work of the Clergy is to celebrate the Holy Sacraments (Mysteria), especially the Sacrament (Mysterion) of the Divine Eucharist which is at the centre of ecclesiastical and spiritual life. However, it is also their task to heal people so that they can share in the sacraments and take communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, because our participation in the sacraments (Mysteria) is not unconditional.

Healing is accomplished in Christ, through bringing together the Church's Mysteria, particularly the Mysterion of the Divine Eucharist, and the Church's hesychastic and neptic tradition. Healing is not a process that operates independently of the grace of God, the life of the Church and Mysteriaki (Sacramental) life. Saint Gregory Palamas teaches, as did all the Saints, that the Mysteria have to be linked with asceticism for man's healing and salvation.

When we speak of healing we mean the cure of man's nous, heart, thoughts, and passions. Essentially it is his transformation and change of direction, away from the fallen state that he has been in since the great disruptive event of Adam and Eve's fall, and towards deification (theosis) by grace.

This whole ascetic and therapeutic method is taught by the holy Fathers of the Church and is preserved in the Philokalia of the Neptic Saints and the sacred Canons of the Church. It is also, of course, contained in the words of the prayers of the Church's Mysteria. This becomes clear to anyone who reads the holy Prayer Book containing the order of service for the Church's Mysteria (sacraments) and who interprets in an Orthodox way the teaching on catechumens, those for Baptism, the baptized and the faithful.

In fact the only healer of men is Christ, and the Church undertakes this work through the Clergy who are His instruments for healing. If the Priest is to take a philosophical, ethical and anthropocentric approach to this task, he must have empirical knowledge of every stage of the journey to deification (theosis). When he has himself experienced God's purifying, illuminating and deifying energy and is a true theologian in the patristic sense of the term, he can then become a spiritual father as well, and point out the path to healing, sanctification and deification to others. The words of Christ apply here: "Physician, heal thyself" (St. Luke 4:23).

The theologian is also a spiritual father, and the spiritual father is also a theologian. The theologian can distinguish between divine and satanic energies by virtue of his personal experience; he is aware of what illness and healing are, and how healing is achieved; he is familiar with the devil's wiles and the energy of divine grace, and is therefore able to guide his spiritual children along the path of deification (theosis).

These serious issues, which are the quintessence of the Orthodox ascetic and therapeutic method, are analyzed by Saint Dionysios the Areopagite and that great Father of the Church, Saint Gregory the Theologian.

We shall discuss four issues. The first section refers to the person of the spiritual father, the second expounds the fact that the spiritual father acts as father and mother, the third emphasizes that his task is to cure human beings, and the fourth explains how healing is achieved through Church's pastoral theology as expressed in the sacred Canons of the Local and Ecumenical Councils.


The person of the spiritual father occupies an important place in man's healing, his transformation and his change of direction away from the fallen state to which he was reduced after Adam and Eve's Fall, and towards sanctification and participation in the purifying, illuminating and deifying energy of God. Just as Moses and the Prophets acted as guides to the Israelites, and the Apostles directed people towards communion with God, so the spiritual father plays a significant role in our journey towards regeneration.

Someone who is familiar with this path is referred to in theological language as being 'deified'. This term is used by Saint Dionysios the Areopagite and many other Fathers of the Church. The deified person is someone who participates to varying degree in the experience of God's grace, especially God's deifying energy; he is someone who has communion with God. Since he has appropriate experience, he is able to guide others to attain to communion with God.

The same applies in human affairs. A good scientist, who is an expert in his field, is able, through observation, experiment and theory, to guide others to acquire secular knowledge. This happens in ecclesiastical matters as well. Those who are deified (the Saints) are spiritual scientists, who know God's grace by experience and have attained communion with Him.

A deified Saint is the highest expression of the person-hypostasis, in the Orthodox biblical and patristic sense. The Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Hebrews uses the phrase "beginning of the hypostasis" when referring to the man who strives gradually to participate more and more in Christ, Whom he received through Baptism. Such a one is also called deified. Saint Paul writes: "For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of the hypostasis steadfast unto the end" (Heb. 3:14). We become partakers of Christ through Holy Baptism and what matters is whether we manage to preserve and increase this beginning of the hypostasis to the very end.

Obviously the meaning of the person-hypostasis from the psychological and philosophical point of view is different from its theological meaning. According to the biblical and patristic tradition, experiencing the person-hypostasis has to do with being deified in varying degrees, and is a matter of God's revelation within man's heart.

According to Metropolitan John of Pergamos, "Man must acquire another hypostasis, which is superior to his biological hypostasis, and this comes about through Baptism and the Mysteria (sacraments) of the Church, particularly the Mysterion of the Divine Eucharist.

Finally there is also what is referred to as the hesychastic approach, which complements the ecclesiological approach, because participation in the Mysteria (sacraments) is not unconditional. The Church's hesychastic tradition helps man to liberate himself from the enslavement that the passions, created things and external forces in general wish to impose on him. This is achieved by the Church's method, comprising purification, illumination and deification. Saint Gregory Palamas, together with all the neptic Fathers, analyzes in his works how the nous breaks away from its subjection to reason, the passions and the surrounding world. Man acquires noetic prayer and is then lifted up to theoria. In this way he is led by God's grace from being in His image to being in His likeness, which constitutes man's perfection, in that he is united with God.

The ecclesiological approach to the subject of the person is naturally closely associated with the Mysteriaki (sacramental) and Asketiki Zoe (ascetic life). Asceticism and the sacraments together lead man to live ecclesiastically and bring to completion what he received when he was first created.

We should stress that 'human being' or 'man' (anthropos in Greek) is the scriptural term usually applied to the most excellent of God's creations, who was created "in the image" and "after the likeness" of God, and that a holy human being, a Saint, is described by the Fathers as "deified". It is in this sense of the deified Saint and his distinctive qualities that we can use the term 'person-hypostasis' for man from an Orthodox perspective, so as not to fall into anthropocentric, personalistic views about the person.

Please note: Hesychia means inner stillness, the peace of the heart, the undisturbed state of the nous. In the context of the Orthodox Church, hesychia is a complete science relating to thoughts, the heart and the senses.

Nous is the eye of the soul, the purest part of the soul. It is not the same as reason, which is another faculty of the soul. The adjective formed from nous is noetic meaning 'of the nous'.

Theoria: In the patristic tradition theoria is the illumination of the nous and the vision of the Glory of God, the Uncreated Light. Theoria is identified with man's union with God and deification (theosis). It is not 'contemplation' as understood in the West.

Hypostasis: The English version of this biblical passage reflects another meaning of the Greek word 'hypostasis', translating it as 'confidence'.

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George