The Role of Pastor in a Post-Modern World

"The one who through obedience is placed in the position of spiritual director should possess not only the knowledge of the things of God, but experience so as not to misguide others. . ."

Originally appeared at: Ascending The Cross

“According to St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, the entire aim and goal of the spiritual life centers on the fact that man is called to ‘draw near to God and become one with Him’.[i]  This union is characterized as the “zenith” of the spiritual life and of Christian perfection. However, the union of God and man does not take place due to some philosophical or theoretical achievement, nor does it happen in a vacuum. Moreover, the spiritual life is not realized through individualistic effort that is confined to one’s own private encapsulated world, or efforts, or esoteric ascetic exercise that are splintered and cut off from the body of the Church.”[ii]

I feel it necessary to call out certain presuppositions before beginning the greater body of this article. It is so very easy for the world to creep into the daily life of an Orthodox Christian; a small concession here, a renovation of words or change of definitions to ease one outside of the protecting veil of the Church.

On Healing

The concept of healing in modernity concentrates almost exclusively on the physical person and rarely “heals”, but merely treats symptoms. When I speak of “healing”, I am not speaking of matters like broken bones, cuts, and/or bruises, of which medical practice has been proven to “heal” through various methods. Illnesses come in many forms and as the saying goes, not all wounds are visible. Our western medical system is founded upon the theory that germs are everywhere and they are communicable through various methods such as contact, vapor, and/or simply airborne. Furthermore, the theory of germs presents the case that all things must be sanitized, including the human person. Germ theory is completely secular and openly anti-Christ. Nowhere in this theory, or any other medical or scientific theory regarding healing is sin the foundation of all illness nor the therapeutic and salvific salve of the Church and the incarnational reality of the sacramental life mentioned.

How then, can one be healed if the cause of one’s illness is not addressed? This is what I mean when I say our modern healthcare system centers on treating symptoms and not on healing the psychosomatic person. Instead of identifying the cause of one’s illness and treating it accordingly, doctors rely on human wisdom and quite frankly trial and error to “heal”. This has given birth to many issues in our lifetime some of which could be classified as epidemic in proportion. From addiction to pharmaceutical drugs, experimental gene therapies carried on the unsuspecting public, and the worst of all, destruction of human life in the womb and the use of aborted human cells for the development of “treatments”. In what world is the destruction of human life in exchange for the life of another acceptable?

In contrast, the Orthodox Christian faith which accurately identifies the cause of human suffering is known to heal infirmities of soul and body. This healing is known as a “therapeutic science”. Orthodox Christianity is a revelation to mankind and not simply a human way of thinking as suggested by philosophy. Nor is it simply an experimental mixing of physical elements to produce a “medicine”. The therapeutic science of the Orthodox Christian “faith refers especially to the hesychastic and neptic tradition, which is the basic pre-condition for participating in the Sacraments and acquiring knowledge of God.”  If the Church possesses healing for mankind, why then do not all run to the Church for healing? Where is the evidence of those who have been healed by this “therapeutic science”? Sin simultaneously is the cause of our illness and our rejection of He who is the cure for all of mankind and Who is found in His Church.

The Church is divided into the sick, those who are undergoing therapeutic treatment, and those Saints who have already been healed. Fr. John Romanides of blessed memory says, “The Fathers do not categorize people as moral or immoral or good or bad on the basis of moral laws. This division is superficial. At depth, humanity is differentiated into the sick of soul, those being treated, and those cured. All who are not in a state of illumination are sick in soul. It is not good will, good resolve, moral practice, and devotion to the Orthodox Tradition which make an Orthodox, but also purification, illumination, and glorification. These stages of treatment are the purpose of the mystical life of the Church, as the liturgical texts bear witness.”[iii]  I will add here that the Saints of the Church bear witness to Christ and are the shining stars of the therapeutic science of the Church.

Finally, there is the very reality of those who seek healing and find it in the Church but are not always healed of their physical ailments. Rather, they are transformed by the renewing of their minds and prove what is the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.[iv]  That is, after becoming illumined begin to experience the healing grace of God’s mercy and come to the knowledge of that which is most important; that Christ Jesus came so that we may have life and have it more abundantly.  They who are being healed and are being transformed soon experience that this life is not all there is and the Kingdom of Heaven is our reality. Thus, being healed for healing sake is no longer the focus as one who simply wants to live to an old age simply to avoid death and/or for the partaking of pleasures, but union with our Lord God is the means by which healing begins and leads one to be deified. This is the basic teaching of the New Testament, that the Church is therapeutic and seeks to heal men’s souls, which torment them.

On Fear

St. Silouan the Athonite says, “The Apostles walked the earth, speaking to the peoples concerning the Lord and the Kingdom of Heaven. But their souls wearied and thirsted to behold their beloved Lord, and therefore they had no fear of death but met death gladly, and if they were content to live on earth, it was only for the sake of the people whom their love had gone out. The Apostles loved the Lord, wherefore they feared no suffering. They loved the Lord, and they loved the people, and this love removed all fear from them. They feared neither suffering nor death, and for this reason the Lord sent them out into the world to enlighten men.”[v]  “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.”[vi] 

The love that guided the Holy Apostles is the same love that our Holy Fathers possessed when they, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, pursued Him who is Love with their entire being and having been illumined and purified, bearing witness to the Kingdom of Heaven while still walking the earth were glorified in Christ as a testament to the healing of the Church. This same Love is present in the grace of the ordination of the priesthood and for those who, for the love of God take on this blessed burden and love those whom God has entrusted to them reap the reward which is the greatest gift any man can possess; to see men illumined, purified, and by the mercy of God, glorified.

Though the Holy Apostles had Love for God and for mankind, they also possessed a glorifying fear. The fear which is the beginning of knowledge and leads one in wisdom and instruction.[vii]  “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.”[viii]  While the goal of Orthodox Christianity is union with God, this involves the guiding of men in the departure from evil. In the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church, this guiding generally comes from the priest who is the shepherd of the local parish. This local priest in no way surpasses the local bishop who is the chief shepherd over a region and is likewise the guide of the regional flock. However, it is not possible for the bishop to be at every local parish and thus the bishop entrusts the local parish flock to the priest ordained under his omophorion. Still, others can and often offer pastoral guidance within the local community such as the ordained deacons and lay teachers. Parents teaching and guiding their children, godparents, and so on. “With fear of God, faith and love draw near.”[ix]  This is where I wish to begin, with reflections on the application of pastoral theology in my ministry.

“Do not, because of human weakness, hasten through or cut short the prayers, neither try to please persons, but look only toward the King who is present and the hosts of angels that surround Him.”[x]  While these commandments speak almost exclusively to the divine services it is certainly not a stretch to apply these to one’s daily life. I often reflect on another of St. Basil the Great’s commandments which prompts me to remember in whose presence I stand. As a deacon, I have the honor of serving God by serving His priest(s) at the Holy Altar and assist in ministering to those in need; the sick, the suffering, and the needy poor. These areas of duty by no means constitute the borders of ministry.

Encountering Pastoral Theology

“For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”[xi] 

When I first came to the gates of the Church, I recognized that it is first authentic and secondly that it possessed tools for the salvation of mankind. Additionally, I recognized that the journey towards Christ was tangible, and that action was needed on my behalf in order that I might acquire this most precious of gifts. This is not to say that salvation is earned, but rather that it must be attained otherwise it can be lost. Just as one who is full of energy and excitement at the start of a journey soon becomes tired and loses sight of his destination, so too the Orthodox Christian must learn to remember the hope of his victories when he descends into the valleys of suffering. I am he who began with zeal only to collapse a short time into the journey, being dragged through the mud and mire of my many sins and my passions rushing in to “rescue me” and bring me back to my base, the beginning. It was here where I first began to experience the role of pastor in my parish priest and father confessor. Fr. M., having Baptized and Chrismated myself, my wife, and daughters, almost immediately became like a father to me. I felt comfortable pouring out my deepest wounds and hurts to him. He was never harsh, but firm with the seriousness of the passions which had deeply rooted themselves in me. One particularly difficult time in my many struggles, I saw father in his office and knocked on his door. He bid me to enter, and I closed the door behind. Barely a moment after the door had closed my eyes began to well up with tears and I scarcely produced the words, “Fr., I don’t understand how God can love me?” before collapsing into the chair in front of his desk, sobbing like an injured child. He sat back in his chair, pushed a box of tissues towards me, and sighed. “It’s pride”, he said with a pained look on his face. “You think you are so different than everyone else, but you are not. God loves all of mankind and you… are of mankind.”

It was at this precise moment that I realized just how small the “eye of the needle” is and that not all things which I perceive as “riches” indeed hold monetary value or any value at all. The gate of entry into the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Faith is truly very small, “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”[xii]  I am not speaking of the physical presence of the Church, the temple, and its location. I am speaking of the noetic path of salvation. For one to “enter in” to this path, one must bow lower than one has ever bowed before. The “key” which opens this gate is humility and lest one bow low in mind, body, and soul, he will miss it! If humility is the “key” of entry, then love is the “food” which sustains one on the path. This of course is Christ Jesus Himself who offers and is offered.

After this encounter with Fr. M., I began frequent confession and counseling, both with father and with a therapist at the advice of father. These together with the Holy Mysteries, prayer, and fasting began to loosen the rootbound weeds of my many passions. I tell you this, not for boasting in “my efforts”, but to reveal that Christ Jesus is faithful to restore us, his most beloved creation to Himself. So then, like the psalmist, I echo the words, “My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof and be glad.”[xiii]

The life of my first priest and father confessor was such that encountering him stirred the aspirations for repentance. For me, his spiritual son, he became a welcoming father whom no matter my sin, guided me back to Christ and dispensed the medicine necessary. As St. John Chrysostom, “Let no one despair, because the medicine of repentance is potent”[xiv], saving me from despair and encouraging me on the path, to not look back since that is where I had come from and not where I was going. It was through these encounters that my soul began to thirst for the Lord and a yearning unlike I had ever experienced swelled inside me.

After visiting the St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood monastery in Northern California and venerating the grave of Blessed Seraphim Rose, I found myself contemplating serving our Lord, my Christ. I even asked a close monastic friend “how one knows if he is being called to be clergy”. Pausing, he stared off in the distance and then replied, “ask your priest.” Upon returning, I asked and was given a very clear answer; “We don’t know. However, there is a ‘beginning’ and a ‘destination’ and one must begin somewhere. This, of course, is not a guarantee of ordination, only that there is work to do and one must begin.” After this, we discussed my current education which made clear the path I would take, and father asked if I would serve in the holy altar as an altar server. This relationship with Fr. M., revealed to me exactly what St. Gregory the Great speaks of when he says, “That a spiritual director should be discerning in silence and profitable in speech”[xv], for Fr. M. said what needed to be said to me in truth and in love, not fearing to lose my favor. He gave me bitter medicine which indeed was bitter but knowing that it would begin to free me from the grips of my egotism.

Another encounter which made a significant impact on me was with my second parish priest, Fr. P. My wife and I purchased a home which by God’s mercy was affordable, but also further away from our established parish. However, a mere twenty minutes from our new home was a small Orthodox community which had been birthed by a very prominent parish in the same county. We began attending there and found a home parish that was welcoming and contained those who were interested in repentance. I was given the blessing of my first father confessor, Fr. M to confess to this new parish priest, Fr. P. It was not long before I encountered the mercy of God and the grace of the ordination in this man. Having come to him for counseling at a time when God was breaking the bones of my earthly foundation, in tears I stood facing father. He looked at me as if peering into my soul and with tears welling up in his eyes, he smiled at said, “Do not worry my dear, I will walk with you.” This encounter, imprinted on my soul the reality of life in the Kingdom of God. Very real men, who are not perfect, but are being purified, and have dedicated themselves to being instruments upon which the Lord strums and plucks healing and salvific notes. These notes throughout time constitute a glorious and jubilant symphony which together with the seraphim and cherubim surrounds the throne of God ceaselessly glorifying the King of All. In this relationship with Fr. P, I experienced what St. Gregory the Great highlights when he says, “That the spiritual director be a humble companion to the good and firm in the zeal of righteousness against the vices of sinners”[xvi], for when he counseled me, he did so with surgical precision. And when the counseling transitioned to confession, he seized upon me not with harsh correction, for he had guided me to a place of brokenness, but instead lifted me up with the wisdom of the Holy Fathers and gently restored me to my feet whereby I would walk again with zeal towards the Lord.

I am hesitant to mention this next encounter, only because of the personal nature by which I experienced it. However, this too is important when speaking of pastoral encounters. Before having Fr. M as a confessor or Fr. P, I was a catechumen who by God’s mercy was shown the gates of His authentic Church. A close friend of mine, now a priest, who only a few years prior had been Baptized and Chrismated invited me on a pilgrimage to a monastery in the Arizona desert. I had never heard of St. Anthonys Greek Orthodox Monastery nor of its elder Geronda Ephraim and his spiritual son Geronda Paisios. My orthodox world was small but budding and my experience of such things was non-existent. Arriving very early in the morning we were welcomed and escorted to a sleeping quarter that resembled a military-style bunkhouse. We were given instructions about service times and meals and then blessed to repose in the early hours of the beautiful Arizona desert. We awoke from our nap with vigor and excitement to explore the monastery grounds and experience the fruits of monasticism, which I had only read about until this time. As a catechumen, there were certain things which I should have observed but did not simply because I did not know at the time. For instance, I should not have eaten during the time when all the fathers were eating. Nor should I have been in the catholicon when the Holy Eucharist was brought out and offered to the faithful. By God’s mercy, I was ushered out by my dear brother during holy communion so as to avoid scandalizing anyone.

One night as we entered the catholicon for midnight hours, the fathers and pilgrims alike lined up to enter the space where only the monastic typically go. My brother ushered me into line quietly whispering something which in my anxiousness I did not hear. As I rounded the episcopal throne, I saw those in front of me making a metania and receiving a blessing from someone. I was next, so I emulated those who went before me and made a low bow. As I raised my crossed hands my eyes met his, Geronda Ephraim, the abbot of the monastery. What my eyes perceived can only be realized in the fullness of our faith. His face was beaming with light as though it was coming from within his being and his face was merely a window. I lowered my head and lips to meet his hand and receive his blessing. His skin was soft as if he had never toiled with his hands and it carried this scent which I had never smelled before. Since then, I have encountered this heavenly scent in the various holy myrrh’s I have smelled. Time felt as if it stood still and the sounds of all around me faded into the background. I lifted my eyes once again to see this holy elder who stood before me. He smiled and placing his hand upon my head, gently ruffled my hair, and then blessed me again with the sign of the cross.

There in the dimly lit catholicon of St. Anthonys Monastery where the chanting of the fathers lifted our hearts to the throne, I encountered in Geronda a soul which had ascended. He through his earthly life had toiled, struggled, and destroyed by the mercy of God those things which keep a man from union with God. Having been illumined and purified I experienced a man who no longer dwelled here but who spent his days among the heavenly and holy things of God. The remainder of our pilgrimage is a blur to me, but I remember this encounter as if it were moments ago. Subsequent pilgrimages to the monastery yielded the same experience in encountering the elder. He would always place his hand on my head and ruffle my hair, smiling that soft and innocent smile which made the cares of the world disappear, his face always illumined with light from within.

During the early morning hours on the day of his repose (December 7, 2019), I was aroused from sleep suddenly and found a text on my phone informing me of this blessed sadness. Feeling simultaneous sadness and joy soon left me drowsy and I drifted off to sleep. What followed in my sleep was unexplainable except that in the context of our faith these things become encouragement for those of us who are left here in this life to toil and struggle towards union with God. In short, I found myself in what appeared to be a large catholicon which was filled with the faithful. As the moments passed a woman came rushing in sobbing and exclaiming that Geronda had fallen asleep in the Lord. Much like a scene in a motion picture, this scene faded to black and when the scene resumed, I found myself in what felt like a small monastic cell. There were many around me venerating Geronda who lay on a small cot covered in some type of fabric. As I approached to venerate him, my tears flowed easily from my eyes. Kissing his hand and then his forehead I fell back to my knees and looked upon him. He opened his eyes and then proceeded to rise and walk over to a dresser or closet. Returning to his original spot, he laid back down and then turned to me with that familiar smile. Blessing me, he said in perfect English, “I am giving you long underwear.” He then proceeded to close his eyes and sleep in our Lord Jesus Christ. I told no one of this dream for at least a month. My wife then told me to write it down in detail so that I would not forget any of the details, which I immediately did. After telling my father confessor at the time, Fr. M, he chuckled and said, “you know what long underwear is, don’t you?” “I think so”, I replied. “What priests wear under their vestments is referred to sometimes as long underwear, but the more common name is sticharion (Greek: στιχάριον).” (For reference, I was serving behind iconostasis as an altar server at the time.) It was through these encounters with Geronda Ephraim of thrice blessed memory that I saw clearly what St. Gregory the Great says, “That the spiritual director is to be pure in thought”[xvii], for the hands of Geronda Ephraim were cleansed and his life bore witness to this in that he carried many living vessels, that is, his spiritual children, into eternity with his prayers and intercessions. I bear witness to this, not as his spiritual child, but as one who experienced the cleanliness of his hands (spiritually and physically) and the blessing of being touched by a righteous and upright man of God.

November 1st, 2020, I was ordained to the holy diaconate by our Metropolitan at the parish which my family attends regularly. Only four years prior we had moved to the Inland Northwest, in Washington state and after searching for a parish encountered this little parish on the plains. It was here at this parish that the Lord made known to me that I was afraid; afraid of what others would think of me if they found out truly the person I am; an unprofitable servant of the most high God. Within four days of this encounter, the Lord once again made it known that I was to stop “running”. I knew instantly what this meant and with tears, I prayed that His will be done. For years I had been running from that which I knew deep down I was being called to; to serve. All of this happened within the first two weeks of our visit to the parish. We had not yet even spoke much with the priest or established acquaintances in the parish and yet I found myself confessing these things to Fr. M. directly after the divine liturgy. He was thrilled that I wanted to serve and asked where I would like to be, Chanting, choir, behind the iconostasis, etc. I respectfully replied, “Father, you will have to tell me where you need me otherwise, I will likely keep running!” He looked at me and smiled and said, “why don’t you serve with me behind the iconostasis. I could use the help.”

Only a year and a half after we purchased our home in Washington, my wife and I found ourselves confessing to one another that we needed to sell and move closer to our new community. There was no doubt among us that this is what we needed to do, knowing that all things are the Lord’s, and we are stewards.

On the Application of Pastoral Theology

Diakonissa has mentioned to me in the past that I have been “pastoring” for years, only without the cassock or the grace of the ordination. I say this certainly, not to boast in myself, but in that where God guides, He also provides. Even before I was an Orthodox Christian, people would confess things to me, some deeply personal and soul-shattering. I always wondered why? For there was nothing that I had to offer them as a comfort, only to nod in understanding and/or embrace if it were proper. Serving seemed to be the right point of entry for both destroying my ego and helping where there was needed help. Serving God does not begin when one puts on a cassock or even a vestment, these are merely garments which serve to hide the unworthy man so that focus can be rightly directed to God. As a wise mentor of mine once said, “Vestments do not make the man, the man makes the vestments.” This is to say, that a humble and repentant man clothed in the garment of salvation who serves at the Holy Altar wears the garments designated him worthily and brings honor to the office for which he holds.

Serving God begins with serving in the home. If one cannot serve in his own house those whom God has entrusted to him, how then can one serve in the house of God? He will bring dishonor to both while not fulfilling the command to love God and his neighbor as himself. Serving one’s own house must be acted upon with humility and sacrifice, for there can be no love without sacrifice. Many desire to lead, teach, and be in positions of spiritual authority, but lack the experience needed to righteously lead. As St. Gregory the Theologian says, “No one presumes to teach an art that he has not first mastered through study.”[xviii]  “If the blind lead the blind, then both fall into the pit.”[xix]  St. Gregory the Great puts forth the qualities that should be present in one who should spiritually lead, beginning with, “He must be a model for everyone.”[xx]  He must be devoted to the example of good living, dead to the passions of the flesh, living a spiritual life, with no regard for worldly prosperity, never cowering in the face of adversity, but desiring the internal life and not allowing his intentions to be thwarted by the frailty of the body nor repelled by the abused of the spirit. He must forgive quickly, but not indiscriminately. Suffer the afflictions of others as if they were his own and rejoice at the benefit of his neighbor as though it were happening to him. He should, by God’s mercy be so filled with the living water that he is able to water the arid hearts of his neighbors.

I am the most unprofitable servant of God, but I know my master. I sin, fall down, but get up and continue forward because I know that this world (and the passions) are death.[xxi]  In all things I seek union with God and to bring Him glory. This begins with who I am (truly) and ends with me being fully realized in Him. That is to say, I am first and foremost eternal, created in His image to become in His likeness. I cannot become like him if I desire to be “me” first. I can only serve one master and there is no room for my will if I wholly commit myself to His. Therefore, pastorally, I seek to love God and others, placing His will above all. When I speak to others regarding the things of the Kingdom of Heaven, I try not to speak of my own opinion, but with the voice of the holy fathers and mothers, for this is the Phronema of the Church, in them is found conciliarity. When I act, I try to act considering the virtues, whether I possess them or not, not pretending or deceiving myself or others, but acting as though I am standing before the Lord, and he is judging me. When I listen, I try to listen with intent, not responding out of my own desire to interject my own thoughts, but praying internally, quietly, and with patience until such a time when a response is called for. When I read, I try to apply all things to myself first and foremost, not thinking to myself, “so and so needs to read this or that”. There are times when it is appropriate to mention the things I have read to others. When I pray, I try to pray only that God have mercy on me, not for “such and such”, but simply, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” God’s providence governs all things, so I do not seek to interject myself, but await His timing and if He provides, then I speak, act, listen, read, and pray.

Unless a man experience that which he wishes to preach or teach, he does so with intellectual knowledge only and thus inexperience. The one who through obedience is placed in the position of spiritual director should possess not only the knowledge of the things of God, but experience so as not to misguide others. The one who through obedience is placed in the position of spiritual director knows that pastoral theology is not a philosophy, an intellectual discipline, or a methodology which when applied reaps certain and repeatable results. Pastoral theology is the very real action of guiding those in the way of the incarnational reality of Jesus Christ who by His Church, illumines, purifies, and deifies those who desire union with Him. It is in essence, helping the faithful both individually and communally[xxii] to live and die well amid the confusion of this world +


[i] Unseen Warfare, 13

[ii] “It is in the mysteries, and especially in the divine Eucharist, that the wonderous possibility is offered for the unique and true union of men”. Anestis Keselopoulos, “Loneliness as an Existential and Pastoral Problem”, Propositions of Pastoral Theology (Thessaleniki: P. Pournaras, 2003) 304.

[iii] J. Romanides, Jesus Christ the life of the world, published in ‘Xenia Oecumenica’, Helsinki 1983, 39, pg. 250-251

[iv] Romans 12:2 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%2012:2&version=KJV

[v] St. Silouan the Athonite, “Concerning the Shepherds of Souls”, pg.399

[vi] 1 John 4:18 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20John%204%3A18&version=KJV

[vii] Proverbs 1:7 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs%201%3A7&version=KJV

[viii] Proverbs 16:6 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs%2016%3A6&version=KJV

[ix] Offering of the Eucharist during the Divine Liturgy

[x] From the Commandments of St. Basil the Great to priests (Liturgikon)

[xi] Luke 18:25 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%2018%3A25&version=KJV

[xii] Matthew 7:14 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%207%3A14&version=KJV

[xiii] Psalm 34:2 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2034%3A2&version=KJV

[xiv] St. John Chrysostom, On Acts, 24, 3, pg. 60, 188

[xv] St. Gregory the Great, The Book of Pastoral Rule, pg.54

[xvi] St. Gregory the Great, The Book of Pastoral Rule, pg.61

[xvii] St. Gregory the Great, The Book of Pastoral Rule, pg.49

[xviii] St. Gregory the Great, book of pastoral rule, pg.29 (Gregory the Theologian, Apology for his flight to Pontus (Or 2))

[xix] Matthew 15:14 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+15%3A14&version=KJV

[xx] St. Gregory the Great, book of pastoral rule, pg.43

[xxi]   St. Isaac the Syrian, The World, (7th Century) – “The world” is the general name for all the passions. When we wish to call the passions by a common name, we call them the world. But when we wish to distinguish them by their special names, we call them passions. The passions are the following: love of riches, desire for possessions, bodily pleasure from which comes sexual passion, love of honor which gives rise to envy, lust for power, arrogance and pride of position, the craving to adorn oneself with luxurious clothes and vain ornaments, the itch for human glory which is a source of rancor and resentment, and physical fear. Where these passions cease to be active, there the world is dead…. Someone has said of the Saints that while alive they were dead; for though living in the flesh, they did not live for the flesh. See for which of these passions you are alive. Then you will know how far you are alive to the world, and how far you are dead to it.”

[xxii] St. Gregory the Great, The Book of Pastoral Rule, “Diversity in the Art of Preaching”, pg.88-89

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