22 October 2018 at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox humanitarian University (pstgu), chaired by the head of the Synodal Department for Church charity and social service of the Bishop of Orekhovo-Zuevo Panteleimon held a pastoral seminar on “the Spiritual life of the priest: practical issues of pastoral asceticism,” according patriarhiei.
The seminar was organized by the chief editor of the Publishing house of the Moscow Patriarchate Bishop Balashikha Nikolay, rector of St. Tikhon’s University, Archpriest Vladimir Vorobiev, Dean of the Theological faculty of St. Tikhon’s University and a doctor of theology Archpriest Paul Hondzinsky.
Opening the meeting, Bishop Panteleimon recalled that the main thing in Church life is the joy of communion with God: “Sometimes the priest is preparing for the priesthood as a body of knowledge. But first and foremost the pastor must be attached to the spiritual world, must navigate it, know what virtues are and how they appear in the soul, recognize their passions, the devil’s temptations and be able to deal with them”.
Bishop Nicholas, in his speech shared his observations about what prevents the priest on his spiritual journey: “One of the pastoral diseases, which few people will pass from the clergy is sladostrastno. When a person is ordained, he usually has no experience, and it relies on the theoretical knowledge that was given in Seminary, and read in books. But if the theory is not felt, not through suffering, that no advice of the priest, no penance will not work for one reason — you yourself did it? Are you ready for it? The challenge is to sympathize with the man, Upadesa in sin, learn to love the sinner and hate the sin, says St Isaac the Syrian”.
In continuation of this topic, Bishop Panteleimon noted that there is another side of the problem — when the priests, on the contrary, do not wish to participate in the life of his flock and to understand their problems, distancing from responsibility and closing from the people.
Continuing his speech, Bishop Nicholas remarked that in our days the devil is most successful fighting on the field of carnal passions: “We need to keep the youth clean, otherwise who will come after us? If we manage to preserve was bequeathed to us the purity and renounce what the world offers, is a major victory.”
The social network, according to Bishop, are one of the dangers for modern people: “many mobile phone occupies a significant portion of time, free from the immediate activity. Active use of the media it is impossible not to the detriment of spiritual life.”
Bishop Nicholas said that the unity among the priests, and their openness to each other will help to solve many problems arising among the clergy.
Archpriest Vladimir Vorobiev, in his speech talked about the danger of the passion of avarice and means of dealing with it: “the love of money completely distorts the spiritual image of a priest, makes him unfit for service. Our people are ready to forgive the priest’s many sins, but he does not forgive anger, irritability and avarice. When it becomes clear that the priest does something only for money, credibility is lost; the disinterestedness of the priest — a prerequisite for service.”
Father Vladimir recalled Archimandrite Cyprian (Kern), who in his book “the Orthodox pastoral Ministry” speaks about the signs of vocations to the priesthood. One of the signs that the person is not called to the priesthood, is his indifference to money.
The question of nestyazhateli priests supported the Archbishop Panteleimon: “When the elder paisija Athos asked, what should be the priest, he said — necropolises. If the priest is necropolis, he will love people, and through their prayers he may obtain other spiritual gifts.”
After talking about the spiritual dangers workshop participants shared their views about what helps the priest in his spiritual life.
Many of the priests, as noted by Bishop Nicholas, concerned about the problem of chronic fatigue. Combining various administrative positions and daily during the divine Liturgy, Bishop Nicholas firmly convinced that “we will not be healthier and stronger if we are to feel sorry for oneself at the expense of someone’s spiritual needs, there are things that cannot be postponed and transferred, for example, confession and communion of a sick person. If the priest with all diligence is given to this essential service, the strength does not diminish, but increase.”
In addition, Bishop Nicholas noted that many of the problems of the shepherd and the flock will be resolved easier when the prayerful attitude.
Concluding the first part of the meeting, Archpriest Paul Hondzinsky stopped on the meaning of ascetic practice for a priest: “the Rules and positions are needed in order for us not to lose themselves in the world, to remind ourselves that we are of God. The shepherd must measure our spiritual life, not based on what is around, and on the basis of the gospel.”
Answering the question, what works of ascetic literature, the priest should pay special attention to father Paul focused on the writings of St. Theophan the Recluse: “Of the saints, which will help to understand the priest, what is spiritual life, have particularly noted of St. Theophan, which accumulated teaching of the ancient fathers of monasticism. He was able to read them not as a doctrine about the person living in the monastery in the desert, and as the doctrine of man in General, and with amazing subtlety and depth outlined it for us. This is one of the best teachings in our lives today — and for ourselves and for our flock.”
In the second part of the seminar was the discussion of the questions raised by the participants and received from portal users “Shepherd”.
Workshop materials after they are processed will be published on the portal for priests “Pastor”.