Spiritual Priesthood

Current Study: Orthodox Psychotherapy: the Science of the Fathers by Metropolitan Hierotheos

I am currently studying this book as I also attend a Masters of Counseling program, and aim to discuss the book here as much as possible.

The previous entries to this blog are dedicated to priests and bishops as the primary healers within the church. We detailed the requirements and character that these priests should have in order to be effective healers.

However, as Saint Peter mentions in his first epistle, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession…” (1 Peter 2:9 NASB).

Not everyone is ordained as a priest to serve the Sacraments, however a spiritual priesthood belongs to all Christians, and we all have our role to play in bringing healing to ourselves and others.

There are many passages that can be examined showing how all believers have this spiritual priesthood and how we bring about healing with each other. “Bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2 NASB),  “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today’, so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin,” (Hebrews 3:13 NASB), “This I command you, that you love one another,” (John 15:17 NASB); “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another,” (Galatians 5:13 NASB).

As spiritual priests, we all have the commandments and obligations to each other to be there for each other as much as we are able. We may not all have the gifts of listening, discernment, or speaking with grace, but we all have someone in our lives that could benefit from our presence.

Whether we seek the assistance of an ordained priest or that of a fellow believer, we all need to search diligently for those who can help heal our nous, our souls.

St. Symeon encourages us to pray that God would reveal a spiritual father who would direct us well and who we should obey. When we have found such a spiritual father, we should have the same attitude towards him as the Apostles did to Christ. Our spiritual father may sin, and is far from blameless as Christ is, but in having found a worthy spiritual father, we should be willing to defend him, listen to him, obey him, and serve him diligently.

I particularly enjoyed the prayer that was quoted, attributed to St. Symeon;

O Lord, who desirest not the death of a sinner but that he should turn and live, Thou Who didst come down to earth in order to restore life to those lying dead through sin and in order to make them worthy of seeing Thee, the True Light, as far as that is possible to man, send me a man who knows thee, so that in serving Him and subjecting myself to him with all my strength, as to Thee, and in doing Thy will in his, I may be well-pleasing to thee, the only true God, and so that even I, a sinner, may be deemed worthy of Thy kingdom.

I know that as a future licensed counselor, I will be seeing many people who are sick at heart and mind. People who need the grace and mercy of God to be conducted through my words and action. I am not a perfect man, and I know that I cannot help everyone. My personal prayer is that I would be a person who, as a fellow believer, can fulfill the commandments of my Savior, just as I seek my own healer who can help me in the same way.

I am really enjoying this book because it is giving me such an incredible foundation on the problem of man and the need of a healer. Understanding this common problem is vital, I think, to the healing process. Not everyone who comes to me will be a brother or sister in Christ. I cannot speak of Christ to every person who comes into my office seeking my help. But I am grateful to Hierotheos for writing down not only his thoughts, but those of the Church Fathers, so that I can prepare myself in some small way to be utilized by God to bring healing to as many as I am blessed with.

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