God loves a voluntary giver
Dear Fr. I.!
Batiushka, how is it that you do not hear God’s will for you, spoken by the head of the Church: “It means you’ll have to remain here!” It is all the more valuable having been pronounced without any judgment from one or another interested party. You correctly thought at that moment that the question was resolved. But then … then egoism and self-will began their underground work. While His Holiness [the Patriarch] repeatedly confirms what he said according to inspiration: “It’s better for you to stay here.” He is not demanding, nor persuading; he is waiting for your voluntary obedience to God’s will. There followed more warnings and calls to discernment—this was the illness which has stricken you. Neither does Vladyka bind your freedom, but waits for your voluntary decision (“Do not talk about specific lengths of time” [he says]; think about it).
God loves a voluntary giver. There, my dear Fr. I. Examination time has come for you, when you are tested over what you’ve learned during your time in monasticism, and whether you have learned anything at all.
Neither will you have my blessing. You yourself must listen to God’s will and joyfully bow your head beneath obedience. His Holiness has told you everything.
Not counsel with many, but much counsel with one
Forgive me magnanimously, but I do not see any need to insert my counsel between you and your spiritual father. Much good comes not of counsel with many, but of much counsel with one. The Lord has given you a spiritual father—bend your will to him and accept his counsels without judgment. If he is silent at your question, then wait and endure; the answer will come by the prayers of your spiritual father.
Dear Novice A. A.!
Some terrible, dark cloud of temptation has come over you. Do not try to play with words and meanings—God does not tempt anyone, but you are ascribing your present dark state of consciousness to Him.
My dear, you have long been in the Church, and if that is not enough, you are numbered amongst the Church clergy; if that is still not enough, you pronounced your desire for monasticism while your lawful spouse was still alive, and confirmed this desire after her repose, acquiring monastic garb and coming to our monastery with a request for tonsure.
And now a new pronouncement—about marriage, crossing out your many years of inward spiritual life.
But do you know, my dear bridegroom-grandpa, that according to the canons the Church cannot bless your marriage to E.? Any priest who disdains the canons performs a blasphemy. Although this is allowable by civil laws, it is not allowable by God’s law, and that means it is governed by God’s enemy. I pray that you would come to your senses and say goodbye to the idea of becoming the spouse of a lady who is young enough to be your daughter.
September 23, 2000