IN those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. […]
But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel;
After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Jeremiah 31:29, 33-34
Elder Porphyrios the Kapsokalyvite (+1991) shows us the amazing truth behind these words.
THE errors, sins and passions are not solely experiences of the individual penitent.
Every man bears within himself also the experiences of his parents, and especially his mother, that is to say, how his mother lived her life when she was carrying him, whether she was worried, what she did, whether her nervous system was fatigued, whether she was happy, whether she was afflicted, whether she was depressed. Indeed, her whole nervous system affects the nervous system of her embryo.
That being the case, when the child is born and grows up, it brings with it the experiences of its mother, that is, of another person.
A state is created in a person’s soul on account of his parents, which he takes with him through his whole life, it leaves its stamp on him and lots of things that happen in his life are consequences of this state.
His patterns of behaviour have an immediate relationship with the state of his parents. He grows up, he changes, but he is not corrected.
Herein lies a great part of the responsibility for a person’s spiritual state.
There is, however, a secret – there is a way for someone to rid himself of this state.
This way is the general confession, which comes about through the grace of God.
It might be, for example, that your spiritual father says to you: I would like us to go to a quiet place, without anything to disturb us, and for you to tell me your life story from the beginning, from when you became self-aware, everything you can remember happening, and what your response to it was, not only the unpleasant things but also the pleasant, not only the sins but also the good things.
Both the successes, and the failures. Everything. Everything that goes to make up your life.
I have used this treatment on many occasions, and I have seen wonders come out of it.
During the time that you are telling these things to your confessor, divine grace comes and relieves you of all the bad experiences, and the wounds, and the traumas and guilt of the soul, because, during the time you are telling them, the confessor prays fervently to the Lord for your relief.
Some time ago, a lady came to me whom made confession of this sort, and found great benefit. Her psychological state improved, because something was tormenting her.
Then she sent a friend of hers, and we went outside to the cliffs at Kallisia [see pictures here]. We sat down, and she began to talk to me.
I said to her, “Tell me what you feel. If I ask you something, talk to me. If I don’t ask, go on talking, just as you feel things”.
Everything she told me, I did not simply follow with attention, but I “saw” within her spiritual world the influence of the prayer.
I followed her within her soul and I “saw” that grace had entered within her, even as I was watching. Because a grace lies within a spiritual father and a grace lies within a priest. Do you understand?
That is to say, while someone is making confession, the priest prays for him. At the same time, grace comes and liberates him from traumas of the soul which have tormented him for years, without him knowing the cause of them.
Oh, I believe these things very strongly. You can tell your spiritual father anything you feel, but this is not so important as that, as the priest prays, he sees within your soul, and sees how you are, and transmits to you the grace of God. It appears that this examination consists in spiritual “rays” that cure you and relieve you – do not think that they are natural rays.
These things are the truth. And what happened with Christ? The woman with the issue of blood put out her hand, and he said, “For I am aware that power has gone out from me”.
You’ll say, “Yes, but he was God!” Christ certainly was God, but didn’t the Apostles do the same? All spiritual fathers, all confessors, have this grace and when they pray, they emit it as if from electrical wires.
For example, we want to ignite a heater over here, and attach a cable, but cannot make a circuit because the cable is unplugged. If, however, the cable enters the plug, just to complete the circuit, the power comes through the electrical wires.
These are spiritual things of our religion. We could talk about a cable, but in reality it is “divine psychoanalysis.”
BECAUSE I kept silence, my bones waxed old, from my crying all the day.
For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: I became thoroughly miserable while a thorn was fastened in me. Pause.
I acknowledged my sin, and hid not mine iniquity: I said, I will confess mine iniquity to the Lord against myself; and thou forgavest the ungodliness of my heart.
Elder Porphyrios celebrating the Divine Liturgy in the Church of St Nicholas in Kallisia in 1977.