屬靈父親，是屬於教會的制度 (institution)，絕大多數是由神父來擔任，好讓他也能在懺悔聖事中賜允基督徒教會的寬恕。他也可能是男修院院長或女修院院長 (但因為女修院院長不是神父，因此她會建議屬靈子女請神父舉行懺悔聖事)。
In the orthodox church, it is very clear the difference between the spiritual father and the god-parents. but sadly , some orthodox , (not from Chinese origin), they use the above words with a confusing way , in order to CONTROL people and to USE them , for their own purposes, which can be, to make the church nationalistic or to take advantage of them.
So we make clear for our Chinese people the words “spiritual father” and “god father mother” or “god parents”
–“spiritual father” is the person who has the very holy mission to provide guidance to a christian to the spiritual life.
it cannot be everybody. it is a HOLY JOB THAT THE CHURCH GIVES, appoints , to a very spiritual person so that he can listen, understand and guide the christian to live as the church teaches.
the spiritual father , is an institution ( 機構 ) of the church, and mostly a priest so that he can also grand the forgiveness of the church to the christian. He is the abbot or the abbess of a monastery (but the abbess , because she is not priest, she will advice her spiritual child to confess to a priest)
The spiritual child must open ALL his/her life to the spiritual father (or director) . not only the sins , but the attitudes for the life , everything , so that the spiritual director will give him/her a good advice. as today the people open their hearts and secrets to the doctor or the psychologist , by the same way must do to the spiritual father.
if somebody wants to have a spiritual father , he must follow his advice, and he must trust him. this is the way to be humble and to start opening himself , not be self oriented any more.
it is different to confess, and different to have a spiritual father.
the spiritual guidance is a gift of the holy spirit , INSIDE THE CHURCH, and it is not for anybody to become spiritual father , or spiritual child. many people because they confess they think that they have spiritual father , but not really. because they do not want to take advice and guidance.
of course, if somebody wants to become a monk, he must first find a spiritual father and obey to him.
The spiritual father has very great responsibility for his child. i write “child” and not solder or servant. because the real servant -but inside his heart is the spiritual father, who “serves” and guides the other.
the spiritual father respects , -even the child is not mature always to understand this- the personality , of his spiritual child. he tries to find ways to help him how to cultivate and increase the TALENTS Matt. 25:15 that god gave to this child.
-and finally the child will grow up Eph. 4:13 and he can help others, as the church will appoint him.
–god parents are the members of the church who help practically somebody to ENTER to the church, by the baptism or to live the christian life by the Marriage.
it is better to be a couple , but if this is not easy, one man or woman is enough . the God parents:
-HELP the person to enter to the christian church
-Introduce him/her to the church officially (to the priest) and they give witness that he/she really wants to be baptized or married.
–ask of the church to TEACH them. the church , the local priest appoints the CATHEHIST , (which a lower degree of priesthood) to teach correctly, and finally the priest teaches and examines the correct faith of the person to be baptized .
-the godparents represent the christian community during the service of baptism and marriage. this is why they help the priest and imitate some movements of the priest, like to put oil on the person to be baptized, give him cross , exchange the crowns, BUT THEY DO IT SILENTLY and the priest gives them the things, (crowns oil, cross)
– the godparents become family with the god-children (so they cannot marry their god children, neither their kids can be married each other). they help them economically or by any other way to face the difficulties of life.
it is very dangerous to CONFUSE THE GOD-PARENTSHIP with the spiritual fatherhood.
the god parent CAN NOT BE SPIRITUAL FATHER (exceptt he is priest) CAN NOT SAY TO OTHER HOW TO PRAY OR WHEN AND HOW OFTEN TO RECEIVE THE HOLY COMMUNION etc….
if he does this, he creates a false church, a fake spirituality. if he does not leads his child to the church, he splits the church.
i have seen this, people who for nationalistic reasons take advantage of the good attitude of the Chinese (who, of course, do not know those things) and try to guide them spiritually. it is easy for Chinese to reveal them, to understand their game, if they see that they do that secretly of the local church and the appointed priest. for those is what Jesus said.
Matt. 23:15 「你們這假冒為善的文士和法利賽人有禍了！因為你們走遍海洋陸地， 說服一個人入教， 既入了教， 卻使他成為比你們加倍壞的地獄之子。