Unfortunately, we are people, I use the first person plural with all honesty, who accept the title of Geronda or we present ourselves as Gerondas without having spiritual gifts; without having the actual experience of spiritual life. Quite often we become murderers of souls. You’ll most likely ask me “Don’t criteria exist? Do you terrify all the faithful, Fr.George?”
No. I believe that there are many Elders with the grace of the Holy Spirit. In the humbleness and in the love which they have, the grace that they bear is visible and perceptible. What, if you’ll allow me, is the criterion of a true Geronda?
The criterion is that they do not project their own will but the will of God: this appears in the Holy Scriptures, in the Fathers, in the councils, and in the unique and living tradition of the Church. For this reason I stress and say many times that I’m not a spiritual father because I have not reached that state of illumination.
On the other hand, since I have the grace of God in the priesthood, I’m obliged to become a spiritual father for those who seek my guidance. How? Teaching – this is why I studied and I continue to study -the tradition of the Church.
Because whoever puts forth the tradition of our saints, even if they have not reached the state of spiritual illumination, even being incomplete and unworthy through the grace of God, becomes a spiritual father. This happens through reflection and participation, since he doesn’t teach his own things but the teaching of the saints of our tradition.
The person who is not a true spiritual father is that person who occupies himself with things that project his own sinful will.
Taken from Elder Porphyrios: Testimonies and Experiences, p. 70