Saint Isidore of Pelousion Mountain
TO COUNT HERMION:
That if the Priest does not live properly, the one he baptizes is not harmed in the least, in regard to the salvific Mysteries
Given that – as you have written – you are scandalized by the life of Presbyter Zosimos and you think that those who are baptized by him are harmed timely and inevitably, I considered it proper to respond very quickly to you, that those who are baptized are not harmed in regard to the salvific Symbols (Mysteries) if the Priest does live a proper life; rather, (for I must reassure you), they will savour those divine and way above every description benefactions, whereas the priest will be accountable far more insufferably for his life and will be tormented, according to the honour that was bestowed on him. For if he who has not become good, not even after being honoured with priesthood, is rightly worthy of greater punishment.
No-one, therefore, of those who were initiated in that divine ritual – which opens the heavens to the initiated – must think that they are directly harmed in regard to the symbols (Mysteries) of salvation; not even if they perhaps are at fault by imagining that they will have the priest’s life as an appealing witness. Of course I am saying these things, not because all priests are thus – God forbid! (although, there are those who have such misconducts but are absent from others; and, even if some have no virtues at all, nor are virtues absent from all priests), I merely wish to point out that even if all priests are thus, the one who is baptized by them is not by any means harmed.
But if you think these are merely people’s thoughts, I will try to reassure you with the divine words. Well, was there anything more detestable than Valaam? And yet, God had used his tongue in blessings. Also, was there anything more profane than Caiaphas? And yet, he prophesied, and while God’s grace may have touched his tongue, it did not touch his intention. And, if you want to learn of something even more paradoxical, it was a crow – that unclean bird – which brought sustenance in the desert to Elijah, who traversed the heavens.
Do not, therefore, doubt when divine and supernatural gifts are bestowed on certain sinful priests (because we should neither condemn them all, nor is it fair do so so)
ΤΟ ZOSIMOS – On the same matter.
I seriously wonder how – albeit not compelled by some example, or having someone to emulate (for I pray that no-one falls into such a deep pit, and also that you may recover from this destructive drunkenness) – you reproach priests who stand out for their virtues and are rich with spiritual achievements, with the impression that mocking the others constitutes an excuse for your own behaviour.
But that is not the way things are, dear friend; on the contrary, you are ridiculed by people and you are condemned by them, and you will also undergo many “punishments” by God, both for embracing meanness and for dishonoring virtue and reproaching those who are inmates of virtue and – because by acting like a drunkard you have reviled against priesthood, and as a result most people –if not all- have been scandalized by you, by thinking that they have suffered harm in regard to the Mysteries of salvation.
To rid yourself therefore of all these evils, which I pray you will do, you must get to “know thyself”.