This prayer was performed in a convent in the Vyatka region of Russia during the winter of 2012. Every day in the evening a group of novices, lay workers, and pilgrims circled the convent in a procession. They bore icons and sang prayers to the Mother of God. The purpose of this prayer was to protect the convent from enemies—both visible and invisible. After that, the group asked the angels and the saints to come to their aid and in the end one person read aloud the prayer for the spiritual father, the priest who serves as confessor for the convent. A fragment of this prayer is heard here: the faithful ask to strengthen their spiritual father physically and spiritually, to reveal to him the sins of his followers and to save them by his prayers.
This prayer shows the complex social relationship implied in intercession: the believers ask God to strengthen the prayers of their spiritual father, but also acknowledge that God hears them only thanks to his prayerful support.
This community of pilgrims and monastics is built around the belief that some people are marked by special gifts from God. Such a person can see other people’s sins, and the weak in faith are saved by his prayers. These spiritual gifts are freely given by God, not caused by merits of the person. The main objective of ordinary people is to find their spiritual father and to live close to him under his spiritual intercession. Regarded as a living saint, the spiritual father becomes responsible for the souls his charges and would be responsible for their sins before God. The quote from the prayer says: “My Lord, you have joined us on earth, do not separate us in Thy Heavenly Kingdom.” The connection between the spiritual father and his children continues after death.
English translation of the recorded prayer:
Save, O Lord, and have mercy on our spiritual father and forgive him all our sins, do not condemn him because of our sinful life, increase in him spiritual gifts, reveal to him all our sins, and grant him wisdom, prayer and love, and for the sake of his holy prayers forgive our sins, increase our virtues, and send down on us abundant grace. O Lord, preserve him by day and by night, overcome his corporal and incorporeal enemies, and deliver him from visible and invisible enemies, save him from flatterers and unrighteous men. Keep also his flock from sin, grant that in repentance we may come to a quiet and peaceful life and by repentance enter paradise.
O Lord, visit and encourage him, heal him from disease and grant him many years, for the sake of us sinners. O Sweetest Jesus […], sanctify our spiritual father by Thy holiness, justify him by Thy truth, protect him by Thy mercy. My Lord, you have joined us on earth, do not separate us in Thy Heavenly Kingdom. And for the sake of his holy prayers forgive us great sinners and all his spiritual children.
For Thou art good and the Lover of mankind. Amen.