Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

priesthood

22 Entries

A Prayer on Behalf of our Priests
O Lord, let Thy priests be clothed with righteousness; let them always remember the greatness of their calling; let them not be entangled in the snares of the world and the devil; let them be saved from the cares of the world, the delight in riches, and the desire for other things entering into their hearts. St. John of Kronstadt



An old ascetic told a group of priests who visited him, "To allow time for prayer, one should not spend time on anything that can be looked after by someone else. For example, a doctor does not deal with gauzes and bandages, because the nurse can do that. The doctor takes care of more serious matters, such as examining a patient or performing an operation. If he spends time on minor things, he will not have time for the important ones, and no one will benefit from his medical expertise. The same applies to you. Pray for your parishioners, and underline the names of those who are in greater need than others. It helps to know what each particular person’s problem is so that you can pray better for each case." An Athonite Gerontikon by Archimandrite Ioannikios (Kotsonis)

Because the pastor speaks the word of God, then do whatever he teaches, pay diligent heed, O Christian, and do it. Concerning this the Apostle says, Obey them that have rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they must watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you (Heb. 13:17).

The pastor is the messenger of God who is sent to you by God, and he proclaims to you the way of salvation and invites you in the name of God into His eternal Kingdom. For this reason, revere him as the messenger of God that proclaims to you such great good things, and who invites you to them. He that receiveth you receiveth Me, (Mt. 10:40) says the Lord. Receive, then, and revere the pastor as the messenger of Christ.

Because the pastor provides for the common good, and as he looks after you as well as for all so that all may receive eternal salvation, then love him as your father and benefactor, and be grateful to him. You call him father, that is well: he begets you as well as others, not to the temporary, but to eternal life. Love him, then, as so great a father to you. You love your father according to the flesh, how much more ought you love this father.

As he takes care and provides for all and for you, do not leave him in need, but help him in his requests and supply his needs, that he may have time to take care and look after the common good. Thus by mutual love and benefaction the common good will not be without success.

Because many among the people are not men of goodwill and as they do not love pastoral reproof but wish to live according to their own will, they invent and broadcast no little slander and ill report against the pastor. Then when you hear such slander and ill report against the pastor, do not believe it and guard your lips, lest you say anything about it to anyone else. Otherwise you will sin gravely, as you will return evil for good, which is a great iniquity. It is a serious thing to slander and dishonor a simple person, how much more so a pastor. From this great discord follows among the people, and disregard and disobedience to the pastor, and thus his labor may end without profit. Pay careful attention to this, avoid evil gossip against the pastor. Most of all do not spread evil gossip about him, lest you feel the avenging hand of God upon you.

If you see in the pastor such weaknesses as occur even among the people, do not be scandalized and do not judge him, but understand that the pastor is a man, just like everyone else, and that he has the same weaknesses as do the rest of the people.

Because the pastor is subject to many temptations, and the devil and his evil servants war against him most especially, therefore he also needs the special help and support of God. Then, you, and all the people as well, must pray to God for him that He may help him and strengthen him. The happiness of the household depends on a good householder, the happiness of soldiers depends on a good commander, and the happiness of a sailing ship depends on a good helmsman. Pray then that the pastor may be wise and good, and that Christian society may be happy.

When the pastor himself does not do what he teaches, but lives contrary to his teaching, heed the word of Christ which He spoke concerning such pastors, The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do: but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not (Matt. 23:2-3). St. Tikhon of Zadonsk - From Journey to Heaven, Jordanville, 1991, pp. 114-116



CATpastoralwork A good pastor is one who does not do his duties routinely as a job, but is wholeheartedly and conscientiously devoted to the Church, and unceasingly struggles to help his flock experience the statutes of the Gospel and the Scriptures, deeply penetrating the essences of things, and explaining them to people. He brands the reactions and treats "pharisaism" with the whip, just like the Lord in the Temple of Solomon. He becomes an example of frugality and disregard for money. Loving and merciful towards his friends and enemies he offers himself as a sacrifice in order to retrieve the lost sheep. In a word, he is unimpeachable in every respect, everywhere, and to everyone. Elder Gervasios of Patras. He spoke these words as a young hierodeacon in a class taught by St Nectarios of Aegina. After his words, the Saint prophesied concerning his further ministry

He who honors the priest, will honor God also; and he who has learned to despise the priest, will in process of time insult God. 'He who receives you,' He says, 'receives Me' (Matt. 10:40). 'Hold your priests in honor' (Ecclus. 7:31), He says. For when a man is piously disposed towards the priest, he is much more so towards God. And even if the priest is wicked, God seeing that you respect him, though unworthy of honor, through reverence to Him, will Himself reward you. For if 'he who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward' (Matt. 10:41), then he who honors and submits and gives way to the priest will certainly be rewarded. Do you know what the priest is? He is an angel of the Lord. If you despise him, you despise not him, but God who ordained him.

But how does it appear, you ask, that he is ordained of God? If God works nothing through his means, you have neither laver, nor are a partaker of the Mysteries, nor of the benefits of blessings; you are therefore not a Christian. What then, you say, does God ordain all, even the unworthy? God indeed does not ordain all, but He works through all, though they be themselves unworthy, so the people may be saved. For if He spoke, for the sake of the people, by an ass, and by Balaam, a most wicked man (Num. 22,23,31), much more will He speak by the mouth of the priest. What indeed will not God do or say for our salvation? By whom does He not act? For if He wrought through Judas and those others who 'prophesied' ... will He not much more work through the priests?

If we may not judge our brother, much less our teacher, let each attend to his own department. For if he teaches perverted doctrine, though he be an angel, do not obey him; but if he teaches the truth, take heed not to his life, but to his words. You are a sheep, do not be curious concerning the shepherd, lest you have to give account of your accusations against him. It is not he who speaks to you. It is Christ who thus admonishes you. But you say, 'He ought to be better than I.' Why? 'Because he is a priest'. If he is not better, ought you therefore to destroy yourself? These are the words of arrogance. Hear what Christ says, 'Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment' (Matt. 12:36).

Let us reverence that day on which he enlightened us. He who has a father, whatever faults he has, conceals them all. For it is said, 'Do not glory in the dishonor of your father, for your father's dishonor is no glory to you. And if his understanding fails, have patience with him' (Ecclus. 3:10-12). And if this is said of our natural fathers, much more of our spiritual fathers. Approach him with pious respect. Do not say he is wicked. What of that? Does one who is wicked of himself bestow great benefits on you? By no means. Everything works according to your faith. The priest performs a symbol. The Offering is the same, whether a common man, or Paul or Peter offer it. It is the same which Christ gave to His disciples, and which the priests now minister. This is in no way inferior to that, because it is not men who sanctify even this, but the Same who sanctified the one also sanctifies the other. So the world is of one faith. The Spirit immediately fell upon Cornelius, because he had fulfilled his part, and contributed his faith. St. John Chrysostom. Homily II on II Timothy I



How can one explain how a priest can stand thirty-odd years before the throne of God — he should have become a wonder-worker or a clairvoyant long ago. However, not only is he unable to see what goes on within another’s soul, but he does not even understand his own. Perhaps we shall accuse God of favoritism. No. The fact of the matter is that God bestows these gifts not for sheer labor of such a one, but for humility. The latter quality is acquired only through pure prayer, and pure prayer only through humility.. Blessed Bishop Barnabas, New Confessor of Russia

I know a priest who loves God with great intensity, and yet grieves because he does not love Him as much as he would wish. His soul is ceaselessly filled with burning desire that God should be glorified in him and that he himself should be as nothing. This man does not think of what he is, even when others praise him. In his great desire for humility, he does not think of his priestly rank, but performs his ministry as the rule enjoins. In his extreme love for God, he strips himself of any thought of his own dignity; and with a spirit of humility he buries in the depths of divine love any pride to which his high position as a Priest of the Most High might give rise. Thus, out of desire to humble himself, he always sees himself in his own mind as a useless servant, extraneous to the priestly rank he holds. We too should do the same, fleeing all honor and glory in the overflowing richness of our love for the Lord who loves us so greatly. St Diadochos of Photiki (c. 400-486)

In Its heart of hearts, our people knows Christ and Orthodoxy, it knows just what it is that makes an Orthodox person Orthodox.Orthodoxy will always generate ascetic rebirth. She knows no other.The Ascetics are Orthodoxy's only missionaries.Asceticism is her only missionary school.Orthodoxy is ascetic effort and it is life, and it is thus by effort and by life that her mission is broadcast and brought about.The development of asceticism..this ought to be the inward mission of our Church amongst our people.The parish must become the ascetic focal point.But this can only be achieved by an ascetic priest. St. Justin Popovich +1979

Ponder deeply, O Priest, on the angelic honor of which you have been found worthy, and, whatever rank to which you have been called, strive through virtue and purity to keep yourself unsullied. For you know from what height Lucifer fell on account of his pride. Do not dream up great ideas about yourself and suffer the same fate. Regard yourself as dust and ashes, for it is only on account of God’s inexpressible compassion and kindness that you are permitted to handle the holy things at the celebration of the dread mysteries, and so are called to communion and kinship with Him. St Theognostos the Presbyter (c. 1300)

Remember, O Priest, that you look daily on the salvation of God which, when he saw it but once, so terrified and amazed Righteous Simeon the Elder that he prayed for his deliverance. If you have not been assured by the Holy Spirit that you are equal to the angels and so an acceptable intermediary between God and man, do not presumptuously dare to celebrate the awesome and most holy mysteries, which even angels venerate and from whose purity many of the saints themselves have in reverent fear drawn back. Otherwise, like Zan, you will be destroyed because of your pretense to holiness. St Theognostos the Presbyter (c. 1300)

Shortly before his repose Archimandrite Sophrony Sakharov (1896-1993), the founder of the Holy Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Tolleshunt Knights-by-Malden in Essex, England, and spiritual son and disciple of St. Silouan the Athonite (1866-1938), shared an insight into the awesomeness of the sacred priesthood which was granted him.

“When I was invoking the Name of Jesus Christ (while practicing the Jesus Prayer), I was once obliged to stop pronouncing His Name: the effect was too much for me - my soul, wordlessly, without thought, trembled at the nearness of God. Then it was that the mystery of the priestly office was revealed to me.

The following day I celebrated the Liturgy, and Christ God was in me, and with me, and outside me, and in the holy sacraments of His Body and Blood. And the Divine Name and the words of the liturgical texts issued from my mouth like a flame. I continued in this state for three days, after which the intensity of the experience diminished. But the Lord etched the memory of it on my mind and heart with a sharp tool. And I pray Him, ‘Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.’” (On Prayer by Elder Sophrony, p. 47)



Sometimes a word of reproof must be spoken to all in general, and sometimes to some particular person. When reproof is given in general, then one may speak strictly and sharply, that sinners listening might feel the lash of fear in their hearts, and so be wakened as from the sleep of sin. We see this in the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures...When people whomever they may be, commit iniquity and you know it openly, take extreme care not to be silent, but everywhere reprove their iniquity in your speech, lest you be like a dumb dog that does not bark when thieves break into a house and loot it, and wolves fall upon the flock and devour it. Stand firm, beloved, and show your pastoral work even though you must necessarily suffer. In this work, you have as your examples the prophets, apostles and luminaries of Christ who lived in times of old. St. Tikhon of Zadonsk "On the Duties of Pastors," Journey to Heaven, Counsels on the Particular Duties of Every Christian,

The apostles have preached the Gospel to us from(4) the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ [has done so from(4) God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments,(5) then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established(6) in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first-fruits [of their labors], having first proved them by the Spirit,(7) to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. Nor was this any new thing, since indeed many ages before it was written concerning bishops and deacons. For thus saith the Scripture(8) a certain place, "I will appoint their bishops s in righteousness, and their deacons(9) in faith."(10) First Epistle Of Clement To The Corinthians, Chap. XLII

The proof of authenticity of the spiritual condition of a father confessor is, that while he is very strict with himself, he is very lenient with others and does not use the canons of the Church like cannons against them. Elder Paisius of the Holy Mountain (+July 12, 1994)

The work of the clergyman in and of itself is not social work, but to create real Christians. The social work will come out subsequently through the Christians themselves. Archimandrite Epiphanios Theodoropoulos (+November 10, 1989))

Upon being presented a jeweled pectoral cross as a gift from his people by St Tikhon (Bellavin) in 1902 in recognition of his many sacrifices for his flock, the newly-glorified St Raphael (Hawaweeny) responded, “‘Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Thy name be the glory’ (Ps 115:1) … ‘I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth’ (I Cor 3: 6 & 7). It is true that I worked a lot and endured even more grief, but no matter how much I worked and how much grief I endured, I consider myself only to have done my duty as a priest and servant of God. Can we servants of God and spiritual pastors expect anything in this life except labor and grief? Is this not to what we have dedicated our life: to work without recompense, for the good and the salvation of our neighbors? ‘So you also, when you have done all that is commanded of you, say, We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’ (Lk 17:10)” St Raphael of Brooklyn, the Good Shepherd of the Lost Sheep in America (+1915)

“By means of the priesthood God accomplishes great and redeeming works among mankind: He purifies and sanctifies people, animals, and elements; He delivers people from the villainous works of the devil; He renews and strengthens; He converts bread and wine into the purest Body and Blood of the God-Man Himself; He marries people and makes marriage honorable and the nuptial bed pure; He absolves sins, heals illness, converts earth into heaven, unites heaven with earth, the human being with Himself; He joins angels and men in one gathering. What do they not lack, the people who have no priesthood? They are deprived of salvation. It is not in vain that the Lord, the Accomplisher of our salvation, is called the Chief Priest.” St John of Kronstadt (+1908)

“For this grace we pray night and day to the King of Ages, to preserve the people in the integrity of the faith, and to preserve you, the clergy, for them as a sound head placed at the top and itself supplying foresight for the members of the body subject to it. For, when the eyes perform their functions, then the labor of the hands is skillful, and the movement of the feet without stumbling, and no part of the body is deprived of its care.

Therefore, we urge you, as you are doing and intend to do, to cling to one another, and you to whom has been entrusted the care of souls to hold together each and every one and to cherish them as your beloved children. And the people we urge to preserve toward you the reverence and honor owed to fathers, in order that in the proper maintenance of the Church your strength as well as the foundation of the faith in Christ may be preserved, and that the name of God may be glorified, and that the blessing of charity may abound and be multiplied.” St Basil the Great (+379), Letter #222, “To the Chalcidians”



“If you have been found worthy of the divine and venerable priesthood, you have committed yourself sacrificially to die to the passions and to sensual pleasure. Only then dare you approach the awesome, living sacrifice; otherwise you will be consumed by the divine fire like dry tinder. If the seraphim did not dare to touch the divine coal without tongs (cf. Isaiah 6 : 6), how can you do so unless you have attained dispassion? You must through dispassion have a consecrated tongue, purified lips, and a chaste soul and body; and your very hands, as ministers of the fiery, supraessential sacrifice, must be more burnished than any gold.” St Theognostos the Presbyter (13th century)

“My son, my blessed priest: May mercy, enlightenment, strength, peace, love and the abundant grace of the Lord be upon your noble soul. May the Lord our God send you a good angel to direct your steps in the way of peace, according to His holy will. My truly beloved son who won my love with your noble feelings, may your fiery soul be graced with brilliant splendor.

May the Holy Protection of our sweetest Queen, the pure Virgin and Theotokos, cover you like Moses, along with all of your spiritual children, as the divine Andrew the Fool-for-Christ saw in Constantinople. May our sweet Jesus make your nous and heart shine with His holy seal, as well as every God-pleasing work of yours, so that the enemy will not find anything at all to plunder.

At His Second Coming may He reward and bless and crown every single one of your good deeds done with love. May He enrich all your spiritual children through His rich endowment and heavenly grace, and may they become fragrant flowers of paradise, so that you will see them in that day and rejoice. I, too, rejoice, seeing all of you as flowers with the sweet smell of good works ? I who am empty of every good. You are my happiness and joy and wealth in my poverty, my great boast. Through your spiritual works the Father is glorified, the Son rejoices, and the Holy Spirit exults!” “For a Spiritual Son,” by Elder Joseph the Hesychast (1898-1959)



Priests must be more respected to us than every other ruler and more honorable than our parents themselves. REF:Saint John Chrysostom

I don’t know anything more wretched than the soul, which refuses to honor priests. That soul is full of demonic frenzy. REF:Saint John Chrysostom





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