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Author Topic: Priests and consecration  (Read 1200 times) Average Rating: 0
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choy
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« on: August 15, 2012, 04:26:46 PM »

I'd like to know more about the priest's ability to consecrate bread and wine.

Basically, I know that the priestly ministry was solely the bishop's alone in the early Church and eventually given to presbyters as the need for more Liturgies in a larger area came.  Priests are given permission by the bishop to consecrate through the antimension which the bishop has signed which signifies his bestowal of permission to consecrate during Liturgy.

Now, if the priest were to leave the Church, say if he becomes Episcopalian or Lutheran, does the Orthodox still believe the priest can consecrate?  Or does he not have that ability inherently and thus cannot do so without a bishop granting him that ability?
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« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2012, 04:31:16 PM »

He leaves the Church - he stops being a priest.
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« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2012, 04:36:18 PM »

So there is no concept like in Catholicism of "once a priest, always a priest" where the priesthood is still with the man and he can still perform certain priestly functions?

Of course if he repents and returns to Orthodoxy, he isn't reordained, right?
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« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2012, 04:37:31 PM »

Unlike the Catholics, Orthodox Priest do not become something else when ordained. Leave the Church you are no longer a Priest.
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« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2012, 04:57:57 PM »

So there is no concept like in Catholicism of "once a priest, always a priest" where the priesthood is still with the man and he can still perform certain priestly functions?

Of course if he repents and returns to Orthodoxy, he isn't reordained, right?

Right and propably right (however not sure).
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« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2012, 05:26:50 PM »

But is what I said about the priest's ability to consecrate true also?  Let us say he doesn't leave Orthodoxy but is merely suspended by his bishop.  If he is not given the authority to consecrate, he cannot celebrate Divine Liturgy at home with his family, for example, is this correct?
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« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2012, 05:27:58 PM »

When he is suspended (in opposition to: defrocked) he should not perform sacraments. But he can.
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« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2012, 05:55:36 PM »

When he is suspended (in opposition to: defrocked) he should not perform sacraments. But he can.

I see.  So it is inherent in his ordination as long as he stays in the Orthodox Church?
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« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2012, 06:00:11 PM »

No analogy is perfect, but fwiw... a finger can function as long as it is part of the body, but if it gets chopped off then it can no longer function as a finger, even if it still looks like a finger in some ways.
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« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2012, 06:08:02 PM »

No analogy is perfect, but fwiw... a finger can function as long as it is part of the body, but if it gets chopped off then it can no longer function as a finger, even if it still looks like a finger in some ways.

I just lost my appetite, but it is Wednesday after all.

But, yes, we are members of the Mystical Body of Christ, and some of us function as teachers, priests, deacons, etc. We do not all have the same gifts to share.
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« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2012, 06:21:52 PM »

No analogy is perfect, but fwiw... a finger can function as long as it is part of the body, but if it gets chopped off then it can no longer function as a finger, even if it still looks like a finger in some ways.

This is actually great!  A lot of my instruction regarding Orthodoxy has used body parts as analogy.  I think you drive a good point.

So a priest can perform consecration not necessarily because of the bishop's permission but because he is a priest.  But he is only a priest if he belongs to the body (Orthodoxy).  Correct?
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« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2012, 07:52:50 PM »

No analogy is perfect, but fwiw... a finger can function as long as it is part of the body, but if it gets chopped off then it can no longer function as a finger, even if it still looks like a finger in some ways.

This is actually great!  A lot of my instruction regarding Orthodoxy has used body parts as analogy.  I think you drive a good point.

So a priest can perform consecration not necessarily because of the bishop's permission but because he is a priest.  But he is only a priest if he belongs to the body (Orthodoxy).  Correct?

Yes. Orthodoxy does not teach the "indelible mark of priesthood". If an Orthodox priest is defrocked or otherwise separates himself from the Church, such as converting to another denomination or religion, he is no longer regarded as a priest by the Orthodox church. He is regarded as a layman.
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« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2012, 07:56:30 PM »

Yes. Orthodoxy does not teach the "indelible mark of priesthood". If an Orthodox priest is defrocked or otherwise separates himself from the Church, such as converting to another denomination or religion, he is no longer regarded as a priest by the Orthodox church. He is regarded as a layman.

So does he need to be re-ordained if he repents and the bishops wants him as a priest?
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mildert
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« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2012, 09:17:38 AM »

Yes. Orthodoxy does not teach the "indelible mark of priesthood". If an Orthodox priest is defrocked or otherwise separates himself from the Church, such as converting to another denomination or religion, he is no longer regarded as a priest by the Orthodox church. He is regarded as a layman.

So does he need to be re-ordained if he repents and the bishops wants him as a priest?

I think that the most likely scenario would be that he would be re-instated as a priest through concelebrating the Holy Liturgy with the Bishop.
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« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2012, 09:49:07 AM »


So a priest can perform consecration not necessarily because of the bishop's permission but because he is a priest.  But he is only a priest if he belongs to the body (Orthodoxy).  Correct?

Remember, the consecration occurs through the Grace of God via the Holy Spirit....the priest is merely the tool used to reach that end. 

Using the finger analogy....the finger (priest) can only scratch, if the brain (God) sends a signal.  No signal = paralyzed finger.

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« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2012, 10:15:58 AM »

The Liturgy is the corporate work of the Church, the assembly of the people of God.

The Bishop presides over the Eucharistic assembly, but he is not over the assembly, but one of the people assembled together, who has the role of presiding. The bishop may delegate this role to the presbyter, his representative. No assembly of Christians is the Church, THE assembly of the people of God unless it is crowned by the presence of the Bishop or his representative, the presbyter.

The offering of the Liturgy is not the role of the priest alone. If the people do not respond "amen", the preist cannot continue. It is the work of the whole community, not just the priest witnessed by the people.

The bishop or presbyter is a person with a role in their community, a place of service in their community. If they fall away from the community, it does not make any sense to speak of a bishop or presbyter appart from their community, as it is a role in the community. If they are restored to their community, they may continue their service without being reordained--i.e. without being again set aside to that position they have already been set apart for.
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« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2012, 11:12:54 AM »

When he is suspended (in opposition to: defrocked) he should not perform sacraments. But he can.

If a priest perfomed sacraments whilst suspended then it would most probably lead to further penalties.

He can only function with the blessing of his bishop, for example if his bishop takes away his antimension then he cannot celebrate the Liturgy.
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« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2012, 01:50:23 PM »

If a priest perfomed sacraments whilst suspended then it would most probably lead to further penalties.

He can only function with the blessing of his bishop, for example if his bishop takes away his antimension then he cannot celebrate the Liturgy.

I know I'm pushing this a bit, but I am just comparing this to the Roman Catholic understanding of Sacraments which I was taught growing up.

So let us say the priest is able to obtain an antimension one way or another.  Can he still celebrate (say with his family, privately) and consecrate?
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choy
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« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2012, 01:50:55 PM »

The Liturgy is the corporate work of the Church, the assembly of the people of God.

The Bishop presides over the Eucharistic assembly, but he is not over the assembly, but one of the people assembled together, who has the role of presiding. The bishop may delegate this role to the presbyter, his representative. No assembly of Christians is the Church, THE assembly of the people of God unless it is crowned by the presence of the Bishop or his representative, the presbyter.

The offering of the Liturgy is not the role of the priest alone. If the people do not respond "amen", the preist cannot continue. It is the work of the whole community, not just the priest witnessed by the people.

The bishop or presbyter is a person with a role in their community, a place of service in their community. If they fall away from the community, it does not make any sense to speak of a bishop or presbyter appart from their community, as it is a role in the community. If they are restored to their community, they may continue their service without being reordained--i.e. without being again set aside to that position they have already been set apart for.

Beautiful explanation.
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« Reply #19 on: August 17, 2012, 06:15:21 AM »

If a priest perfomed sacraments whilst suspended then it would most probably lead to further penalties.

He can only function with the blessing of his bishop, for example if his bishop takes away his antimension then he cannot celebrate the Liturgy.

I know I'm pushing this a bit, but I am just comparing this to the Roman Catholic understanding of Sacraments which I was taught growing up.

So let us say the priest is able to obtain an antimension one way or another.  Can he still celebrate (say with his family, privately) and consecrate?

No because his actions would put him outside of the Church.  To give another analogy, I am a Deacon, but I can only vest and perform the Liturgical functions of a Deacon with the blessing of a Priest.  I am not a Deacon for or by myself  but I act as a part of the community.
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« Reply #20 on: August 21, 2012, 04:29:32 PM »

This is so interesting, and radically different from the Catholic pov I've been raised with.
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« Reply #21 on: August 25, 2012, 09:18:05 AM »

More on this is available in this article by Professor Contantine Scouteris of the University of Athens: http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/canon_law/scouteris_priesthood_unity.htm

Basically, Christ the Lord is our High Priest, and all of us participate in *His* priesthood as members of His Body, which is "totus Christus, caput et corpus" (the whole Christ, head and body), in the words of St Augustine.

Bishops and presbyters exercise a special ministry of unity within the Body, but, ulimately, it is *Christ's* priesthood, not "theirs," as the Scriptures, Church Fathers, and Ecumenical Councils make clear.

Some quotes from the article, in case you don't want to read the whole thing:

Quote
The priestly diakonia, as a sacramental consecration, is not an abstract and mysterious appointment, but a concrete ministry deeply bound to the very being of the ecclesial communion. Through the ordination, every individual priest accepts a unique commission to serve a community. His mission is inseparably related and destined to a concrete ecclesial body. In the canonical tradition of the Eastern Church, it is prohibited to ordain a person "in abstracto" and in a general sense. An ordination without a specific appointment is not acceptable. The ordained person should always be associated with a parish, with a concrete Christian community. The sixth canon of the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon is absolutely clear: "No one should be ordained without a concrete appointment. Neither presbyter, nor deacon nor any other in the ecclesiastical rank. The ordained must be designated to serve in a concrete ecclesial community of a city or of a village or of a martyr's sanctuary or of a monastery. The Holy Council has ordered that an ordination without a concrete appointment should be void and the person ordained should not have the right to serve anywhere. This punishment should be understood also as a disapproval of the bishop who ordained him."

...

The ordination is always an ecclesial praxis; a spiritual action realized within the body of the Christian community; it is open and public, before the community and together with the community. It is not performed by the bishop or the bishops alone, but by the bishop or the bishops, together with the other clergy and the congregation. In the eastern ordination the "axios", the "Kyrie Eleison" and the "amen", pronounced by the entire community, is not a mere ceremonial exaltation, but a responsible testimony and a way to express the ecclesial approval. This ecclesial approval is shown in a direct way by the exclamation pronounced by the deacon, both to the Bishop and to the congregation, before the ordination ceremony begins: "give the command" (keleuson, keleusate). These exaltations have deep ecclesiological significance. This means that the ordination is performed by the bishop or the bishops together with the entire people of God. The bishop is not acting alone, but as the person who has the sacramental power to ordain within and together with the Christian community. He is the person charismatically appointed to safeguard the unity of the Church, connecting, by what we call Apostolic Succession, the present with the initial fulfilment.

The canonical tradition of the Eastern Christendom and the patristic treatises are full of evidences and indications that all ordinations are inseparably connected with a given community, and through this concrete community with the catholic ecclesial body. In approaching the ordination of a bishop in this perspective, we can infer that the participation of at least three bishops has substantial ecclesiological meaning. The fourth rule of the First Ecumenical Council commends that the ordination of a bishop should be performed by all bishops of the district, and if this is not possible, because of practical difficulties, by at least three of them. Every bishop is taking part in the ordination of the new one as representative and as a living presence of his entire flock; and all of them are a visible image of the Catholic Church. Thus, the new bishop who is appointed to serve in a concrete diocese, through his ordination is related with the whole Church. The ordination of a bishop did not simply convey to the newly ordained juridical privileges, but elevates him to the relational rank of a catholic person and places him in the midst of the community as a living image and testimony of the ecclesial oneness.

The same is applicable for the ordination of a priest. Through his ordination the new presbyter is again existentially related, in a unique and specific way, to the entire Body of the Church, thus becoming himself an instrument for the edification of the ecclesial unity. This means that the ordination of a presbyter is not an isolated sacramental action, in itself and for itself, but a sacramental and spiritual event related to the concrete community and through it to the life of the whole Church. If we maintain that the Risen Lord remains present in the eucharistic community through the power of the Holy Spirit, and if we profess, as we have already done, that the presbyter through his ordination is directly connected with the priesthood of Christ by that same Spirit, then we can assert that the ordained person receiving the priesthood within the community and being a member of the Christian community has the vocation and commission to serve, in cooperation with Christ and the community, for the establishment of the kingdom of God in the entire world. Thus, the diakonia of priesthood is not limited and exhausted to the given community but in its eucharistic dimension is extended dynamically to the entire Christian body. Again every priest becomes through his ordination and the offering of the eucharistic sacrifice a catholic person.
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« Reply #22 on: August 25, 2012, 11:04:59 AM »

So there are absolutely no priests who are not attached to a parish, or a bishop not attached to a diocese in Orthodoxy?
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« Reply #23 on: August 25, 2012, 11:45:33 AM »

So there are absolutely no priests who are not attached to a parish, or a bishop not attached to a diocese in Orthodoxy?

Correct. Even retired priests are attached somewhere, at least officially, and one should always send a request for and receive a canonical letter of blessing to visit/serve a parish in another bishop's diocese, even within the same jurisdiction.
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« Reply #24 on: August 25, 2012, 11:55:25 AM »

In other words, there are no supra-territorial, ecclesial organizations for religious, monks or priests, e.g Franciscans, Jesuits, etc. There is only the local bishop and his synod.
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« Reply #25 on: August 25, 2012, 01:40:18 PM »

So there are absolutely no priests who are not attached to a parish, or a bishop not attached to a diocese in Orthodoxy?

There are but they are not allowed to serve.
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« Reply #26 on: August 25, 2012, 05:28:15 PM »

So there are absolutely no priests who are not attached to a parish, or a bishop not attached to a diocese in Orthodoxy?

There are but they are not allowed to serve.

Correct! Any priest, bishop, etc. who separates himself from the defined structure of the Church has no blessing to celebrate the sacraments.

Choy: If a priest leaves Orthodoxy and returns and is deemed worthy of returning to the status of a clergyman, he is in the majority of cases not "re-ordained" since certain sacraments cannot be "re-done" (baptism, ordination).  But just as there is no indelible priesthood, there is no guarantee that a priest who leaves Orthodoxy and then returns will have the blessing of participation in the priesthood when he returns.
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« Reply #27 on: August 25, 2012, 05:59:12 PM »

Sorry, the question about priest unattached to a parish is not about those who leave Orthodoxy, but like in Catholicism that certain priests function more administratively than an actual parish pastor.  But I guess these priests who do not have a regular parish ministry are attached anyway to the Cathedral under the bishop (speaking about the CC here).  But then there are bishops without territories, like those on the Roman Curia (or maybe technically because they are in the Papal Office, their territory is the entire CC, not sure about that).  But anyway, that was my question if any priest or bishop can be regular priests and bishop in Orthodoxy but unattached to such role or office.
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« Reply #28 on: August 25, 2012, 06:27:57 PM »

Sorry, the question about priest unattached to a parish is not about those who leave Orthodoxy, but like in Catholicism that certain priests function more administratively than an actual parish pastor.  But I guess these priests who do not have a regular parish ministry are attached anyway to the Cathedral under the bishop (speaking about the CC here).  But then there are bishops without territories, like those on the Roman Curia (or maybe technically because they are in the Papal Office, their territory is the entire CC, not sure about that).  But anyway, that was my question if any priest or bishop can be regular priests and bishop in Orthodoxy but unattached to such role or office.

Well, a Church is a diocese, not a parish. Every bishop is the bishop of a diocese (or an auxiliary bishop assisting the bishop of the diocese, but still attached to that one diocese). The bishop has a council of presbyters with him. In the early Church those presbyters served with him in the one community of the Cathedral church, which was equivalent to the diocese. In time, the dioceses became subdivided into parishes, and the bishop delegated presbyters to be heads of those Eucharistic communities as his representative. But those communities are not independent Churches, they are an extension of the bishop's Eucharist. So today you can have a presbyter as a head of a Eucharistic community, in obedience to the bishop of the diocese, you can have a presbyters assisting the senior presbyter, or you can have a presbyter attached to the Cathedral Church, assisting the bishop there, which could have a more administrative role such as teaching, but would still be assigned to an altar. Now, you can also have a presbyter in a monastery, but that's really not much different than a presbyter in a parish Church. Ideally, presbyters should not be moved from the altar and community to which they were ordained except in extreme circumstances, though today it happens frequently. So you see, even priests whose primary role is something like teaching are still in a position in the Community, which is properly understood as the diocese as the whole, not one parish within it. Ideally, a diocese should function as one Church under one father, not as separate Churches... but that doesn't always happen. A priest should be an elder in a community... so really someone shouldn't be made a priest just because they're a seminary professor without being in a true role of fatherly care in the diocese... though I'm not saying the ideal is always followed.

Now, a bishop without a diocese is a contradiction in terms.  A bishop is the overseer (chief servant) of a diocese. That's simply what a bishop is. Does that mean we always follow this today? No, the EO have "titular bishops", who are given the tital of a defunct see they never set foot it in and then assigned some service. This is really nothing but a lie. The Copts have developed the notion of "general bishops" who don't have a geographic see, but a service general to the "Coptic Church". This is really the heresy of Phyletism, believing the Coptic Church is a Church separate from the other Orthodox "Churches", as a "part" of the One Holy Catholic Church. This is a serious error, a deviation from sound Orthodox Ecclesiology. In fact, it seems to be occurring because of an uncritical assumption of Roman Catholic ecclesiology, and a profound ignorance of Orthodox ecclesiology.

But the fact that we are messing up and organizing wrongly today because of ignorances does not change the fact of what proper Orthodox ecclesiology is. Roman Catholics say that the Orthodox say they don't believe in ordination as an indelible mark on the soul, but the fact that we don't reordain returning lapsed priests shows that we really do believe in "once ordained always ordained" like the Catholics, we just don't want to admit it because we want to be different... No, our understanding is different, it explains our practise of not reordaining without having to accept the scholastic idea of an indelible mark on the soul as the underlying reason. The fact that we're making mistakes in our organizing and not reflecting proper ecclesiology does not change the fact that it is true.
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