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« on: October 23, 2013, 10:02:57 PM »

I'm new to Orthodoxy as I've stated in other posts and this isn't to judge rather its to understand.

I've always felt that there are three important characteristics, not the only or most important ones, of a priest or minister is teaching, preaching and shepherding. A decent minister would have at least one of those while really gifted ministers would have two or all three of those. Since I've come to Orthodoxy, I've noticed that most all priests that I've met are excellent teachers, probably coming from the great educational backgrounds that the church requires. I've seen a few good preachers but those who I felt were true shepherds are like needles in a hay stack. To some degree it seems like priests seem to keep their parishes at a certain distance.

Am I completely off base or is there some thing to what I'm saying?
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« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2013, 10:35:21 PM »

Maybe it's just a matter of who you have access to locally?  Where I am currently, there are some good preachers among the priests, they are mostly good great shepherds, but very few are competent teachers.  I've traveled enough to know that different areas have different distributions.   
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« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2013, 10:44:14 PM »

This has come up in other threads.  I think to understand the Orthodox priesthood, it is important to look at the prayers offered by the bishop over the head of the priest.  Here's they are (sans the liturgical instructions):

The grace divine, which always healeth that which is infirm, and completeth that which is wanting: elevateth through the laying-on of hands, N., the most devout Deacon, to be a Priest. Wherefore, let us pray for him, that the grace of the all-holy Spirit may come upon him.
 
O God, who hast no beginning and no ending; who art older than every created thing; who crownest with the name of Presbyter those whom thou deemest worthy to serve the word of thy truth in the divine ministry of this degree: Do thou, the same Lord of all men, deign to preserve in pureness of life and an unswerving faith this man also, upon whom, through me, thou hast graciously been pleased to lay hands. Be favourably pleased to grant unto him the great grace of thy Holy Spirit, and make him wholly thy servant, in all things acceptable unto thee, and worthily exercising the great honours of the priesthood which thou hast conferred upon him by thy prescient power.

O God great in might and inscrutable in wisdom, marvelous in counsel above the sons of men: Do thou, the same Lord, fill with the gift of thy Holy Spirit this man whom it hath. pleased thee to advance to the degree of Priest; that he may be worthy to stand in innocency before thine Altar; to proclaim the Gospel of thy kingdom; to minister the word of thy truth; to offer unto thee spiritual gifts and sacrifices; to renew thy people through the laver of regeneration. That when he shall go to meet thee, at the Second Coming of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, thine Only-begotten Son, he may receive the reward of a good steward in the degree committed unto him, through the plenitude of thy goodness.


Nothing about 'shepherding.'  You want a 'shepherd,' then you look to the bishop.  Here's an excerpt from the consecration service:

O Lord our God, who, forasmuch as it is impossible for the nature of man to endure the Essence of the Godhead, in thy providence hast instituted for us teachers of like nature with ourselves, to maintain thine Altar, that they may offer unto thee sacrifice and oblation for all thy people; Do thou, the same Lord, make this man also, who hath been proclaimed a steward of the episcopal grace, to be an imitator of thee, the true Shepherd, who didst lay down thy life for thy sheep; to be a leader of the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a reprover of the unwise, a teacher of the young, a lamp to the world: that, having perfected the souls entrusted unto him in this present life, he may stand unashamed before thy throne, and receive the great reward which thou hast prepared for those who have contended valiantly for the preaching of thy Gospel.
...
Receive thou the pastoral staff, that thou mayest feed the flock of Christ entrusted unto thee: and be thou a staff and support unto those who are obedient. But lead thou the disobedient and the wayward unto correction, unto gentleness, and unto obedience; and they shall continue in due submission.


I firmly believe that only the most experienced priests, those well in advance of their own bishops in experience, can really bear the charism of being 'shepherd.'  Otherwise, you would have overlapping shepherding and other conflicts.

So, I really only think anyone has the right to judge the work of a priest based on what he was ordained to do, not what is loaded onto him without intercession for Divine assistance.


I'm new to Orthodoxy as I've stated in other posts and this isn't to judge rather its to understand.

I've always felt that there are three important characteristics, not the only or most important ones, of a priest or minister is teaching, preaching and shepherding. A decent minister would have at least one of those while really gifted ministers would have two or all three of those. Since I've come to Orthodoxy, I've noticed that most all priests that I've met are excellent teachers, probably coming from the great educational backgrounds that the church requires. I've seen a few good preachers but those who I felt were true shepherds are like needles in a hay stack. To some degree it seems like priests seem to keep their parishes at a certain distance.

Am I completely off base or is there some thing to what I'm saying?
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« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2013, 02:49:01 PM »

Maybe it's just a matter of who you have access to locally?  Where I am currently, there are some good preachers among the priests, they are mostly good great shepherds, but very few are competent teachers.  I've traveled enough to know that different areas have different distributions.   

Yeah, and it varies by jurisdiction.

In my area, there is a clear pattern: In one particular jurisdiction, priests are highly theologically educated, but constantly get themselves into fights. In another, the priests have a totally feeble grasp of doctrine, but they do a great job of keeping their parish running smoothly.

Generally speaking.

I think it has to do with which seminary they go to.
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« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2013, 02:50:13 PM »

How can a bishop possibly shepherd a large number of parishes that he visits twice a year?

This has come up in other threads.  I think to understand the Orthodox priesthood, it is important to look at the prayers offered by the bishop over the head of the priest.  Here's they are (sans the liturgical instructions):

The grace divine, which always healeth that which is infirm, and completeth that which is wanting: elevateth through the laying-on of hands, N., the most devout Deacon, to be a Priest. Wherefore, let us pray for him, that the grace of the all-holy Spirit may come upon him.
 
O God, who hast no beginning and no ending; who art older than every created thing; who crownest with the name of Presbyter those whom thou deemest worthy to serve the word of thy truth in the divine ministry of this degree: Do thou, the same Lord of all men, deign to preserve in pureness of life and an unswerving faith this man also, upon whom, through me, thou hast graciously been pleased to lay hands. Be favourably pleased to grant unto him the great grace of thy Holy Spirit, and make him wholly thy servant, in all things acceptable unto thee, and worthily exercising the great honours of the priesthood which thou hast conferred upon him by thy prescient power.

O God great in might and inscrutable in wisdom, marvelous in counsel above the sons of men: Do thou, the same Lord, fill with the gift of thy Holy Spirit this man whom it hath. pleased thee to advance to the degree of Priest; that he may be worthy to stand in innocency before thine Altar; to proclaim the Gospel of thy kingdom; to minister the word of thy truth; to offer unto thee spiritual gifts and sacrifices; to renew thy people through the laver of regeneration. That when he shall go to meet thee, at the Second Coming of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, thine Only-begotten Son, he may receive the reward of a good steward in the degree committed unto him, through the plenitude of thy goodness.


Nothing about 'shepherding.'  You want a 'shepherd,' then you look to the bishop.  Here's an excerpt from the consecration service:

O Lord our God, who, forasmuch as it is impossible for the nature of man to endure the Essence of the Godhead, in thy providence hast instituted for us teachers of like nature with ourselves, to maintain thine Altar, that they may offer unto thee sacrifice and oblation for all thy people; Do thou, the same Lord, make this man also, who hath been proclaimed a steward of the episcopal grace, to be an imitator of thee, the true Shepherd, who didst lay down thy life for thy sheep; to be a leader of the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a reprover of the unwise, a teacher of the young, a lamp to the world: that, having perfected the souls entrusted unto him in this present life, he may stand unashamed before thy throne, and receive the great reward which thou hast prepared for those who have contended valiantly for the preaching of thy Gospel.
...
Receive thou the pastoral staff, that thou mayest feed the flock of Christ entrusted unto thee: and be thou a staff and support unto those who are obedient. But lead thou the disobedient and the wayward unto correction, unto gentleness, and unto obedience; and they shall continue in due submission.


I firmly believe that only the most experienced priests, those well in advance of their own bishops in experience, can really bear the charism of being 'shepherd.'  Otherwise, you would have overlapping shepherding and other conflicts.

So, I really only think anyone has the right to judge the work of a priest based on what he was ordained to do, not what is loaded onto him without intercession for Divine assistance.


I'm new to Orthodoxy as I've stated in other posts and this isn't to judge rather its to understand.

I've always felt that there are three important characteristics, not the only or most important ones, of a priest or minister is teaching, preaching and shepherding. A decent minister would have at least one of those while really gifted ministers would have two or all three of those. Since I've come to Orthodoxy, I've noticed that most all priests that I've met are excellent teachers, probably coming from the great educational backgrounds that the church requires. I've seen a few good preachers but those who I felt were true shepherds are like needles in a hay stack. To some degree it seems like priests seem to keep their parishes at a certain distance.

Am I completely off base or is there some thing to what I'm saying?
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« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2013, 03:02:35 PM »

Maybe it's just a matter of who you have access to locally?  Where I am currently, there are some good preachers among the priests, they are mostly good great shepherds, but very few are competent teachers.  I've traveled enough to know that different areas have different distributions.   

Yeah, and it varies by jurisdiction.

In my area, there is a clear pattern: In one particular jurisdiction, priests are highly theologically educated, but constantly get themselves into fights. In another, the priests have a totally feeble grasp of doctrine, but they do a great job of keeping their parish running smoothly.

Generally speaking.

I think it has to do with which seminary they go to.

Actually much does depend on which seminary they attend, although all are graduating men stronger in theology and doctrine than in the past. Not all are so good though at producing parish priests - not business administrators, but parish priests.

While what Father G. says is correct in terms of the theology and the prayers of ordination and the model of the role of the Bishop in the lives of the average member of the body of the Church. However, this is a role, which in modern times is more remote than the model and has become akin to that of the Orthodox bishop's counterparts in the western church. I believe good pastoring however has more to do with the motivations and goals of any particular would be Orthodox priest and how he views his relationship to his flock, his family and to God and just what it is he wishes to accomplish in his service.

I've expressed this sentiment before and I will paraphrase it again.

Advice to a would be priest is often three fold. If you are interested solely in an otherworldly, contemplative life - become a monk, stay away from parish life.

If you are more interested in academic theology than in people, continue with your education, be the best you can be in theology. Perhaps there is a place for you as a priest assisting your bishop or diocese, because, being an Orthodox Christian academic involved in the regular life of the church is also a vocation if properly managed.

But if you want to be a parish priest, consider carefully that which is important to the lives of the flock entrusted to you - it is a balance between 'theology and doctrine', service and being an 'icon' - not on a wall but an 'icon' of how to live a Christian life, how to treat people, minister to them and so on. It is a difficult path to undertake.
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« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2013, 01:33:05 AM »

Here read this by St. John Chrysostom, (or so some say...)

Our condition here, indeed, is such as you have heard. But our condition hereafter how shall we endure, when we are compelled to give our account for each of those who have been entrusted to us? For our penalty is not limited to shame, but everlasting chastisement awaits us as well. As for the passage, Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit to them, for they watch in behalf of your souls as they that shall give account; Hebrews 13:17 though I have mentioned it once already, yet I will break silence about it now, for the fear of its warning is continually agitating my soul. For if for him who causes one only, and that the least, to stumble, it is profitable that a great millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be sunk in the depth of the sea; Matthew 18:6 and if they who wound the consciences of the brethren, sin against Christ Himself, 1 Corinthians 8:12 what then will they one day suffer, what kind of penalty will they pay, who destroy not one only, or two, or three, but so many multitudes? For it is not possible for inexperience to be urged as an excuse, nor to take refuge in ignorance, nor for the plea of necessity or force to be put forward. Yea, if it were possible, one of those under their charge could more easily make use of this refuge for his own sins than bishops in the case of the sins of others. Do you ask why? Because he who has been appointed to rectify the ignorance of others, and to warn them beforehand of the conflict with the devil which is coming upon them, will not be able to put forward ignorance as his excuse, or to say, I have never heard the trumpet sound, I did not foresee the conflict. For he is set for that very purpose, says Ezekiel, that he may sound the trumpet for others, and warn them of the dangers at hand. And therefore his chastisement is inevitable, though he that perishes happen to be but one. For if when the sword comes, the watchman does not sound the trumpet to the people, nor give them a sign, and the sword come and take any man away, he indeed is taken away on account of his iniquity, but his blood will I require at the watchman's hands. Ezekiel 33:6

2. Cease then to urge us on to a penalty so inevitable; for our discourse is not about an army, or a kingdom; but about an office which needs the virtues of an angel. For the soul of the Priest ought to be purer than the very sunbeams, in order that the Holy Spirit may not leave him desolate, in order that he may be able to say, Now I live; and yet no longer I, but Christ lives in me. Galatians 2:20 For if they who dwell in the desert, and are removed far from the city and the market-place, and the tumult therein, and who enjoy all their time a haven of rest, and of peacefulness, are not willing to rely on the security of that manner of life, but add to it numberless other safeguards, hedging themselves round on every side, and studying both to speak and to act with great circumspection, so that to the utmost extent of human power they may draw near to God with assurance, and with unstained purity, what power and strength, do you think, does the ordained Priest need so as to be able to tear his soul away from every defilement, and to keep its spiritual beauty unsullied? For he has need of far greater purity than they; and whoever has need of greater purity, he too is subject to more pressing temptations than they, which are able to defile him, unless by using constant self-denial and much labor, he renders his soul inaccessible to them. For beauty of face, elegance of movement, an affected gait and lisping voice, pencilled eyebrows and enamelled cheeks, elaborate braiding and dyeing of hair, costliness of dress, variety of golden ornaments, and the glory of precious stones, the scent of perfumes, and all those other matters to which womankind devote themselves, are enough to disorder the mind, unless it happen to be hardened against them, through much austerity of self restraint. Now to be disturbed indeed by such things is nothing wonderful. But on the other hand, that the devil should be able to hit and shoot down the souls of men by the opposite of these— this is a matter which fills us with astonishment and perplexity.

3. For ere now some men who have escaped these snares, have been caught by others widely differing from these. For even a neglected appearance, unkempt hair, squalid dress, and an unpainted face, simple behavior, and homely language, unstudied gait, and unaffected voice, a life of poverty, a despised, unpatronized and lonely condition, have first drawn on the beholder to pity, and next to utter ruin; and many who have escaped the former nets, in the way of gold ornaments and perfumes, and apparel, and all the rest, of which I have spoken as connected with them, have easily fallen into these so widely differing from them, and have perished. When then both by poverty and by riches, both by the adornment and the neglect of the personal appearance, both by studied and unaffected manners, in short by all those means which I have enumerated, war is kindled in the soul of the beholder, and its artifices surround him on every side, how will he be able to breathe freely while so many snares encompass him? And what hiding-place will he be able to find— I do not say so as to avoid being forcibly seized by them (for this is not altogether difficult)— but so as to keep his own soul undisturbed by polluting thoughts?

And I pass by honors, which are the cause of countless evils. For those which come from the hands of women are ruinous to the vigor of self-restraint, and often overthrow it when a man does not know how to watch constantly against such designs; while those which come from the hands of men, unless a man receive them with much nobleness of mind, he is seized with two contrary emotions, servile flattery and senseless pride. To those who patronize him, he is obliged to cringe; and towards his inferiors he is puffed up, on account of the honors which the others confer, and is driven into the gulf of arrogance. We have mentioned these matters indeed, but how harmful they actually are, no one could well learn without experience. For not only these snares, but greater and more delusive than these, he must needs encounter, who has his conversation in the world. But he who is content with solitude, has freedom from all this, and if at any time a strange thought creates a representation of this kind, the image is weak, and capable of being speedily subdued, because there is no fuel added to the flame from without, arising from actual sight. For the recluse has but himself to fear for; or should he be forced to have the care of others they are easily counted: and if they be many, yet they are less than those in our Churches, and they give him who is set over them much lighter anxiety about them, not only on account of their fewness, but because they are all free from worldly concerns, and have neither wife nor children, nor any such thing to care about; and this makes them very deferential to their rulers, and allows them to share the same abode with them, so that they are able to take in their failings accurately at a glance and correct them, seeing that the constant supervision of a teacher is no little help towards advance in virtue.

4. But of those who are subject to the Priest, the greater number are hampered with the cares of this life, and this makes them the slower in the performance of spiritual duties. Whence it is necessary for the teacher to sow every day (so to speak), in order that by its frequency at least, the word of doctrine may be able to be grasped by those who hear. For excessive wealth, and an abundance of power, and sloth the offspring of luxury, and many other things beside these, choke the seeds which have been let fall. Often too the thick growth of thorns does not suffer the seed to drop even upon the surface of the soil. Again, excess of trouble, stress of poverty, constant insults, and other such things, the reverse of the foregoing, take the mind away from anxiety about things divine; and of their people's sins, not even the smallest part can become apparent; for how should it, in the case of those the majority of whom they do not know even by sight?

The Priest's relations with his people involve thus much difficulty. But if any inquire about his relations with God, he will find the others to be as nothing, since these require a greater and more thorough earnestness. For he who acts as an ambassador on behalf of the whole city— but why do I say the city? On behalf of the whole world indeed— prays that God would be merciful to the sins of all, not only of the living, but also of the departed. What manner of man ought he to be? For my part I think that the boldness of speech of Moses and Elias, is insufficient for such supplication. For as though he were entrusted with the whole world and were himself the father of all men, he draws near to God, beseeching that wars may be extinguished everywhere, that tumults may be quelled; asking for peace and plenty, and a swift deliverance from all the ills that beset each one, publicly and privately; and he ought as much to excel in every respect all those on whose behalf he prays, as rulers should excel their subjects.

And whenever he invokes the Holy Spirit, and offers the most dread sacrifice, and constantly handles the common Lord of all, tell me what rank shall we give him? What great purity and what real piety must we demand of him? For consider what manner of hands they ought to be which minister in these things, and of what kind his tongue which utters such words, and ought not the soul which receives so great a spirit to be purer and holier than anything in the world? At such a time angels stand by the Priest; and the whole sanctuary, and the space round about the altar, is filled with the powers of heaven, in honor of Him who lies thereon. For this, indeed, is capable of being proved from the very rites which are being then celebrated. I myself, moreover, have heard some one once relate, that a certain aged, venerable man, accustomed to see revelations, used to tell him, that he being thought worthy of a vision of this kind, at such a time, saw, on a sudden, so far as was possible for him, a multitude of angels, clothed in shining robes, and encircling the altar, and bending down, as one might see soldiers in the presence of their King, and for my part I believe it. Moreover another told me, without learning it from some one else, but as being himself thought worthy to be both an ear and eye witness of it, that, in the case of those who are about to depart hence, if they happen to be partakers of the mysteries, with a pure conscience, when they are about to breathe their last, angels keep guard over them for the sake of what they have received, and bear them hence. And do you not yet tremble to introduce a soul into so sacred a mystery of this kind, and to advance to the dignity of the Priesthood, one robed in filthy raiment, whom Christ has shut out from the rest of the band of guests? Matthew 22:13 The soul of the Priest should shine like a light beaming over the whole world. But mine has so great darkness overhanging it, because of my evil conscience, as to be always cast down and never able to look up with confidence to its Lord. Priests are the salt of the earth. Matthew 5:13 But who would easily put up with my lack of understanding, and my inexperience in all things, but thou, who hast been wont to love me beyond measure. For the Priest ought not only to be thus pure as one who has been dignified with so high a ministry, but very discreet, and skilled in many matters, and to be as well versed in the affairs of this life as they who are engaged in the world, and yet to be free from them all more than the recluses who occupy the mountains. For since he must mix with men who have wives, and who bring up children, who possess servants, and are surrounded with wealth, and fill public positions, and are persons of influence, he too should be a many-sided man— I say many-sided, not unreal, nor yet fawning and hypocritical, but full of much freedom and assurance, and knowing how to adapt himself profitably, where the circumstances of the case require it, and to be both kind and severe, for it is not possible to treat all those under one's charge on one plan, since neither is it well for physicians to apply one course of treatment to all their sick, nor for a pilot to know but one way of contending with the winds. For, indeed, continual storms beset this ship of ours, and these storms do not assail from without only, but take their rise from within, and there is need of much condescension, and circumspection, and all these different matters have one end in view, the glory of God, and the edifying of the Church.

5. Great is the conflict which recluses undergo, and much their toil. But if any one compare their exertions with those which the right exercise of the Priesthood involves, he will find the difference as great as the distance between a king and a commoner. For there, if the labor is great indeed, yet the conflict is common to body and soul, or rather the greater part of it is accomplished by the condition of the body, and if this be not strong, the inclination remains undeveloped, and is unable to come out into action. For the habit of intense fasting, and sleeping on the ground, and keeping vigil, and refraining from the bath, and great toil, and all other means which they use for the affliction of the body are given up, when the body to be thus disciplined is not strong. But in this case purity of soul is the business in hand, and no bodily vigor is required to show its excellence. For what does strength of body contribute towards our being not self-willed, or proud, or headstrong, but sober and prudent, and orderly, and all else, wherein St. Paul filled up the picture of the perfect Priest? But no one could say this of the virtues of the recluse.

6. But as in the case of wonder-workers, a large apparatus is required, both wheels and ropes and daggers; while the philosopher has the whole of his art stored up in his mind, not requiring any external appliances: So accordingly in the case before us. The recluse requires both a good condition of body, and a place suitable for his course of life, in order that such may not be settled too far from intercourse with their fellow men, and may have the tranquillity which belongs to desert places, and yet further, may not fail to enjoy the most favorable climate. For nothing is so unbearable to a body worn with fastings as a climate which is not equable. And what trouble they are compelled to take in the preparation of their clothing and daily food, as they are themselves ambitious of doing all with their own hands, I need not speak of now. But the Priest will require none of these things to supply his wants, but is unconcerned about them, and participates in all things which are harmless, while he has all his skill stored up in the treasure-house of his mind. But if any one admire a solitary life, and retirement from the society of the multitude, I should say myself that such a life was a token of patience, but not a sufficient proof of entire fortitude of soul. For the man who sits at the helm in harbor, does not yet give any certain proof of his art. But if one is able to guide his ship safely in the midst of the sea, no one would deny him to be an excellent steersman.

7. It would be, therefore, in no wise excessively surprising to us, that the recluse, living as he does by himself, is undisturbed and does not commit many and great sins. For he does not meet with things which irritate and excite his mind. But if any one who has devoted himself to whole multitudes, and has been compelled to bear the sins of many, has remained steadfast and firm, guiding his soul in the midst of the storm as if he were in a calm, he is the man to be justly applauded and admired of all, for he has shown sufficient proof of personal manliness. Do not thou, therefore, for your part wonder if I, who avoid the market-place and the haunts of the multitude, have not many to accuse me. For I ought not to wonder, if I sinned not when asleep, nor fell when I did not wrestle, nor was hit if I did not fight. For who, tell me, who will be able to speak against me, and reveal my depravity? Can this roof or cell? Nay, they would not be able to give tongue? Would my mother, who best of all knows my affairs? Well, certainly with her I am neither in communication, nor have we ever come to a quarrel, and if this had happened, no mother is so heartless and wanting in affection for her child as to revile and accuse before all him whom she travailed with, and brought forth, and reared, if there were no reason to constrain her, nor any person to urge her to such an act. Nevertheless, if any one desires to make a careful inspection of my mind, he will discover much which is corrupt there. Nor are you unaware of this who art specially wont to extol me with praises before all. Now that I do not say these things out of mere modesty, recollect how often I said to you, when this subject was being discussed between us, If any one were to give me my choice whether I would rather gain distinction in the oversight of the Church, or in the life of the recluse, I would vote a thousand times over for accepting the former. For I have never failed to congratulate those who have been able to discharge this office well, and no one will gainsay that what I counted blessed I would not have shunned were I able to take part in it fitly. But what am I to do? There is nothing so prejudicial to the oversight of the Church as this inactivity and negligence of mine, which others think to be a sort of self-discipline, but which I hold to be a veil as it were of my personal infirmity, covering the greater number of my defects and not suffering them to appear. For he who is accustomed to enjoy such great freedom from business, and to pass his time in much repose, even if he be of a noble nature, is confused by his inexperience, and is disturbed, and his inactivity deprives him of no small part of his natural ability. But when, besides, he is of slow intellect, and ignorant also of these severe trials, which I take it is my case, he will carry on this ministry which he has received no better than a statue. Wherefore of those who have come to such great trial, out of that school, few shine; and the greater part betray themselves, and fall, and undergo much hardship and sufferings; and no wonder. For the trials and the discipline are not concerned with the same things. The man who is contending in no wise differs from those who are untrained. He who thus enters this list should despise glory, be superior to anger, full of great discretion. But for the exercise of these qualities there is no scope in his case who affects a secluded life. For he does not have many to provoke him in order that he may practise chastising, the force of his anger: nor admirers and applauders in order that he may be trained to despise the praises of the multitudes. And of the discretion which is required in the Church, there is no taking account in their case. Whenever, therefore, they come to the trials of which they have never had practical experience, they get bewildered, their heads are turned, they fall into a state of helplessness, and besides adding nothing to their excellence, may have often lost that which they brought with them.


http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/19226.htm

in fact, read the whole book! order it on the internet, "On the Priesthood"
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« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2013, 01:36:21 AM »

this is an interesting part as well:

"For the Priest ought not only to be thus pure as one who has been dignified with so high a ministry, but very discreet, and skilled in many matters, and to be as well versed in the affairs of this life as they who are engaged in the world, and yet to be free from them all more than the recluses who occupy the mountains. For since he must mix with men who have wives, and who bring up children, who possess servants, and are surrounded with wealth, and fill public positions, and are persons of influence, he too should be a many-sided man— I say many-sided, not unreal, nor yet fawning and hypocritical, but full of much freedom and assurance, and knowing how to adapt himself profitably, where the circumstances of the case require it, and to be both kind and severe, for it is not possible to treat all those under one's charge on one plan, since neither is it well for physicians to apply one course of treatment to all their sick, nor for a pilot to know but one way of contending with the winds. For, indeed, continual storms beset this ship of ours, and these storms do not assail from without only, but take their rise from within, and there is need of much condescension, and circumspection, and all these different matters have one end in view, the glory of God, and the edifying of the Church."
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« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2013, 08:00:35 AM »

Maybe it's just a matter of who you have access to locally?  Where I am currently, there are some good preachers among the priests, they are mostly good great shepherds, but very few are competent teachers.  I've traveled enough to know that different areas have different distributions.   

Yeah, and it varies by jurisdiction.

In my area, there is a clear pattern: In one particular jurisdiction, priests are highly theologically educated, but constantly get themselves into fights. In another, the priests have a totally feeble grasp of doctrine, but they do a great job of keeping their parish running smoothly.

Generally speaking.

I think it has to do with which seminary they go to.

Actually much does depend on which seminary they attend, although all are graduating men stronger in theology and doctrine than in the past. Not all are so good though at producing parish priests - not business administrators, but parish priests.

While what Father G. says is correct in terms of the theology and the prayers of ordination and the model of the role of the Bishop in the lives of the average member of the body of the Church. However, this is a role, which in modern times is more remote than the model and has become akin to that of the Orthodox bishop's counterparts in the western church. I believe good pastoring however has more to do with the motivations and goals of any particular would be Orthodox priest and how he views his relationship to his flock, his family and to God and just what it is he wishes to accomplish in his service.

I've expressed this sentiment before and I will paraphrase it again.

Advice to a would be priest is often three fold. If you are interested solely in an otherworldly, contemplative life - become a monk, stay away from parish life.

If you are more interested in academic theology than in people, continue with your education, be the best you can be in theology. Perhaps there is a place for you as a priest assisting your bishop or diocese, because, being an Orthodox Christian academic involved in the regular life of the church is also a vocation if properly managed.

But if you want to be a parish priest, consider carefully that which is important to the lives of the flock entrusted to you - it is a balance between 'theology and doctrine', service and being an 'icon' - not on a wall but an 'icon' of how to live a Christian life, how to treat people, minister to them and so on. It is a difficult path to undertake.
I agree with what you say, but there is another aspect:  personality.  My parish has two assigned priests.  One is a St. Vladimir's grad and the other St.Tikhon's grad.  One is monastic, one is married.  I know some would prefer the married one, maybe because they get scared of the monastic habit.  But, to me, they are both good preachers, teachers, and pastors.  I have not and would not hesitate coming to them for a personal or theological issue.  I have dispensed with any stereotypes when it comes to seminary education.  I believe it comes down to the person and what a bishop wants his priests to do.
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« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2013, 08:06:14 AM »

Maybe it's just a matter of who you have access to locally?  Where I am currently, there are some good preachers among the priests, they are mostly good great shepherds, but very few are competent teachers.  I've traveled enough to know that different areas have different distributions.   

Yeah, and it varies by jurisdiction.

In my area, there is a clear pattern: In one particular jurisdiction, priests are highly theologically educated, but constantly get themselves into fights. In another, the priests have a totally feeble grasp of doctrine, but they do a great job of keeping their parish running smoothly.

Generally speaking.

I think it has to do with which seminary they go to.

Actually much does depend on which seminary they attend, although all are graduating men stronger in theology and doctrine than in the past. Not all are so good though at producing parish priests - not business administrators, but parish priests.

While what Father G. says is correct in terms of the theology and the prayers of ordination and the model of the role of the Bishop in the lives of the average member of the body of the Church. However, this is a role, which in modern times is more remote than the model and has become akin to that of the Orthodox bishop's counterparts in the western church. I believe good pastoring however has more to do with the motivations and goals of any particular would be Orthodox priest and how he views his relationship to his flock, his family and to God and just what it is he wishes to accomplish in his service.

I've expressed this sentiment before and I will paraphrase it again.

Advice to a would be priest is often three fold. If you are interested solely in an otherworldly, contemplative life - become a monk, stay away from parish life.

If you are more interested in academic theology than in people, continue with your education, be the best you can be in theology. Perhaps there is a place for you as a priest assisting your bishop or diocese, because, being an Orthodox Christian academic involved in the regular life of the church is also a vocation if properly managed.

But if you want to be a parish priest, consider carefully that which is important to the lives of the flock entrusted to you - it is a balance between 'theology and doctrine', service and being an 'icon' - not on a wall but an 'icon' of how to live a Christian life, how to treat people, minister to them and so on. It is a difficult path to undertake.
I agree with what you say, but there is another aspect:  personality.  My parish has two assigned priests.  One is a St. Vladimir's grad and the other St.Tikhon's grad.  One is monastic, one is married.  I know some would prefer the married one, maybe because they get scared of the monastic habit.  But, to me, they are both good preachers, teachers, and pastors.  I have not and would not hesitate coming to them for a personal or theological issue.  I have dispensed with any stereotypes when it comes to seminary education.  I believe it comes down to the person and what a bishop wants his priests to do.

I agree, I took for granted personality. But...it matters. Among the Slavs at least, if the priest can't sing reasonably well, he will have problems with many people and that is sad, I've seen how mean that can make some act.
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« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2013, 08:10:27 AM »

True, but I think there would be mean people talking about their priest if he couldn't sing (or any other issue they didn't like), regardless of the ethnicity or jurisdiction.
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« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2013, 09:10:25 AM »

Well, not always....  At my grandmother's Rusyn Greek Catholic church, a young priest was assigned. He had a stutter.  His grandmother had advised him not to become a priest but that was his dream so he persisted.  The stutter did come out during the Liturgy, and he would slow it down to try to overcome his stutter.  The slowness was harder for me to get used to, after being used to priests that could belt out the Liturgy.  But, he was a great priest and the parish loved him. Especially all the little old ladies.......
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« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2013, 09:27:59 AM »

Well, not always....  At my grandmother's Rusyn Greek Catholic church, a young priest was assigned. He had a stutter.  His grandmother had advised him not to become a priest but that was his dream so he persisted.  The stutter did come out during the Liturgy, and he would slow it down to try to overcome his stutter.  The slowness was harder for me to get used to, after being used to priests that could belt out the Liturgy.  But, he was a great priest and the parish loved him. Especially all the little old ladies.......

Of course, not always, but stereotypical descriptions exist based upon observed or exaggerated distortions of observed behavior. Exceptions do tend to support a rule. (I did not say "prove" the rule....intentionally...)
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« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2013, 09:29:46 AM »

Yes, of course.....  I just wanted to share a good story about a parish that behaved very well.  That's all.
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« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2013, 09:38:36 AM »

Well, not always....  At my grandmother's Rusyn Greek Catholic church, a young priest was assigned. He had a stutter.  His grandmother had advised him not to become a priest but that was his dream so he persisted.  The stutter did come out during the Liturgy, and he would slow it down to try to overcome his stutter.  The slowness was harder for me to get used to, after being used to priests that could belt out the Liturgy.  But, he was a great priest and the parish loved him. Especially all the little old ladies.......

That's really sweet!  They did the Christian thing.
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« Reply #15 on: October 25, 2013, 10:24:26 AM »

Well, not always....  At my grandmother's Rusyn Greek Catholic church, a young priest was assigned. He had a stutter.  His grandmother had advised him not to become a priest but that was his dream so he persisted.  The stutter did come out during the Liturgy, and he would slow it down to try to overcome his stutter.  The slowness was harder for me to get used to, after being used to priests that could belt out the Liturgy.  But, he was a great priest and the parish loved him. Especially all the little old ladies.......

That's really sweet!  They did the Christian thing.

I think today, that much loud mouthed type complaining would more likely be stood up to in most parishes than was the case thirty years or more ago. That is called progress by most of us!
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« Reply #16 on: October 25, 2013, 09:39:13 PM »

Gunnarr, both of those posts are very interesting. I, in all honesty, haven't read much on the priesthood and probably should start. In Orthodoxy, is the priesthood and the parish, who are also charged as priests, considered to be part of the priesthood as well or is the priesthood strictly clergy?
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« Reply #17 on: October 25, 2013, 10:07:53 PM »

maybe people who complain about the priest should go to Goodguyswearblack.org.
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« Reply #18 on: October 25, 2013, 10:24:37 PM »

Quote
maybe people who complain about the priest should go to Goodguyswearblack.org.

I was not complaining. Being new to Orthodoxy, I'm trying to learn and understand.
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« Reply #19 on: October 26, 2013, 08:43:18 PM »

Gunnarr, both of those posts are very interesting. I, in all honesty, haven't read much on the priesthood and probably should start. In Orthodoxy, is the priesthood and the parish, who are also charged as priests, considered to be part of the priesthood as well or is the priesthood strictly clergy?

I'm a bit confused with the wording of your question, but from what I can gather:

The priesthood (clergy) in the Church consists of bishops, presbyters (priests), and deacons.  Subdeacons, readers, and acolytes are tonsured, but are only considered as minor orders; they still have responsibilities, but not to the extent of the clergy.
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« Reply #20 on: October 26, 2013, 08:48:55 PM »

Gunnarr, both of those posts are very interesting. I, in all honesty, haven't read much on the priesthood and probably should start. In Orthodoxy, is the priesthood and the parish, who are also charged as priests, considered to be part of the priesthood as well or is the priesthood strictly clergy?

I'm a bit confused with the wording of your question, but from what I can gather:

The priesthood (clergy) in the Church consists of bishops, presbyters (priests), and deacons.  Subdeacons, readers, and acolytes are tonsured, but are only considered as minor orders; they still have responsibilities, but not to the extent of the clergy.

Perhaps what is meant is the distinction between the "sacred priesthood," which is the clergy, and the "royal priesthood," which consists of all the baptized.
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« Reply #21 on: October 27, 2013, 09:58:47 AM »

Gunnarr, both of those posts are very interesting. I, in all honesty, haven't read much on the priesthood and probably should start. In Orthodoxy, is the priesthood and the parish, who are also charged as priests, considered to be part of the priesthood as well or is the priesthood strictly clergy?

I'm a bit confused with the wording of your question, but from what I can gather:

The priesthood (clergy) in the Church consists of bishops, presbyters (priests), and deacons.  Subdeacons, readers, and acolytes are tonsured, but are only considered as minor orders; they still have responsibilities, but not to the extent of the clergy.

I would not include deacons in priesthood either.
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« Reply #22 on: October 27, 2013, 12:44:01 PM »

I would not include deacons in priesthood either.

Why not?
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« Reply #23 on: October 27, 2013, 04:39:49 PM »

I would not include deacons in priesthood either.

Why not?

Can not serve the Liturgy.
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« Reply #24 on: October 27, 2013, 05:04:54 PM »

Can not serve the Liturgy.

I agree that deacons cannot offer the Liturgy, but they certainly serve it; nevertheless, I wouldn't number them outside the priesthood based on that alone. 
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« Reply #25 on: October 27, 2013, 05:08:23 PM »

I would not include deacons in priesthood either.

Why not?

Can not serve the Liturgy.

However, Deacons can and do distribute Holy Communion. Also Deacons can and do deliver the Sunday homily.
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« Reply #26 on: October 27, 2013, 05:09:39 PM »

However, Deacons can and do distribute Holy Communion.

Like everyone prior to Nicea. And they do not do it here.

Quote
Also Deacons can and do deliver the Sunday homily.

Not here.
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« Reply #27 on: October 27, 2013, 05:19:06 PM »

However, Deacons can and do distribute Holy Communion.

Like everyone prior to Nicea. And they do not do it here.

Everyone distributed Communion prior to Nicaea? 
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« Reply #28 on: October 27, 2013, 05:21:52 PM »

However, Deacons can and do distribute Holy Communion.

Like everyone prior to Nicea. And they do not do it here.

Everyone distributed Communion prior to Nicaea? 

I was told people were being given takeout to participate daily at homes.
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« Reply #29 on: October 27, 2013, 05:25:42 PM »

Gunnarr, both of those posts are very interesting. I, in all honesty, haven't read much on the priesthood and probably should start. In Orthodoxy, is the priesthood and the parish, who are also charged as priests, considered to be part of the priesthood as well or is the priesthood strictly clergy?

I'm a bit confused with the wording of your question, but from what I can gather:

The priesthood (clergy) in the Church consists of bishops, presbyters (priests), and deacons.  Subdeacons, readers, and acolytes are tonsured, but are only considered as minor orders; they still have responsibilities, but not to the extent of the clergy.

Perhaps what is meant is the distinction between the "sacred priesthood," which is the clergy, and the "royal priesthood," which consists of all the baptized.

Or perhaps simply the clerical priesthood versus the theological "royal priesthood."

The Orthodox notion of the latter seems to be limited to something written in the Bible somewhere. Definitely not something the Orthodox would traditionally emphasize, if it even ever crosses their minds.
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« Reply #30 on: October 27, 2013, 05:26:56 PM »

My rector (one of the two) mentions "royal priesthood" every second sermon.
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« Reply #31 on: October 27, 2013, 05:28:56 PM »

I was told people were being given takeout to participate daily at homes.

I would hesitate to call what would now be referred to as "Presanctified" as "takeout", but yeah, people would take Communion home with them to communicate during the week (not sure how universal it was).  But that's different from "everyone distributing Communion".  They would receive the Eucharist from the bishop/priest, they wouldn't just grab a handful for themselves from a buffet line.  It's an important point, because it preserves the idea that the Eucharist is always given and received, never "taken", even if self-administered.  
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« Reply #32 on: October 27, 2013, 05:30:02 PM »

So while at home who were ministering them Eucharist?
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« Reply #33 on: October 27, 2013, 05:33:42 PM »

So while at home who were ministering them Eucharist?

...the Eucharist is always given and received, never "taken", even if self-administered
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« Reply #34 on: October 27, 2013, 05:36:21 PM »

I was told people were being given takeout to participate daily at homes.

I would hesitate to call what would now be referred to as "Presanctified" as "takeout", but yeah, people would take Communion home with them to communicate during the week (not sure how universal it was).  But that's different from "everyone distributing Communion".  They would receive the Eucharist from the bishop/priest, they wouldn't just grab a handful for themselves from a buffet line.  It's an important point, because it preserves the idea that the Eucharist is always given and received, never "taken", even if self-administered.  

Excellent point, Mor.
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« Reply #35 on: October 27, 2013, 05:44:44 PM »

However, Deacons can and do distribute Holy Communion.

Like everyone prior to Nicea. And they do not do it here.

Quote
Also Deacons can and do deliver the Sunday homily.

Not here.
One of our deacons gives the homily infrequently. I don't know if he is training to be a priest or not.  I've never heard the other deacon give a homily.
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« Reply #36 on: October 27, 2013, 07:02:57 PM »

Quote
I'm a bit confused with the wording of your question, but from what I can gather:

The priesthood (clergy) in the Church consists of bishops, presbyters (priests), and deacons.  Subdeacons, readers, and acolytes are tonsured, but are only considered as minor orders; they still have responsibilities, but not to the extent of the clergy.

My parish priest told me that we all stand during liturgy because we're all called to be ministers or priests. Not necessarily part of the clergy but in the sense that how we live our lives is a witness.
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« Reply #37 on: October 29, 2013, 10:50:56 PM »

I'm new to Orthodoxy as I've stated in other posts and this isn't to judge rather its to understand.

I've always felt that there are three important characteristics, not the only or most important ones, of a priest or minister is teaching, preaching and shepherding. A decent minister would have at least one of those while really gifted ministers would have two or all three of those. Since I've come to Orthodoxy, I've noticed that most all priests that I've met are excellent teachers, probably coming from the great educational backgrounds that the church requires. I've seen a few good preachers but those who I felt were true shepherds are like needles in a hay stack. To some degree it seems like priests seem to keep their parishes at a certain distance.

Am I completely off base or is there some thing to what I'm saying?

In America (OCA) the priests who would go through seminary would already have a bachelor's degree. Often priests in poorer countries are people who indeed have smarts. 

As in all people though, they vary.  Some are better speakers, some chanters, and others better leaders.  Some are better with adults, some better with children...  Some are better at being monastics.

Remember that a Shepherd comes in varieties.  No two shepherd's are exactly alike.   I know this from my farm.   We use straight staffs to herd the goats & sheep, while other people we know have the looped end staff.   Some you stiff rope.    Others use call sounds, while others use dogs.   It still herds the goats & sheep in the direction you want them to go.

While some priest's may be better speakers or leaders than others, you may have to watch for different techniques by each to understand them.  Some may lead by example, others may lead vocally.
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