Author Topic: The dangers of the priesthood (of being a priest)  (Read 1061 times)

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Offline wgw

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The dangers of the priesthood (of being a priest)
« on: January 23, 2016, 03:14:14 PM »
Orthonorm made a reference to this in another thread.   Now, I don't want to talk about priests being "dangerous" because that would be rather impious; I would instead like to ask our clerical members and other knowledgeable persons: what specific danger does a priestly vocation pose to oneself and one's family?

I have heard from reliable sources that priests and bishops are subjected to demonic attacks in the form of temptation, physical discomfort and so on, that the laity are not subjected to.  Is that true?
Axios and many years to you, Fr. Trenham!

Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: The dangers of the priesthood (of being a priest)
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2016, 03:42:36 PM »
Obviously, those who are priests will be best suited to answer this question, but I would think the isolation would be very difficult. For better or worse, the priest tends to be separated from the laity as does his family to a certain extent.
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Offline vorgos

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Re: The dangers of the priesthood (of being a priest)
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2016, 08:25:33 PM »
When visiting Mount Athos a few years back I overheard a conversation between the Elder (a priest-monk) and another monk (second in command so to speak). Basically, the Elder had gone outside Mount Athos, as they do to minister to those faithful who cannot or do not want to confess to their local priests.

On his return to the monastery he was physically attacked. Something/Someone was trying to struggle him. Having never heard of such a thing, I inquired about it to the monk and he informed me that it is not the first time it has happened.

So you can imagine how miffed the evil one would be when his plans and effort is undone.

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Offline Asteriktos

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Re: The dangers of the priesthood (of being a priest)
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2016, 09:48:53 PM »
Fwiw some quotes...

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For it is to be feared that we shall have to hear these words concerning those who have been entrusted to us: I will require their souls at your hands (Eze. 3:18).

-- St. Gregory the Theologian, Oration 2.113 (On the Priesthood)

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It is further the duty of the priest or the cleric to be of use if possible to all and to be harmful to none. If it is not possible to help one without injuring another, it is better to help neither than to press hard upon one.

-- St. Ambrose of Milan, Three Books on the Duties of the Clergy, 3.58-59

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For the priestly office is indeed discharged on earth, but it ranks among heavenly ordinances; and very naturally so: for neither man, nor angel, nor archangel, nor any other created power, but the Paraclete Himself, instituted this vocation, and persuaded men while still abiding in the flesh to represent the ministry of angels. Wherefore the consecrated priest ought to be as pure as if he were standing in the heavens themselves in the midst of those powers. Fearful, indeed, and of most awful import, were the things which were used before the dispensation of grace... But if any one should examine the things which belong to the dispensation of grace, he will find that, small as they are, yet are they fearful and full of awe...

-- St. John Chrysostom, Treatise on the Priesthood, 3.4


I know my own soul, how feeble and puny it is: I know the magnitude of this ministry, and the great difficulty of the work; for more stormy billows vex the soul of the priest than the gales which disturb the sea. And first of all is that most terrible rock of vainglory, more dangerous than that of the Sirens,  of which the fable-mongers tell such marvellous tales: for many were able to sail past that and escape unscathed; but this is to me so dangerous that even now, when no necessity of any kind impels me into that abyss, I am unable to keep clear of the snare: but if any one were to commit this charge to me, it would be all the same as if he tied my hands behind my back, and delivered me to the wild beasts dwelling on that rock to rend me in pieces day by day.

Do you ask what those wild beasts are? They are wrath, despondency, envy, strife, slanders, accusations, falsehood, hypocrisy, intrigues, anger against those who have done no harm, pleasure at the indecorous acts of fellow ministers, sorrow at their prosperity, love of praise, desire of honor (which indeed most of all drives the human soul headlong to perdition), doctrines devised to please, servile flatteries, ignoble fawning, contempt of the poor, paying court to the rich, senseless and mischievous honors, favors attended with danger both to those who offer and those who accept them, sordid fear suited only to the basest of slaves, the abolition of plain speaking, a great affectation of humility, but banishment of truth, the suppression of convictions and reproofs, or rather the excessive use of them against the poor, while against those who are invested with power no one dare open his lips.

-- Treatise on the Priesthood, 3.8-9


For it is not itself a cause of the evils already mentioned, but we, who as far as lies in our power have defiled it with so many pollutions, by entrusting it to commonplace men who readily accept what is offered them, without having first acquired a knowledge of their own souls, or considered the gravity of the office, and when they have entered on the work, being blinded by inexperience, overwhelm with innumerable evils the people who have been committed to their care.

--Treatise on the Priesthood, 3.10


What severe punishment, then, must be expected by one who has not only to render an account of the offenses which he himself has separately committed, but also incurs extreme danger on account of the sins committed by others? For if we shudder at undergoing judgment for our own misdeeds, believing that we shall not be able to escape the fire of the other world, what must one expect to suffer who has to answer for so many others? To prove the truth of this, listen to the blessed Paul, or rather not to him, but to Christ speaking in him, when he says: 'Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit, for they watch for your souls as they that shall give account.' (Heb 13:17)

-- Treatise on the Priesthood, 3.17

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Did you but know that a Bishop is bound to belong to all, to bear the burden of all; that others, if they are angry, are pardoned, but he never; that others, if they sin, have excuses made for them, he has none; you would not be eager for the dignity, would not run after it. So it is, the Bishop is exposed to the tongues of all, to the criticism of all, whether they be wise or fools. He is harassed with cares every day, nay, every night. He has many to hate him, many to envy him. Talk not to me of those who curry favor with all, of those who desire to sleep, of those who advance to this office as for repose. We have nothing to do with these; we speak of those who watch for your souls, who consider the safety and welfare of those under them before their own.

Tell me now: suppose a man has ten children, always living with him, and constantly under his control; yet is he solicitous about them; and a bishop, who has such numbers, not living under the same roof with him, but owing obedience to his authority— what does he not need to be! But he is honored, you will say. With what sort of honor, indeed! Why, the paupers and beggars abuse him openly in the market-place. And why does he not stop their mouths then? Yes, very proper work, this, for a bishop, is it not? Then again, if he do not give to all, the idle and the industrious alike, lo! A thousand complaints on all sides. None is afraid to accuse him, and speak evil of him. In the case of civil governors, fear steps in; with bishops, nothing of the kind. As for the fear of God, it does not influence people, as regards them, in the least degree. Why speak of the anxiety connected with the word and doctrine? The painful work in Ordinations? Either, perhaps, I am a poor wretched incompetent creature, or else, the case is as I say.

The soul of a Bishop is for all the world like a vessel in a storm: lashed from every side, by friends, by foes, by one's own people, by strangers. Does not the Emperor rule the whole world, the Bishop a single city? Yet a Bishop's anxieties are as much beyond those of the emperor, as the waters of a river simply moved, by the wind are surpassed in agitation by the swelling and raging sea. And why? Because in the one case there are many to lend a hand, for all goes on by law and by rule; but in the other there is none of this, nor is there authority to command; but if one be greatly moved, then he is harsh; if the contrary, then he is cold! And in him these opposites must meet, that he may neither be despised, nor be hated. Besides, the very demands of business preoccupy him: how many is he obliged to offend, whether he will or not! How many to be severe with! I speak not otherwise than it is, but as I find it in my own actual experience.

I do not think there are many among Bishops that will be saved, but many more that perish: and the reason is, that it is an affair that requires a great mind. Many are the exigencies which throw a man out of his natural temper; and he had need have a thousand eyes on all sides

-- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 3 on Acts

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Paul however previously commended them, and then says, 'Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves, for they watch for your souls, as they that shall give account.' (Heb. 13:17) Let those who rule also hear, and not only those who are under their rule; that as the subjects ought to be obedient, so also the rulers ought to be watchful and sober. What do you say? He watches; he imperils his own head; he is subject to the punishments of your sins, and for your sake is amenable to what is so fearful, and are you slothful, and affectedly indifferent, and at ease? Therefore he says, That they may do this with joy, and not with grief: for this is unprofitable for you

-- St. John Chrysostom, Homily 34 on Hebrews

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With kind and humble intent you reprove me, dearest brother, for having wished by hiding myself to fly from the burdens of pastoral care; as to which, lest to some they should appear light, I express with my pen in the book before you all my own estimate of their heaviness, in order both that he who is free from them may not unwarily seek them, and that he who has so sought them may tremble for having got them.

-- St. Gregory the Great, Book of the Pastoral Rule
"when Mme. Vauquer lay down to rest on the day of M. Goriot's installation, her heart, like a larded partridge, sweltered before the fire of a burning desire to shake off the shroud of Vauquer and rise again as Goriot." - Balzac

Offline wgw

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Re: The dangers of the priesthood (of being a priest)
« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2016, 12:14:59 AM »
Very good stuff, Vorgos and Asteriktos.

Now, does becoming a priest, ceteris paribus, expose ones relatives to any danger?
Axios and many years to you, Fr. Trenham!

Offline Aram

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Re: The dangers of the priesthood (of being a priest)
« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2016, 12:20:17 AM »
Does exposure to literally decades of rubber church banquet chicken eaten at a head table count?

Offline wgw

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Re: The dangers of the priesthood (of being a priest)
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2016, 12:34:49 AM »
Does exposure to literally decades of rubber church banquet chicken eaten at a head table count?

Possibly.  I thought Armenians had such good food however?  Obviously the chicken was not cooked by my friend Ara.   ;)
« Last Edit: January 24, 2016, 12:35:43 AM by wgw »
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Offline Indocern

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Re: The dangers of the priesthood (of being a priest)
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2016, 06:06:58 AM »
Orthonorm made a reference to this in another thread.   Now, I don't want to talk about priests being "dangerous" because that would be rather impious; I would instead like to ask our clerical members and other knowledgeable persons: what specific danger does a priestly vocation pose to oneself and one's family?

I have heard from reliable sources that priests and bishops are subjected to demonic attacks in the form of temptation, physical discomfort and so on, that the laity are not subjected to.  Is that true?

Yes priests and monks are subject of demon attacks but for their strong faith they can successful deal with it and maybe they are not dangerous for their families.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2016, 06:20:12 AM by Indocern »

Offline Gebre Menfes Kidus

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Re: The dangers of the priesthood (of being a priest)
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2016, 08:08:27 AM »
Christianity is dangerous to all involved. Period.


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Offline Seraffa

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Re: The dangers of the priesthood (of being a priest)
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2016, 10:09:21 PM »
This brings to mind a sermon I heard within the last 3 months that stressed that the Evil One doesn't take joy so much in attacking and capturing the weak of Faith, but that he likes to go for the strong first: like a big game hunter, in other words.

Having lived the "fishbowl aspect" of being a Presbyter's wife: well - clash of ideals, envy, gossip can be assaults from without the parish or from within.

And regarding visits from the Evil one personally: I do recall a happening in our house one night after he had been serving as Deacon for a little while. We had gotten the news what parish he would be assigned to, about 800 miles away, se we began talking about how to prepare for the move. While we did, we heard a crashccoming from directly over head in our attic: as if someone up there had picked up aa heavy chair and thrown it down hard on the floor.

"Did you hear that?" I asked.
"Yes, I did" he said.
"Please go up there and have a look around first."

We both went....and we both found nothing. But we knew what happened, and why.
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