23 years ago, in the feast of the saints of the first-ever apostles Peter and Paul blessedly the elder Paisius of the Svyatogorets blessed, ranked in 2015 year to the rank of saints.
Reflections of the Reverend Elder Paisius on the priesthood and pastoral vocation.
The priest can never close the door of his house in front of others. The priest has a great responsibility. Someone has reached despair, someone is sick and needs help, someone is lying at the last gasp ... Some priests have to accept, others to visit himself. The priest can not refuse. The souls of people are in danger, and he must help them. If he does not help these souls and God will take them unprepared, then who will bear responsibility for this? Is not it a priest?
As a monk, I can close my door and leave. I can disappear from human eyes and quietly help the world with prayer. Because to unravel the tangles of human problems is not my business. My business is to create a prayer for peace. I did not become a priest or a confessor just to help people in a different way, monastic.
If I were a priest in the world, I could never close the doors of my house. I always, without making any distinction between people, I would have to give everyone what he needed. Before, I would take care of my parishioners, and give the excess [time, forces, opportunities] to others - those who would ask me for help. I would not worry only about believers, but also about unbelievers, and about atheists, even about the enemies of the Church. Or, if I were a confessor and one person complained to me about another, then I would call to myself and that - the other, to understand their relationship. I would call people on the phone to find out what happened to a person who had previously experienced some kind of temptation, how he lives who faced some sort of difficulty. Could I, for all this, lead a quiet, silent life?
The priest must go before the others, so that the believers follow him. Look like in the herd: ahead comes the leader, and behind him - the other sheep. The leader turns the horns to the right, and all the sheep turn to the right. All sheep follow the head of the herd - their leader. Therefore, the sheep do not fend off the herd - one lamb runs after another. The leader sets the direction, the sheep follow him.
- Geronda, and if the shepherd loves any one - good - a flock more than another, differing in excessive claims, is it justified?
"Look, you, for example, are a shepherd." You have a lot of lambs in the herd. Some peacefully pinch the grass and blush joyfully, while others - zamoryshi or sick - huddle together. What will you care about more? Is not it about the money? And if some lambs are attacked by a jackal and they begin to bleat piteously, then to whom will you hurry to help? To those who joyfully and calmly graze and bleat, or to those who are heart-rendingly screaming, asking to protect them from a predator? A shepherd is more sick for a lamb wounded, and he cares for him especially, until he becomes healthy. And those who work miracles, and those who are wounded by the enemy - the devil, should occupy the same place in our heart. We should not internally despise the latter. To those who formerly led a sinful life, and now struggles, striving to cut off their passions, I experience more love, more pain, than to those who do not torment passions. I remember the first ones all the time. If there is inner love in a person, then his neighbor is also notified about her, because this love is sweetening to the whole outer man - she makes it beautiful by means of Divine Grace, which can not be hidden, because it shines.
Pastors, be they priests or bishops, it would be good to remember and about Moses, about how he was tormented by two million stubborn people. About how much he prayed with love for his people, about how much grief he had had with the people during the long years of wandering through the desert, until he brought them to the Promised Land. Bringing all this into memory, the Christian shepherds will receive an inexhaustible power and will never ripple because of their suffering - insignificant compared to the suffering that Moses experienced.
"Geronda, why did not you become a priest?"
"Our goal is to be saved." The priesthood is not a means of salvation [the person who takes it].
- And you were never offered to become a priest?
- I was forced to do this many times. When I lived in a dormitory monastery, I was coerced into both the priesthood and the great schema. But the task is to become a monk inside. I was concerned with just this - nothing else took me. As a young man, a layman, I experienced some miraculous events, and therefore, when I came to the monastery, he said: "Enough is enough for me to live in monastic life." The main emphasis I made on this, and I was not concerned with the question, when will I be tonsured into a great schema and will I become a priest. And recently one person came to Panaguda's cell where I live, who very much insisted that I take the holy dignity. He even went about this to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and when the Exarchy from Constantinople came to the Holy Mountain, he approached them with the same question. But the bishops answered him: "Tell this to Father Paisius himself. So that it does not happen that we will make a decision about his ordination, and he will run away from us. "
So he came to me. When I heard this, I even shouted at him. Then he says to me: "Become, at least, a priest to read permissive prayer over people who come to you. After all, they tell you not only about their difficulties, but also about their sins. Did not you complain to me about the confusion that people differently talk about their spiritual problems to different clerics? But does not it happen that you tell them to tell something to their confessor or a bishop, but they say only half? That's why become a confessor yourself: listen to their sins and read them permission prayer, so that they receive the permission of sins and their spiritual problems are also resolved. " He, the poor fellow, said all this with good intent, but what he was offering was not for me.
"So Geronda, what should a man do that feels that he is weak for the priesthood, but others are pushing him toward it?"
- Let him tell them his thoughts. No one can be forced either to the priesthood or to the great schema. However, if a person obeys and accepts with humility what he is offered, if he applies a little bit of piety and a little love, then God will make up for everything. And besides, the people themselves have an unmistakable criterion: they see those who became a priest from the love of God and to serve His Church.
After all, there are also those who want to become a priest from the lust of popularity. If such priests find themselves in some kind of embarrassment, they will suffer because Christ will not help them - unless they put up with and repent. However, if a person wants to become a priest without pursuing some worldly goals, then in a moment of danger Christ will help him. But in general, according to the [spiritual] law it is necessary that you be forced into the priesthood, it is necessary that others want this, so that the Church would want it. Then you will be covered by Christ, and if you find yourself in a difficult situation, others will stand in your defense, and Christ Himself will also help you.
Of course, rarely and very few go to priests for some unspiritual calculations. I'm not even talking about such people. Most go to priests with a good disposition. But then the devil starts his work, and you see how the father has a love for fame, a passionate desire to receive a higher rank and he forgets everything. Some even go so far as to use people, acquaintances, intermediaries to be appointed the abbot of the church, elected in bishops, put on some sort of ecclesiastical office ... They start for Christ's sake, they finish for the sake of the golden cross ... Golden crosses, golden mitts, diamond panagias ... Anything except what is really needed. How the devil deceives us if we are not attentive! ..
- Geronda, what does God want from a priest and what do people want from him?
"What God wants is very great, you do not have to touch it." And about what people want ... In the old days priests struggled, were virtuous, holy and people before them revered.
And today people want from the priest two things: that he was not covetous and had love.
If people find these two things in a priest, then they consider him a saint and run to church with all their might. And since they run to the Church, they are saved. Then God, in His condescension, saves this priest too. But whatever it is, the priest must have great purity.
Monk, the devil tries to weaken with discontent and murmur, in order to put him out of order and that his prayer is deprived of any spiritual power. In order for a monk to have the grace of the Holy Spirit, he must be a real monk. Only then does he have some kind of authority from God and his prayer helps people very effectively. But the priest, even when not in a spiritually high state, still helps people - the priesthood authority that is given to him. He helps them by performing the Sacraments by serving the prayers, trebs, performing other priestly duties. Even if the priest kills a person, the Sacraments he performs will still be valid until he is banned from the priesthood. However, if the priest is in a high spiritual state, then he is a real priest and helps others more.
Answering the priests, asking me how they can help their parishioners, and in general, when talking with everyone who carries some kind of pastoral responsibility, I emphasize the following: we must try to work on ourselves. It is necessary to fulfill the prescribed prayer rule, but not limited to one, you need to work spiritually "above the norm" to always have some spiritual savings.
Spiritual work on oneself is simultaneously a quiet work on our neighbor, because a good example speaks for itself. And then people imitate the good that they see, and they are corrected. Not having obtained the spiritual wealth needed to live on "spiritual interest" in cases where we have to "work" spiritually to work for others, we will be the most unhappy and deplorable people. Therefore, it should not be considered a waste of time to work on yourself - no matter how this work may be: short, long or permanent - lifelong. After all, this mysterious work has the ability to perform the mysterious preaching of the word of God in the souls of people. The well-venerated man of God conveys the divine grace to others and changes the people of the flesh. Releasing them from the slavery of passions, he thereby brings them closer to God, and they are saved.
"Blessed memory of the elder Paisius of the Holy Trinity. The words. Volume I. With pain and love about the modern man "