The Archbishop of Athens, Hieronymus, appealed to all the clergy in the country to be close to each and every person, because without this their ministry becomes meaningless. In his speech today after the solemn service in the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Chrysospilyotissa, he said:
“If the Church, the archbishop, bishops and priests are not concerned about every single person, then they have no purpose in their lives.” And he added: “The Church and priests exist because there are people with difficulties and problems in life, and because of that God has called us to become co-workers.”
“When God bends down to every person’s wound, to every problem, to every difficulty, even when he meets denial, we have no right to follow another path and go in another direction. This is why all clerics, be they archbishops, bishops or priests, are called to be servants of man.”
The head of the Greek Church believes that today’s medicine to deal with the growing difficulties of society is cooperation: “In our country, we need to forget about differences and put them on the back burner, and cooperation should come first. The Church must set an example here as well. The priests must cooperate with the people, the bishops – with each other and with the people, so that the people can hand it over to the politicians and everyone around us who are fighting for this country. For everyone to understand that this is the best medicine, and to strive for cooperation, coexistence and understanding.”
For his part, Australian Archbishop Macarius called on the clergy of his diocese to remember that their priestly mission is to direct people not to themselves, but to Christ and the Church. He delivered his pastoral speech during a priestly ordination in the church “St. Charalampius” in Melbourne, and the reason is the way some clerics preach from the pulpit – in the center of their sermons they put themselves, their experiences, thinking that this way they make their word more interesting and alive, while in fact they self-centeredly obscure the message of Christ . This is how they gain followers, subtly creating a cult of their own personality instead of directing people’s attention to Christ.
According to Archbishop Macarius the priest must bear in mind the danger of losing orientation to his mission, despite the enthusiasm with which he begins his priestly ministry:
“And this happens because we priests forget that we are here not to preach ourselves, not to say things from ourselves, not to lead people to ourselves and win people’s love, but to we point people to Christ and the Church.”
There are three basic principles that the priest must observe if he wants to avoid this danger: never to identify himself with Christ, never to identify himself with the Church, and never to identify himself with the Holy Spirit.
“There are many cases of clergymen who come out and speak in the name of the Holy Spirit and preach heresy. There are many cases of clergymen who go out and, instead of Christ, talk about their lives and accomplishments, about the good things they believe in, or even worse – raise the tongue in the pulpit in the street, because they think that this way they become current, but they forget that the sermon is a sacred matter and not everyone can say what he wants, what interests him, what he believes in and especially what he personally lives”.
This is also advised by the model in the preaching work – St. John Chrysostom: “We do not preach and reveal our lives, but our goal is to preach and reveal Christ.”
Photo by Ron Lach / pexels