If you know a godly priest or monastic father… give thanks for the blessing that they bring to our lives. May God increase his church through the increase of His holy Deacons and Priests.
NEW WEBSITE FOR PROSPECTIVE PRIESTS, DEACONS
June 1, 2011 – Today marks the launch of a unique new website in the Orthodox Christian world: Good Guys Wear Black
“This is a vocations website,” said Fr. John A. Peck, the designer and maintainer of the site. “It is geared specifically for young men discerning a calling. There is almost no other information out there to help them discern, to show them how to think about such a vocation. Good Guys Wear Black fills that void.”
The site contains a multitude of challenging and provocative articles about the Holy Priesthood, pastoral work, front line challenges in parish ministry, and more. Information about the life, education, formation and struggles of taking on the Priesthood of Christ will be a regular feature. There are sections on each of the seminaries and theological schools which will hopefully expand with the cooperation of each school. A workbook for prospective theological students, to help them better discern their calling, will be available shortly.
“Why do you call them “Father”? The Bible says to call no one Father…”
Perhaps you are puzzled when you see Orthodox Christians call their priest Father, and show him other signs of love and respect. They do this because of the special relationship which he has with them: he is truly a father. Let me explain how this is so. In the Orthodox Church, the priest becomes our father when he brings us to birth in Christ at our baptism. He nurtures us and helps us to grow strong by his guidance, and also by the protection of his prayers. Most important of all, it is he who feeds us with Christ Himself, the Bread of Life, in the Divine Liturgy. When we find ourselves in difficulties, he lovingly reads prayers over us, imploring God’s healing and forgiveness. We hope that he will be there when we pass from this world, accompanying us with the prayers of the Church in our hour of need.
The priest is someone we can go to, someone who cares for us–for we are not alone. This is a very important issue! In Orthodoxy we believe that we are always saved with others. Separation is the result of sin, whereas Christ restores and unites. When we come into His Church, we find we are no longer on our own. We have brothers and sisters, spiritual fathers and mothers–and, as time passes, even spiritual children of our own. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1). As time passes, we become aware that we are all responsible for each other. This does not mean that the Church is some kind of club. It has nothing to do with our own likes or dislikes, or mere biology–what Sacred Scripture calls “the will of the flesh” (John 1:13)–but the new reality that our Savior establishes, which He calls the Kingdom of God (Matthew 4:17). The holy apostle Paul was referring to this new reality when he wrote to the Corinthians that he became their father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel (1 Corinthians 4:15).
We know that all fatherhood comes from God. Our Master even tells us to call no man on earth our teacher, or father, or master ( Matthew 23:8-10). Does this mean that Christians are not to acknowledge anyone with love and respect, even their parents? On the contrary, it is clear that we are still to honor father and mother (cf. Matthew 15:1-6)– indeed, all men, including secular authorities ( 1 Peter 2:13-17). But with the coming of Christ our human relationships are changed. They are no longer absolutes, for God is our true father, mother, master, teacher and friend. In cases of serious conflict, the Christian must choose the Lord (cf. Matthew 10:34-37; Acts 5:29). Our ties with others are not destroyed by our Savior, but they are liberated from their worldly, and often sinful, limitations and restored to their proper place in the Kingdom of God.
The honor and love shown to the priest in the Orthodox Church is not for himself. It is for Christ, Whom he serves and Whom he is called to represent in a special way. This involves some degree of self-effacement on his part. When we address a priest as Father, we are affirming the relationship in Christ which he has with us and which we have with him. We are affirming our common love of the Lord! Far from making him feel superior, the title Father is a daily reminder to a priest and his wife (who is often called Matushka, “little mother”) of the service they have both taken on, and of the responsibility he bears for others.
Priest Paul Burholt