`Receive this jewel and keep it until the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ when He asks it from you.`
The words the hierarch says at the ordination of a priest, entrusting the whole sanctified `agnus` to the candidate are terribly touching.
As we receive Christ`s Flesh we have to keep in intact until His Second Coming. Let us not waste it through dissension let us not harm it through disobedience, let us not turn it into a source of income as Judas did. At His Second Coming Christ will ask it from all those who received this high and holy service the human words can`t comprise or express completely. What will be asked from His servants in fact?
The entire community entrusted to them for pastoral care
When I remember the tough but true words of a priest with a pure life – `if the people you lead don`t find salvation, you won`t find it either` I can`t regard them otherwise than as a correct interpretation of the quote from the service of ordination.
Maybe the community we guide is a small one. Maybe we have only a few tens of souls, some who are close to God, some estranged of Him and many hesitating in the middle between recklessness and superficial emotion. Maybe the community we lead is a big one and it includes numerous persons often making any spiritual approach difficult because of the waste and rush to do more. That terrible moment from the service of ordination must remain imprinted in our mind. We kept Christ in our own minds for the first time. In this way we also kept the souls entrusted to us. A soul doesn`t weight much – maybe 21 grams as it was the name of a famous film – but it matters a lot. It matters more than the universe. Maybe it is because God created the whole world for man. At the beginning the man was alone. So for God the whole universe counts less than a single man. Why would the world matter for the priest more than a single soul?
However in the dissipation and rush which affect us, in our many troubles and weaknesses, confessed or unacknowledged anguishes and doubts we forget that we held in our own hands our own souls when we were ordained. It is a truth we can`t ignore. We owe it too. Because we forget to be preoccupied by our own soul we come not to know anymore what to do for the souls of the others. A priest who doesn`t confess forgot what repentance means. A priest who doesn`t love the holy liturgy anymore forgot to love Christ. A priest who has no personal canon of prayer, already left prayer. It is the most awful excuse ever said by a servant of the Holy Altar to say that he doesn`t pray in private anymore as he prays with the other believers at the holy services. A priest who doesn`t do any merciful deeds to anyone hates his own soul and doesn`t want to see it saved; as everything you don`t do for your own soul you won`t do for the souls of the others either.
Does it sound selfish? Can he love his brother the one who hates what God created good in his own soul? How will he discover the gifts of God in the others when he despised those he received?
Now looking back at that moment from the time of ordination we sometimes feel our minds heavy and our conscience burdened. But first we should remember what we had done with our own soul, how we forgot to feed it through Liturgy, to purify it through repentance, to enlighten through prayer and revive through merciful deeds.
We received a whole jewel and we must give it back as a whole, plus something more, our own heart purified of sin.
Pr. Adrian Agachi