Orthodox Byzantine Chants
Holy Mount Athos
From a bird’s eye view, what power have these priests ? They don’t have any army or militia, they cannot impose anything to you, not even to go to the Churchy, when they come to bless your house you can close the door in their nose and you can pay a visit to the church only when you die or more recently not even then.
We’ve been witnessing lately a concerted, well paid and systematic attack against the orthodox priests. Nothing in what regards the other confessions. Any news program from the media must include something scandalous about a drunk priest, a nonsense, a probable act of corruption, a stolen toll, some hysterical but groundless accusations, anything only to give the impression that there is a serious systemic error in what regards the priests.
If you watch once or twice such fakes, as any rational man with children and parents, amuse yourself about it, you nod leniently, you frown a bit or you even express a general opinion. If these people got such bad habits what can we say then, if these men of virtue, these advocates of God, these holy men fall into sins, then what can we say about us, poor people?
But if you hear all the time the same foolish presenter, with the same inexpressive voice speaking every evening about the real or imagined horrors committed by priests, then slowly the mind is pervaded by a general image of corruption, of a guild of legalized sin, with terrible stigmas and huge money secrets. The people come to believe what they hear, no matter how stupid would be the statement, if they hear very often something. This is one of the rules of any book of manipulation. Any lie becomes a truth by repetition.
What’s shocking is the fact that the poor village priest who enlightens the people from the Holy Scripture and who is bent by work and full of the fertile mud of the great spiritual germinations. God forbids to see a reportage about a good priest confessor, about a monk full of grace, about a married priest who gathers hundreds of men with his preach and stole. If there is a holiday they won’t ever present its spiritual or theological meanings, only the throngs, the hug who faints because of the heat or of course of the cold, the clamour, the rush, the magic traditions, the baptism of the horses, etc.
From a bird’s eye view, what power have these priests ? They don’t have any army or militia, they cannot impose anything to you, not even to go to the Churchy, when they come to bless your house you can close the door in their nose and you can pay a visit to the church only when you die or more recently not even then. Their canons and rules are not compulsory, there are anytime some more hundreds like them around if you don’t like what they said, you can have a peaceful life, without their infelicitous presence, without bad luck, black robes and other medieval traditions.
But if we have a closer look, we understand from 2000 years of history of the mankind created on the base of Christ’s principles that the priests have a power, one that’s the greatest in the world: to forgive sins. This power has been given to the apostles and followers of Christ when He said: `Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.`
This means you cannot be a real Christian without going to the priests. The confession cannot be made by a psychologist, a neighbor, a pal, only before God, as a Holy Sacrament bearing grace. This cleanses the soul of the mud of passions, of the old and severe wounds of the repeated sin leading to eternal death. The so called Christians who don’t frequent the Church don’t have the minimal spiritual hygiene to receive God. And without Eucharist their soul dies forever, existing only at the level of intention, as a prophecy of damnation.
Saint John Chrysostom said that if you meet on your way an angel and a priest, greet and ask for blessing the priest then the angel, because the first can forgive your sins and the second cannot. It wasn’t a hidden clerical flattery of the guild, only a pure reality. The priests, no matter how bad they might be, have the power from God to bless, forgive and fill with the holy grace the believers. Their morality and zeal are necessary first of all to them for inheriting the eternal life. The power to preach as a lightening is the wondrous sign of the work of the Spirit.
The keen and slow voice, the diction, the wisdom and experience, the liturgical experience, their love for people and praying inner self all these are gems on the invisible crown of the priest. And even if we saw them or God forbids! they might not have them, the priests have something more precious than all the riches of the world: the power from the Holy Spirit to bring God in the lives of men by Christ’s Body and Blood.
Without priests Christianity becomes a local association, a philanthropic office or a company if ritual shows.
Protestants showed when they irresponsibly declared that all men are priests that nobody was priest anymore and nobody officiated at them the Holy Liturgy of Christ. The world was devastated by nothingness, it died of Eucharistic starvation. Their confession broke into pieces, disintegrated in thousands of factions which have philosophical, charismatic, historical, philanthropic reasons, but they don’t have the saving and sacerdotal ones. The most terrible attack of the wily one was when by the reform was abolished the Holy Liturgy and this was replaced with a ritualic supper or with useless preaches without the Word of God.
The priests of course have to prepare all their lifetime for the sacrament of the oblation of God in front of them. Their hearts have to become hidden crosses where is crucified in His Love God Himself. Their unworthy hands, given by the King of heavens, which being raised to the skies bring the Holy Spirit among men, must be washed all the time with tears, because they hold in their cupped hands the eternal Lamb, pierced for our sins.
Now matter how open minded we’d be or better say the wiser we’d be, we need priests for our salvation. Full of imperfections, differing one from the other, lacking militarization or pyramidal uniformity, with their impeccable or dusty robe from their walk through the dust of our hearts, our priests are the only men who can take us out of the hell we are building so zealously by our sins. This is their only chance to find their salvation and I daresay our only chance as well.