Friday, January 25, 2008

The Priest as Co-Redeemer

The following is taken from Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky's lectures to future priests on the nature of the Mystery of Confession:
You are afraid of being repulsed by the people you try to exhort? Begin with those from whom you can expect a different attitude; just begin — just work on yourself, as I have written here, and approach this mystery with good will and prayer. If only God would let you taste that spiritual sweetness with which you could repeat the words of the father in the Gospel: "For this my son was dead and is alive, was lost and is found" (Lk. 15:32). You will do just as much good to him spiritually as you are doing to yourself. Like a young woman who has given birth to her firstborn, you will find completely new feelings in your soul — feelings hitherto unknown to you and unseen by worldly people — abundant waves of the holy feelings of love, compassion for people, exultant glorification of the Savior, and hence boldness for the holy faith and readiness to bear everything for the truth of Christ. Then you will understand, even if you did not understand it before the day of your ordination, that a priest is not an ordinary Christian, not an ordinary person, but a co-participant in the redemptive feat of Christ, bearing in his own soul the multitude of souls that has been entrusted to him. Then you will understand that the grace of the priesthood which has been given to you is not just "the right to perform Church services," but a definite moral gift, a special virtue of spiritual love, of which St. John Chrysostom, defining the essence of the priesthood, says: "Spiritual love is not born of anything earthly; it proceeds from above, from Heaven, and is given in the mystery of the priesthood, but the assimilation and maintenance of this gift also depends on the strivings of the human spirit." I have quoted these words of this Church Father more than once in my writings, for they set a seal with great precision on everything that has been written above.

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