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My beloved son, Deacon
With the blessings of our Metropolitan PHILIP, by whom I have been charged to fulfill your heart’s desire to serve our Church and Archdiocese as an obedient and devoted priest, I greet you, your family and this congregation: “Christ is in our midst!”
As I see you standing here ” with fear and trembling,” I am reminded of what our holy father St. John Chrysostom wrote in his treatise “On the Priesthood.” Once a priest himself –no doubt feeling that same trepidation you are now experiencing yourself–he wrote the following admonition: “Let those then be brought forward who are eminent about others… in all spiritual excellence.” I emphasize the words ” … eminent above all others.. in all spiritual excellence,” because I know that you have prepared yourself for this day and this sacred calling. That is why I believe that you have not taken lightly the decision to serve the Church and Jesus Christ Her Great Archpriest. In fact, a haste decision to enter into the ministry would not only be frivolous but foolhardy as well, because ours (yours and mine) is a sacred calling, a holy ministry; into our care and keeping the Good Shepherd is entrusting the logical sheep of His pasture: the Church. From your hand they will receive the Sacraments; from your preaching they Will receive the guidance; and from your example they will be encouraged to live their lives in worship, holiness and service to all God’s people. So, whenever you vest yourself with the epitrahili (stole), remind yourself that it symbolizes your Lord’s cross. Remind yourself that our Lord carried His cross upon His shoulders to bring salvation to the world.
You, my beloved priest-elect Father , are expected to do no less. From your ministry thousands of souls will come to the Well to drink and to the table to be fed. Many will come seeking guidance; others Will be requesting forgiveness. Each and every one of them shall be your spiritual children (sons and daughters) in Christ, and to them you shall be their spiritual Father.
Never come unprepared for any service: you are standing before God, representing and acting on behalf of His people. Meditate, pray, fast often; ask God’s Holy Spirit to enlighten your mind, soften your heart, guide your actions, and make you His worthy instrument. Liken your ministry to the Zion — the heated water we put into the chalice after the portion of Christ’s holy Body has been placed therein. Remember what we say: “The fervor of faith, full of the Holy Spirit.” I charge you to study the Scriptures daily; to prepare your sermons diligently; to pray fervently; and to ask God daily for guidance, wisdom and patience.
Finally, I ask you, the faithful of this parish to keep Father ELIAS in your daily prayers; and you, Father ELIAS, please remember me and our Metropolitan in your intercessions before the Holy Altar of God.
Come, now, and prepare yourself to serve God, the Church and all your fellowmen.