Word Magazine January 1959 Page 7/22
His LIFE and His MISSION
Written by The Metropolitan of Argentina, Malatius Souayty
Translated by TheRt. Rev. Athanasius E. Saliba
When one accepts the priesthood, he accepts the divine call with the expression: Here I am O Lord, listening to thy voice and obeying thy will, ready to sacrifice my life according to thy commandments and for the service of my brothers. Let every word, I say, be thy word.
I believe that thy word is capable of changing their dark ugliness and deadly stillness to an alive movement and shining beauty; it is capable of opening their eyes to higher and deeper understanding of thy creation.
Furthermore, I am deeply convinced that thy word is capable of uniting brothers among themselves and with all human beings in the Lord Jesus Christ thy only begotten Son who has uplifted humanity and has drawn it closer to thee by his incarnation.
O Lord: When I heard your Fatherly voice calling me, I trembled, my soul was awakened and I felt a new force guiding me toward the new road which was opened before me and on which I will walk with peace and comeliness without fearing anything or anyone for thou art with me to strengthen me and straighten my step.
At the time of ordination, the heavenly light descends upon the clergyman encompassing his whole being and everything around him: his parents, relatives, friends, books, clothes and belongings.
This light radiates from his new life in a concrete manner, filling every place he dwells in: the church, the school and the residence of the faithful, for he is changed by the descent of the Holy Spirit from an ordinary man to an illumined and sanctified one. He now loves everyone and looks to everyone with a different understanding. He does not look at the rest of the people as a mob, but as a selected group which was redeemed by the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus and in which resides the divine power and the voice of God. Therefore he prays for the life, health, peace, safety, pardon and remission of sins of all the Orthodox Christians.
The clergyman considers the members of his parish as brothers and spiritual children whether they are old or young giving a special consideration to the children, for the child is described by the poet as a beautiful song, by the government as a future guardian of the country, by the mother as her future support, pride and comfort and is the future clergyman’s helper in building the kingdom of God on earth.
During ordination, God bestows upon the clergyman a special grace which enables him to appreciate the precious gifts. It gives him strength and patience in all his activities and his duties towards his parish as well as towards his family and private belongings. He does all this because he has listened to the voice of God and obeyed his call, by putting his hand on the plow without looking back. (LUKE 9:62).
The invisible grace of God accompanies the clergyman from the moment of his ordination revealing to him many truths unknown to him before. Hence the clergyman starts preparing the stones needed for building the Kingdom of God on earth and casting aside his egoism, hatred, indifference – the characteristics of those who have eyes but do not see, ears but do not hear, and hearts but do not feel. (MARK 8:18).
The clergyman experiences, occasionally, moments of psychological and spiritual draught to the extent that the Bible and the prayer books before him lose their mysterious power upon his imagination, his mind and his conscience.
When this happens, the clergyman finds nothing that could help him except the prayers, which restore his confidence, enlighten his conscience and revive his zeal. For the fervent prayer opens his eyes as well as his heart enabling him to remember the words of St. Paul who said, “Therefore let no man glory in men: for all things are yours; whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world, or life or death, or things present or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ’s and Christ is God’s” (C0R: 3:21-23). Then he realizes that all things are for the faithful Christian who is God’s by being his son and partaker of his glory.
In the midst of the streams of life and in the heart of its chaotic noise, the clergyman remains calm and peaceful. Therefore he is the only person who could distinguish between the fact and the fancy. He could explain to others the unknown mysteries and eternal meanings hidden in the nature of the current events, and the possible good resulting thereof for the believers in the divine protection.
In explaining these signs and symbols, the clergyman looks to the cross as a measure and criterion. He looks at life and its characteristics from the summit of Golgotha. From there, he sees the people passing before him with their good and evil, their problems and worries, the comeliness of their hearts and their hypocrisy, and he trembles from fear. But, he soon recovers from his confusion and discovers that in spite of the coalition of all the natural forces and the weapons of the human history against him, he by the fact of his union with Christ is able to read the mysterious lives recorded by the book which contains the description of all the human sufferings. This saddens him and makes him suffer… however, he learns from the divine grace all that is written in the book of redemption about the undeniable truths: That defeat for God’s sake means victory, humiliation means glory and crucifixion means resurrection.
He learns too, that man did not exist by chance,— neither is he luck’s ally nor is death the end of his existence. This knowledge fills his heart with joy.
He knows that thousands of relations link us with God the Father through Jesus Christ who “is yesterday, today and forever. (HEBREW 8:8).
This is the clergyman briefly, his life and his mission. “He that has ears to hear let him hear.” (MATTHEW 11:15).