Антоний, митрополит Су́рожский

Fr Michael Beaumont


Dec. 1971.

I would like to say a few words to you: what defines a priest is what he brings as an offering and as a sacrifice to the Lord and to the people. It is given us to bring ourselves as a living offering to God, and having done so we must remember always, not only when we perform sacred duties, in the Liturgy, but whatever we do, because this is whatever we are that we are God's own and that, in a way which can neither be understood nor explained God makes us to be His servants, more than that: His friends. As He says Himself in the Gospel, I do not call you servants anymore, I call you friends. And He gives the reason for it: because the servant does not know what his master means, he only executes orders, while the friend is him with whom another shares his thoughts, his heart, all his life. Thinking in those terms we cannot help but realising that we can do nothing to fulfil our vocation, and here we must always remember the words which St Paul spoke, repeating what Christ had said to him when he asked for strength: My grace suffices, my power is made manifest in weakness. And pondering over these words, St Paul rejoices in his weakness, he rejoices in it because human strength and human power can achieve, and even so imperfectly, only things earthly, while we are called, all of us, Christians, to outgrow the visible, to enfold in the same experience what is visible and what is invisible, heaven and earth, and we are called to be on earth for others, an experience and a vision of the depth of things in God. This only God can achieve through us, if we become weak – not with the slackness of sin, but with the weakness of surrender, when we abandon ourselves to God, freely, with the joy of being weak, because we are loved and supported by Him Who is strong enough not to need our strength, when we abandon ourselves in God's hands in the same way in which a child, joyfully, tenderly, trustingly abandons himself in the arms of those whom he loves. And it is because this experience came to Paul that he could say: And therefore I shall not rejoice in my strength, but only in my weakness. And he adds: I am strong only then when I am weak. Again with this perfect weakness of surrender which is another way of speaking of the surrender and the joy of love shared, given and freely received. So, go on your way now in the strength of the Lord as perfectly surrended as you can, as perfectly translucent to God's light as you can, until you become, for others, like a stainless window, which in the light that pours through it lends meaning, beauty and inspiration which is transfigured indeed by a light which is not his. So far you were called to proclaim the words of God which you read, to stand by and to be the charity of the Church, supporting the priest celebrating, and indeed the charity of the Church of God turned towards everyone who was in need; that indeed is not taken away from you, but what is added to you is that God now calls you not only to proclaim the written words, but so to live the written words, so to identify yourself with God's words addressed to his people and to the whole world that you should be able in your own words to speak of the only divine Word, proclaim the real and divine Truth. And it is given now to you to accomplish, to fulfill those great mysteries, of the Church, through which, by human agency, using the support of this visible and material world, given back to Him and sanctified, God transforms men of the flesh into men of the spirit, in baptism and its extension, the sacrament of penance, in the Holy Divine Eucharist, in which we commune, share one (?) life with the Incarnate and living God, in the sacrament of Chrism in which the Holy Spirit is sealed and indwells a man, in the great gift of God which make every act of your human life within the Church to become already on earth a vision of things to come. And not only a vision: a reality, that allows us and people to whom God lends his insight, to see the future already fulfilled with glory. But as every time Christ appears in the power and in the glory of the Spirit, so shall you also, whenever you come close to the shining of the divine glory of the spirit, so shall you also, whenever you close to the shining of the Divine glory to (?) live, experience, endure the Cross.

Remember that it is given you now to carry other people's burdens, not only their sorrow, not only their pains, but the heaviness of human's life, the sinfulness of the human condition that мая become that Cross on which you, a priest, are called to be crucified that others мая live. мая God grant you to live simultaneously this mystery of the Cross and of the Resurrection of time within its excrutiating pains and of the future already victorious within this time.

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