митрополит Антоний Су́рожский (Блум)

Father Benedict'S Ordination


He who crosses the threshold of the holy doors, crosses the threshold of death and the threshold of the life, of the Risen Christ. The threshold of death, because to enter as a priest into the sanctuary means that we accept to walk into it as the Lord Jesus Christ Himself walked into the place of the Passion. And yet we enter also into the realm of life eternal, because if we accept to be one with Christ in his offering and in His sacrifice, in His death for the love of man, we also become partakers of the life of Christ Who by death has conquered death, Who by the narrow gate of death has entered first into the death and horror of Hell, and also into the Kingdom where He reigns at the right hand of the Father. Before His death, while He was partaking in the Last Supper with his disciples, He said: No one is taking my life from Me; I lay it down freely. And so does everyone who wishes to walk in the footsteps of Christ. If you want to be a priest of you must share with Him His love for the world He has created, His love of man, a love which does not stop half-way, a love that accepts to become one of us, a love that makes the destiny of the lost his own destiny, the suffering, the anguish, the dying of the lost, his own suffering, his own anguish, his own dying. A love that is humble so humble that He washes the feet of His disciples, so humble that He calls Himself the servant, so humble that He shares His own greatness, breaking the bread with them and calling them his friends, a love devoted, a love, that never falters. A priest is one who shares also with God his faith in men, he is prepared to be blind to appearances, to see only reality, who is prepared to be blind to material evidence, to be more certain of the invisible beauty of those who surround him, of their eternal capability, of their ability to be holy before God in spite of all that can be said and can be seen, all the certainties which life presents. But those certainties exist, not only frailty, but sin and malice. And a priest is one who is prepared, like Christ, together with Him, to pay the cost of his faith in men to pour out his love and his life and spend himself without even desiring to see what in the end will be the fruit of his self-offering, that may be a blood-offering of prayer, a (?) burnt offering of life. We have heard today in the Gospel and in the Epistle which God has given us today, what the way of a priest, the way of a shepherd is. It is a way of love, but when we speak of sacrifice we think too much, too exclusively, perhaps, of the shedding of blood, of the offering which is brought of the death which is accepted of the suffering, the humiliation that may follow. But do we remember enough that all things are possible to us in the power and strength of Jesus Christ because we are only following in his footsteps. He has past the gates of death and the gates of Hell. He has gone along all the road and we have only to follow in tracts which are already cut. And if we share with Christ his earthly destiny, we share with Him also his victory and now already His eternal destiny and glory... God does not take away from us what makes temporary life so radiant, so deep. He brings into its radiance a new light: the light of eternal life. He brings into it a depth which is the depth of God Himself. He brings into all things human, a dimension which is purely truly divine. God has a great deal to overlook in us when He calls us to stand for Him and to do on earth what He did and what He still is doing as long as the world stands. To love with a love sacrificial; a love perfect, a love generous and humble and devoted, He has a great deal of evidences and of appearances to brush aside He says to each of us: Peter, does thou love Me more than these, more than these, because to stand where you shall stand, more has to be forgiven than from any other; does thee love Me more than these? – And, aware of what we are, we would say to the Lord: Yes, Lord, I love Thee, – and at the same time shudder with fear at the words we shall pronounce: do we love the Lord? Do we love His people? Do we live for Him and for them? And yet we know that, we love Him and the Lord commits to us the charge of His people, that we should be their consolation, that we should bring a ray of light and of hope into their life, that we should bring love into their life, that joy should come through us, the joy of God into their life. And knowing that we have a lot, a great deal to be forgiven for, the Lord says to us: A day will come when thou also shall turn round and give courage to your brethren. Yes, we can, each of us priests, turn to anyone and say: God has forgiven to me more than He has to forgive (you? – ya ?), He has healed what could not be healed; He is the God of the impossible, and the impossible is reality through Him... So, enter now into your new life, let God take possession of it; He will fill if with new depth, with new width, with eternity. May God guide you in all your ways, make your home into a place of love, a place to which people will come and say: Indeed, when the Lord enters into a family, it becomes the Kingdom of God with all its depth, all its beauty. And may the shining of that beauty and depth spread wider and wider in light and in warmth, in faith, in hope, in love and joy so that no one should see in you anything than the joy of God and God should know alone that it is earned at the cost of an ultimate, total surrender and gift of self. Amen.

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