What Should a Priest be Like?

St. Symeon the New Theologian ca. 949-1022

I am not worthy to be a priest; but I know very well what someone who is to celebrate the sacred mysteries of God should be like. In the first place, he should be chaste, not only in body but also in soul, and he should be free of all sin. Secondly, he should be humble both in his external manner and in the inner state of his soul. Then, when he stands before the holy altar, while gazing with his physical eyes on the holy gifts, spiritually – and with total certainty – he should perceive the Godhead. Moreover, his heart should be consciously aware of Him who is invisibly present and dwelling in the gifts, so that he may offer the petitions with confidence; and when, like a friend speaking to a friend, he says, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name’ (Matt. 6:9), the way in which he recites the prayer will show that he has dwelling within him the true Son of God, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit. I have seen such priests. Forgive me, fathers and brethren.’.(One Hundred and Fifty-Three Practical and Theological Texts, 153)

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