I love peace; there is nothing that I detest more than quarrels and disputes. I love everybody, and if I could heal one of the brethren by losing all my possessions and goods, I am willing to do so joyfully; because it is concord that I value most… But there is a question of the faith and of a scandal which concerns all the churches of the Roman Empire… The sacred doctrine is entrusted to us… I am ready to endure with tranquility all the blame, all humiliations, all injuries provided that faith is not endangered. I am filled with love for Nestorius; nobody loves him more than I do… If, in accordance with Christ’s commandment, we must love our very enemies themselves, is it not natural that we should be united in special affection to those who are in the priesthood? But when the faith is attacked, we must not hesitate to sacrifice our life itself. And if we fear to preach the truth because that causes us some inconvenience, how, in our gatherings, can we chant the combats and triumphs of our holy martyrs? (Christological Dialogue on the Incarnation of the Only-Begotten, p. 15)
Now I come to you, the Priests of Greece and especially of Athens, and I beg you to hear me attentively. When 50 years ago—I do not remember precisely—Meletios Metaxakis of Kition…ascended to the Archepiscopal throne of Athens, he summoned a clergy congress in a hall in the offices of the Metropolis. Almost all the priests of Athens came enthusiastically to hear his paternal counsels. Instead of telling them, as Christ told His disciples, ‘Ye are the light of the world. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father Who is in heaven’ [St. Matthew 5:14,16]—to be ‘humble, merciful, meek, pure in heart, peacemakers, patient in afflictions, temptations, persecutions, accusations, and to rejoice when men persecute you, hate you and wrong you, to love God and every man, even your enemies, and to pray for them’ [St. Matthew, chapter 5]—he gave them the following advice. Listen, so that you may shudder and weep: ‘In Europe all the clergy shave, cut their hair, and go without rasa. We should imitate them, in case we should seem out of date and uncivilized.’ Then almost all the priests, with one mouth, with boldness and confidence, said to him: ‘Your Beatitude, we are Greek Orthodox; we will never become heretics, Protestants or Papists.’ Then, as a politician, not as a pastor, he told them: ‘I did not tell you to become Protestants and Papists. I told you that, because I am concerned for your health, since beards, uncut hair and rasa cause illness.’ A fair number of priests replied to him: ‘We are healthier than those who are shaven and woman-faced.’ Having given up hope because his aim and his advice had proved vain and fruitless, he turned to a doctor, whom he had brought along to assist his purpose, and said to him, ‘Doctor, talk to them, advise them, because they will not listen to me.’ When he was called upon to speak, the doctor began to give them advice, but some of the priests did not allow him to, saying to the Metropolitan: ‘Let the physician heal himself.’ Others said to the doctor, ‘Go and cure the sick who summon you. We are neither sick nor have we summoned you,’ and in this way the clergy congress dissolved into a shaming of Meletios Metaxakis, the modernist, the innovator, the scorner of Patristic Traditions, and redounded to the glory of God, the boast of Orthodoxy, and the praise of the priests of Athens. (Fourth Clarion Call to Salvation [Thessaloniki: “Orthodoxos Kypseli” Editions, 1981], p. 36)
Knowing, as is clear from the teaching and commandments of our God-bearing Fathers, that one who has brethren under his guidance must not instruct and teach them according to his own understanding and discernment. But rather according to the true and right understanding of Divine Scripture, as is taught by the divine Fathers, teachers of the inhabited world, and likewise by the teachers and instructors of monastic life, being enlightened by the grace of the All-Holy Spirit. And knowing further the poverty of my own mind, and fearing and trembling lest I myself fall, and push those who follow me, into a pit of perdition like a blind man, according to the word of the Lord, because of my inexperience. Therefore, I placed as an unshakable foundation in true and undeceived instruction, undeviating from the true path of God, both for my own poor soul and for my holy brethren, the Divine Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments and its true interpretation by the grace of the All-Holy Spirit, that is, the teaching of our God-bearing Fathers, the teachers of the inhabited world and the instructors of the monastic life, the Holy Councils and all the Canons of the Apostles and Councils and Holy Fathers which the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Eastern Church contains, and all Her commandments and rites. I offered all this, as I have said, as instruction for myself and the holy brethren, so that both I and the brethren living with me, being instructed by these, God cooperating and enlightening us by His grace, might not sin against the right and catholic thinking of the Holy Orthodox Church. (Blessed Paisius Velichkovsky: The Man Behind the Philokalia, p. 77-78)
As far as sanctification is concerned, those souls which are free of the body have an advantage over those still living in the flesh. It is true that they receive, through the prayers of the priest and the intercession of the holy offerings, purification and remission of their sin, and do not add new wrongdoing to the old, as most of the living do; they are either entirely absolved from all blame, or at least freed forever from the possibility of further sin. Because of this, they are better disposed for communion with the Savior, not only than the majority of the living, but also than they themselves would have been if they were still in the flesh. The very fact of being free from the bonds of the flesh makes them far more worthy to receive the holy Mysteries than they could possible have been if they were still housed in their bodies.
We know that in the next world there are many mansions, so that every degree of goodness may be glorified, and none may go unrewarded by the most just and loving Judge. Thus, those worthy of the greatest rewards, who are perfect, and who inherit perfect blessedness, such as St. Paul, enjoy this happiness more purely after death than they did while still in this life. So also those who are called to a lower position in this place of rest naturally gain more fruit from the Mysteries than they did while they were alive.
We have shown that all peace of soul and the entire reward of virtue, be it great or small, consists only in this Bread and this Chalice, which is partaken of by both the living and the dead. That is why our Lord Himself describes the future happiness of the Saints as a banquet; it is in order to show that in the next life there will be nothing save the Holy Table. Thus, the holy sacrifice of the Eucharist is for the dead as well as the living, and just as the latter, as we have said, receive a two-fold sanctification, so do the former. The dead are in no way inferior to the living; rather, they possess certain advantages over them. (A Commentary on the Divine Liturgy, 45: A Theological Parenthesis)
St. Theodore the Studite
…[G]ive a proper obedience. Priesthood, liturgy and divinization really consist in this. For numerous priests and liturgical celebrants, hierarchs, prophets and wonderworker shall perhaps be destined to torment without end. We have indeed heard the Lord say: “Many will say to me, ‘have we not done this or that in Your name,’ and they will hear: ‘I do not know you; depart from Me, you damned, to the fire outside prepared for the devil and his angels’.” [Will] you be my sacrifice? My celebrant? My initiator? My mystic? My god? For this discourse dares to go that far, even if it seems strange to you: “I have said, you are gods and you are all sons of the Most High.” (Great Catechesis 17)
St. Nicholas Cabasilas 1323-1391
Why is it that for the consecration of the Offerings the Celebrant does not invoke the Son, Who is the Priest and Sanctifier, as we have said, but rather the Father?
It is to teach us that the Savior possess this power of sanctification not in His quality as a man, but because He is God, and because of the Divine power which He shares with His Father. This is what our Lord Himself wished to show us when, while instituting the Sacrament, He lifted His eyes up to heaven and offered the Bread to His Father. For the same reason, He performed many of His miracles in an attitude of prayer to God; He wished to show that this was not the work of His human nature, according to which He had a mother on earth, but of His Divinity, according to which God was His Father. In the same way, when He was about to ascend the Cross, wishing to show that He had two wills, the Divine and the Human, He attributed to His Father His divine will, keeping to Himself His human one. “Not as I will but as Thou will but as Thou wilt”, and again: “Not my will but Thine be done.” Yet the very words in which He seems to separate His own will from that of His Father show that He Himself willed that will of the Father which He fulfilled. For the phrase “Not my will but Thine be done” implies agreement and a unity of wills. He demonstrates this also when He reproaches Peter for shrinking from the idea of His Cross and death and again when He says: “I have greatly longed to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” I have desired this Passover before My Passion, he says — as if to say: I have desired to reach the threshold of that Passion. (A Commentary on the Divine Liturgy, 31.)
Let bishops hear this, let priests, hear, let every rank of learning get this clear: In the Church, leaders are servants. Let them imitate the Apostle [Paul]. The difference between secular rulers and Christian leaders is that the former love to be lord over their subordinates whereas the latter serve them. (Epistle to the Ephesians, 3.5.21, P.L. 26:530 AC [653, 654], in ACC, VIII:194)
[A]lthough she, by the height of grace, presides invisibly and in spirit over the assembly of the Apostles,— by lowliness of heart, in the body, she suffered not herself to be visibly the object of any glory, accepted no pre-eminence, and placed herself on the same rank with the other women, teaching them by her example, the same that the Apostle Paul taught them afterwards by his word: “Let your women keep silence in the churches.”; “Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach.” I should desire, I would say in passing, that our alienated brethren should take this example into serious consideration, they, who before the Judgment of Christ, having condemned without discrimination the whole hierarchy, and thereby punished themselves by a wilful renunciation of the Priesthood, do as the maximum of disorder, intrust the conduct of their divine service to virgins, who are undoubtedly not wise but foolish. For what virgin if not a foolish one, would dare to accept in the Church that which the holy Virgin the Mother of God dared not to undertake? (Select Sermons, Elibron Classics. Kindle Locations 4829-4837. Adegi Graphics LLC. Kindle Edition)
In the structure of the world we observe a hierarchical order, a division into upper and lower — a pyramid of being. Yet the idea of equality is deeply rooted in our consciousness and is not to be denied.
Some people, observing the psycho-physical world for the one part, and the empirically-given spiritual state of humanity for the other, and remarking a pyramid of inequality in both, arrive at the conclusion that inequality is something ontologically necessary to human nature. Then, either because of passion or calm and collected philosophical conviction, they stifle the demands of their conscience, tirelessly strain to achieve equality in mankind’s existence.
But is equality possible where liberty is the fundamental principle of existence? Millenary experience of the history of humanity suggests a reply in the negative.
What, then, can be done to alter this state of affairs, so unacceptable to the human conscience? We cannot ignore our longing to see all men equal in plenitude of divine life.
Let us see how Christ resolved the dilemma.
The Lord does not deny the fact of inequality, hierarchy, division into upper and lower, into overlord and servant; but He turns the pyramid upside down and thus achieves the ultimate perfection.
The incontestable apex of this pyramid is the Son of Man Himself, the Unique, True, Eternal Savior; and He says of Himself that He ‘came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life as a ransom for many.’ (Mat. 20:28) Concerning the angels, we learn that they are beings superior to us in their knowledge and mode of existence, in comparison with our terrestrial mode of existence, but the Apostle speaks of them as ‘ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.’ (Heb. 1:14) The Savior bade His disciples follow the example He gave them when He washed their feet. ‘Ye know,’ He told them, ‘that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister. And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.’ (Mat. 20:25-27; Mk. 10:42-44) Here we are shown both the designation and the raison d’être of the ecclesiastical hierarchy — to raise those low in the spiritual scale to a higher degree of perfection, as the Apostle puts it, ‘And He gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Until we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.’ (Eph. 4:11-13)
Christ as Creator — and in this sense, cause — of the created universe, took upon Himself the burden, the sin of the whole world. He is the summit of the inverted pyramid, the summit on which the whole weight of the pyramid of being falls. In an inexplicable way those who follow after Christ become like Him in taking upon themselves the burdens of the infirmities of others. ‘We then who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak.’ (Rom. 15:1)
…The Christian goes downwards, into the depths of the overturned pyramid where the crushing weight is concentrated — to the place where the Lord is, Who took upon Himself the sins of the world — Christ… At the base of the overturned pyramid — the unfathomable base which is really the summit — is He Who took upon Himself the sins and burdens of the world, the Christ crucified in love for the world. And there we remark a quite especial life, a quite especial light, an especial fragrance. This is where love attracts the athletes of Christ. Love for Christ martyrizes the chosen one, weighs heavily on him, makes his life unbearably hard, until this love arrives at its ultimate desire, and the ways the soul elects to attain to that ultimate end are peculiar. (St. Silouan the Athonite, p. 237-239)
[W]e… press to our bosom with gladness the divine canons, holding fast all the precepts of the same, complete and without change, whether they have been set forth by the holy trumpets of the Spirit, the renowned Apostles, or by the Six Ecumenical Councils, or by Councils locally assembled for promulgating the decrees of the said Ecumenical Councils, or by our Holy Fathers. For all these, being illumined by the same Spirit, defined such things as were expedient. Accordingly those whom they placed under anathema, we likewise anathematize; those whom they deposed, we also depose; those whom they excommunicated, we also excommunicate; and those whom they delivered over to punishment, we subject to the same penalty. (Canon 1)
The Eastern Patriarchs to the English Non-Jurors 1721
[O]ur Lord Jesus Christ is the only Head of the Church both in earth and heaven, militant and triumphant; but since He has set over His own creatures Apostles and High-priests, Heads and Governors, Heads not original but derivative and secondary; containing and giving life to the whole earthly body of the Faithful, through the first and universal Head, in whom we live and move and have our being, to be mediators between God and men in performing the ministrations our Lord has commanded them; namely, in teaching and baptizing and administering all the Divine Mysteries; giving them as is confessed, the power of binding and loosing; therefore every one of our Bishops both is, and is esteemed, a particular head of the churches of each city, subject to the first and universal Head. Upon this account, the 34th Canon of the Holy Apostles calls the Primus among the Bishops, a Head, saying, “The Bishops of every nation ought to know their Primus, and esteem him as their Head”. For the Holy Spirit has placed the Bishops and Priests for Shepherds to the Church of God, administering the word of Life to the perfecting of the Saints. We don’t therefore improperly call them Heads and fountains of Sanctity among us: and we believe that from the Bishops we receive the sacred Mysteries and charismata of the Spirit, as from Christ our Supreme Head. And as the Angels, taking upon them the form and person of God, as when it is said, “I am the Lord thy God, (for, ‘the Law of God was delivered by Angels’,) did not thereby assume to themselves the nature of the Deity ; so the genuine Governors of the Church, being called Heads, derive that appellation from the real Head, and perform His part, and refer all their ministrations to Him as the immediate Head, and not unto themselves; as Moses also was by God constituted a God unto Pharaoh, without any injury to the Divine Majesty; and the Apostles as well as the Lord, were said to be the Light of the World. For, though Christ be the Foundation of the Faith, yet the Prophets and Apostles both are, and are said to be so in Scripture. (The Answers of the Orthodox of the East to the Proposals sent from Britain for and Union and Agreement with the Oriental Church: Answer to Proposal Eight)
Ecumenical Patriarch Gennadios II Scholarios ca. 1400-1473
We are convinced that nothing is more sacred, nothing more wise than the Patristic tradition and we hope to run this course under faithful leaders. (Oeuvres completes de Georges Scholaris, ed. L. Petit- X. Siderides- M. Jugie, Paris 1928-36, vol. II, 15 and II, 44)
St. Tikhon of Moscow 1865-1925
Beloved in Christ, fathers and brethren,
I have just uttered the prescribed words: “I thank and accept and say nothing against.” Of course, enormous is my gratitude to the Lord for the mercy bestowed on me. Great also is my gratitude to the members of the Sacred All-Russian Council for the high honor of my election into the members of candidates for the Patriarchate. But arguing, as a man, I could say a lot against my present election. Your news about my election as Patriarch is for me that scroll on which was written: ‘Tears, groans and mourning.’ Such was the scroll that the Prophet Ezekiel had to eat. How many tears I shall have to swallow and how many groans let out in the patriarchal service that is set before me, and especially at such a terrible time! Like the ancient leader of the Hebrew people, Moses, I shall have to say to the Lord:
‘Why dost Thou torment Thy servant? And why haveI not found mercy before Thine eyes, that Thou shouldest lay upon me the burden of the whole of this people? Did I bear this people in my womb and give birth to it, that Thou shouldest say to me: bear it in your hands as a nanny bears a child? I alone cannot bear all this people, for it is heavy for me’ (Numbers 11.11-14).
From now on the care of all the Russian churches is laid upon me, and I must care for them every day. And who could be happy with that, even if he were among those who are stronger than me? But may the will of God be done! I find strength in the fact that I did not seek this election, and it came in spite of me and in spite of men, in accordance with the lot of God. I trust that the Lord Who has called me will Himself help me through His Almighty Grace to bear the burden laid upon me and will make it light. A consolation and encouragement for me is the fact that my election has not taken place without the will of the All-Pure Mother of God. Twice she, through the presence of her honourable Vladimir icon has been present in the cathedral of the Saviour at my election. This time the lot was drawn from her wonderworking image. I have as it were come under her honourable omophorion. May she the all-powerful one stretch out to me, the weak one, the hand of her help, and may she deliver this city and all the Russian land from every need and sorrow. (Chosen for His People, A Biography of Patriarch Tikhon by Jane Swan, pp. 15-16)
The Moscow Council December 1, 1917
Church preaching, in accordance with the Word of God (Matt. 28:19-20. Mk. 16:15, Acts 1:8, 1 Cor. 9:16, 2 Tim. 4:2, et al.), Church Canons (Apostolic Canons 36 and 58, Canon 19 of the Sixth Ecumenical Council, Canon 2 of the Seventh Ecumenical Council), and the directions of the typikon of the Church, is one of the major duties of the pastoral ministry and must be heard as often as possible at the public and private services, outside of services, but without exception at every Divine Liturgy celebrated on Sundays or Feast Days (Canon 19 of the Sixth Ecumenical Council), as well as in special circumstances that concern the life of the Church, society, or the State. As a reminder of this, Canon 58 of the Holy Apostles, Canon 19 of the Sixth Ecumenical Council, and Canon 2 of the Seventh Ecumenical Council shall be printed in the new editions of the Priest’s Service Book and of the Archieratikon, with the following commentary:
If a bishop or a presbyter celebrates the Divine Liturgy on a Sunday or Feast Day and does not preach the Word of God or commission the preaching to his concelebrants, and thus shows neglect for the clergy and the people, he commits a grave sin, for he saddens Christ, Who commanded to the shepherds of His Church to preach the Gospel. He disregards the word of the Apostle who says, “Take heed to yourself and to your teaching; hold to that, for by doing so you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim. 4:16), and forgets the injunctions of the Holy Fathers, shepherds, and teachers of the Universal Church. But, following the example of Christ the Chief Shepherd, of the Holy Apostles and of the Holy Fathers, may the bishops and presbyters of the Orthodox Church of Russia be divinely inspired preachers who console by the salvific teaching, denounce those who oppose it, and rather than only on Sundays or Feast Days, as was said above, but in every day may they preach the Word of God, and rather than only at the time of Divine Liturgy, may they also preach at other services and sacramental rites, if it is possible. So also may they at any other time call their flock to the hearing of the Word of God. (‘The Definition of the Sacred Council of the Orthodox Church of Russia on Church Preaching’. The Moscow Council [1917-1918] The Creation of the Conciliar Institutions of the Russian Orthodox Church by Hyacinthe Destivelle, O.P., p. 25-26)
I agree with you that the priests must speak with the faithful more often and converse with them both inside and outside the church. I do not agree, though, that, if this does not happen, the parishioners lack spiritual food. But even in that case, if I had to blame someone, I would blame the flock more than the pastors! For, which priest would overlook his parishioners’ quest for additional and more specialized teaching? You yourselves avoid the priests and, if you happen to meet one, you do not ask him about matters of the faith. This is why they also do not address such subjects and avoid teaching you in church, lest they become burdensome and alienate you.
I am not justifying the priests who do not teach and preach. It is their duty to be burning with divine aspirations and talk to the faithful, while the duty of the faithful is to eagerly embrace the teaching. I am only pointing out that you also bear responsibility for the scarcity of preaching. (Preaching Another Christ: An Orthodox View of Evangelicalism, p. 41)
On the second and third day of the festival, our Lord the Patriarch said mass in the upper church, after they had lighted up the stove from the preceding evening, and ordained Priests and Deacons: for when the report spread over the country, that the Patriarch of Antioch was conferring the sacerdotal dignity, persons began to flock to him from every hollow vale, bringing presents of fish, butter, honey, etc., accompanied with… petitions, praying that he would grant them this favor. These new Priests used very much to excite our admiration; for without a moment’s delay, they clothed themselves in the sacerdotal dress, which is a cloth cassock with a broad-laced collar, and, shaving a large circle on the top of the head, plaited the hair over their foreheads., and drew it behind their ears, as the women do. The only part of their hair which they shave, is on the crown of the head; the rest they allow to grow: and by this slight change they appeared, suddenly, as though they were Priests of many years standing: for the Muscovites are exceedingly quick in their apprehension of any thing that is taught them. (Excerpt From: Paul, of Aleppo, Archdeacon, fl. 1654-1666. “The Travels of Macarius : Patriarch of Antioch.” iBooks)
[W]omen deacons…fulfilled a certain ministry in the clergy. At present, they are almost entirely unknown. Except there are some who say that they served in the baptizing of women because it was not proper for these naked women who were baptized after puberty to be seen by the eyes of men. Others say that it was permissible for them to even enter the holy altar and to share the things of male deacons nearly equally with them. However, women deacons were later forbidden by the Fathers both to enter the altar and to practice the things of their ministry on account of the involuntary monthly flow. That the holy altar was formerly accessible to women is to be inferred from many other authorities and especially the funeral oration that the great Gregory the Theologian had made upon his sister (Homily 8). However, it does not appear plausible to me that a woman became a deacon of the Sacred and Bloodless Sacrifice, as there is no sound reason why women, who are not permitted to teach in public, should be raised to the rank of diaconate, whose work is to purify orally those unbelievers, that come forward for baptism.
Furthermore, the most ancient of the books in which the rites of all ordinations have been accurately recorded, also indicate that the age of a deaconess must be forty; that her schema must be monastic and perfect; that during her life, she must contend for virtue with the most excellent of men; and that as much as is solemnized in her ordination, short of a little, is also celebrated in the case of male deacons. Thus, she who draws herself to the sacred table, before its uplifted heights, is covered with a veil. After the exclamation, “The Divine Grace which heals infirmities,” she does not kneel, but only bows her head. The archpriest, who places his hand upon her, prays that she who seeks a chaste and seemly way of life fulfills the work of deaconess blamelessly, and in this way devotes herself to the holy temples. Indeed, the books do not permit her to minister the Undefiled Mysteries or to be entrusted with a fan as in the manner of male deacon. Next, the the diaconal orarion is placed around her neck under the veil by the archpriest, who brings its two ends together in front. During the time of Communion, she partakes of the Divine Mysteries after the male deacons. Then, she who receives the chalice from the hands of the archpriest distributes nothing, but immediately places it on the holy table. (An Alphabetical Collection of All Subjects That are Contained in the Sacred and Divine Canons, prepared and at the same time organized by Matthew, the least among Hieromonks. excerpted from Viscuso, “Sexuality, Marriage, and Celibacy in Byzantine Law” pp. 110-112)
Nicholas Zernov 1898-1980
In 1588, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Jeremiah, came to Moscow in quest of alms. It was the first time that a senior hierarch of the Eastern Church had visited Russia. He was greeted with pomp and many festivities. He was greatly impressed with the splendor of the Church services and the devotion of the people. The Russians took the opportunity of his stay to re-open negotiations about the patriarchate and, in order to overcome the usual methods of Oriental diplomacy, with its non-committal promises and indefinite pronouncements, made a drastic proposal. They invited Jeremiah himself to become the Patriarch of the Russian Church. It was a tempting offer for a man who led a precarious existence as the head of Christians under the Turks. Here is Russia, he was treated as a beloved father in God; honor and popular devotion were offered to him. In Turkey, he was held responsible for every act committed by the Christians and lived in constant danger of martyrdom. After prolonged discussions, Jeremiah gave his consent. By so doing, he recognized at last the right of Russia to have her own Patriarchs. This was immediately recorded and retreat from that position was made impossible. But, once this was achieved, the Russians began to limit the scope of their original proposal by adding new conditions which made it much less attractive. They explained that they were unable to dismiss the present occupant of the metropolitan seat of Moscow, Job, from his post, and they offered the Greek prelate a seat in the provincial city of Vladimir. Other difficulties, such as those of language and differences in custom and tradition, were raised. The Greek prelate discovered meanwhile many inconveniences in Russian life which he had not noticed at first. The climate was cold, the food heavy and unusual, the services extremely long and exhausting, and the Patriarch was expected to set an example of endurance and piety.
So, after further protracted negotiations, Jeremiah himself suggested that a Russian might, after all, be a more suitable candidate for the patriarchal seat. This was exactly what the Russian government wanted, and, thus on January 26th, 1589, eighteen months after Jeremiah had arrived in the Russian capital, he himself elevated Job, the Metropolitan of Moscow, to the dignity of the Patriarch of All Russia. In the installation charter, signed by Jeremiah, the following was inserted:
“Because the Old Rome has collapsed on account of the heresy of Apollinarius , and because the second Rome, which is Constantinople, is now in possession of the godless Turks, thy great kingdom, O pious Tsar, is the Third Rome. It surpasses in devotion every other, and all Christian kingdoms are now merged in thy realm. Thou art the only Christian sovereign in the world, the master of all faithful Christians.”
This last sentence was an almost verbatim reproduction of Philotheus’ epistle to Basil III. A century earlier it was the daring prophecy of a devout monk; now it was the solemn declaration made by the highest authority of the Eastern Church.
It is open to question whether Jeremiah himself fully understood the Russian text and shared the interpretation given by the Russians to the act committed by him. The events of the next century revealed that the Greeks and the Russians differed considerably in their attitude to Moscow’s claims. But, in the sixteenth century, there was nothing as yet to disturb the peace between them. Jeremiah returned to Constantinople carrying with him generous alms and promising to secure the recognition of his action by the remaining three Patriarchs of the East.
This was not a very easy matter, but after four years of persistent effort, during which gifts were literally distributed among the Eastern prelates, the Russians at last won the desired approval. It was granted in 1593, when all four Patriarchs met in Constantinople and offered their new brother in Moscow fifth and last place in the hierarchy of honor. Such a decision conflicted with the charter signed by Jeremiah in Moscow four years earlier. The Russians were discontented, they wanted to secure at least the third place for their Patriarch, but they had to be satisfied with the major concession which had given them a patriarchal seat without causing a breach in relations with the conservative heads of the Eastern Church. (The Russians and Their Church, pp. 68-70)
 The use of unleavened bread in the Eucharist by the Latins was interpreted by the Russians as a sign of a defective conception of the Incarnation, leavened bread representing for them the fullness of manhood in Christ.
We must keep up the living contact with the older…clergy, even if some of them may seem to us a little too liberal, otherwise we will become lost in the zealot jungle which is growing up around us.
…We who wish to remain in the true tradition of Orthodoxy will have to be zealous and firm in our Orthodoxy without being fanatics, and without presuming to teach our bishops what they should do. Above all, we must strive to preserve the true fragrance of Orthodoxy, being at least a little “not of this world,” detached from all cares and politics even of the Church, nourishing ourselves on the otherworldly food the Church gives us in abundance. Elder Macarius well says in a letter: “Fanaticism limits a man’s way of thinking, but true faith gives freedom. This freedom is revealed by the firmness of a man in all possible cases of happiness and unhappiness.” That freedom is a sign of our Orthodoxy… But to see this one must have the savor of Orthodoxy. Let us not lose it! (Letters from Father Seraphim pp. 167-168, Third Day of Trinity 1976)
In a certain city there lived a bishop who, by the activity of Satan, fell into fornication. A few days later there was a Liturgy in the church, and, without anyone knowing the bishop’s sin, he made a confession in front of all the people, saying: “I have fallen into fornication.” As soon as he uttered these words, he took off his omophorion and placed it on the Holy Table. “I can no longer be a bishop,” he said. In the wake of this scene of sincere confession, the people were all seized with emotion and cried out in lamentation: “Let this sin be upon us; only remain in the episcopate.” “If you want me to remain with you,” answered the bishop, “do what I tell you.” He immediately ordered all the doors of the church to be shut, fell on his face at a side-door, and said to the people: “Anyone who does not tread on me when he leaves the church is not on the side of God.” All of the people did as the bishop told them; that is to say, they trod on him as they departed. As the last person left, a voice was heard from Heaven saying: “I have forgiven the bishop his sin because of his great humility.” (The Evergetinos, Vol. IV of the First Book: Hypothesis XLIV.6)
In speaking of Peter, the recollection of another Peter [St. Flavian of Antioch] has come to me, our common father and teacher, who has succeeded to the virtue of Peter, and also to his Chair. For this is the one great prerogative of our city [Antioch], that it received the Coryphaeus of the Apostles as its teacher in the beginning. For it was right that she who first was adorned with the name of Christians before the whole world, should receive the first of the Apostles as her pastor. But though we received him as teacher, we did not retain him to the end, but gave him up to Royal Rome. Nay, but we did retain him till the end; for we do not retain the body of Peter but we retain the Faith of Peter as though it were Peter himself; and while we retain the Faith of Peter, we have Peter himself. (Fr. Laurent Cleenewerk, His Broken Body [kindle version])
The priest must be higher than the lordly haughtiness of well-born and coddled and not cringe before or fawn upon this haughtiness; he must not lower himself, not be cowardly before the powerful of this world, but hold himself with an awareness of his clerical dignity, gravely, evenly, in a pastoral manner — and serve unhurriedly, not so as to please people. He must denounce caprices, lordly arrogance, and any coldness to matters concerning the faith. (A Prodigal Saint, pp. 89-90)
Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk
The apostolic Church did not have special vestments for sacred serving. Christ celebrated the Mystical Supper in regular clothing and the Apostles wore their everyday clothes during the celebration of the Eucharist. As a result, however, of the Eucharist being transformed from a meal into a ceremonial service, everyday clothing came to be treated as sacred. When that clothing ceased to be commonly used, it was preserved in the usage of the Church. Different clothing, having special liturgical purposes, appeared as well.
…The most ancient component of the liturgical vestments of bishops and priests, besides the sticharion, is the phelonion. Saint Simeon of Thessalonica refers to this garment as fainolion and writes that it “reveals (fainei) the highest strength and enlightenment bestowed from on high”. In apostolic times the phelonion was a sleeveless wool coat used as an outer garment. The phelonion is mentioned by the Apostle Paul (2 Tim. 4:13) as an article of everyday clothing. There were various styles of phelonions and they could be worn on one shoulder or on both so that the front ends were pulled forward. The phelonion could be four-sided with tassels on the sides and fringes. However, in the Christian tradition, the most widespread type of phelonion had the shape of a bell, with a circular opening for the head. It was donned over the head and covered the entire body of the man wearing it. It could have the same length in the front as in the back or it could run higher in the front than in the back. In some cases, the phelonion was shorter on the side of the right arm and longer on the side of the left arm.
At a later time, when hierarchs began to wear the sakkos instead of the phelonion, the phelonion was preserved as a basic liturgical vestment for priests. The phelonion which is used in the Greek Church up to the present day is similar to those depicted in Byzantine frescoes. In the Russian Church in the Synodal period, the phelonion acquired a slightly different shape. In the front it was cut from the bottom in such a way that the priest’s arms remained uncovered and in the back its top end was raised. This type of phelonion is worn today in the majority of the churches of the Russian Orthodox Church. (Orthodox Christianity Vol. III, The Architecture, Icons, and Music of the Orthodox Church by Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev. pp. 94-96)
Special items of the hierarchical service are the dikerion and the trikerion. These are two hand-held, ornamental candlesticks in which two (dikerion) or three (trikerion) candles are placed. The use of the dikerion and trikerion at the patriarchal liturgy began in the twelfth century.  Originally these candlesticks were ascribed only to kings and patriarchs (and not to all bishops) as they were perceived as attributes reflecting the dignity of teaching. This is mentioned in the twelfth century by Theodore Balsamon, the patriarch of Antioch, who insisted that the right to bless the faithful with candlesticks belonged to kings, patriarchs, autocephalous archbishops of Bulgaria and Cyprus, and also a few metropolitans to whom the kings had given this right. 
Later the dikerion and trikerion came to be used by all hierarchs at church services. The trikerion is interpreted symbolically as an indication of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity, while dikerion indicates the two natures of Jesus Christ.  Candles placed in the trikerion and dikerion may be connected at the top in such a way that a single flame is formed. A more common style has crossing candles whose top ends are directed in different directions. 
 Jacob, “Le chandelier a trois branches de l’eveque Pantoleon: A propos de l’inscription de Geroges de Gallipoli,” Bolletino della Badia greca di Grottaferata 53 (1999), 187-199.
Theodore Balsamon Reflections, PG 138, 1016D-11017C.
Simeon of Thessalonica Concerning the Holy Temple 59, 61. PG 155, 721BC.
 Deacon Mikhail Zheltov, “Dikirion” in Orthodox Encyclopedia, vol. 14, 693.
In the ancient Church priests did not wear crosses on the breast. The four-ended, gold breast cross was introduced in the Russian Orthodox Church as an award for deserving priests by the decree of Emperor Paul I on December 18, 1797. On February 24, 1820, by decree of the Holy Synod, priests who had served abroad received the right to wear a cross “from his Majesty’s Cabinet” — these crosses were known as “Cabinet crosses”. Beginning in the nineteenth century, deserving priests were awarded jeweled crosses and some archimandrites even received the right to wear the panagia . Finally, by the decree of Emperor Nicholas II on May 14, 1896, the silver cross came to be awarded as a mark of distinction to every priest. At the present time, the silver cross is given to every priest at his ordination while the gold cross (the cross described above as dating from the year 1797) and the jeweled cross may be awarded as a mark of special distinction or many years of service .
Several rules exist concerning the wearing of crosses by priests in the local autonomous Orthodox Churches. In the Greek tradition only archimandrites and distinguished archpriests (Gr. protosygkelos) have the right to wear a cross, while the majority of priests do not wear a cross. In the churches of Slavic tradition the practice was adopted from the Russian Church of the Synodal period to allow all priests to wear crosses. In the Romanian Church, not only all priests but archdeacons wear crosses as well. They wear the cross over their sticharion during the divine services. (Orthodox Christianity Vol. III, The Architecture, Icons, and Music of the Orthodox Church, p. 104)
 In particular, the future Metropolitan of Moscow Philaret received this right while he was an archimandrite. Also, the famous church composer and theologian of the nineteenth century Archimandrite Theophan (Alexandrov) received this right.
 Until the year 2004 some clergymen in the Russian Orthodox Church received the right to wear two or three crosses, but that custom has since been eliminated.
The sakkos, from the Hebrew sakk meaning “sackcloth” was part of the emperor’s wardrobe in Byzantium. This garment had no sleeves and was donned over the head and buttoned on the sides. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, emperors began to give sakkos as a gift to patriarchs in Constantinople. Patriarchs often wore the sakkos only on Christmas, Pascha, and Pentecost. Several bishops began to wear the sakkos in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, but the phelonion continued to be the traditional hierarchical vestment.  By this time the sakkos had a acquired short sleeves. Saint Gregory Palamas, the archbishop of Thessalonica, is depicted on icons wearing the omophorion and sakkos with short sleeves. Many Greek bishops began to wear the sakkos in the sixteenth century. By that time the sleeves of the sakkos had become longer, yet shorter than the sleeves of the sticharion.
It is difficult to determine exactly when bells first appeared on the sakkos. It is evident, however that they serve as a reminder of the bells worn by Aaron on his robe, that their sound “will be heard when Aaron is serving as a priest, entering and leaving the holy place before the Lord” (Ex. 28:30). Bells produce a ringing sound whenever the bishop moves around the church.
The sakkos first appeared in Russia no later than the fourteenth century as a liturgical vestment of Moscow’s metropolitans. The sakkos of Metropolitan Peter (1308-1326) is preserved to this day. It was sewn in 1322 from light-blue satin material on which crosses in circles are woven with gold. Both “large” and “small” sakkos survives from Metropolitan Photius (1409-1431). They are distinguished by their unusual richness of surface embroidery. After the establishment of the patriarchate in 1589, the sakkos became the vestment of Moscow’s patriarchs. The sakkos was worn in the seventeenth century by metropolitans and some archbishops. In 1705 it was established that all hierarchs of the Russian Church must wear the sakkos.
The mitre was not an attribute of the hierarch’s vestments during the earliest days. The scholar Aleksei Dmitrievsky believes “this adornment for the bishop’s head was made an article of their rank fairly recently”. He wrote that “nothing but a complete silence is maintained regarding the mitre in all ancient and later services for consecrating not only a bishop, but also a metropolitan and even a patriarch, which includes Greek, south-Slavic, and also our Slavonic-Russian service books, hand-written as well as printed and even those used in the practice of serving in the East and in Russia”. 
Although it is a relatively new phenomenon that the mitre is attributed to every bishop, the use of the mitre by individual hierarchs reaches back to deep antiquity. The origin of the mitre is found in the turban, the liturgical headdress of the Old Testament high priests. Saint John Chrysostom refers to the mitre is this very context.  There are numerous testimonies of the mitre as an attribute of the Alexandrian patriarchs. Saints Athanasius and Cyril of Alexandria are often depicted in ancient frescoes wearing white hats having black crosses. It was the custom of the Alexandrian patriarchs to wear such mitres. During the time of Saint Simeon of Thessalonica (fifteenth century), many other bishops in the East wore mitres, but traditionally it was still considered an attribute primarily of the Alexandrian patriarch. To the question, “Why do bishops and priests, with the exception of the Alexandrian patriarch, serve with uncovered heads and why is it better to serve with an uncovered head,” Saint Simeon of Thessalonica answered:
All eastern hierarchs and priests, with the exception of the Alexandrian (patriarch), conduct the sacred serving with uncovered heads… But, perhaps, somebody will ask whether it is not irreverent that the Alexandrian patriarch covers his head with the sacred covering (Gr. hieron epikalymma) as do countless others in accordance with ancient tradition? I do not ask this, for those who act in this way (and it serves as a justification) act according to the most ancient, or more accurately – “most lawful”  – tradition. Actually, the “lawful”  high priest wore on his head a turban (Gr. kidarin), which is called a mitre (Gr. mitran), as bishops who wear it like to call it. Perhaps they have it as the likeness of the image of the crown of thorns of the Master and King – which was on his head. 
In the sixteenth century, when the patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, and Jerusalem celebrated the divine services together, only the Alexandrian patriarch wore a mitre. A Russian envoy present at the service in Constantinople in 1585 bore witness to this fact.  Performing the service alone, the patriarch of Constantinople donned a mitre shaped like a king’s crown. The mitre may have been a gift from one of the Byzantine emperors to the Constantinopolitan patriarch. Another possibility is that the patriarch of Constantinople began to wear the mitre after the fall of Byzantine Empire. “For Greek national self-love it was completely natural, after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, to place the crown of the emperors, who no longer existed, on the head its ecumenical patriarch, the chief and single guardian of the interests of Orthodoxy and the nationality itself in the entire Muslim east.”  Gradually the patriarch of Constantinople passed the crown-shaped mitre down to other Greek bishops.
In the middle of the seventeenth century, only the patriarch wore a mitre during a cathedral service in the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The Russian traveler Arseny Sukhanov was present at the service on Holy Friday and was a witness to this fact:
Every metropolitan wore a sakkos, and all were without caps.  Furthermore, nobody wore a cap anywhere, except for the patriarch. They have no caps and never had any. The metropolitan of Nazareth, having a worn-out hat, humbly asked the sovereign if he might deign to order a new one made, and the bishop of Nazareth, when he had arrived, gave this sovereign’s cap to the patriarch as well as a sakkos. And from the beginning there were no caps in Nazareth and at the present time they will not wear them. And it is said that the patriarch, receiving it, pawned it. And while he was with us the metropolitan of Nazareth did not wear a cap when serving both with and without the patriarch. 
In 1642 the sovereign Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich presented a mitre to the monastery of Saint Catherine on Mount Sinai which is preserved to this day in the monastery’s skevofilakia (room where the holy vessles are kept). It measures 20.5 cm (8.1 inches) in height, has a cross on top, and is adorned with eight icons, pearls, and precious stones. Another mitre, prepared in 1636 and presented to the monastery by Christians from the town of Yannin, has a height of 25.5 cm (10 inches). It is a magnificent work made of bronze and finished with precious stones, pearls, numerous icons, and depictions of cherubim. A third mitre, given to the monastery by “Protosyngellos” Nicephorus of Crete in 1678, has a height of 20.5 cm (8.1 inches) and besides precious stones and pearls, it is adorned with polychrome enamel.
Originally the liturgical headdress of Russian hierarchs was the kukol (a rounded klobuk). Beginning in the fifteenth century, the mitre emerged in the service of Russian hierarchs, when it had the appearance of a prince’s hat. They were decorated with embroidery and precious stones and were sometimes lined with fur on the bottom. The Russian mitre-cap differed in shape from the crown-shaped Byzantine mitres. For this reason, the latter caused bewilderment for connoisseurs of church rituals. One such connoisseur who was present during the service of the patriarch of Jerusalem Theophan in Moscow in 1619 observed, “The cap he was wearing was without a border on black velvet… like a gilded crown with stones planted and with no depictions of saints, but on the top is placed a cross and on the sides four cherubim and seraphim.”  In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Greek hierarchs were pleased to receive Russian mitre-caps from Russian tsars, metropolitans, and patriarchs, but they did not use them but rather pawned them or refashioned them. Russian mitre-caps with sable linings did not conform to the eastern climate. 
The crown-shaped mitre appeared in Russia in the seventeenth century when it was adopted from Greek hierarchs by Patriarch Nikon in 1653.  All hierarchs in Russia began wearing mitres of that style. Mitres were also given to some archimandrites. This was made permissible by the decree of Peter the Great in 1705. In 1786 Catherine the Great awarded a mitre to her spiritual father, Archpriest John Pamphilov, and beginning in 1797, by the decree of Tsar Pavel I, the mitre came to be awarded to deserving archpriests as a mark of special distinction.
In contrast to the Greek Church in which all mitres are topped with a cross, two types are used in the Russian Church – with and without a cross. Originally the mitre with a cross appertained to the patriarchs of Moscow. In 1686 the right to wear a mitre with a cross was extended to the metropolitan of Kiev. Later, all metropolitans received this right while all archbishops, bishops, and archpriests as well as archimandrites and mitred archpriests wore the mitre without a cross. At the end of the of the 1980s, during the patriarchate of Patriarch Pimen, the Holy Synod established, in accordance with the Greek custom, that all hierarchs of the Russian Church are to wear mitres with a cross. The mitre without a cross now is worn by archimandrites and mitred archpriests.  (Orthodox Christianity Vol. III, The Architecture, Icons, and Music of the Orthodox Church by Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev. pp. 98-102)
 [St] Nicholas Cabasilas mentions the phelonion and omophorian as the basic elements of the hierarch’s vestments in the fourteenth century and does not mention the sakkos at all. See, ‘Concerning Sacred Vestments’, 3, SC 4-bis, 366.
 Aleksei Dmitrievsky, “Mitre, Historical-Archeological Essay,” Handbook for Rural Pastors, No. 11 (Kiev, 1903) (Reprinted in Moscow Diocesan News, No. 4-5, 2003); References for the following editions: Relations of Russia with the East, 88, 101; Proskynitarion of Arsenius Sukhanov, 82.
 St. John Chrysostom Concerning the Holy Priesthood 3, 4.
 That is to say, “of the Old Testament.”
 Again, this means “of the Old Testament.”
 Simeon of Thessalonica Concerning the Holy Temple 45. PG 155, 716D-717A.
 A. N. Muraviev, Relations of Russia with the East, Part 2 (St Petersburg, 1860), 149.
 Dmitrievsky, Mitre
 In the Slavic Bishop’s Service Book (Chinovnik) the mitre is called a “cap” (shapka).
 “Proskynitarion of Arsenius Sukhanov,” Orthodox Palestinian Collection, Edition No. 21 (vol. 7, ed. 3) (St Petersburg, 1889), 82.
 Readings in the Society of History and Russian Antiquities, Book 2, Part 2, 166.
 Dmitrievsky, Mitre. With a reference to the next publication: Relations of Russia with the East. Ch. 1, S. 88, 101. Proskynitarion of Arsenius Sukhanov, 82.
 Antiquities of the Russian State, Part 1, 124-132
 In the West the mitre acquired the shape of a pointed crown, widening from the base and becoming narrow on the top. Such pointed mitres can be seen in paintings from the Middle Ages. The mitre was worn by western bishops including Roman popes. Beginning in the fourteenth century, popes wore the tiara – an egg-shaped hat from three crowns, symbolizing the secular and spiritual power of the pope on earth and also his power over the next life. The tiara in the Roman Church was eliminated by Pope John XXIII (1958-1963) and subsequent popes have worn mitres identical to those worn by other Latin bishops.
Objection: …[F]irst, that the Canons and the commandments are under the authority of the Hierarchs; secondly, that we should not examine what our Hierarchs, teachers, and spiritual fathers tell us, but just obey them in all things with simplicity; and thirdly, they cite the Apostolic dictum: “Obey them that rule over you, and submit yourselves. (Heb. 13:17)
To the three parts of this objection we have nothing of our own to say, lest we cause confusion and perturbation to some; however, we reckon it harmful to people’s souls to remain completely silent about them. Let us, therefore, see what the Saints say, so that no one might have any grounds for complaining.
…The Divine Chrysostom demonstrates from the Consecration of Hierarchs that Hierarchs are subject to the Divine Canons and commandments:
“Because the High Priest was the head of the people, it was necessary for him, being the head of all, to have on his head a symbol of his authority (for absolute power is intolerable; but since he has the symbol of sovereignty on his head, he shows that he is subject to the law.) The Law ordains that his head not be bare, but covered, so that the head of the people might learn that he has another, greater Head. For this reason, in the Church, at the Ordinations of Priests [St. Nikodemos: ‘Priests’ is written here instead of ‘Hierarchs’, since the author is referring to Priesthood in general; in fact, only Hierarchs carry the Divinely transmitted Scriptures on their head, according to Dionysius the Aeropagite], the Gospel of Christ is placed on the head of the Ordinand, so that he might learn that he is receiving the true tiara of the Gospel and so that he might also learn that, although he is the head of all, he is nonetheless subject to the laws of the Gospel, that he governs all, but is himself governed by the laws, and that, while he enacts all the laws, his powers are defined by the laws. For this reason, one of the ancients (Ignatios was his name), who was adorned by Priesthood and martyrdom, write, in a letter to a certain Hierarch: ‘Let nothing be done without your will; and as for yourself, do nothing without the will of God.’ (Epistle to Polycarp) Therefore, the fact that the Hierarchs has the Gospel placed on his head signifies that he is under authority.” (Homily ‘That the Legislator of the Old and New Testaments is One and the Same’)
To the second point that they mention, that that we should not examine our Hierarchs, teachers, and spiritual fathers, but obey them in all matters, St. Basil the Great replies that “the preacher of the Word must both do and say everything with great circumspection and scrutiny, with a view to pleasing God, since he ought to be scrutinized and approved even by those entrusted to him.” (Morals, Rule 70.37)
And again: “Such hearers as have been instructed in the Scriptures should examine what is said by their teachers; and they should accept what is in conformity with the Scriptures and reject what is alien to them, and should vehemently shun those who persist in such teachings.” (Morals, Rule 72)
And again: Those who do not have much knowledge of Scripture should recognize the distinguishing characteristics of the Saints by the fruits of the Spirit, receiving those who possess such characteristics and shunning those who do not.” (Morals, 70.2)
…To the third part of the objection the Divine Chrysostom responds: “Anarchy is altogether an evil, the occasion of many calamities, and the source of disorder and confusion […]. However, the disobedience of those who are ruled is no less an evil […]. But perhaps someone will say, there is also a third evil, when the ruler is bad. I myself, too, know it, and it is no small evil, but a far worse evil than anarchy. For it is better to be led by no one than to be led by one who is evil. For the former indeed are oftentimes saved, and oftentimes are in peril, but the latter will be altogether in peril, being led into the pit of perdition. How then does Paul say, ‘Obey them that have rule over you, and submit yourselves (Heb. 13:17)?’ Having said above, ‘whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation’ (Heb. 13:7), he then said, ‘Obey them that have rule over you, and submit yourselves’. ‘What then,’ you say, ‘when he is wicked, should we not obey?’ Wicked? In what sense? If in regard to faith, flee and avoid him, not only if he is a man, but even if he is an angel come down from heaven; but if in regard to life, be not over-curious. And I do not cite this instance from my own experience, but from Divine Scripture. For hear Christ saying, ‘The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ Seat.’ (Mat. 23:2) Having previously said many fearful things about them, He then says, ‘They sit in Moses’ Seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, […] do; but do not ye after their works.’ (Mat. 23:2-3) What he means is that they have the office, but are of unclean life; but pay attention not to their life, but to their words. For no one would be harmed on account of their characters. How is this? Both because their characters are manifest to all, and also because even if one of them were ten thousand times as wicked he would never teach what is wicked. But with regard to faith, the evil is not manifest to all, and the wicked will ruler will not forbear from teaching false doctrines. For the saying, ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged’ (Mat. 7:1) pertains to life, not to faith […]. Paul, however, previously commended them [he testified, that is, that the Shepherds were in every way upright], and then he says: ‘Obey them that have the rule over you'”. (Homily XXXIV On Hebrews)
This is what the Saints say. But as for us, brethren, since the Lord has called us to be at peace, we should submit to our Hierarchs, spiritual fathers, and teachers on account of the dignity that they have before God. But if any one of them does something irrational or impedes us from doing some God-pleasing deed, let us not cease from beseeching and imploring until we persuade him that the will of God should be done, in order that peace might reign between us; that concord and harmony might prevail; that love might be shown towards Shepherds and sheep, towards Hierarchs and Christians, towards Priests and lay people, towards superiors and subordinates; and that scandals, disturbances, schisms, and divisions might remain far from us. For such things are destructive of our souls, our homes, our Churches, and of every community and nation. In brief, let peace reign, in order that might all be one body and one spirit, all with one hope even as we were called, (cf. Eph. 4:4) and that the God of peace might be with us. (Concerning Frequent Communion, Objection 12. Manna from Athos: The Issue of Frquent Communion on the Holy Mountain in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries by Hieromonk Patapios and Archbishop Chrysostomos, p. 167-171)
Note: Of course, all the privileges of the Ecumenical Patriarch described below are contingent upon the Orthodoxy of his faith.
Met. Anthony Khrapovitsky 1863-1936
According to the doctrine of Christ’s Church as expressed in the decisions of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, the See of Constantinople is not only one of the Ecclesiastical Provinces but is considered as a constant element of the Orthodox Church in all its fullness, as an authority linked not only with its own diocese but likewise with the whole Orthodox Church throughout the world. This is why since the fifth century the Patriarch of Constantinople as Bishop of New Rome was recognized by the Ecumenical Councils as the equal in power and honor of the Bishop of Old Rome (Canon II of the Second Ecumenical Council and Canons XXVIII and XXXVI of the Fourth Ecumenical Council). And what is especially important, it was recognized that he had the right to receive the appeals of Bishops who were not satisfied with the decisions of regional councils (Canon XVII of the Fourth Ecumenical Council). In this latter sense the Patriarch of Constantinople is, in the eyes of Orthodox Christians in every country, the supreme judge. (Message to the Statesmen Assembled at the Lausanne Political Conference Dec. 1922-Jan. 1923. Fouyas, Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism pp. 128-129)
In his response of February 20, 1925, to [a] query as to whether an Ecumenical Patriarch may, according to canonical regulations, reside outside Constantinople, [Met.] Antony comments:
Of course he can, and the inhabitants of the Capital are bound to continue to count him as their Chief Pastor, and are bound to obey him as are we our Holy Patriarch… (Metropolitan Antonii (Khrapovitskii), Archpastor of the Russian Diaspora: Conference Proceedings. Edited by Vladimir Tsurikov, p. 101)
St. John Maximovitch 1896-1966
Such an outward abasement of the hierarch of the city of St. Constantine, which was once the capital of the ecumene, has not caused reverence toward him to be shaken among Orthodox Christians, who revere the See of Sts. Chrysostom and Gregory the Theologian. From the height of this See the successor of Sts. John and Gregory could spiritually guide the whole Orthodox world, if only he possessed their firmness in the defense of righteousness and truth… (On the Decline of the Ecumenical Patriarch)
Art thou bound to a wife? Seek not to be loosed. (1 Cor. 7:27) For if this expression applies to a wife, how much more does it apply to a Church, and to the same Episcopate; to which whomsoever is bound ought not to seek another, lest he prove an adulterer according to Holy Scripture. (Defense Against the Arians 6; PG 25.260; NPNF 2.4, p. 104)
Well, think of two olive trees, one with leaves and the other without. Which one do you prefer? Once when I was at the Kalyvi of the Holy Cross, I peeled the trunk of an olive tree and wrote this on it, “The trees got rid of their garments; it’s time to see the fruit of their labor!” Next to that I wrote, “A priest without his cassock (arasotos) is a priest without redemption (asotos).”
– Geronda, someone brought an Orthodox priest wearing only trousers [without his cassock] to the monastery. Should we have asked for his blessing?
What blessing? You should have told the person who brought him, no matter how important he was, “Forgive us, but it is a rule in our monastery to give cassocks to priests who are not wearing one. To have a priest come to an Orthodox women’s monastery wearing only his trousers! That is inappropriate.” When the person who brought him has no shame, and when the priest himself is not ashamed for having come without his cassock, why should you be embarrassed to ask him to put one on? I once met a young archimandrite wearing laymen’s clothing at an airport. He was going abroad and introduced himself, “I am Father so and so,” he said. “Where is your cassock?” was my answer. Of course, I did not prostrate in front of him.
– Geronda, some people claim that a modernized clergy will be better able to help people.
When Patriarch Demetrios visited the seminary of the Holy Cross in the United States, a few pious American students went up to him and said, “Your Holiness, don’t you think it’s time for clergy to be more up to date?” The Patriarchs response was, “Saint Cosmas said that when clergy turn into laymen, laymen will turn into demons.” Wasn’t that a good answer? Then they prepared this luxurious suite for him with a fancy bed and so on. The moment he saw it, he said, “Is this where I am supposed to stay, in this room? You’d better bring me a simple cot. When a clergyman becomes worldly, he becomes the devil’s candidate.” (Spiritual Counsels vol. I, pp. 358-359)
When Abba Amos went down to Jerusalem and was consecrated Patriarch, all the higoumens of all the monasteries went up to do homage to him and, amongst them, I also went up, together with my higoumen. The Patriarch starated saying to the fathers: ‘Pray for me fathers, for I have been handed a great and difficult burden and I am a little terrified at the prospect of the patriarchal office. Peter and Paul and Moses, men of their stature are adequate shepherds of rational sheep, but I am a person of little worth. Most of all, I fear the burden of ordinations. I have found it written that the blessed Leo who became Primate of the Church of the Romans, remained at the tomb of the Apostle Peter for forty days, exercising himself in fasting and prayer, invoking the Apostle Peter to intercede with God for him, that his faults might be pardoned. When forty days were fulfilled, the Apostle appeared to him, saying: ‘I prayed for you, and all your sins are forgiven, except for those of ordinations. This alone will be asked of you: whether you did well, or not, in ordaining those whom you ordained.’ (The Spiritual Meadow, 149)
Certain Latins attack us thus: They came that after the words of the Lord: “Take and eat” and what follows there is no need of any further prayer to consecrate the offerings, since they are already consecrated by the Lord’s word. They maintain that to pronounce these words of Christ and then to speak of bread and wine and to pray for their consecration as if they had not already been consecrated, is not only impious but futile and unnecessary. Moreover they say that the blessed Chrysostom is witness that these words consecrate the offerings when he said in the same way that the words of the Creator, “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:22), spoken on a single occasion by God, continue to take effect, so the words once spoken by the Savior are also operative forever. Those who rely more on their own prayer than on God’s word are in the first place implying that His words lack effectiveness. They show that they put more trust in themselves, and in the third place they make the holy sacrament dependent on something uncertain, namely, human prayer, and in so doing they represent so great a mystery in which the most steadfast faith must be shown as something full of uncertainty. For it does not follow that he who prays will necessarily be heard, even if he has the virtue of Paul.
It is not difficult to refute all these arguments. Take first the works of the divine John [Chrysostom] on which they rely and consider whether the words of Christ can be compared to the words of the Creator. God said: “Be fruitful and multiply”. What then? After these words do we need nothing more to achieve this and is nothing else necessary for the increase of the human race? Is not marriage and conjugal union essential, and all the other cares which go with marriage, and without which it would be impossible for mankind to exist and develop? We consider marriage, therefore, necessary for the procreation of children, and after marriage we still pray towards this end, and without seeming to despise the Creator’s command, being well aware that it is the primary cause of procreation, but through the medium of marriage, provision for nourishment and so on. And in the same way, here in the liturgy we believe that the Lord’s words do indeed accomplish the mystery, but through the medium of the priest, his invocation, and his prayer. These words do not take effect simply in themselves or under any circumstances, but there are many essential conditions, and without these they do not achieve their end. Who does not know that it is the death of Christ alone which has brought remission of sins to the world? But we also know that even after His death faith, penitence, confession and the prayer of the priest are necessary, and a man cannot receive remission of sins unless he has first been through these processes. What then? Are we to dishonor His death and to claim that it is no effect, by believing that its results are inadequate unless we ourselves add our contribution? By no means.
It is unreasonable to address reproaches like these to those who pray for the consecration of the offerings. Their confidence in their prayer is not confidence in self, but in God Who has promised to grant what they are seeking. It is indeed the very contrary which is fundamental to the conception of prayer. For suppliants perform the act of prayer because they fail to trust themselves in the matters about which they pray and they believe and that they can obtain their requests from God alone. In throwing himself upon God, the man who prays admits that he recognizes his own helplessness and that he is dependent upon God for everything. This is not my affair, he says, nor within my own powers, but it has need of you, Lord, and I trust it all to you. These principles have an even more wonderful application when we are forced to ask things which are above nature and beyond all understanding, as the sacraments are. Then it is absolutely essential that those who make prayer should rely on God alone. For man could not even have imagined these things if God had not taught him of them; he could not have conceived the desire for them if God had not exhorted him; he could not have expected to receive it if he had not received the hope of it from Him Who is the Truth. He would not have even dared to pray for those things if God had not clearly shown him that it was according to His will that they should be sought for, and that He is ready to grant them to those who ask. As a result, the prayer is neither uncertain nor the result unsure, as the Lord of the gift has in every way made known His desire to grant it. This is why we believe that the sanctification of the mysteries is in the prayer of the priest, certainly not relying on any human power, but on the power of God. We are assured of the result, not by reason of man who prays, but by reason of God Who hears; not because mantas made a supplication, but because the Truth has promised to grant it.
There is no need to speak of the way in which Christ has shown His desire to ever grant this grace. This is why He came into the world, why He was made a sacrifice, why He died. This is why altars and priests and every purification and all the commandments, the teaching and the exhortations exist: all to the end that this holy table may be placed before us. This is why the Savior declared that He desired to keep the Passover (Lk. 22:15), for it was then that He was going to give the true Passover to His disciples. This is why He commanded them: “Do this in remembrance of Me”, for He wished this mystery to be performed among us always.
How then could those who pray have any doubt about the object of their prayer, if He intended that those things which they seek to have be received by them, and He Himself wishes to grant them Who alone has the power to give? Therefore those who believe that the offerings are consecrated by prayer are neither scorning the words of the Savior, nor trusting in themselves, nor yet causing dependence on something uncertain, such as human prayer, as the Latins vainly reproach us.
A further proof is that the all-holy Chrism, stated by the blessed Dionysius [the Areopagite] to be in the same category as Holy Communion, is also consecrated and sanctified by prayer. And the faithful have no doubt that this prayer is efficacious and consecrates. In the same way the ordination of priests, and that of bishops as well, is effected by prayer. He who is ordaining lays on his hands and then says to the clergy: “Let us pray for him that the grace of the Holy Spirit may come upon him.” Similarly in the Latin Church the bishop ordaining priests anoints the head (*) of the candidate with oil and prays that he may be richly endowed with the grace of the Holy Spirit. And it is through prayer that the priest gives absolution from sin to penitents. In the last sacrament of Unction it is equally the prayer of the priests which confers it; this sacrament has the power to give healing from bodily illness and the remission of sins to those on whom it is performed, as is confirmed by Apostolic Tradition: Is there any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed any sins they shall be forgiven him. (James 5:14-15)
How can those who condemn the prayer in the sacraments answer all these arguments?
If, as they say, the result of prayer is uncertain it would be equally uncertain whether the priest is truly of that holy office whose name he bears, or whether the Chrism has the power to consecrate, and therefore it would be impossible for the sacrament of Holy Communion to exist, since there would be neither priest nor altar. For our critics would hardly maintain that the words of the Lord would be effective if they were spoken by just anyone, and perhaps even without an altar. And indeed the altar upon which the bread must be placed is in fact itself consecrated with the Chrism which in turn is consecrated by prayer. And further, who can give us remission of sins if there is doubt about the priests and their supplications?
To follow the innovations of these men would indeed inevitably mean the total destruction of all Christianity. It is therefore clear that for those who hold such doctrines the very foundations of their virtue are in question, and there is indeed great danger for those who fabricate innovations of this kind, alien to the tradition of the Fathers and undermining the security which this tradition guarantees. For God Himself has said that He answers prayer and grants the Holy Spirit to those who ask, and nothing is impossible to those who pray in faith, and his assurance cannot be untrue. It is nowhere stated that this will happen to those who simply speak this or that word. It is the tradition of the Fathers who received this teaching from the Apostles and from their successors, that the sacraments are rendered effective through prayer; all the sacraments, as I have said, and in particularly the Holy Eucharist. Basil the Great and John Chrysostom, the great teachers of the Church, affirmed this, as so many others had already done. Those who deny such authorities deserve no consideration from those who believe in right doctrine. The words of the Lord about the Holy Mysteries were spoken in a narrative manner. None of the Apostles or teachers of the Church has ever appeared to say that they are sufficient to consecrate the offerings of sacraments. The blessed John [Chrysostom] himself said that, spoken once by Christ, and having actually been said by Him, they are always effective, just as the word of the Creator is. But it is nowhere taught that now, spoken by the priest, and by reason of being said by him, they have that efficacy. In the same way the Creator’s word is not effective because it is spoken by a man, applied to each particular case, but only because it was spoken by the Lord.
That which silences our adversaries decisively is the fact that the Latin Church herself, to whom they refer themselves, does not cease to pray for the offerings after the words of consecration have been pronounced. This point has escaped them, no doubt, because the Latins do not recite this prayer immediately after pronouncing Christ’s words, and because they do not ask explicitly for consecration and the transformation of the elements into the Body of the Lord, but use other terms, which, however, have exactly the same meaning.
This is their prayer: “Command that these offerings be carried in the hands of Thy holy angels to Thine altar on high.” (**) What do they mean when they say: “That these offerings may be carried up”? Either they are asking for a local translation of the offerings, i.e. from the earth and lower regions to heaven, or they are asking that they be raised in dignity from a humble state to the highest of all.
If the first of these is the case, we must ask of what benefit it is to us to pray that the holy mysteries may be taken away from us, since our prayers and our faith assure us and demand that they should not only be with us but remain with us, since it is in this that Christ’s remaining with us even to the end of the world consists. (Mat. 28:20) And if they know it is Christ’s Body, how can they not believe that He is truly and mysteriously both with us and in heaven, sitting at the Father’s right hand, in a manner known only to Himself? How, on one hand, shall that which is not yet the Body of Christ, which is truly heavenly, become heavenly? Or how, on the other, could that which excels all authority, power, dominion, and supremacy be carried up by the hand of angel?
Supposing, on the other hand, that the prayer of the Latins is asking that the offerings be raised in dignity and transformed into a higher reality, then they are guilty of a monstrous blasphemy if, considering that the Body of the Lord is already present, they nevertheless believe it can become something higher or holier.
Thus it is clear that the Latins know perfectly well that the bread and the wine are not yet consecrated; that is why they pray for the offerings as elements still in need of prayer. They pray that these which are still here below may be carried on high, that, as offerings which have not yet been sacrificed, they may be carried to the altar where they are to be immolated. For this, they have need of the hand of angel. In the sense in which the great Dionysius speaks when he says that the first hierarchy, that of the angles, comes to the aid of the second and human hierarchy.
This prayer can have only one significance – it transforms the offerings into the Body and Blood of the Lord. It is not to be imagined that the altar which it names lies in some place above the heavens set apart by God; to do this would be to associate ourselves with those who believe that the proper place of worship is in Jerusalem or on the mountain of Samaria. (Jn. 4:20-21) But since, as St. Paul says, there is one God and one mediator between God and men, Jesus Christ, in the Savior alone is all that can confer upon us sanctification or have power of intercession. And what are those things which have power of intercession and can confer sanctification? The priest, the victim, the altar. For, as the Lord says, “The altar that sanctifieth (Mat. 23:19) – the altar consecrates the gift.
Now, since Christ alone sanctifies, He alone must be priest, victim and altar. We know from His own words that He is both priest and victim: “For their sakes I sanctify Myself.” (Jn. 17:19) The most holy Dionysius, in his chapter On Chrism, tells us that Christ is the altar. “If our divine altar is Jesus, He Who is the divine consecration of heavenly minds, in Whom we ourselves, consecrated and mystically sacrificed, have our oblation, let us look upon this divine altar with the eyes of the Spirit.”
The priest then prays that the offerings may be carried up to the heavenly altar – in other words, that they may be consecrated and transformed into the heavenly Body of the Lord. There is no question of a change of place, a passage from earth to heaven, since we see that the offerings remain among us, and that even after the prayer their appearances remain.
Since the altar consecrates the gifts placed upon it, to pray that the gifts may be carried to the altar is to ask that they be consecrated.
What is the consecration conferred by the altar? That of the offerings placed upon it. Through that consecration the Divine Priest Himself is sanctified by being offered to God and sacrificed. (Jn. 17:19) Since Christ is at one and the same time priest, altar, victim, the consecration of the offerings by this priest, their transformation into the victim, and their carrying up to the heavenly altar are all one and the same thing. Therefore, if you pray that any one of these things come to pass, you pray for all; you possess that for which you pray and you have accomplished the sacrifice.
Your [Latin] priests, regarding Christ as the victim, pray that the offerings may be placed in Him; thus, though in different words, they are asking just what we sk. That is why our priests, after they have prayed that the elements may be changed into the Divine Body and Blood, and having made mention of the heavenly altar, do not go on to ask that the offerings be carried up to it, since they have already been taken there and accepted, but they ask that in return the grace and the gift of the Holy Spirit may be sent to us. “Let us pray for the consecrated offerings.” That they may be consecrated? Certainly not, since they are so already; but that they might sanctify us, that God Who sanctified them may sanctify us through them.
It is evident therefore that is not the whole Latin Church which condemns the prayer for the offerings after the words of consecration, but only a few innovators who are causing her harm in other ways; they are men who pass their time in nothing else but “to tell, or to hear some new thing”. (Acts 17:21) (A Commentary on the Divine Liturgy, 29-31)
(*) This should be “hands”. In the Roman Catholic rite the head of a bishop is anointed at his consecration.
(**) The prayer referred to is as follows: We humbly beseech Thee Almighty God, command that these things be carried by the hands of Thy angel to Thy altar on high before the sight of Thy divine majesty: that so many of us as shall by this partaking at the altar receive the most holy Body and Blood of Thy Son, may be fulfilled with all grace and heavenly benediction. Through the same Christ our Lord.
From the Catholic Encyclopedia – Epiklesis
It is certain that all the old liturgies contained such a prayer. For instance, the Liturgy of the Apostolic Constitutions, immediately after the recital of the words of Institution, goes on to the Anamnesis — “Remembering therefore His Passion…” — in which occur the words: “thou, the God who lackest nothing, being pleased with them (the Offerings) for the honor of Thy Christ, and sending down Thy Holy Spirit on this sacrifice, the witness of the Passion of the Lord Jesus, to manifest (opos apophene) this bread as the Body of Thy Christ and this chalice as the Blood of Thy Christ…” (Brightman, Liturgies Eastern and Western, I, 21). So the Greek and Syrian Liturgies of St. James (ibid., 54, 88-89), the Alexandrine Liturgies (ibid., 134, 179), the Abyssinian Rite (ibid., 233), those of the Nestorians (ibid., 287) and Armenians (ibid., 439). The Epiklesis in the Byzantine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is said thus: “We offer to Thee this reasonable and unbloody sacrifice; and we beg Thee, we ask Thee, we pray Thee that Thou, sending down Thy Holy Spirit on us and on these present gifts” (the Deacon says: “Bless, Sir the holy bread”) “make this bread into the Precious Body of Thy Christ” (Deacon: “Amen. Bless, Sir, the holy chalice”): “and that which is in this chalice, the Precious Blood of Thy Christ” (Deacon: “Amen. Bless, Sir, both”), “changing [metabalon] them by Thy Holy Spirit” (Deacon: “Amen, Amen, Amen.”). (Brightman, op. cit., I 386-387).
Nor is there any doubt that the Western rites at one time contained similar invocations. The Gallican Liturgy had variable forms according to the feast. That for the Circumcision was: “Hæc nos, Domine, instituta et præcepta retinentes suppliciter oramus uti hoc sacrificium suscipere et benedicere et sanctificare digneris: ut fiat nobis eucharistia legitima in tuo Filiique tui nomine et Spiritus sancti, in transformationem corporis ac sanguinis domini Dei nostri Jesu Christi unigeniti tui, per quem omnia creas…” (Duchesne, “Origines du culte chrétien”, 2nd ed., Paris, 1898, p. 208, taken from St. Germanus of Paris, d. 576). There are many allusions to the Gallican Invocation, for instance St. Isidore of Seville (De eccl. officiis, I, 15, etc.). The Roman Rite too at one time had an Epiklesis after the words of Institution. Pope Gelasius I (492-496) refers to it plainly: “Quomodo ad divini mysterii consecrationem coelestis Spiritus adveniet, si sacerdos…criminosis plenus actionibus reprobetur?” (“Epp. Fragm.”, vii, in Thiel, “Epp. Rom. Pont.”, I, 486). Watterich (Der Konsekrationsmoment im h. Abendmahl, 1896, pp. 133 sq.) brings other evidences of the old Roman Invocation. he (p. 166) and Drews (Entstehungsgesch. des Kanons, 1902, p. 28) think that several secrets in the Leonine Sacramentary were originally Invocations (see article CANON OF THE MASS). Of the essential clause left out — our prayer: “Supplices te rogamus” (Duchesne, op. cit., 173-5). It seems that an early insistence on the words of Institution as the form of Consecration (see, for instance, Pseudo-Ambrose, “De Mysteriis”, IX, 52, and “De Sacramentis”, IV, 4, 14-15, 23; St. Augustine, Sermon 227) led in the West to the neglect and mutilation of the Epiklesis.
…That in the Liturgy the Invocation should occur after the words of Institution is only one more case of many which show that people were not much concerned about the exact instant at which all the essence of the sacrament was complete. They looked upon the whole Consecration-prayer as one simple thing. In it the words of Institution always occur (with the doubtful exception of the Nestorian Rite); they believed that Christ would, according to His promise, do the rest. But they did not ask at which exact moment the change takes place. Besides the words of Institution there are many other blessings, prayers, and signs of the cross, some of which came before and some after the words, and all, including the words themselves, combine to make up the one Canon of which the effect is Transubstantiation. So also in our baptism and ordination services, part of the forms and prayers whose effect is the sacramental grace comes, in order of time, after the essential words. It was not till Scholastic times that theologians began to discuss the minimum of form required for the essence of each sacrament.
The committee unanimously is of the opinion that the Pan-Orthodox Congress is able to proceed to the following decision; namely, that the cutting of clergymen’s hair is permitted and that their existing outward appearance should be confined only in the church and for solemn services, but during other times, with certain distinguishing marks of each rank, uniform dress for all clergy should be introduced consisting of a broad-rimmed hat and black overcoat reaching down to the feet according to the example of the Anglican clergy. (Session Seven. “A Quest for Reform of the Orthodox Church” by Patrick Visuco, p. 129)
The 1923 Pan-Orthodox Congress also introduced the New Calendar into the Orthodox Church. With suggestions like the one above, second marriages for clergy and the New Calendar, it is not difficult to see the direction that the intended reforms were supposed to take the Church.
Council of Chalcedon 451
[T]he Fathers rightly granted privileges to the throne of old Rome, because it was the royal city. (Canon 28)
St. Nicholas Cabasilas ca. 1323-1391
[T]he pope indeed has two privileges: he is the bishop of Rome…and he is the first among the bishops. From Peter he has received the Roman episcopacy; as to the primacy, he received it much later from the blessed Fathers and the pious Emperors, for it was just that ecclesiastical affairs be accomplished in order. (De Primatu Papae, PG 149, 701 CD)
[The Church of God] has not permitted anything to be done or said against the established decrees and laws, although many shepherds have in many ways railed against them (cf. Jer. 10:25). When they have called great and very numerous synods, and given themselves the name of the Church of God, they were careful to put on a show of concern for the canons, while in truth acting against them.
Sir, a synod does not consist simply in the gathering together of bishops and priests not matter how many there are… A synod occurs when, in the Lord’s name, the canons are thoroughly searched out and maintained. And a synod is not to bind and loose in some random way, but as seems proper to the truth and to the canon and to the rule of strictness.
And no authority whatever has been given to bishops for any transgression of a canon. They are to follow what has been decreed, and to adhere to those who have gone before. (Epistle 24, 62-80)
Shall we say: ‘Since it is lawful for an archbishop together with his associates to do as he pleases, let him be for the duration of his archbishopric a new Evangelist, another Apostle, a different Law-giver?’ Certainly not. For we have an injunction from the Apostle himself: If anyone preaches a doctrine, or urges you to do something against what you have received, against what is prescribed by the canons of the catholic and local synods held at various times, he is not to be received, or to be reckoned among the number of the faithful. And I forbear even to mention the terrible judgment with which the Apostle concludes (Gal. 1:8). (Epistle 24, 94-101)
Even if we are great sinners, we are Orthodox and children of the universal Church, repudiating every heresy, and receiving every ecumenical and local synod that is approved; and not only that, but also the canonical constitutions promulgated by them. For he who appears to have right faith but is not guided by the sacred canons is not fully, but only half-way Orthodox. (Epistle 25, 31-35)
[S]ometimes [vainglory] creates a wish to take holy orders, and a desire for the priesthood or diaconate. And it represents that if a man has even against his will received this office, he will fulfil it with such sanctity and strictness that he will be able to set an example of saintliness even to other priests; and that he will win over many people, not only by his manner of life, but also by his teaching and preaching. It makes a man, even when alone and sitting in his cell, to go round in mind and imagination to the dwellings and monasteries of others, and to make many conversions under the inducements of imaginary exultation.
And so the miserable soul is affected by such vanity–as if it were deluded by a profound slumber–that it is often led away by the pleasure of such thoughts, and filled with such imaginations, so that it cannot even look at things present, or the brethren, while it enjoys dwelling upon these things, of which with its wandering thoughts it has waking dreams, as if they were true.
I remember an elder, when I was staying in the desert of Scete, who went to the cell of a certain brother to pay him a visit, and when he had reached the door heard him muttering inside, and stood still for a little while, wanting to know what it was that he was reading from the Bible or repeating by heart (as is customary) while he was at work. And when this most excellent eavesdropper diligently applied his ear and listened with some curiosity, he found that the man was induced by an attack of this spirit to fancy that he was delivering a stirring sermon to the people. And when the elder, as he stood still, heard him finish his discourse and return again to his office, and give out the dismissal of the catechumens, as the deacon does, then at last he knocked at the door, and the man came out, and met the elder with the customary reverence, and brought him in and (for his knowledge of what had been his thoughts made him uneasy) asked him when he had arrived, for fear lest he might have taken some harm from standing too long at the door: and the old man joking pleasantly replied, “I only got here while you were giving out the dismissal of the catechumens.” (Institutes Bk. 11. 14-16)
My honor is the honor of the Universal Church. My honor is the strength and unity of my brethren. I am truly honored when the honor due to every individual amongst them is not withheld. (Migne, P.L. lxxvii, 933 cf. Fouyas, “Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism”, pg. 145)
Certain it is at least that the prayer of the churches loosed Peter from his chains, opened the mouth of Paul; their voice in no slight degree equips those that arrive unto spiritual rule. Therefore indeed it is that both he who is going to ordain calls at that time for their prayers also, and that they add their votes and assent by acclamations which the initiated know: for it is not lawful before the uninitiated to unbare all things. But there are occasions in which there is no difference at all between the priest and those under him; for instance, when we are to partake of the awful mysteries; for we are all alike counted worthy of the same things: not as under the Old Testament [when] the priest ate some things and those under him others, and it was not lawful for the people to partake of those things whereof the priest partook. But not so now, but before all one body is set and one cup. And in the prayers also, one may observe the people contributing much. For in behalf of the possessed, in behalf of those under penance, the prayers are made in common both by the priest and by them; and all say one prayer, the prayer replete with pity. Again when we exclude from the holy precincts those who are unable to partake of the holy table, it behooves that another prayer be offered, and we all alike fall upon the ground, and all alike rise up. Again, in the most awful mysteries themselves, the priest prays for the people and the people also pray for the priest; for the words, with your spirit, are nothing else than this. The offering of thanksgiving again is common: for neither does he give thanks alone, but also all the people. For having first taken their voices, next when they assent that it is meet and right so to do, then he begins the thanksgiving. And why do you marvel that the people anywhere utter anything with the priest, when indeed even with the very Cherubim, and the powers above, they send up in common those sacred hymns? Now I have said all this in order that each one of the laity also may be wary, that we may understand that we are all one body, having such difference among ourselves as members with members; and may not throw the whole upon the priests but ourselves also so care for the whole Church as for a body common to us. For this course will provide for our greater safety, and for your greater growth unto virtue. Here, at least, in the case of the Apostles, how frequently they admitted the laity to share in their decisions. For when they ordained the seven, Acts 6:2-3 they first communicated with the people; and when Peter ordained Matthias, with all that were then present, both men and women, etc. For here is no pride of rulers nor slavishness in the ruled; but a spiritual rule, in this particular usurping most, in taking on itself the greater share of the labor and of the care which is on your behalf, not in seeking larger honors. For so ought the Church to dwell as one house; as one body so to be all disposed; just as therefore there is both one Baptism, and one table, and one fountain, and one creation, and one Father. Why then are we divided, when so great things unite us; why are we torn asunder? For we are compelled again to bewail the same things, which I have lamented often. The state in which we are calls for lamentation; so widely are we severed from each other, when we ought to image the conjunction of one body. For in this way will he that is greater, be able to gain even from him that is less. For if Moses learned from his father-in-law somewhat expedient which himself had not perceived, much more in the Church may this happen. And how then came it that what he that was an unbeliever perceived, he that was spiritual perceived not? That all those of that time might understand that he was a man; and though he divide the sea, though he cleave the rock, he needs the influence of God, and that those acts were not of man’s nature, but of God’s power. And so let another rise up and speak; and so now, if such and such an one does not say expedient things, let another rise up and speak; though he be an inferior, yet if he say somewhat to the purpose, confirm his opinion; and even if he be of the very meanest, do not show him disrespect. For no one of these is at so great a distance from his neighbor, as Moses’ father-in-law was from him, yet he disdained not to listen to him, but even admitted his opinion, and was persuaded, and recorded it; and was not ashamed to hand down the circumstances to history; casting down [so] the pride of the many. Wherefore also he left this story to the world engraven as it were on a pillar, for he knew that it would be useful to many. Let us then not overlook those who give us behooveful counsel, even though they be of the meaner sort, nor insist that those counsels prevail which we have ourselves introduced; but whatever shall appear to be best, let that be approved by all. For many of duller sight have perceived things sooner than those of acute vision, by means of diligence and attention. And say not, “why do you call me to council, if you hearken not to what I say?” These accusations are not a counsellor’s, but a despot’s. For the counsellor has only power to speak his own opinion; but if something else appear more profitable, and yet he will carry his own opinion into effect, he is no longer a counsellor but a despot, as I said. Let us not, then, act in this manner; but having freed our souls from all arrogancy and pride, let us consider, not how our counsels only may stand, but how that opinion which is best may prevail, even though it may not have been brought forward by us. For no light gain will be ours, even though we should not have discovered what behooves, if ourselves accepted what has been pointed out by others; and abundant is the reward we shall receive from God, and so too shall we best attain to glory. For as he is wise that speaks that which is behooveful, so shall we that have accepted it, ourselves also reap the praise of prudence and of candor. Thus if both houses and states, thus too if the Church be ordered, she will receive a larger increase ; and so too shall we ourselves, having thus best ordered our present lives, receive the good things to come: whereunto may we all attain, through the grace and love towards men of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Homilies on 2 Cor.: Homily 18.3)
[T]hose things which I have already mentioned might easily be performed by many even of those who are under authority, women as well as men; but when one is required to preside over the Church, and to be entrusted with the care of so many souls, the whole female sex must retire before the magnitude of the task, and the majority of men also; and we must bring forward those who to a large extent surpass all others, and soar as much above them in excellence of spirit as Saul overtopped the whole Hebrew nation in bodily stature: or rather far more. (1 Sam. 10:23) For in this case let me not take the height of shoulders as the standard of inquiry; but let the distinction between the pastor and his charge be as great as that between rational man and irrational creatures, not to say even greater, inasmuch as the risk is concerned with things of far greater importance. (On the Priesthood Bk. 2.2)
The divine law indeed has excluded women from the ministry, but they endeavor to thrust themselves into it; and since they can effect nothing of themselves, they do all through the agency of others; and they have become invested with so much power that they can appoint or eject priests at their will: things in fact are turned upside down, and the proverbial saying may be seen realized— “
The ruled lead the rulers”; and would that it were men who do this instead of women, who have not received a commission to teach. Why do I say teach? For the blessed Paul did not suffer them even to speak in the church. But I have heard someone say that they have obtained such a large privilege of free speech, as even to rebuke the prelates of the churches, and censure them more severely than masters do their own domestics. (On the Priesthood Bk. 3.9)
For, tell me, whence do you think such great troubles are generated in the churches? I, for my part, believe the only source of them to be the inconsiderate and random way in which prelates are chosen and appointed. For the head ought to be the strongest part, that it may be able to regulate and control the evil exhalations which arise from the rest of the body below; but when it happens to be weak in itself, and unable to repel those pestiferous attacks, it becomes feebler itself than it really is, and ruins the rest of the body as well. (On the Priesthood Bk. 3.10)
Now what ought we to learn before everything else, but to be silent, that we may be able to speak? Lest my voice should condemn me, before that of another acquit me; for it is written:
By your words you shall be condemned. Mat. 12:37 What need is there, then, that you should hasten to undergo the danger of condemnation by speaking, when you can be more safe by keeping silent? How many have I seen to fall into sin by speaking, but scarcely one by keeping silent; and so it is more difficult to know how to keep silent than how to speak. I know that most persons speak because they do not know how to keep silent. It is seldom that any one is silent even when speaking profits him nothing. He is wise, then, who knows how to keep silent. Lastly, the Wisdom of God said:
The Lord has given to me the tongue of learning, that I should know when it is good to speak. Justly, then, is he wise who has received of the Lord to know when he ought to speak. Wherefore the Scripture says well:
A wise man will keep silence until there is opportunity. Sirach 20:7
Therefore the saints of the Lord loved to keep silence, because they knew that a man’s voice is often the utterance of sin, and a man’s speech is the beginning of human error. Lastly, the Saint of the Lord said:
I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I offend not in my tongue. For he knew and had read that it was a mark of the divine protection for a man to be hid from the scourge of his own tongue, Job 5:21 and the witness of his own conscience. We are chastised by the silent reproaches of our thoughts, and by the judgment of conscience. We are chastised also by the lash of our own voice, when we say things whereby our soul is mortally injured, and our mind is sorely wounded. But who is there that has his heart clean from the impurities of sin, and does not offend in his tongue? And so, as he saw there was no one who could keep his mouth free from evil speaking, he laid upon himself the law of innocency by a rule of silence, with a view to avoiding by silence that fault which he could with difficulty escape in speaking. (On the Duty of Clergy Bk. 1: Chap. 2.5-6)
[A]s incautious speaking leads into error, so indiscreet silence leaves in error those who might have been instructed. For often improvident rulers, fearing to lose human favor, shrink timidly from speaking freely the things that are right; and, according to the voice of the Truth Jn. 10:12, serve unto the custody of the flock by no means with the zeal of shepherds, but in the way of hirelings; since they fly when the wolf comes if they hide themselves under silence. For hence it is that the Lord through the prophet upbraids them, saying, Dumb dogs, that cannot bark Isa. 56:10. Hence again He complains, saying, You have not gone up against the enemy, neither opposed a wall for the house of Israel, to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord Eze. 13:5. Now to go up against the enemy is to go with free voice against the powers of this world for defence of the flock; and to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord is out of love of justice to resist bad men when they contend against us. For, for a shepherd to have feared to say what is right, what else is it but to have turned his back in keeping silence? But surely, if he puts himself in front for the flock, he opposes a wall against the enemy for the house of Israel. Hence again to the sinful people it is said, Your prophets have seen false and foolish things for you: neither did they discover your iniquity, to provoke you to repentance Lam. 2:14. For in sacred language teachers are sometimes called prophets, in that, by pointing out how fleeting are present things, they make manifest the things that are to come. And such the divine discourse convinces of seeing false things, because, while fearing to reprove faults, they vainly flatter evil doers by promising security: neither do they at all discover the iniquity of sinners, since they refrain their voice from chiding. For the language of reproof is the key of discovery, because by chiding it discloses the fault of which even he who has committed it is often himself unaware. Hence Paul says, That he may be able by sound doctrine even to convince the gainsayers Tit. 1:9. Hence through Malachi it is said, The priest’s lips keep knowledge, and they shall seek the law at his mouth Mal. 2:7. Hence through Isaiah the Lord admonishes, saying, Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet Isa. 58:1. For it is true that whosoever enters on the priesthood undertakes the office of a herald, so as to walk, himself crying aloud, before the coming of the judge who follows terribly. Wherefore, if the priest knows not how to preach, what voice of a loud cry shall the mute herald utter? For hence it is that the Holy Spirit sat upon the first pastors under the appearance of tongues Acts 2:3; because whomsoever He has filled, He himself at once makes eloquent. Hence it is enjoined on Moses that when the priest goes into the tabernacle he shall be encompassed with bells Ex. 28:33; that is, that he shall have about him the sounds of preaching, lest he provoke by his silence the judgment of Him Who beholds him from above. For it is written, That his sound may be heard when he goes in unto the holy place before the Lord and when he comes out, that he die not Ex. 28:35. For the priest, when he goes in or comes out, dies if a sound is not heard from him, because he provokes the wrath of the hidden judge, if he goes without the sound of preaching. Aptly also are the bells described as inserted in his vestments. For what else ought we to take the vestments of the priest to be but righteous works; as the prophet attests when he says, Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness Ps. 131:9? The bells, therefore, are inherent in his vestments to signify that the very works of the priest should also proclaim the way of life together with the sound of his tongue. (Pastoral Rule Bk. 2.4)
For what says He?
But be not ye called Rabbi. Then follows the cause also;
For one is your master, and all you are brethren; Mat. 23:8 and one has nothing more than another, in respect of his knowing nothing from himself. Wherefore Paul also says,
For who is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers? 1 Cor. 3:5 He said not masters. And again,
Call not, father, Mat. 23:9 not that they should not call, but they may know whom they ought to call Father, in the highest sense. For like as the master is not a master principally; so neither is the father. For He is cause of all, both of the masters, and of the fathers. (Homilies on Matthew, 72.3)
For the light of the body is the eye, (Mat. 6:22) as we have heard; not only the bodily eye which sees and is seen, but that which contemplates and is contemplated spiritually. But the light of the Church is the Bishop, as is evident to you even without our writing it. As then the straightness or crookedness of the course of the body depends upon the clearness or dulness of the eye, so must the Church necessarily share the peril or safety incurred by the conduct of its Chief. (Epistle 41)
But in future, since the priestly canon openly sets this forth, that the crime of conspiracy or secret society is forbidden by external laws, but much more ought it to be prohibited in the Church; we also hasten to observe that if any clerics or monks are found either conspiring or entering secret societies, or devising anything against bishops or clergymen, they shall be altogether deprived of their rank. (Canon 34)
When we recite the Psalter, we promise God:
I will meditate upon your statutes, and will not forget your words. It is a salutary thing for all Christians to observe this, but it is especially incumbent upon those who have received the sacerdotal dignity. Therefore we decree, that every one who is raised to the rank of the episcopate shall know the Psalter by heart, so that from it he may admonish and instruct all the clergy who are subject to him. And diligent examination shall be made by the metropolitan whether he be zealously inclined to read diligently, and not merely now and then, the sacred canons, the Holy Gospel, and the book of the divine Apostle, and all other divine Scripture; and whether he lives according to God’s commandments, and also teaches the same to his people. For the special treasure of our high priesthood is the oracles which have been divinely delivered to us, that is the true science of the Divine Scriptures, as says Dionysius the Great. And if his mind be not set, and even glad, so to do and teach, let him not be ordained. For says God by the prophet,
You have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you, that you shall be no priest to me.
Ancient Epitome: Whoever is to be a bishop must know the Psalter by heart: he must thoroughly understand what he reads, and not merely superficially, but with diligent care, that is to say the Sacred Canons, the Holy Gospel, the book of the Apostle, and the whole of the Divine Scripture. And should he not have such knowledge, he is not to be ordained. (Canon 2)
Let this single fact respecting Paphnutius suffice: I shall now explain another thing which came to pass in consequence of his advice, both for the good of the Church and the honor of the clergy. It seemed fit to the bishops to introduce a new law into the Church, that those who were in holy orders, I speak of bishops, presbyters, and deacons, should have no conjugal intercourse with the wives whom they had married while still laymen. Now when discussion on this matter was impending, Paphnutius having arisen in the midst of the assembly of bishops, earnestly entreated them not to impose so heavy a yoke on the ministers of religion: asserting that ‘marriage itself is honorable, and the bed undefiled’; (Heb. 13:4) urging before God that they ought not to injure the Church by too stringent restrictions. ‘For all men,’ said he, ‘cannot bear the practice of rigid continence; neither perhaps would the chastity of the wife of each be preserved’: and he termed the intercourse of a man with his lawful wife chastity. It would be sufficient, he thought, that such as had previously entered on their sacred calling should abjure matrimony, according to the ancient tradition of the Church: but that none should be separated from her to whom, while yet unordained, he had been united. And these sentiments he expressed, although himself without experience of marriage, and, to speak plainly, without ever having known a woman: for from a boy he had been brought up in a monastery, and was specially renowned above all men for his chastity. The whole assembly of the clergy assented to the reasoning of Paphnutius: wherefore they silenced all further debate on this point, leaving it to the discretion of those who were husbands to exercise abstinence if they so wished in reference to their wives. Thus much concerning Paphnutius. (Ecclesiastical History Bk. 1.11)
Orthodox Christians, even those who are of a worldly mind and spirit, find little, if any, spiritual comfort among the “progressive” and “modern” priests of our days. We thus make the following odd and strange observation: Priests who are strictly traditional, while serving as the ideal image for our conservative and traditional laity, also enjoy at the same time the immense respect, I dare say even admiration, of worldly laity. The latter even treat them with a great amount of respect which one might say it borderlines on the awe and fear that is usually directed towards our saints.
On the other side of the spectrum, “modernized” clergy exclusively provoke the anxiety and extreme uneasiness of traditionally-minded laity. Furthermore, while they are gladly accepted by the like-minded laity, they actually never gain their esteem and respect which is instead enjoyed only by priests who live a strict, spiritual life and have a traditional appearance.
The phrase “this is a holy man” has often been directed towards the strict and traditional clergy, irrespective of whether this clergy was married or celibate. Additionally, such characterization has been made not only by pious laity but even by those of a secular mind or others who are even indifferent towards religion or religious things. However, it has never been made by anyone, irrespective of their religious devotion, for the “progressive” and “modernized” priests or generally for any clergy that chooses, through their appearance, lifestyle and behavior, to exemplify “the spirit of our days.” This distinction carries many implications…
At this time, it would be proper to note the following: A lay theologian with progressive tendencies conveyed to me the following observation that he made during an American, non-Orthodox, clergy conference that took place in Athens, Greece.
“What can I tell you Father?” he asked. “You are absolutely correct in your thinking. I can not possibly consider these people as any kind of priests! You greet them and feel a complete lack of desire to show any respect, to spontaneously bend down and kiss their hand. You see them on the bus and you develop complete indifference towards jumping up and offering them your seat. Looking at them, I get the impression that I am staring at fancy restaurant waiters!… How very different I feel, though, when I see one of our priests, even if it is a simple monk!…”
One, of course, could easily misinterpret these words as the result of habitual observations, because in Greece we have been accustomed to see only cassock-wearing priests. For this reason, I must also mention a casual observation made during an interview of a well known European scientist (and published within the columns of the newspaper — “Ethnos” – several years ago, on February 17, 1970):
“It is so beautiful,” he said, “to watch a Greek priest and to pick him out from a distance; our clergy, on the other hand, must be literally sitting right next to you to distinguish them as such.”
These words must be repeated and heard over and over again by all those who for “aesthetic” reasons wish to abolish the use of cassocks. This testimony was made by a distinguished scientist and (interestingly enough) reported by a newspaper columnist who is well-known to be in clear favor of “ridding our clergy of their cassocks.” The subject scientist is surely accustomed to seeing his clergy with an outwardly appearance that parallels that of laity; nevertheless, he is inspired and exclaims upon seeing the cassock-wearing Greek priest, that “it is so wonderful to observe a priest dressed in this manner.”
One could, at this point, tell us:
“OK! Let us have different and peculiar attire for the clergy. Such garb, however, must not be so very unique and different from the dress code of laity. Let it be somewhat contemporary. The cassock is so ‘out of step with our times.’ Why should we thus not abolish it? The spirit of our times considers it as completely repulsive…”
Oh, this ancient and everlasting “spirit of our times!” It is exactly because every century and every generation has this same “spirit” (and the same thought process) that our clergy must be imposed upon a world that is flowing forward within a rapidly moving stream, constantly evolving and ever-changing. Science and technology are realizing dizzying leaps on a daily basis. Things of yesterday are unrecognizable by the people of today; things of today will be correspondingly unknown to the people of tomorrow. Thus, a little time passes and everything new and exciting becomes old and boring… It is within this unrestrained flow, these continuous alterations, this perpetual motion, these uninterrupted waves and oscillations, these terrible vibrations of the world that our clergy exists unaltered. Let us permit God’s priest to stand accordingly, as an unmovable rock and a sky-high column of light. He has neither a name nor an age. He is the one and the same from Jesus’ time (if not from the age of Malchizedek) and will be the same through the end of time! He, of course, has flesh, is born, lives and dies and is replaced by others. However, he is the same with the One Whom he represents on earth, even though he exists and has existed at millions of altars. The priesthood is one and the same, and emanates from Him.
This, therefore, is the Orthodox priest, the one and only that lies above place and time, binding together earth and heaven, uniting past, present and future, having been assimilated with the Son of God, possessing an infinite and eternal dimension, and whom we now wish to subjugate to the commands of the “spirit of time” of various generations. At times our priest may change but that is a process which occurring “naturally” through the forceful and violent nature of generational changes, for even he is subject to the illnesses of our “times.” However, is it not highly improper and awful to insist upon theoretical changes to the very foundation of clergy?
The Orthodox priest is the incarnation of the absolute, the expression of whatever is permanent, stable and motionless, the trumpet of heaven on earth, an icon of incorruptibility, and he who points out to all of us the pathway to eternity. Let us allow him to remain identical and unchangeable throughout the centuries, even in his external appearance, thus serving as a reminder and a symbol of the eternal and immutable Truths that he represents and upon which any type of change or the overshadowing of a social trend can carry no impact.
Let the world’s countenance be altered, let nature’s appearance be infected, but allow our clergy’s form and appearance (yes, their form and appearance) remain unchanged. Let Christ silently proclaim, through our priests, to the intoxicated, staggering, and continuously vibrating and evolving world: In the middle of this universal relativity and fluidity, in the middle of successive turnabouts, alterations, and changes, in the middle of corruption and extreme uncertainty, I remain. The Absolute and Ever-Lasting, the Incorruptible and Unaltered, the One and Only God!
– from the book «Ἄρθρα, Μελέται – Ἐπιστολαί» (“Articles, Studies – Letters”), vol. 1, pg. 414, translated from the Greek by the staff of St. POIMEN Brotherhood
…[T]he Orthodox Church, in its nature and its dogmatically unchanging constitution is episcopal and centred in the bishops. For the bishop and the faithful gathered around him are the expression and manifestation of the Church as the Body of Christ, especially in the Holy Liturgy: the Church is Apostolic and Catholic only by virtue of its bishops, insofar as they are the heads of true ecclesiastical units, the dioceses. At the same time, the other, historically later and variable forms of church organisation of the Orthodox Church: the metropolias, archdioceses, patriarchates, pentarchias, autocephalies, autonomies, etc., however many there may be or shall be, cannot have and do not have a determining and decisive significance in the conciliar system of the Orthodox Church. Furthermore, they may constitute an obstacle in the correct functioning of the conciliar principle if they obstruct and reject the episcopal character and structure of the Church and of the Churches. Here, undoubtedly, is to be found the primary difference between Orthodox and papal ecclesiology. (On a Summoning of the Great Council of the Orthodox Church)
We have noted with vexation that contempt for divine truths has reached such a level that even women, it is reported, serve at the holy altars. Everything that is entrusted exclusively to men is performed by the sex that has no right to do so.
And of all these obnoxious transgressions which we reprimand singly, all the criminal guilt falls on those priests who either commit them personally, or who by not making the culprits known show that they agree with these wicked excesses – if we may even call by the name ‘priests’ those men who are prepared to so degrade the religious office entrusted to them that, sinking down to perverse and profane pursuits without any respect for Christian regulations, they run headlong into a deadly abyss.
And when it is written that ‘Whoever scorns small things will gradually come to a fall’ (Ecclesiasticus 19:1), what should we think about those people who borne down by the immense and multiplicitous burden of their depravities, have caused an enormous downfall by their various impulsive actions which can be seen not only to lead themselves to perdition, but inflict a mortal plague on all churches if they are not healed?
And let those people have no doubt, not only whoever has dared to do these things but also those who, in spite of knowing about it, kept silence, that they lie under the loss of their own honor if they do not hasten, as fast as they can, to heal the lethal wounds with adequate medication. (Ep. IX, 26 PL 59 55)
What shall we do against these evils, we who have been entrusted by God with the doctrine of the mystery, against whom on the day of judgment those who are introduced into the mysteries will certainly testify? For they will say that they kept the faith as they were introduced to it by us. And if we have done this rightly, we shall both receive a reward and meet with praise, but if we do otherwise and perversely, what kind of flames will be enough to punish us? For we shall hear, “You destroyed my land and you killed my people,” according to the Scripture. Each of those who are laymen in rank will give an account of his own life. But we who have been heavily laden with the duties of the episcopacy will give an account, not only of ourselves, but of all those believing in Christ. (Letter 9)
It behooves those who preside over the churches, every day but especially on Lord’s days, to teach all the clergy and people words of piety and of right religion, gathering out of Holy Scripture meditations and determinations of the truth, and not going beyond the limits now fixed, nor varying from the tradition of the God-bearing fathers. And if any controversy in regard to Scripture shall have been raised, let them not interpret it otherwise than as the lights and doctors of the church in their writings have expounded it, and in those let them glory rather than in composing things out of their own heads, lest through their lack of skill they may have departed from what was fitting. For through the doctrine of the aforesaid fathers, the people coming to the knowledge of what is good and desirable, as well as what is useless and to be rejected, will remodel their life for the better, and not be led by ignorance, but applying their minds to the doctrine, they will take heed that no evil befall them and work out their salvation in fear of impending punishment. (Canon 19)
He that honors the Priest, will honor God also; and he who has learned to despise the Priest, will in process of time insult God.
He that receives you, He says,
receives Me. Matt. 10:40
Hold my priests in honor Sirach 7:31, He says. The Jews learned to despise God, because they despised Moses, and would have stoned him. For when a man is piously disposed towards thePriest, he is much more so towards God. And even if the Priest be wicked, God seeing that you respect him, though unworthy of honor, through reverence to Him, will Himself reward you. For if
he that receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward Matt. 10:41; then he who honors and submits and gives way to the Priest shall certainly be rewarded. For if in the case of hospitality, when you know not the guest, you receive so high a recompense, much more will you be requited, if you obey him whom He requires you to obey.
The Scribes and Pharisees, He says,
sit in Moses’ seat; all therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do, but do not do after their works. Matt. 23:2-3 Do you not know what the Priest is? He is an Angel of the Lord. Are they his own words that he speaks? If you despise him, you despise not him, but God that ordained him. But how does it appear, you ask, that he is ordained of God? Nay, if you suppose it otherwise, your hope is rendered vain. For if God works nothing through his means, thou neither hast any Laver, nor art partaker of the Mysteries, nor of the benefit of Blessings; you are therefore not a Christian. What then, you say, does God ordain all, even the unworthy? God indeed does not ordain all, but He works through all, though they be themselves unworthy, that the people may be saved. For if He spoke, for the sake of the people, by an ass, and by Balaam, a most wicked man, much more will He speak by the mouth of the Priest. What indeed will not God do or say for our salvation? By whom does He not act? For if He wrought through Judas and those other that
prophesied, to whom He will say,
I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of iniquity Matt. 7:22-23; and if others
cast out devils Psa. 6:8; will He not much more work through the Priests? Since if we were to make inquisition into the lives of our rulers, we should then become the ordainers of our own teachers, and all would be confusion; the feet would be uppermost, the head below. Hear Paul saying,
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment. 1 Cor. 4:3 And again,
Why do you judge your brother? Rom. 14:10 For if we may not judge our brother, much less our teacher. If God commands this indeed, you do well, and sinnest if you do it not; but if the contrary, dare not do it, nor attempt to go beyond the lines that are marked out. After Aaron had made the golden calf, Corah, Dathan, and Abiram raised an insurrection against him. And did they not perish? Let each attend to his own department. For if he teach perverted doctrine, though he be an Angel, obey him not; but if he teach the truth, take heed not to his life, but to his words. You have Paul to instruct you in what is right both by words and works. But you say,
He gives not to the poor, he does not govern well. Whence do you know this? Blame not, before you are informed. Be afraid of the great account. Many judgments are formed upon mere opinion. Imitate your Lord, who said,
I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, and if not, I will know. Gen. 18:21 But if you have enquired, and informed yourself, and seen; yet await the Judge, and usurp not the office of Christ. To Him it belongs, and not to you, to make this inquisition. You are an inferior servant, not a master. You are a sheep, be not curious concerning the shepherd, lest you have to give account of your accusations against him. But you say, How does he teach me that which he does not practice himself? It is not he that speaks to you. If it be he whom you obey, you have no reward. It is Christ that thus admonishes you. And what do I say? You ought not to obey even Paul, if he speaks of himself, or anything human, but the Apostle, that has Christ speaking in him. Let not us judge one another’s conduct, but each his own. Examine your own life.
But you say,
He ought to be better than I. Wherefore?
Because he is a Priest. And is he not superior to you in his labors, his dangers, his anxious conflicts and troubles? But if he is not better, ought thou therefore to destroy yourself? These are the words of arrogance. For how is he not better than yourself? He steals, you say, and commits sacrilege! How do you know this? Why do you cast yourself down a precipice? If you should hear it said that such an one has a purple robe, though you knew it to be true, and couldest convict him, you decline to do it, and pretend ignorance, not being willing to run into unnecessary danger. But in this case you are so far from being backward, that even without cause you expose yourself to the danger. Nor think you are not responsible for these words. Hear what Christ says,
Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. Matt.12:36 And do you think yourself better than another, and do you not groan, and beat your breast, and bow down your head, and imitate the Publican?
And then you destroy yourself, though thou be better. Be silent, that you cease not to be better. If you speak of it, you have done away the merit; if you think it, I do not say so; if you dost not think it, you have added much. For if a notorious sinner, when he confessed,
went home justified, he who is a sinner in a less degree, and is conscious of it, how will he not be rewarded? Examine your own life. Thou dost not steal; but you are rapacious, and overbearing, and guilty of many other such things. I say not this to defend theft; God forbid! Deeply lament if there is any one really guilty of it, but I do not believe it. How great an evil is sacrilege, it is impossible to say. But I spare you. For I would not that our virtue should be rendered vain by accusing others. What was worse than the Publican? For it is true that he was a publican, and guilty of many offenses, yet because the Pharisee only said,
I am not as this publican, he destroyed all his merit. I am not, you say, like this sacrilegious Priest. And dost not thou make all in vain?
This I am compelled to say, and to enlarge upon in my discourse, not so much because I am concerned for them, but because I fear for you, lest you should render your virtue vain by this boasting of yourselves, and condemnation of others. For hear the exhortation of Paul,
Let every one prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. Gal. 6:4
If you had a wound, tell me, and should go to a physician, would you stay him from salving and dressing your own wound, and be curious to enquire whether the physician had a wound, or not? And if he had, would you mind it? Or because he had it, would you forbear dressing your own, and say, A physician ought to be in sound health, and since he is not so, I shall let my wound go uncured? For will it be any palliation for him that is under rule, that his Priest is wicked? By no means. He will suffer the destinedpunishment, and you too will meet with that which is your due. For the Teacher now only fills a place. For
it is written, They shall all be taught of God. Jn. 6:45; Isa. 54:13
Neither shall they say, Know the Lord. For all shall know Me from the least to the greatest. Jer. 31:34 Why then, you will say, does he preside? Why is he set over us? I beseech you, let us not speak ill of our teachers, nor call them to so strict an account, lest we bring evil upon ourselves. Let us examine ourselves, and we shall not speak ill of others. Let us reverence that day, on which heenlightened us. He who has a father, whatever faults he has, conceals them all. For it is said,
Glory not in the dishonor of your father; for your father’s dishonor is no glory unto you. And if his understanding fail, have patience with him. Sirach 3:10-12 And if this be said of our natural fathers, much more of our spiritual fathers. Reverence him, in that he every day ministers to you, causes the Scriptures to be read, sets the house in order for you, watches for you, prays for you, stands imploring God on your behalf, offers supplications for you, for you is all his worship.Reverence all this, think of this, and approach him with pious respect. Say not, he is wicked. What of that? He that is not wicked, does he of himself bestow upon you these great benefits? By no means. Everything works according to your faith. Not even the righteous man can benefit you, if you are unfaithful, nor the unrighteous harm you, if you are faithful. God, when He would save His people, wrought for the ark by oxen. 1 Sam. 6:12 Is it the good life or the virtue of the Priest that confers so much on you? The gifts which God bestows are not such as to be effects of the virtue of the Priest. All is of grace. His part is but to open his mouth, while God works all: the Priest only performs a symbol. Consider how wide was the distance between John and Jesus. Hear John saying,
I have need to be baptized by You Matt. 3:14, and,
Whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. Jn. 1:27 Yet notwithstanding this difference, the Spirit descended. Which John had not. For
of His fullness, it is said,
we all have received. Jn. 1:16Yet nevertheless, It descended not till He was baptized. But neither was it John who caused It to descend. Why then is this done? That you may learn that the Priest performs a symbol. No man differs so widely from another man, asJohn from Jesus, and yet with him the Spirit descended, that we may learn, that it is God who works all, that all is God’s doing. I am about to say what may appear strange, but be not astonished nor startled at it. The Offering is the same, whether a common man, or Paul or Peter offer it. It is the same which Christ gave to His disciples, and which the Priests now minister. This is nowise inferior to that, because it is not men that sanctify even this, but the Same who sanctified the one sanctifies the other also. For as the words which God spoke are the same which the Priest now utters, so is the Offering the same, and the Baptism, that which He gave. Thus the whole is of faith. The Spirit immediately fell upon Cornelius, because he had previously fulfilled his part, and contributed his faith. And this is His Body, as well as that. And he who thinks the one inferior to the other, knows not that Christ even now is present, even now operates. Knowing therefore these things, which we have not said without reason, but that we may conform your minds in what is right, and render you more secure for the future, keep carefully in mind what has been spoken. For if we are always hearers, and never doers, we shall reap no advantage from what is said. Let us therefore attend diligently to the things spoken. Let us imprint them upon our minds. Let us have them ever engraved upon our consciences, and let us continually ascribe glory to theFather, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. (Homily 2 on 2nd Timothy)
Ordination does not lead a man to power, nor does it raise him on high, nor does it confer dominion. We have all received the same Spirit, we have all been called to sonship; those whom the Father has tested, He has counted worthy of serving their own brethren in a position of authority. (Homily: That We Should Anathematize the Living and the Dead, 4)
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)
And they forgat His benefits, and the wonderful works of Him which He showed to them; before their fathers the wonderful things which He did Ps. 77:11… For why should they not have been called fathers? It is not in the same manner as God is the One Father, who does regenerate with His Spirit those whom He does make sons for an everlasting inheritance; but it is for the sake of honour, because of their age and kindly carefulness: just as Paul the elder says,
Not to confound you I am writing these things, but as my dearly beloved sons I am admonishing you: 1 Cor. 4:14 though he knew of a truth that it had been said by the Lord,
Call ye no man your father on earth, for One is your Father, even God. Mat. 23:9 And this was not said in order that this term of human honour should be erased from our usual way of speaking: but lest the grace of God whereby we are regenerated unto eternal life, should be ascribed either to the power or even sanctity of any man. Therefore when he said,
I have begotten you; he first said,
in Christ, and
through the Gospel; lest that might be thought to be of him, which is of God… (Exposition on the Psalms, Ps. 78 Chap.10)
Let not a bishop, a priest, or a deacon cast off his own wife under pretence of piety; but if he does cast her off, let him be suspended. If he go on in it, let him be deprived. (Canon 6)
Council of Gangra ca. 4th cent.
If any one shall maintain, concerning a married presbyter, that is not lawful to partake of the oblation when he offers it, let him be anathema. (Canon 4)
Council of Carthage ca. 419
Faustinus, the bishop of the Potentine Church, in the province of Picenum, a legate of the Roman Church, said: It seems good that a bishop, a presbyter, and a deacon, or whoever perform the sacraments, should be keepers of modesty and should abstain from their wives.
By all the bishops it was said: It is right that all who serve the altar should keep pudicity from all women. (Canon 4)
Aurelius, the bishop, said: We add, most dear brethren, moreover, since we have heard of the incontinency of certain clerics, even of readers, towards their wives, it seemed good that what had been enacted in various councils should be confirmed, to wit, that subdeacons who wait upon the holy mysteries, and deacons, and presbyters, as well as bishops according to former statutes, should contain from their wives, so that they should be as though they had them not and unless they so act, let them be removed from office. But the rest of the clergy are not to be compelled to this, unless they be of mature age. And by the whole council it was said: What your holiness has said is just, holy, and pleasing to God, and we confirm it. (Canon 25)
Council in Trullo ca. 692
Moreover this also has come to our knowledge, that in Africa and Libya and in other places the most God-beloved bishops in those parts do not refuse to live with their wives, even after consecration, thereby giving scandal and offense to the people. Since, therefore, it is our particular care that all things tend to the good of the flock placed in our hands and committed to us—it has seemed good that henceforth nothing of the kind shall in any way occur. And we say this, not to abolish and overthrow what things were established of old by Apostolic authority, but as caring for the health of the people and their advance to better things, and lest the ecclesiastical state should suffer any reproach. For the divine Apostle says:
Do all to the glory of God, give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Greeks, nor to the Church of God, even as I please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me even as I also am of Christ. But if any shall have been observed to do such a thing, let him be deposed. (Canon 12)
Since we know it to be handed down as a rule of the Roman Church that those who are deemed worthy to be advanced to the diaconate or presbyterate should promise no longer to cohabit with their wives, we, preserving the ancient rule and apostolic perfection and order, will that the lawful marriages of men who are in holy orders be from this time forward firm, by no means dissolving their union with their wives nor depriving them of their mutual intercourse at a convenient time. Wherefore, if anyone shall have been found worthy to be ordained subdeacon, or deacon, or presbyter, he is by no means to be prohibited from admittance to such a rank, even if he shall live with a lawful wife. Nor shall it be demanded of him at the time of his ordination that he promise to abstain from lawful intercourse with his wife: lest we should affect injuriously marriage constituted by God and blessed by his presence, as the Gospel says:
What God has joined together let no man put asunder; and the Apostle says,
Marriage is honourable and the bed undefiled; and again,
Are you bound to a wife? Seek not to be loosed. But we know, as they who assembled at Carthage (with a care for the honest life of the clergy) said, that subdeacons, who handle the Holy Mysteries, and deacons, and presbyters should abstain from their consorts according to their own course [of ministration]. So that what has been handed down through the Apostles and preserved by ancient custom, we too likewise maintain, knowing that there is a time for all things and especially for fasting and prayer. For it is meet that they who assist at the divine altar should be absolutely continent when they are handling holy things, in order that they may be able to obtain from God what they ask in sincerity.
If therefore anyone shall have dared, contrary to the Apostolic Canons, to deprive any of those who are in holy orders, presbyter, or deacon, or subdeacon of cohabitation and intercourse with his lawful wife, let him be deposed. In like manner also if any presbyter or deacon on pretence of piety has dismissed his wife, let him be excluded from communion; and if he persevere in this let him be deposed. (Canon 13)
The wife of him who is advanced to the Episcopal dignity, shall be separated from her husband by their mutual consent, and after his ordination and consecration to the episcopate she shall enter a monastery situated at a distance from the abode of the bishop, and there let her enjoy the bishop’s provision. And if she is deemed worthy she may be advanced to the dignity of a deaconess. (Canon 48)
Hear, O you bishops; and hear, O you of the laity, how God speaks:
I will judge between ram and ram, and between sheep and sheep. And He says to the shepherds:
You shall be judged for your unskilfulness, and for destroying the sheep. That is, I will judge between one bishop and another, and between one lay person and another, and between one ruler and another (for these sheep and these rams are not irrational, but rational creatures): lest at any time a lay person should say, I am a sheep and not a shepherd, and I am not concerned for myself; let the shepherd look to that, for he alone will be required to give an account for me. For as that sheep that will not follow its good shepherd is exposed to the wolves, to its destruction; so that which follows a bad shepherd is also exposed to unavoidable death, since his shepherd will devour him. Wherefore care must be had to avoid destructive shepherds. (Bk. 2.19)
St. Meletios of Antioch died ca. 381
Do not show obedience to bishops who exhort you to do and to say and to believe in things which are not to your benefit. What pious man would hold his tongue? Who would remain completely calm? In fact, silence equates to consent. This was clearly indicated by John the Baptist, and by the Maccabees through their legislation, who went as far as risking death, without overlooking the fact that the law is susceptible to changes. (Andrei Psarev, The Limits of Non-conformity in the Byzantine Church [861-1300]: A Study of Canon 15 of the First and Second Council in Constantinople  pg. 13)
St. Photios the Great ca. 810-893
Can a priest be a heretic? The wolf may escape and get away, but do not be fooled and approach it, and even if it appears to be wagging its tail gently, avoid coming into contact with it, as it is like poison from a snake. (ibid., pg. 13)
Although it may seem that this power of loosing and binding was given by the Lord only to Peter, we must nevertheless know without any doubt that it was also given to the other Apostles, as Christ Himself testified when, after the triumph of His Passion and Resurrection, He appeared to them and breathed upon them and said to them all: ‘Receive ye the Holy Spirit: if ye forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven to them; if ye retain the sins of any, they are retained [Jn. 20:22,23].’ Indeed, even now the same office is committed to the whole Church in Her bishops and priests. (Homily 1.20, The Orthodox New Testament: Endnotes — Matthew pg. 106)
If God had so arranged things that the priesthood would be entrusted to women and that they would exercise a canonical role in the Church, first of all, before any other woman in the New Testament, He would have granted the priesthood to Mary, who was so honored that she carried the universal King in her womb. (Mary and the Fathers of the Church, The Blessed Virgin in Patristic Thought by Luigi Gambero pp. 127-128)
Dialogue Between a Montanist and an Orthodox ca. 4th cent.
We do not reject the prophecies of women. Blessed Mary prophesied when she said: “Henceforth all generations will call me blessed.” And, as you yourself say, Philip had daughters who prophesied and Mary, the sister of Aaron, prophesied. But we do not permit women to speak in the assemblies, nor to have authority over men, to the point of writing books in their own name: since, such is, indeed, the implication for them of praying with uncovered head…wasn’t Mary, the Mother of God, able to write books in her own name? To avoid dishonoring her head by placing herself above men, she did not do so. (The Gospel of Mary: Beyond a Gnostic and a Biblical Mary Magdelene by Esther A. de Boer pg. 94)
Apart from caring for your own flock, you must also spread Christ’s faith among those who do not yet know Truth. The preaching of Christ’s teaching and faith in Christ and the Life-creating Trinity is the fulfillment of a duty laid down by Christ on the apostles and the required duty of archpastor and pastors. You must bring the Light of Christ to all who do not believe in Christ, shining with the light of your own example and proclaiming the words of eternal life.
Following Saints Basil the Great and John Chrysostom, offering prayers at the Divine Liturgy for the entire Church, for the entire universe, a bishop must know not only his own territory, but must take to heart all that is transpiring in the entire universal Church. Without interfering in affairs of others and without any pretenses on the authority of other bishops, strive to offer help wherever you can, giving brotherly counsel where necessary, but above all by the example of your own stand for the Truth and defense of it. (Archbishop John, A Word of Instruction Given When Presenting the Staff to a New Bishop. Manuscript: Western American Diocese Archives)
…When under Metropolitan Anastassy they began to speak about ‘the incorrect actions of the Church’, he used to stop them, pointing out that one must not ascribe the actions of the hierarchy to the Church, since the hierarchy is not the whole Church, even if it speaks in her name. On the see of Constantinople there were Paul the Confessor, Macedonius, Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom, Nestorius, Proclus, Flavian and Germanus. Some of them shone in sanctity and Orthodoxy, but others were the leaders of heresies. But the Church remained Orthodox. During iconoclasm after the expulsion of Severnin, Nicephorus and other, not only their sees, but also the majority of Episcopal sees were occupied by Iconoclasts. The other Churches did not even have communion with it [the see of Constantinople], according to the witness of St. Paul, who abandoned the heresy and his see, since they did not wish to have communion via the iconoclasts. Nevertheless, the Church of Constantinople remained Orthodox, although part of the people, and especially the guards and the bureaucrats, were drawn into iconoclasm. So now it is understandable when people who are not familiar with the language of the Church use the expression ‘Soviet church’, but it is not fitting for responsible and theological discussions. When the whole hierarchy of South-Western Rus’ passed into uniatism, the Church continued to exist in the person of the believing Orthodox people, which after many sufferings restored its hierarchy. (New Zion in Babylon IV pg. 144 by Vladimir Moss)
We should not contradict the Latins when they say that the Bishop of Rome is the first. This primacy is not harmful to the Church. But only let them show that he is true to the faith of Peter and his successors; then let him have all the privileges of Peter, let him be first, the head of all and the supreme hierarch. Only let him be faithful to the Orthodoxy of Sylvester and Agathon, Leo, Liberius, Martin and Gregory, then we too shall call him apostolic father and the first among hierarchs; then we will be under his authority not only as under Peter, but the very Saviour Himself. (PG 145, 120 AC)
Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs 1848
Therefore let his Holiness be assured, that if, even now, he will write us such things as two hundred fathers on investigation and inquiry shall find consonant and agreeing with the said former Councils, then, we say, he shall hear from us sinners today, not only, “Peter has so spoken,” or anything of like honor, but this also, “Let the holy hand be kissed which has wiped away the tears of the Catholic Church.” (Paragraph 15)
And how are the (hierarchical) orders of the holy Church regulated?
Let overseers at established posts be given authority to guide into goodness those for whose supervision they have been called. And let those receiving (guidance) from them be not puffed up with haughtiness, holding themselves to be wise while lapsing into foolishness, lapsing into wickedness. For although the spiritual gifts are commonly given to believers, still, they are not all of equal honor. And although the Infinite made Himself little, yet He lost not the glory of the Deity thereby; and (although) the Giver of Life manifested Himself to all the Apostles after His resurrection, yet some He ranks above the rest. And the same principle has been established among us. Accordingly, Paul does not allow (us) to climb over one another, saying: “Let each one to whatever calling he was called, abide in the same” (I Cor 7:20).
And how is each to be commanded to be content with his assigned rank?
Now, in meeting together with the clergy, we bishops and priests and deacons, I, Macarius, Archbishop of the holy city Jerusalem, hand down to you these regulations that have been learned from the accounts of the Apostles and firmly established for us through the tradition of the Fathers, namely, as we said above, the laying on of hands in the holy baptism is for bishops and priests alone to administer, and the chief-bishop (alone) shall bless the oil of holiness. But by reason of distance and weighty circumstances, at the command of the archbishop, two or three bishops may meet together (to bless it). As for deacons, they are attendants to the Sacrament. And the oil of anointing for the dead and the sick and for those to be baptized, the priests and the bishops shall individually bless. This our holy Fathers ruled, and let no one decree to change the rule rightly laid down, lest the binding of their anathemas be upon him, which shall be determined by God. (Canonical Letter to the Armenians)
The dignity of the Bishop is so necessary in the Church, that without him, neither Church nor Christian could either be or be spoken of. For he, as a successor of the Apostles, having received in continued succession by the imposition of hands and the invocation of the All-holy Spirit the grace that is given him of the Lord of binding and loosing, is a living image of God upon the earth, and by a most ample participation of the operation of the Holy Spirit, who is the chief functionary, is a fountain of all the Mysteries [Sacraments] of the Catholic Church, through which we obtain salvation.
And he is, we suppose, as necessary to the Church as breath is to man, or the sun to the world. It has also been elegantly said by some in commendation of the dignity of the High Priesthood, “What God is in the heavenly Church of the first-born, (cf. Hebrews 12:23) and the sun in the world, that every High Priest is in his own particular Church, as through him the flock is enlightened, and nourished, and becomes the temple of God.” (cf. Ephesians 2:21)
It is obvious that this great mystery and dignity of the Episcopate has come down to us by a continued succession. For since the Lord has promised to be with us always, although He is with us by other means of grace and Divine operations, yet in a more eminent manner does He make us His own and dwell with us through the Bishop as chief functionary and through the divine Mysteries [sacraments] is united with us. The Bishop is the first minister, and chief functionary, through the Holy Spirit, and does not allow us to fall into heresy. And, therefore [John] of Damascus, in his Fourth Epistle to the Africans, said that the Catholic Church is everywhere committed to the care of the Bishops. Clement, the first Bishop of the Romans, and Evodius at Antioch, and Mark at Alexandria, were acknowledged successors of Peter. Also [acknowledged] is that the divine Andrew seated Stachys on the Throne of Constantinople, in his own stead; and that in this great holy city of Jerusalem our Lord Himself appointed James, and that after James another succeeded, and then another, until our own times. And, therefore, Tertullian in his Epistle to Papianus called all Bishops the Apostles’ successors. To their succession to the Apostles’ dignity and authority Eusebius, the [friend] of Pamphilus, testifies, and all the Fathers testify, of whom it is needless to give a list. The common and most ancient custom of the Catholic Church confirms this .
And that the dignity of the Episcopate differs from that of the simple Priest, is obvious. For the Priest is ordained by the Bishop, but a Bishop is not ordained by a Priest, but by two or three High Priests, as the Apostolic Canon directs. And the Priest is chosen by the Bishop, but the High Priest is not chosen by the Priests or Presbyters, nor is he chosen by secular Princes, but by the Synod of the Primatial Church of that country, in which is situated the city that is to receive the ordinand, or at least by the Synod of the Province in which he is to become a Bishop. Or, if the city should choose him, it does not do so absolutely, but the election is referred to the Synod. And if it appear that he has [been chosen] agreeably to the Canons, the [Bishop] Elect is advanced by ordination by the Bishops, with the invocation of the All-holy Spirit. But if not, he whom the Synod chooses is advanced .
The [simple] Priest, indeed, retains to himself the authority and grace of the Priesthood, which he has received; but the Bishop imparts it to others also. And the one having received the dignity of the Priesthood from the Bishop, can only perform Holy Baptism, and Prayer-oil, minister sacrificially the unbloody Sacrifice, and impart to the people the All-holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, anoint the baptized with the Holy Myron [Chrism oil], crown the Faithful legally marrying, pray for the sick, and that all men may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, (cf. 1 Timothy 2:4) and especially for the remission and forgiveness of the sins of the Faithful, living and dead. And if he be eminent for experience and virtue, receiving his authority from the Bishop, he directs those Faithful that come unto him, and guides them into the way of possessing the heavenly kingdom, and is appointed a preacher of the sacred Gospel.
The High Priest is also the minister of all these, since he is in fact, as has been said before, the fountain of the Divine Mysteries and graces, through the Holy Spirit, and he alone consecrates the Holy Myron [Chrism oil]. And the ordinations of all orders and degrees in the Church are proper to him; and in a primary and highest sense he binds and looses, and his sentence is approved by God, as the Lord hath promised. (Matthew 16:19) And he preaches the Sacred Gospel, and contends for the Orthodox faith, and those that refuse to hear he casts out of the Church as heathens and publicans, (cf. Matthew 18:17) and he puts heretics under excommunication and anathema, and lays down his own life for the sheep. (cf. John 10:11) From which it is apparent, that without contradiction the Bishop differs from the simple Priest, and that without him all the Priests in the world could not exercise the pastorate in the Church of God, or govern it at all.
But it is well said by one of the Fathers, that it is not easy to find a heretic that has understanding. For when these forsake the Church, they are forsaken by the Holy Spirit, and there remains in them neither understanding nor light, but only darkness and blindness. For if that had not happened to them, they would not have opposed things that are most plain; among which is the truly great mystery of Episcopacy, which is taught by Scripture, written of, and witnessed to, both by all ecclesiastical history and the writings of holy men, and always held and acknowledged by the Catholic Church. (Decree 10)
Our Lord, whose precepts and admonitions we ought to observe, describing the honour of a bishop and the order of His Church, speaks in the Gospel, and says to Peter:
I say unto you, That you are Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Thence, through the changes of times and successions, the ordering of bishops and the plan of the Church flow onwards; so that the Church is founded upon the bishops, and every act of the Church is controlled by these same rulers. Since this, then, is founded on the divine law, I marvel that some, with daring temerity, have chosen to write to me as if they wrote in the name of the Church; when the Church is established in the bishop and the clergy, and all who stand fast in the faith. (Epistle 26.1)
And the Lord also in the Gospel, when disciples forsook Him as He spoke, turning to the twelve, said,
Will you also go away? then Peter answered Him,
Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the word of eternal life; and we believe, and are sure, that You are the Son of the living God. (Jn. 6:67-69) Peter speaks there, on whom the Church was to be built, teaching and showing in the name of the Church, that although a rebellious and arrogant multitude of those who will not hear and obey may depart, yet the Church does not depart from Christ; and they are the Church who are a people united to the priest, and the flock which adheres to its pastor. Whence you ought to know that the bishop is in the Church, and the Church in the bishop; and if any one be not with the bishop, that he is not in the Church, and that those flatter themselves in vain who creep in, not having peace with God’s priests, and think that they communicate secretly with some; while the Church, which is Catholic and one, is not cut nor divided, but is indeed connected and bound together by the cement of priests who cohere with one another. (Epistle 68.8)
If any one consider and examine these things, there is no need for lengthened discussion and arguments. There is easy proof for faith in a short summary of the truth. The Lord speaks to Peter, saying,
I say unto you, that you are Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. And again to the same He says, after His resurrection,
Feed my sheep. And although to all the apostles, after His resurrection, He gives an equal power, and says,
As the Father has sent me, even so send I you: Receive the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins you remit, they shall be remitted unto him; and whose soever sins you retain, they shall be retained; (Jn. 20:21) yet, that He might set forth unity, He arranged by His authority the origin of that unity, as beginning from one. Assuredly the rest of the apostles were also the same as was Peter, endowed with a like partnership both of honour and power; but the beginning proceeds from unity. Which one Church, also, the Holy Spirit in the Song of Songs designated in the person of our Lord, and says,
My dove, my spotless one, is but one. She is the only one of her mother, elect of her that bare her. (Song of Songs 6:9) Does he who does not hold this unity of the Church think that he holds the faith? Does he who strives against and resists the Church trust that he is in the Church, when moreover the blessed Apostle Paul teaches the same thing, and sets forth the sacrament of unity, saying,
There is one body and one
, one hope of your calling, one
, one faith, one baptism, one God?
And this unity we ought firmly to hold and assert, especially those of us that are bishops who preside in the Church, that we may also prove the episcopate itself to be one and undivided. Let no one deceive the brotherhood by a falsehood: let no one corrupt the truth of the faith by perfidious prevarication. The episcopate is one, each part of which is held by each one for the whole. The Church also is one, which is spread abroad far and wide into a multitude by an increase of fruitfulness. (Treatise 1: On the Unity of the Church 4-5)
[Paul] yokes together bishops and deacons, making no mention of presbyters (Tit. 1:7); certainly it was not possible thatmany bishops should be shepherds in one city, so it is clear that he calls the presbyters bishops. Indeed, in the same Epistle he called the Blessed Epaphroditus their apostle: “Your apostle,” he says, “and the co-worker of my necessity (Phil. 2:25).” Clearly, therefore, Epaphroditus, since Paul gives him the title of apostle, has been entrusted with the episcopal office. (Commentary on the Epistle’s of Paul: Phil. 1:1)
At that time they called the same persons “presbyters” and “bishops”; and those we now call bishops they designated “apostles”. In the course of time, however, they abandoned the name of “apostle” to those who truly were Apostles; and the title of bishop they accorded to those who had of old been called “apostles”. Thus Epaphroditus was apostle of the Philippians: “Your apostle,” he says, “and the co-worker of my necessity (Phil. 2:25).” Thus in Crete Titus and in Asia Timothy were apostles. Thus too the apostles and the presbyters wrote from Jerusalem to those in Antioch. (Commentary on the Epistle’s of Paul 1 Tim. 3:1)
What can we say concerning the priesthood, this exalted divine order and ministry? Through this mystery, one is chosen amongst men and elevated above them in relation to God. As a sacrament, ordination renders the priest an initiator of Divine Grace, a minister of the divine mysteries, a teacher of piety, and a welcome mediator between God and men; so that, as an angel of God, he may send up to God the prayers and supplicaton of the faithful and bring down from heaven the Divine Gifts. St. Dionysios the Areopagite calls the priesthood a holy ministry, a typology of the supernatural hierarchy, and a holy and sacred kingdom, for it takes place on the earth but lies within the order of the heavenly ranks. Our holy father Chrysostom also advises us concerning the effective power of the priesthood: “Take note how much power priests possess. Consider baptism, the forgiveness of sins, sonship the sacraments, and thousands of other good things that you receive through the invocation and laying of these priests’ hands. Through the priesthood God is worshipped, and things of the earth are adorned as if in heaven.” (Saint Nektarios the Wonderworker, Bishop of Pentapolis: Christology pg. 258)
…[I]n vain do you claim for yourselves alone this name of the Church with her Endowments, which are rather with us than with you.
Now these Endowments are connected one with another, and are distinct, but in such a way, that it may be understood that one cannot be separated from another. For they are numerically distinct, but with one act of the mind we see them joined in their Body, as are the fingers on the hand; each of which we perceive to be removed by spaces from the others. Therefore he who possesses one, must possess them all, since not one of them can be apart from its fellows.
We may add that we possess, and that in the strictest sense, not one Endowment alone, but all.
So, of the above-mentioned Endowments, the Cathedra is, as we have said, the first, which we have proved to be ours, through Peter, and which draws to itself the ANGEL [the episcopate] — unless, perchance, you claim him for yourselves, and have him shut up somewhere or other. Send him out if you can, and let him exclude from his communion seven angels, our colleagues in Asia, to whose churches wrote the Apostle John — churches with which you cannot prove that you have any intercourse whatsoever.
On what ground, then, can you maintain that you possess an Angel able to move the Fountain, or one who, as such, can be numbered among the other Endowments of the Church?
Whatever is without the Seven Churches is alien. Supposing then that you really had even one Angel who belongs to the Church, through that one Angel you would be in communion with other Angels too, and through them with the above-mentioned Churches, and through these Churches with us also. If these things be as I have stated them, you have lost your case. (Against the Donatists Bk. 2.5-6)
For the priestly office is indeed discharged on earth, but it ranks among heavenly ordinances; and very naturally so: for neither man, nor angel, nor archangel, nor any other created power, but the Paraclete Himself, instituted this vocation, and persuaded men while still abiding in the flesh to represent the ministry of angels. Wherefore the consecrated priest ought to be as pure as if he were standing in the heavens themselves in the midst of those powers. Fearful, indeed, and of most awful import, were the things which were used before the dispensation of grace, as the bells, the pomegranates, the stones on the breastplate and on the ephod, the girdle, the mitre, the long robe, the plate of gold, the holy of holies, the deep silence within. But if any one should examine the things which belong to the dispensation of grace, he will find that, small as they are, yet are they fearful and full of awe, and that what was spoken concerning the law is true in this case also, that what has been made glorious has no glory in this respect by reason of the glory which excels. 2 Corinthians 3:10 For when you see the Lord sacrificed, and laid upon the altar, and the priest standing and praying over the victim, and all the worshippers empurpled with that precious blood, can you then think that you are still among men, and standing upon the earth? Are you not, on the contrary, straightway translated to Heaven, and casting out every carnal thought from the soul, do you not with disembodied spirit and pure reason contemplate the things which are in Heaven? Oh! What a marvel! What love of God to man! He who sits on high with the Father is at that hour held in the hands of all, and gives Himself to those who are willing to embrace and grasp Him. And this all do through the eyes of faith! Do these things seem to you fit to be despised, or such as to make it possible for any one to be uplifted against them?
Would you also learn from another miracle the exceeding sanctity of this office? Picture Elijah and the vast multitude standing around him, and the sacrifice laid upon the altar of stones, and all the rest of the people hushed into a deep silence while the prophet alone offers up prayer: then the sudden rush of fire from Heaven upon the sacrifice:— these are marvellous things, charged with terror. Now then pass from this scene to the rites which are celebrated in the present day; they are not only marvellous to behold, but transcendent in terror. There stands the priest, not bringing down fire from Heaven, but the Holy Spirit: and he makes prolonged supplication, not that some flame sent down from on high may consume the offerings, but that grace descending on the sacrifice may thereby enlighten the souls of all, and render them more refulgent than silver purified by fire. Who can despise this most awful mystery, unless he is stark mad and senseless? Or do you not know that no human soul could have endured that fire in the sacrifice, but all would have been utterly consumed, had not the assistance of God’s grace been great.
For if any one will consider how great a thing it is for one, being a man, and compassed with flesh and blood, to be enabled to draw near to that blessed and pure nature, he will then clearly see what great honor the grace of the Spirit has vouchsafed to priests; since by their agency these rites are celebrated, and others nowise inferior to these both in respect of our dignity and our salvation. For they who inhabit the earth and make their abode there are entrusted with the administration of things which are in Heaven, and have received an authority which God has not given to angels or archangels. For it has not been said to them, Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven. Matt. 18:18 They who rule on earth have indeed authority to bind, but only the body: whereas this binding lays hold of the soul and penetrates the heavens; and what priests do here below God ratifies above, and the Master confirms the sentence of his servants. For indeed what is it but all manner of heavenly authority which He has given them when He says, Whose sins ye remit they are remitted, and whose sins ye retain they are retained? John 20:23 What authority could be greater than this? The Father has committed all judgment to the Son? John 5:22 But I see it all put into the hands of these men by the Son. For they have been conducted to this dignity as if they were already translated to Heaven, and had transcended human nature, and were released from the passions to which we are liable. Moreover, if a king should bestow this honor upon any of his subjects, authorizing him to cast into prison whom he pleased and to release them again, he becomes an object of envy and respect to all men; but he who has received from God an authority as much greater as heaven is more precious than earth, and souls more precious than bodies, seems to some to have received so small an honor that they are actually able to imagine that one of those who have been entrusted with these things will despise the gift. Away with such madness! For transparent madness it is to despise so great a dignity, without which it is not possible to obtain either our own salvation, or the good things which have been promised to us. For if no one can enter into the kingdom of Heaven except he be regenerate through water and the Spirit, and he who does not eat the flesh of the Lord and drink His blood is excluded from eternal life, and if all these things are accomplished only by means of those holy hands, I mean the hands of the priest, how will any one, without these, be able to escape the fire of hell, or to win those crowns which are reserved for the victorious?
These verily are they who are entrusted with the pangs of spiritual travail and the birth which comes through baptism: by their means we put on Christ, and are buried with the Son of God and become members of that blessed Head. Wherefore they might not only be more justly feared by us than rulers and kings, but also be more honored than parents; since these begot us of blood and the will of the flesh, but the others are the authors of our birth from God, even that blessed regeneration which is the true freedom and the sonship according to grace. The Jewish priests had authority to release the body from leprosy, or, rather, not to release it but only to examine those who were already released, and you know how much the office of priest was contended for at that time. But our priests have received authority to deal, not with bodily leprosy, but spiritual uncleanness— not to pronounce it removed after examination, but actually and absolutely to take it away. Wherefore they who despise these priests would be far more accursed than Dathan and his company, and deserve more severe punishment. For the latter, although they laid claim to the dignity which did not belong to them, nevertheless had an excellent opinion concerning it, and this they evinced by the great eagerness with which they pursued it; but these men, when the office has been better regulated, and has received so great a development, have displayed an audacity which exceeds that of the others, although manifested in a contrary way. For there is not an equal amount of contempt involved in aiming at an honor which does not pertain to one, and in despising such great advantages, but the latter exceeds the former as much as scorn differs from admiration. What soul then is so sordid as to despise such great advantages? None whatever, I should say, unless it were one subject to some demoniacal impulse. (On the Priesthood Bk. 3.4-6)
Thus Christ begetteth in the Church by His Priests, as says the same Apostle, For in Christ Jesus have I begotten you. And so the seed of Christ, that is, the Spirit of God produces, by the hands of the Priests, the new man conceived in the womb of our Mother, and received at the birth of the font, faith presiding over the marriage rite. For neither will he seem to be engrafted into the Church, who hath not believed, nor he to be born again of Christ, who hath not himself received the Spirit. We must believe therefore that we can be born. For so saith Philip, If thou believest…thou mayest. Christ therefore must be received that He may beget, for thus saith the Apostle John, As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God. But these things cannot otherwise be fulfilled except by the Sacrament of the Laver, and of the Chrism, and of the Bishop. For by the Laver sins are washed away, by Chrism the Holy Spirit is poured out, but both these we obtain at the hand and the mouth of the Bishop. (Discourse on Baptism 7)
For it is He of whom it is prophetically written, You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedeck , that is, not after the order of Aaron, whose priesthood descending along his own line of offspring was a temporal ministry, and ceased with the law of the Old Testament, but after the order of Melchizedeck, in whom was prefigured the eternal High Priest. And no reference is made to his parentage because in him it is understood that He was portrayed, whose generation cannot be declared. And finally, now that the mystery of this Divine priesthood has descended to human agency, it runs not by the line of birth, nor is that which flesh and blood created, chosen, but without regard to the privilege of paternity and succession by inheritance, those men are received by the Church as its rulers whom the Holy Ghost prepares: so that in the people of God’s adoption, the whole body of which is priestly and royal, it is not the prerogative of earthly origin which obtains the unction , but the condescension of Divine grace which creates the bishop. (Sermons 3.1)
Certainly God never threatens the repentant; rather, He pardons the penitent. You will say that it is God alone who can do this. True enough; but it is likewise true that He does it through His priests, who exercise His power. What else can it mean when He says to His Apostles: “Whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven?” Why should he say this if He were not permitting men to bind and to loose? Why, if He were permitting this to the Apostles alone? Were that the case, He would likewise be permitting them alone to baptize, them alone to confer the Holy Spirit, them alone to cleanse the pagans of their sins; for all of these things are commissioned not to others but to the Apostles. But if the loosing of bonds and the power of the Sacrament is given to anyone in that place, either the whole is passed on to us from the form and power of the Apostles, or nothing of it can be imparted to us by whatever decrees…If, then, the power both of Baptism and Confirmation, greater by far than charisms, is passed on to the bishops, so too is the right of binding and of loosing. (Three Letters to the Novationist Sympronian)
Like ointment on the head, which ran down upon the beard, upon the beard of Aaron…(Ps. 133.2) By the priest Aaron, that Priest is indicated who alone fulfills the sacrament of the true High Priest, not with a victim of another kind, but in the oblation of His own body and blood: same Priest, same Victim, Propitiator and Propitiation, the One who effects all the mysteries for which He was announced. Who died, was buried, and rose again, He ascended into heaven, exalting human nature above every other name, and sending the Holy Spirit, whose unction would penetrate every Church. (Explanation of the Psalms)
But he could not hold the episcopate, even if he had before been made bishop, since he has cut himself off from the body of his fellow bishops, and from the unity of the Church; since the apostle admonishes that we should mutually sustain one another, and not withdraw from the unity which God has appointed, and says,
Bearing with one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Eph. 4:2-3 He then who neither maintains the unity of the Spirit nor the bond of peace, and separates himself from the band of the Church, and from the assembly of priests, can neither have the power nor the honour of a bishop, since he has refused to maintain either the unity or the peace of the episcopate. (Letter 51)
St. Basil of Caesarea ca. 330-379
The first separatists had received their ordination from the Fathers, and possessed the spiritual gift by the laying on of their hands. But they who were broken off had become laymen, and, because they are no longer able to confer on others that grace of the Holy Spirit from which they themselves are fallen away, they had no authority either to baptize or to ordain. And therefore those who were from time to time baptized by them, were ordered, as though baptized by laymen, to come to the church to be purified by the Church’s true baptism. (Letter 188: Canon 1)
St. Maximus the Confessor 580-662
“And you still refuse to enter into communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople?” they asked.
“Still,” he answered.
They asked, “Why so?”
“Because the leaders of this Church have rejected the definitions of four holy councils and accepted the Nine Chapters published in Alexandria; the Ekthesis written by Sergius, Patriarch of Constantinople; and the recently issued Typos. What they proclaimed as dogma in the Ekthesis they rejected in the Typos. They have repeatedly excommunicated themselves from the Church and are completely unstable in the faith. Additionally, they have been cut off and stripped of priesthood by the local council held at Rome. What Mysteries, then, can they perform? And what spirit descends on those whom they ordain?” (St. Dimitri Rostov: Life of St. Maximus)
If you have been found worthy of divine and venerable priesthood, you have committed yourself sacrificially to die to the passions and to sensual pleasure. Only then dare you approach the awesome, living sacrifice; otherwise you will be consumed by the divine fire like dry tinder. If the seraphim did not dare to touch the divine coal without tongs (cf. Isa. 6:6), how can you do so unless you have attained dispassion? You must through dispassion have a consecrated tongue, purified lips, and a chaste soul and body; and your very hands, as ministers of the fiery, supraessential sacrifice, must be more burnished than any gold.
When your tears have washed you whiter than snow and your conscience is spotless in its purity, and when the angel-like white-ness of your outer garments reveals your soul’s inner beauty – then, and only then, you may in holiness touch holy things. Make sure that you do not rely only on human traditions-in celebrating the divine mysteries, but let God’s grace inwardly and invisibly fill you with the knowledge of higher things. (On the Practice of the Virtues, Contemplation and Priesthood 13, 18)
St. Isidoros of Pelusium often reproves unworthy Zosimos, by telling him: “Keep out of the divine altar lest at any time a stroke of lightning hit your head” (his Letter No. 570). Yet Christians ought to receive the divine Mysteries indiscriminately even from unworthy priests, since the unworthiness of the priests does not affect them just as the same Isidoros in some of his letters tells whose who were scandalized and refused to receive communion from lascivious Zosimos. As examples he cites Balaam and Caiaphas, who though unworthy prophesied, and Elijah, who received food by means of an unclean raven (I Kings 17:4-6) (The Rudder: Footnotes to the Five Holy Canons of St. Cyril of Alexandria)
Jas. 5:16-17 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for each other, that you may be saved. However, in this statement there ought to be this distinction, that we confess our daily and minor sins to one another as peers and believe that we are saved by their daily prayer; in turn, according to the law (Lev. 13:49, 14:2-3), let us make known the uncleanness of more serious leprosy to the priest and take care to be purified in the manner and for the length of time his judgment has decreed. For the continuous prayer of the righteous person can accomplish much. Elijah was a man like us, subject to suffering, and he prayed assiduously that it would not rain upon the earth, and it did not rain for three years and six months. He illustrates by an appropiate example how much the unremitting prayer of a righteous person can accomplish, when Elijah by praying only once closed up the heavens for such a long time (1 Kgs. 17:8-11), kept showers away from the earth, denied fruits to mortals, and again, when he wished, when he ascertained that it was time, when he saw that the heart of the proud king of an idolatrous people was inclined to repentance because of the prolonged ill results of famine, he prayed only once (1 Kgs. 18:41-45) and restored the fruits of water which he had denied to the earth. (Commentary on the Seven Catholic Epistles)
In what way, then, and by what reason does the Savior bestow upon His own disciples the dignity which belongs to the divine nature alone? Certainly the Word, who is in the Father, would not err in what is seemly, and what He does is right and proper. He considered that those who already had in themselves the Divine and Lordly Spirit ought to be lords also of forgiving the sins of some, and of retaining those of others if they wished, the Holy Spirit indwelling in them forgiving or retaining according to their own will, even though the matter is executed directly through men. Bearers of the Spirit, they forgive sins or retain them, or so it seems to me, in two ways: for either they call to Baptism those who are worthy, men already tested for the faith by the sobriety and constancy of their lives, or they prohibit and exclude from divine grace those who are not yet worthy; or in still another way they forgive and retain sins when sons of the Church conquer their sins and, confessing them, reform their lives. (Commentary on John: Jn. 20:23)
The one who anoints his mind for the sacred contests and drives away passionate thoughts from it possesses the character of a deacon. The one who illumines it with knowledge of beings and obliberates counterfeit knowledge possesses that of a priest. Finally, the one who perfects it with the holy perfume of the knowledge of a worshiper of the Holy Trinity possesses that a bishop. (Four Hundred Chapters on Love: Second Century 21)
For if the
man be the head of the woman, and he be originally ordained for the priesthood, it is not just to abrogate the order of the creation, and leave the principal to come to the extreme part of the body. For the woman is the body of the man, taken from his side, and subject to him, from whom she was separated for the procreation of children. For says He,
He shall rule over you. Gen. 3:16 For the principal part of the woman is the man, as being her head. But if in the foregoing constitutions we have not permitted them to teach, how will any one allow them, contrary to nature, to perform the office of a priest? For this is one of the ignorant practices of the Gentile atheism, to ordain women priests to the female deities, not one of the constitutions of Christ. For if baptism were to be administered by women, certainly our Lord would have been baptized by His own mother, and not by John; or when He sent us to baptize, He would have sent along with us women also for this purpose. But now He has nowhere, either by constitution or by writing, delivered to us any such thing; as knowing the order of nature, and the decency of the action; as being the Creator of nature, and the Legislator of the constitution. (Bk 3.1.9)
For which reason, O bishop, ordain your fellow-workers, the labourers for life and for righteousness, such deacons as are pleasing to God, such whom you prove to be worthy among all the people, and such as shall be ready for the necessities of their ministration. Ordain also a deaconess who is faithful and holy, for the ministrations towards women. For sometimes he cannot send a deacon, who is a man, to the women, on account of unbelievers. You shall therefore send a woman, a deaconess, on account of the imaginations of the bad. For we stand in need of a woman, a deaconess, for many necessities; and first in the baptism of women, the deacon shall anoint only their forehead with the holy oil, and after him the deaconess shall anoint them: for there is no necessity that the women should be seen by the men; but only in the laying on of hands the bishop shall anoint her head, as the priests and kings were formerly anointed, not because those which are now baptized are ordained priests, but as being Christians, or anointed, from Christ the Anointed,
a royal priesthood, and an holy nation, the Church of God, the pillar and ground of the marriage-chamber, 1 Pet. 2:9; 1 Tim. 3:15 who formerly were not a people, but now are beloved and chosen, upon whom is called His new name as Isaiah the prophet witnesses, saying:
And they shall call the people by His new name, which the Lord shall name for them. (Bk. 3.2.15)
A deaconess does not bless, nor perform anything belonging to the office of presbyters or deacons, but only is to keep the doors, and to minister to the presbyters in the baptizing of women, on account of decency. (Bk. 8.3.28)
Tertullian of Carthage ca. 160-220
Simplicity they will have to consist in the overthrow of discipline, attention to which on our part they call brothelry. Peace also they huddle up anyhow with all comers; for it matters not to them, however different be their treatment of subjects, provided only they can conspire together to storm the citadel of the one only Truth. All are puffed up, all offer you knowledge. Their catechumens are perfect before they are full-taught. The very women of these heretics, how wanton they are! For they are bold enough to teach, to dispute, to enact exorcisms, to undertake cures— it may be even to baptize. Their ordinations, are carelessly administered, capricious, changeable. (Prescription Against Heretics 41)
St. Hippolytus of Rome ca. 170-235
When a widow is appointed, she is not ordained, but is chosen by name. If her husband has been dead a long time, she is appointed. If it has not been a long time since her husband died, she may not be trusted. If, however, she is old, let her be tested for a time. For often the passions grow old with those who give them a place in themselves. The widow is appointed by word alone, and then may join the rest of the widows. Do not lay hands upon her, for she does not offer the oblation, nor does she have a liturgical duty. Ordination is for the clergy because of liturgical duty. The widow is appointed because of prayer, which is a duty for all. (Apostolic Tradition 10)
Didascalia ca. 200-250
It is neither right nor necessary therefore that women should be teachers, and especially concerning the name of Christ and the redemption of His passion. For you have not been appointed to this, 0 women, and especially widows, that you should teach, but that you should pray and entreat the Lord God. For He the Lord God, Jesus Christ our Teacher, sent us the Twelve to instruct the People and the Gentiles; and there were with us women disciples, Mary Magdalene and Mary the daughter of James and the other Mary; but He did not send them to instruct the people with us. For if it were required that women should teach, our Master Himself would have commanded these to give instruction with us. (Bk. 3.6.1-2)
Council of Nicea I 325
Concerning the Paulianists who have flown for refuge to the Catholic Church, it has been decreed that they must by all means be rebaptized; and if any of them who in past time have been numbered among their clergy should be found blameless and without reproach, let them be rebaptized and ordained by the Bishop of the Catholic Church; but if the examination should discover them to be unfit, they ought to be deposed. Likewise in the case of their deaconesses, and generally in the case of those who have been enrolled among their clergy, let the same form be observed. And we mean by deaconesses such as have assumed the habit, but who, since they have no imposition of hands, are to be numbered only among the laity. (Canon 19)
St. John Chrysostom ca. 349-407
For those things which I have already mentioned might easily be performed by many even of those who are under authority, women as well as men; but when one is required to preside over the Church, and to be entrusted with the care of so many souls, the whole female sex must retire before the magnitude of the task, and the majority of men also; and we must bring forward those who to a large extent surpass all others, and soar as much above them in excellence of spirit as Saul overtopped the whole Hebrew nation in bodily stature: or rather far more. 1 Sam. 10:23 (On the Priesthood 2.2)
Damasus did not cleanse, Peter did not cleanse, Ambrose did not cleanse, Gregory did not cleanse; for the ministries are ours but the Sacraments are Yours. No, it belongs not to human powers to confer things that are divine. That, Lord, is Your function and the Father’s. (On the Holy Spirit Bk. 1: Prol. 18)
Note well that it is through the Holy Spirit that sins are forgiven. Men make use of their ministry in the forgiveness of sins, but they are not exercising any power that is theirs by right. It is not in their own name, but in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit that they forgive sins. They ask and the divinity forgives. The ministration is of man, but the gift bestowed is from the Power on high. (ibid., Bk. 3:18. 137)
What shall I say of a bishop? To bishops is given great grace of the Holy Spirit. They are placed highest of all men. Like eagles they soar aloft and there contemplate infinite expanse, and by their understanding of things divine they feed Christ’s flock.
The Holy Spirit, we are told, set up bishops in the Church to feed the Lord’s flock (cf. Acts 20:28). Were men to remember this, they would love their pastors even with a great love, and their souls would rejoice at the sight of a pastor. He who bears within him the grace of the Holy Spirit will know what I mean.
A certain gentle and good man was out walking with his wife and their three children. A bishop, riding in a carriage drove by, and when the peasant began reverently to bow to the bishop he saw him, in the act of blessing, enveloped in a fire of grace. But one of you may ask, ‘If the Holy Spirit established bishops, and governs them, how is it peace does not reign among us, and why do we not prosper?’ The answer is, because we have wrong ideas about authority as established by God, and so we turn disobedient. But were we to submit ourselves to the will of God, we would soon flourish, since the Lord loveth the humble obedient soul, and Himself is her guide; but as for the disobedient soul — in His patience and mercy He waits for her to mend her ways. In His omniscience the Lord instructs the soul by His grace, like a kind teacher and father. But even a father can make mistakes, whereas the Lord is always faithful and true; and a teacher is not versed in all things, whereas the Lord is all-knowing.
The trouble is that we do not consult our elders, who have been set over us to guide us. And pastors do not turn to God when they would know how to act. Had Adam sought the counsel of the Lord when Eve gave him to eat of the fruit, the Lord would have enlightened him and he would not have sinned. And for myself, I can say that all my sins and errors came about in the hour of temptation and necessity I did not call upon the Lord; but now I have learned to entreat God’s mercy, and the Lord preserves me because of the prayers of my spiritual father.
Thus it is with bishops and prelates — although they possess the gift of the Holy Spirit they do not have a proper understanding of all things, and so in the hour of need they should seek enlightenment from the Lord; but they act according to their own understanding, thereby offending against God’s compassion and sowing confusion. St. Seraphim said that when he gave advice according to his own personal ideas mistakes would occur; and mistakes can often be small but they can also be big. Therefore we must all learn to find out the will of God; and if we do not try to learn, this path will never be known to us.
The Lord said, ‘Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me’. The Lord through the Holy Spirit enlightens man; but without the Holy Spirit, not a single man can discern aright. Until the coming of the Holy Spirit even the Apostles were neither strong nor wise, so that the Lord said to them, ‘How long shall I suffer you?’ (Mat. 17:17)
The Lord gave His Holy Church pastors, and they officiate in the image of Christ, and to them is given power to forgive sins through the Holy Spirit.
But perhaps you are thnking, ‘How can this bishop or that spiritual father or priest, possess the Holy Spirit when he is so fond of his food, and has other failings?’ But I say to you, ‘It is possible if he does not harbor evil thoughts; so that though there be some iniquity in him, it does not prevent grace from dwelling in his soul, in the same way as tree in foliage may have some withered branches but they do no harm and the tree bears fruit; or there may be tares in a field full of wheat but they do not stop the wheat from growing.’ (St. Silouan the Athonite by Archimandrite Sophrony. Chap. XIII Concerning Shepherds of Souls)
The bishop, he is the minister of the word, the keeper of knowledge, the mediator between God and you in the several parts of your divine worship. He is the teacher of piety; and, next after God, he is your father, who has begotten you again to the adoption of sons by water and the Spirit. He is your ruler and governor; he is your king and potentate; he is, next after God, your earthly god, who has a right to be honoured by you. For concerning him, and such as he, it is that God pronounces,
I have said, You are gods; and you are all children of the Most High. And,
You shall not speak evil of the gods. Exo. 22:28 For let the bishop preside over you as one honoured with the authority of God, which he is to exercise over the clergy, and by which he is to govern all the people. But let the deacon minister to him, as Christ does to His Father; and let him serve him unblameably in all things, as Christ does nothing of Himself, but does always those things that please His Father. Let also the deaconess be honoured by you in the place of the Holy Ghost, and not do or say anything without the deacon; as neither does the Comforter say or do anything of Himself, but gives glory to Christ by waiting for His pleasure. And as we cannot believe in Christ without the teaching of the Spirit, so let not any woman address herself to the deacon or bishop without the deaconess. Let the presbyters be esteemed by you to represent us the apostles, and let them be the teachers of divine knowledge; since our Lord, when He sent us, said,
Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. Mat. 28:19 Let the widows and orphans be esteemed as representing the altar of burnt-offering; and let the virgins be honoured as representing the altar of incense, and the incense itself.
As, therefore, it was not lawful for one of another tribe, that was not a Levite, to offer anything, or to approach the altar without the priest, so also do you do nothing without the bishop; for if any one does anything without the bishop, he does it to no purpose. For it will not be esteemed as of any avail to him. For as Saul, when he had offered without Samuel, was told,
It will not avail for you; 1 Sam. 13:13 so every person among the laity, doing anything without the priest, labours in vain. And as Uzziah the king, who was not a priest, and yet would exercise the functions of the priests, was smitten with leprosy for his transgression; so every lay person shall not be unpunished who despises God, and is so mad as to affront His priests, and unjustly to snatch that honour to himself: not imitating Christ,
who glorified not Himself to be made an high priest; Heb. 5:5 but waited till He heard from His Father,
The Lord swore, and will not repent, You are a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek. If, therefore, Christ did not glorify Himself without the Father, how dare any man thrust himself into the priesthood who has not received that dignity from his superior, and do such things which it is lawful only for the priests to do? Were not the followers of Corah, even though they were of the tribe of Levi, consumed with fire, because they rose up against Moses and Aaron, and meddled with such things as did not belong to them? And Dathan and Abiram went down quick into hell; and the rod that budded put a stop to the readiness of the multitude, and demonstrated who was the high priest ordained by God. You ought therefore, brethren, to bring your sacrifices and your oblations to the bishop, as to your high priest, either by yourselves or by the deacons; and do you bring not those only, but also your first-fruits, and your tithes, and your free-will offerings to him. For he knows who they are that are in affliction, and gives to every one as is convenient, that so one may not receive alms twice or oftener the same day, or the same week, while another has nothing at all. For it is reasonable rather to supply the wants of those who really are in distress, than of those who only appear to be so. (Apostolic Constitutions Bk. 2:26-27)
It is true that in the Church there is an order of deaconesses, but not for being a priestess, nor for any kind of work of administration, but for the sake of the dignity of the female sex, either at the time of Baptism, or of examining the sick or suffering, so that the naked body of a female may not be seen by men administering sacred rites, but by the deaconess. (Panarion 79.3)
Council of Laodicea ca. 364
Presbytides, as they are called, or female presidents, are not to be appointed in the Church. (Canon 11)
Driven from this line of defence you will appeal to the example of the clergy. These, you will say, remain in their cities, and yet they are surely above criticism. Far be it from me to censure the successors of the Apostles, who with holy words consecrate the body of Christ, and who make us Christians. Having the keys of the kingdom of heaven, they judge men to some extent before the day of judgment, and guard the chastity of the bride of Christ. But, as I have before hinted, the case of monks is different from that of the clergy. The clergy feed Christ’s sheep; I as a monk am fed by them. They live of the altar: 1 Cor. 9:13-14 I, if I bring no gift to it, have the axe laid to my root as to that of a barren tree. Mat. 3:10 Nor can I plead poverty as an excuse, for the Lord in the Gospel has praised an aged widow for casting into the treasury the last two coins that she had. Lk. 21:1-4 I may not sit in the presence of a presbyter; he, if I sin, may deliver me to Satan,
for the destruction of the flesh that the spirit may be saved. 1 Cor. 5:5 Under the old law he who disobeyed the priests was put outside the camp and stoned by the people, or else he was beheaded and expiated his contempt with his blood. Deut. 17:5, 12 But now the disobedient person is cut down with the spiritual sword, or he is expelled from the church and torn to pieces by ravening demons. (Letter 14.8)
The Church holds fast its obedience on either side, by both retaining and remitting sin; heresy is on the one side cruel, and on the other disobedient; wishes to bind what it will not loosen, and will not loosen what it has bound, whereby it condemns itself by its own sentence. For the Lord willed that the power of binding and of loosing should be alike, and sanctioned each by a similar condition. So he who has not the power to loose has not the power to bind. For as, according to the Lord’s word, he who has the power to bind has also the power to loose, their teaching destroys itself, inasmuch as they who deny that they have the power of loosing ought also to deny that of binding. For how can the one be allowed and the other disallowed? It is plain and evident that either each is allowed or each is disallowed in the case of those to whom each has been given. Each is allowed to the Church, neither to heresy, for this power has been entrusted to priests alone. Rightly, therefore, does the Church claim it, which has true priests; heresy, which has not the priests of God, cannot claim it. And by not claiming this power heresy pronounces its own sentence, that not possessing priests it cannot claim priestly power. And so in their shameless obstinacy a shamefaced acknowledgment meets our view. (On Repentance Bk. 1.2.7)
Remember that the Apostle also said, We shall judge angels. 1 Cor. 6:3 And our Lord said to His disciples, You shall sit on twelve thrones, and judge twelve tribes of the house of Israel. And Ezekiel said concerning righteous men, Eze.23:24-25 that they shall judge Ahola and Aholibah. Since, then, the righteous are to judge the wicked, He has made clear concerning them that they shall not come into judgment. And as to what the apostles say, that We shall judge angels, hear, and I will instruct you. The angels who shall be judged by the apostles are the priests who have violated the law; as the Prophet said, The lips of the priest shall guard knowledge, and the law shall they inquire of his mouth; because he is the angel of the Lord, the most mighty. Mal. 2:7 The angels who are the priests, of whose mouth the law is inquired, when they transgress the law, shall be judged at the last by the apostles, and the priests who observe the law. (Demonstrations 22.16)
Also compare with: http://classicalchristianity.com/2011/06/28/the-angels-of-the-churches/
It is not the case that there is one church at Rome and another in all the world beside. Gaul and Britain, Africa and Persia, India and the East worship one Christ and observe one rule of truth. If you ask for authority, the world outweighs its capital. Wherever there is a bishop, whether it be at Rome or at Engubium, whether it be at Constantinople or at Rhegium, whether it be at Alexandria or at Zoan, his dignity is one and his priesthood is one. Neither the command of wealth nor the lowliness of poverty makes him more a bishop or less a bishop. All alike are successors of the apostles. (Letter 146)
For the priest’s lips keep knowledge, and they seek the law at his mouth, for he is the angel of the Lord Almighty.Mal.2:7 There is no place for deception nor for denial. He is an angel who proclaims the kingdom of Christ and eternal life. He is to be esteemed by you not according to his appearance, but according to his office. Consider what he delivered, reflect upon the rule of life he gave you, recognize his position. (On the Mysteries 2.6)
Unto the angel of the Church of Ephesus write: These things says He that holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know your works, and your labour, and your patience, and how you can not bear them which are evil: and you have tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for My name’s sake hast tolerated them, and hast not fainted.(Rev. 2:1-3) Now, if He wished this to be understood as addressed to a celestial angel, and not to those invested with authority in the Church, He would not go on to say:
Nevertheless I have somewhat against you, because you have left your first love. Remember therefore from whence you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto you quickly, and will remove your candlestick out of his place, unless you repent.Revelation 2:4-5 This could not be said to the heavenly angels, who retain their love unchanged, as the only beings of their order that have departed and fallen from their love are the devil and his angels. The first love here alluded to is that which was proved in their tolerating for Christ’s name’s sake the false apostles. To this He commands them to return, and to do
their first works.Now we are reproached with the crimes of bad men, not done by us, but by others; and some of them, moreover, not known to us. Nevertheless, even if they were actually committed, and that under our own eyes, and we bore with them for the sake of unity, letting the tares alone on account of the wheat, whosoever with open heart receives the Holy Scriptures would pronounce us not only free from blame, but worthy of no small praise. (Letter 43 Chap. 8.22)
But because Holy Scripture is frequently accustomed to designate the preachers of the Church, by the name of ‘Angels’ because they announce the glory ofthe heavenly country, we can in this place understand ‘Angels’ to mean holy preachers. For this cause it is that John, in the Apocalypse, writing to the seven Churches, speaks to the Angels of the Churches, that is, to the preachers of the peoples. (Morals 34.7, LF 31:629)
But if the organising of the Churches is distasteful to you, and you do not think the ministry of the episcopate has its reward, why, then you have brought yourself to despise the Saviour that ordered these things? I beseech you, dismiss such ideas, nor tolerate those who advise you in such a sense, for this is not worthy of Dracontius. For the order the Lord has established by the Apostles abides fair and firm; but the cowardice of the brethren shall cease.
For if all were of the same mind as your present advisers, how would you have become a Christian, since there would be no bishops? Or if our successors are to inherit this state of mind, how will the Churches be able to hold together? Or do your advisers think that you have received nothing, that they despise it? If so surely they are wrong. For it is time for them to think that the grace of the Font is nothing, if some are found to despise it. But you have received it, beloved Dracontius; do not tolerate your advisers nor deceive yourself. (Letter 49.3-4)