by Saint and Emperor Justinian the Great
There are two greatest gifts which God, in His love for man, has granted from on high: the priesthood and the imperial dignity. The first serves divine things, while the latter directs and administers human affairs: both, however, proceed from the same origin and adorn the life of mankind. Hence, nothing should be such a source of care to the emperors as the dignity of the priests, since it is for their imperial welfare that they constantly implore God. For if the priesthood is in every way free from blame and possessed access to God, and if the emperors administer equitably and judiciously the State entrusted to their care, general harmony will result, and whatever is beneficial will be bestowed upon the human race.
When our family came to Orthodoxy nearly seven years ago, we were often asked by worried Protestants whether or not we still believed in “the Trinity.” This always dumbfounded us, until we remembered that few, if any, of these questioners had ever attended an Orthodox liturgy. How could they know? How could they know that beginning with “Blessed is the Kingdom, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” the Trinity is mentioned – and worshipped – more often in a single service than occurs in a month of Sundays elsewhere. We appreciated their concern, but assured them that our beliefs about God were most definitely still Trinitarian.
This past Super Bowl Sunday, however, caused me to reflect on the phrase “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” in a new way. On that day, February 5, 2012, my son, John, was ordained a priest at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. During the Divine Liturgy, shortly after the Great Entrance, Father Steven Mathewes and Father Gregory Hogg led John in front of the altar and down into a kneeling position, presenting him as a candidate for ordination to the priesthood of the Holy Orthodox Church. Father Gregory Hogg: that would be my husband, and John’s biological father.
“The apostles returned to Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught.
And he said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while. For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat”. (Mk 6:30-31)
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”.(Mt 11:28)
In emulation of Our Lord Himself, priests are “on call” at all times. As St. Mark records of Jesus in his Gospel (1:33-34): “And the whole city was gathered together about the door. And [H]e healed many who were sick with various diseases…The priest, the icon of the healing Christ, is the instrumental physician of the souls they pastor. In the role of healer, the priest must hear their flock recount their personal problems. As discussed in Morelli, 2006c). many of these problems involve uttermost human and spiritual suffering, the disclosure of dysfunctional emotional reactions such as anger, anxiety and depression, the confession of helplessness, hopelessness and estrangement from God.