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priesthood

Our Vision of Leadership is Service

by His Grace Bishop John, The Word, February 2016

Without vision, the people shall perish, but he that keeps the law is blessed.
Proverbs 29:18

VISION IS AN IMPORTANT ASPECT OF CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP. CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP IS LEADERSHIP BY THOSE WHO PUT ON CHRIST, AND WHO GATHER AS THE CHURCH TO UNDERSTAND AND TO DO GOD'S WILL. THIS UNDERSTANDING COMES FROM GOD'S PROMISE THAT "WHERE TWO OR THREE GATHER IN MY NAME, THERE AM I WITH THEM" (MATTHEW 18:20). TOGETHER, WITH LOVE AND MUTUAL SUBMISSION AND RESPECT, CHRISTIANS DISCERN GOD'S WILL, "SUBMITTING TO ONE ANOTHER OUT OF REVERENCE FOR CHRIST" (EPHESIANS 5:21).

Christian leadership is always a leadership of service. "After that, he put water into a basin, and began to washthefeetof the disciples, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded" (John13:5). We lead by being true servants of each other and servants of God. Vision is the discernment and articulation of our goals, and of the pathways that take us there.

This leads me to ask, how is it, then, that we discover God's vision for us – God's vision for us as the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, as dioceses throughout North America, as parishes, committees and mission or work teams, and even as Christian families and individuals?

Models of Parenting for Clergy and Parents

by His Grace Bishop John, The Word, December 2015

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Ephesians 5:31–33

St. Paul uses the family relationship of a husband and wife to describe the relationship of Christ and His Church. We also use our relationships in the Church to understand better our family relationships. This is legitimate, because both family and Church are gifts from God and present models of reasonable and holy behavior. Further, Christ uses the metaphor of a good father to describe how God as Father relates to us. The purpose of parent-child relationships, as well as pastor-parishioner relationships, is for us to respond to the incarnate God who, by His Spirit, lives with us now. In these holy relationships our primary relationship is with our God, and this relationship is realized in our families and parish life, and nurtured by them. I would like to explore how models of good parenting can build holy and productive relationships between a pastor and parishioner. (A model relationship of a healthy pastor and parishioner can build healthier family relationships, too.) I apologize from the start that my study "paints with a wide brush" or is simplistic. I also write knowing that every parent uses many styles of parenting, depending on what is appropriate to the situation. Each style has positive and negative aspects, depending on a number of circumstances. I also confess, up front, that my bias is for the authoritative parenting style.

The Many Priestly Roles, and Confession

by His Grace Bishop John, The Word, October 2015

Bishop Thomas, Fr. Fred Pfeil, Fr. Joshua Makoul and I spent almost four days at the end of August with all of our seminarians at the Antiochian Village before the seminarians went back to school. This annual program of the Antiochian House of Studies brings together seminarians from three seminaries for fellowship, community-building and a better understanding of Antiochian traditions and practice. The seminarians meet three times during their seminary training to discuss priestly identity, missions and education, and, this year, confession and pastoral counseling. This group of seminarians is bright, dedicated, stable and cooperative.

The bishops and priests leading the retreat reflected on their parish experiences as they shared stories. After some brief priority-setting exercises and discussion, the seminarians used "role-play" to understand better the practice of counseling and confession from the perspectives of the priest and penitent. I will share some of what we discussed to offer some insights into confession, this sometimes underutilized gift of God. We looked at our sacrament from the perspective of "boundaries" or relationships, and discussed how the many roles of the priest affect the praxis, or practice, of this sacrament.

October 9, 2013 + Two Great Gifts from God

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.

A Mother's Reflections on Her Son's Ordination

Fr. John Hogg's OrdinationFr. John Hogg's OrdinationWhen 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.

Clergy Burnout and Fatigue

By Fr. George Morelli

“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. 

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