Thursday, 10 December 2009

Joyful Priests - Letter of Melkite Patriarch

Excerpt from Christmas Letter of His Beatitude Patriarch Gregorios III for Year for Priests
"Joyful priests: they are happy, grounded, convinced, spiritual, believing, trusting, attached to their priestly vocation with love and enthusiasm, completely consecrated to Christ. They are priests in aeternum, without looking back, change of heart, or hesitation. They are courageous, adventurous, and ready to give, generous, devoted, committed, open, and fearless, without spiritual, social or family complications. As Saint Paul says, he is ready for his blood to be shed as an offering on God’s altar and in the service of his parish. (cf. 2 Timothy 4: 6)

They are happy and joyful inside. That is evident to their parishes and to everybody, to all citizens and to everyone who comes to them. They show their joy especially in prayer, preaching, celebration of the Divine Liturgy and other holy sacraments or mysteries, through their way of doing their pastoral work in various social contexts in their parishes, in visits to family homes, in sharing the joys and sad times of their parishioners and in all the different circumstances that they go through.

Priestly joy is a very important thing, as is enthusiasm for bringing the message of the Holy Gospel. It is also important in ongoing relations with society and its citizens of different persuasions, denominations and faiths. This joy is also important to support young people, especially, who are the Church’s future and who are the object of a very special care in priests’ ministry and pastoral work. Besides, the priests’ joy in their vocation and ministry is a great asset, which could attract new priestly vocations among young people.

They used to say about Saint Anthony of the desert in Egypt, that visitors and other monks saw in Anthony’s joyful face, the face of God. The Russian saint, Seraphim of Sarov, received the visitors to his monastic cell, with this expression, “O my joy, Christ is risen!” We have also shown the meaning of this Christian spiritual joy in our Paschal Letter (2007), entitled, “O my joy, Christ is risen!”, in which we have largely shown the meanings and causes of that Christian joy, based on the joy of the resurrection."

To read the whole letter go to
I am grateful to Deacon Richard Downer, a Greek Catholic Deacon living in this diocese for bringing this letter to my attention.

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