A Ten Year Old Priest

Today, on the Feast of Pentecost, I, though unworthy, celebrated my 10th anniversary as an Orthodox priest. It’s been a rough road. Moments of glory mixed with suffering — all of which were complicated by my own sinfulness and shortcomings — have been my helpers. I thank God.

I regret the missed opportunities brought about by my own shortsightedness. I regret the mistakes that I’ve made due to people-pleasing, impatience, lack of discretion, selfishness and carelessness. As any parent must feel, I carry the burden of my children — those with me and those who’ve left — with a bowed spirit and a contrite heart.

I thank God for the sleepless nights that have driven me closer to Him. I thank God for the trials that were intended for me to grow in patience. I thank God for disturbing my peace, helping me to cherish His.

The priesthood helps a man to see clearly his human failings and shortcomings. It is often a thankless “job.” I remember when I was ordained as an Episcopal priest (12 years ago), the subject of the homily was “Priestcraft.” The homilist, Rev. Andrew Sloane, encouraged the community to help me to learn the craft by saying something nice every once and a while; to ask how I was doing; to take care of my family; to encourage me. At the time I thought, “What is he talking about? That’s all I’ve experienced thus far!” Looking back, it was a wonderful honeymoon. Glory to God!

I thank God for allowing me to witness the miracle working power of prayer. I thank God for allowing some of my prayers to go [seemingly] unanswered. I thank the Holy Spirit for praying in me due to my sloth. I thank God for all those who have prayed for me and my poor ministry.

I’m thankful for all those who have been a part of my life and ministry. I’m thankful to God for helping me to persevere in spite of my sins and the many attacks of the enemy. I am learning to be thankful to God for my enemies. Everyone — especially priests — should acquaint themselves with the great prayer of St Nikolai the Serbian, “Bless My Enemies, O Lord.” For me, the words of that prayer read like the Psalms of David — full of wisdom, ringing true to my own experience. There is grace therein. As I struggle to pray for my enemies I’m ever mindful that I, too, am on another’s list. I thank God for those prayers.

A priest once said, “I wanted to be a priest out of arrogance. God allows me to be a priest as a penance.” That, too, rings true. Glory to God for all things!

There are indescribable joys in the priesthood. Holding the infant above the waters of baptism and initiating another Christian into the family of God. Standing with a penitent and weeping over sins — then assuring the same of God’s mercy and forgiveness. Uniting God, a man, and woman in the sacrament of marriage. But nothing can compare to standing before the holy table and offering the eucharistic sacrifice. If not for that single grace how could one persevere? If not for that glorious grace of God, who could withstand the trials? Without that, what for?

I thank God for the prayers and protection of my over-worked Guardian Angel, the prayers of the Mother of God, the love of family, the gift of friendship, and the intercessions of the Saints. I thank God for mercy.

I am learning to appreciate that which I have received. I am learning to be fully present in the present moment. I am learning to guard the Peace. Ten years & I am learning. I am learning.

I beg your prayers.

Glory to God for all things!

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