The Orthodox Leader

The Making of a Pastor – More Reactions

A  friend of mine, Mike Fulton, a seminarian at Holy Cross has given his own response to the first article in the Making of a Priest series along with the Ochlophobist’s suggestions. (Note that I give credit to Owen White for making those suggestions but have my own reservations about them.)

At one point he says:

All of this has been proposed with very good intentions on bringing men who are better qualified/prepared and also to limit ecclesiastical corruption, some of which may come in the form of simony and nepotism.

My own desire is to emphasize the former, as a matter of leadership. “Worldly experience” such as developing a (secular) career, building a marriage, and managing responsibilities (family, children, work, house, etc.) is valuable inasmuch as it gives clergy a basis for leading as clergy: “if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?”

Michael also says:

However, what I have learned from being at seminary and speaking to priests is that no amount of bureaucracy, papers, proposals, councils, psychological batteries, interviews, etc. can prepare or ensure the preparedness of candidates to the priesthood. You teach a man the best that you can, a bishop places his hands on the guy’s head, and you hope that the Holy Spirit does the rest.

Indeed, we pray and trust that the Holy Spirit will supply that which is lacking (as the bishop prays in the ordination). However, we cannot deny the synergy that must exist between man and God. If it were purely a matter of the Holy Spirit, St. Paul would have had no reason to write 1 Timothy 3, for the drunk, the adulterer, and the greedy would all have their deficiencies corrected as a matter of course.

I stick to my assertion that we would be better off holding rather more strictly to the age requirement of Neocaesarea XI: “Let not a presbyter be ordained before he is thirty years of age, even though he be in all respects a worthy man, but let him be made to wait. For our Lord Jesus Christ was baptized and began to teach in his thirtieth year” (emphasis added). Certainly the Fathers of Neocaesarea knew of young men who were mature beyond years, but insisted they wait. In 1 Timothy 4, St. Paul tells the new pastor Timothy and his flock, “Let no one despise your youth,” even though Timothy was about 40 years old at the time! Some wisdom is brought only by experience.

It’s also important to remember that being a presbyter (specifically as a parish priest) is a different thing from being a prophet. Consider Aaron and Moses. Think on John the Baptist as compared with St. Peter.

I’ll encourage readers here to read Michael’s comments and weigh in (here or there, your call).

4 comments (click to add your own)

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

January 28th, 2010 at 1:44 pm

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