December 14, 2012

Elder Ephraim Katounakiotis: On the Priesthood (2)

A conversation between a Hieromonk and Elder Ephraim of Katounakia on the Priesthood:

Hieromonk: Regarding the tears you spoke about, how can someone have tears like that during the Divine Liturgy?

Elder: Let me tell you, it has been about a year since I stopped [liturgizing], because I cannot see, but all day I pre-prepared for the Divine Liturgy. Do not confine yourself, my child, to the Prayers for Receiving Holy Communion, because these prayers are even read by the laity, the priest, the bishop and the patriarch. But all are not one. The people receive the Gifts ready. But the priest is a butcher. He sacrifices Christ and transmits Him in turn to all the people. There is a big difference; they are not the same. For this reason, my child, if you want to have a situation, do not limit yourself to the Prayers for Receiving Holy Communion, because you are a butcher. You slaughter and sacrifice, while the other person takes the Holy Bread prepared. For this reason supplicate the Panagia all day, whom you have near: "My Panagia, make me worthy to see what I am sacrificing, what function God has given me. Let me feel it." And the Panagia will give it to you. Yes. If you liturgize and do not tear, you are a little at fault, you are under condemnation.

Hieromonk: I am saddened.

Elder: Yes. But, if you weep during the Liturgy, you will understand that you have liturgized, that you ate spiritual meat, if you will. If, however, you did not weep neither in your prayers, nor during the Liturgy, it is like you ate hot water. But if you weep, you will understand that you ate spiritual meat.

Hieromonk: Elder, no one tries to prepare as much as they can, but they see that the enemy does not sit, that is, he brings thoughts that are sometimes obscene, blasphemous, or foul. Then what should he do, or let us say, how should he deal with them?

Elder: Listen, we are people. We are people, not angels. He brings obscene thoughts, as well as thoughts of pride and thoughts of judgmentalism, everything. We will struggle.

One time someone came here and as we talked we fell into judgmentalism. I then went to liturgize and couldn't say the prayers. "Man, what did I do?" I said. "Forward! Such and such neighbor came and we condemned some bishops." During the Liturgy, as I liturgized, I said: "My God, forgive me. Forgive me, my God. I erred, my God. Of whom is the error, my God? It is even a forgiveness prayer for me." Finally, I pacified and said: "If you want to go through this again, judge!"

It is a major thing, a great evil, to judge. Well, as people we will err, my child. But what? Confession is also a mystery, my child.

I only finished high school, I did not go higher. I wrote down the names of all my classmates, all my professors, my teachers from the first year of grade school until the last year of high school. And when I commemorate them, how much joy I feel! Do you know how much joy I receive because I commemorate those who made me into a good man? Now, since I have one year to attend Liturgy, because I cannot hear, and I want to commemorate those names again, and once again bit by bit I remember them, those people are benefiting. For this reason, my child, do you want to have you soul saved as a gift? As much as you can, commemorate more names.

The stole has great boldness, great boldness. For this reason, my child, do you want to acquire a situation? If you liturgize and do not weep, somewhere you are at fault, somewhere you did something wrong. All day I pre-prepared myself for the time of the Liturgy. And when I entered the Liturgy, I could not stop the tears. Yes! That is, many times I saw on the Holy Altar a dead body, let us say, as if in ecstasy, a dead body!

Hieromonk: Elder, for twenty years I was a simple monk. And it is true, when I became a priest, I struggled. I could not get used to that I was a priest. And from the day after I became a priest, the devil battled against me with thoughts, with anguish, with fear. He fought much against me with these things.

Elder: Well, he's doing his job. But we will also do our job. To the Panagia, supplicate to the Panagia, my child, because all the saints supplicated the Panagia. A gift is not given to man by God, unless it is through the Panagia. The Panagia distributes the gifts to humanity, the Panagia distributes.

Hieromonk: It left me in amazement. I said to myself, the devil does not even fear the Divine Liturgy, with his thoughts, with his obscenities, with one thing and another?

Elder: Those things aren't missing, my child, they are not missing.

Hieromonk: Contempt is needed.

Elder: Contempt. Well, he's doing his job, my child. He's doing his job. But us, let us do our job, our job.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos