Protopresbyter Dionysios Tatsis

The worthy [ἄξιος, axios] priest, when he has spiritual sensitivity and lives his priesthood, not as a professional occupation, but as a high calling, despite his personal weaknesses, faces a bloodless martyrdom, unknown to many. He sees that the people whom he addresses are constantly disappointing him, because his efforts for the spiritual progress of his flock do not produce the corresponding fruits. The situation becomes dire when the local metropolitan is indifferent and is only interested in projecting himself and satisfying the sinful passion of vanity, truly a captive of a worldly mind!

This is the reality, unfortunately, which many avoid commenting on, either because they are calculating the reactions of the guilty or because they don’t want to scandalize those who do not suspect anything. With this tolerance, however, the situation will never improve. If this negative situation is not taken under control, it will go on forever, for which the devil will rub his hands with joy.

The humble cleric feels he is alone, since he does not see other brother co-celebrants standing by his side, because they are controlled by his ethos and his behavior. They are bothered by his presence among them, and fear that he will remind them of forgotten duties and will advise them about things that they themselves have rejected; and because they have no desire to change anything about their pastoral inaction, they avoid communication with him and limit themselves to a formal greeting when they cannot move away, and nothing more.

The problem is a serious one, and is lived by the worthy [ἄξιος, axios] clergyman, who sees and hears much about the lives and condition of his co-celebrants in Christ, without him being able to help in any way. What causes this, in this case, is the clergyman’s lack of awareness that they are stewards of God’s mysteries, and that they differ from the people whom they are called to serve.

They should not be dominated by their passions, otherwise their priesthood is useless. Their hypocrisy has no value for the faithful, who are always disturbed, because they verify by their many actions that they are malicious, selfish, ambitious and insolent.

Of all their weaknesses, the one which is particularly scandalous, and is the cause of their many unacceptable acts, is their greed. The sacred money of the temple is not properly managed. Amounts are embezzled and methods of exploitation are devised for their own profit, with the result that the temple is abandoned, without changing a thing.

For example, we note the faded and worn covers on the altar and the preparation table, the damaged chairs, the lack of cleanliness, the lack of heating in winter and many other things that the churchgoers notice. It is unacceptable for the sanctuary of the temple to be a storeroom for wine bottles, candles and oil, charcoals and incense, glasses, crumpled papers with names for commemoration and a multitude of portable icons haphazardly hung here and there. The lady of the house has gone missing, but also the sanctity of the place. And all this because the money goes to the priest and to the council. They have no conscience and no fear of God.

We bless the priests who never embezzle money from their temple, who are always sensitive and dignified; their flock quickly trusts them and they are never short of money for the temple, for the poor, and for their parishioners who are downtrodden in their lives.

In describing with deep pain the negative and scandalous situations in various parishes, we must not forget that the work of priests is great. Saint John Chrysostom emphasizes:

“Priests should be viewed not only as stronger than rulers and kings, but also more revered than fathers. Fathers gave birth to us physically, while priests are the cause of our spiritual birth, which God grants – of that happy rebirth of true freedom and adoption – which God grants us freely.”

Priests have the sole authority to forgive or not to forgive the sins of people. Their judgment is always accepted by the heavenly Father.

The bishops will be held greatly accountable for frivolously ordaining men who have no fear of God and who obviously have impediments for ordination, men who commit spiritual crimes and humiliate the Church, a fact that grieves the faithful and makes the unbelievers rejoice.

Translated by Anthony Hatzidakis. Source

Translator’s note: My father of blessed memory was one such worthy clergyman who, as I witnessed first-hand, experienced a bloodless martyrdom throughout his ministry. The “You bother me” quotation in the heading graphic is from an incident in 2018 when Bishop Alexios of Atlanta was “bothered” by my father’s presence in the altar alongside the other priests at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, FL on Epiphany day. He expelled my father from the altar because he would not apologize for his “divisive” writings against the ecumenistic activities of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew found on this website.

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