Monthly Archives

October 2001

2001, Articles, Raiati

The Spirituality of Parish Councils / 14.10.2001

They are councils to help the priest in serving the faithful at the level of spiritual education and developing properties to support the priest and the in need brothers.

The members of these councils are assigned by the bishop after consulting pious people. The canon says that they should all come from the praying faithful that understand with some depth the issues that should be discussed. Therefore, the parish council is independent from any partisanship whether it was a local one or not.

It is clear that the bishop doesn’t ask anyone about his political view because he doesn’t have a list of who each person follows or a list of those involved in a certain political doctrine. He has people to guide him towards those who have spiritual enthusiasm and good morals. The bishop is not an enemy of any leader or any person that has power and he doesn’t discuss a person’s political belonging and considers all the faithful brothers. He hopes that political rivalries, even if they were innocent, are not taken into Church and disrupt discussions because it is Christ who unites the faithful even if they had conflicts concerning earthly affairs. He looks towards partisans from all directions and towards people that are embraced to leaders considering them his sons; they all get the same love and care.

You can agree with whoever you want and any party you want as long as it doesn’t say anything against Christian doctrine. The bishop also looks towards leaders in a village or in a broader region – if they were Orthodox – considering them his sons too but he wants them not to consider the Church a range for their power or interference because this would be mixing the issues of God and the world and because this interference would increase emotions and tension.

It is normal to keep the parish council until its seigniory time, which is four years, is over if they didn’t waste money. We monitor their accounts. If anyone of the members did a big mistake, he will be laid off. However, if the performance was good, the bishop doesn’t have to change the council only because some people don’t like certain members in it. The council is not a family council. It is composed of individuals that we assign according to information we get after consultations. There is no single consultation in the world that could be perfect and give the true situation. Discretion plays a role in every consultation.

The council is relatively good and not absolutely. Therefore, and to protect the church, everyone should cooperate with the council until another council takes its place when its time ends. Boycotting it causes a lot of harm because it carries schism. You endure the incomplete performance – and know that every performance is incomplete – while waiting for a better one.

The thing that facilitates the issue for everyone is that the council isn’t a side that can take decisions but a side that is consulted. However, we cannot be present in all places. Therefore, the consultation side becomes a side that takes decisions until a mistake appears and we correct it.

On this basis, it is not acceptable to feel “sad” towards the council or to financially boycott it because this harms the Church, decreases its income and weakens its work. You don’t give your money to the council but to the Church, the mother of all of us. And if you boycotted, then where does your participation come from? How could you be a brother? No one pressures his mother to make her poor. No one imposes his own opinion on the group; he can give his opinion. I presuppose that we love each other and therefore the council shouldn’t be in a war against anyone. On the other hand, no one should fight the current council too.

However, if some brothers thought that it is good to get one or several new people to improve the performance, then we are open towards the right opinion. You fight from the inside and discuss inside the council. It is not a disaster if we didn’t choose a certain person. Also no one should consider it a miracle if we accepted that person. The council is not a place for disputes or for bad intentions and at the same time the council is not impeccable. We do not practice compulsion, and it is normal to refuse compulsion from anyone towards us.

There is no organization in the world that could be composed out of saints. Our benefit requires that we accept what we have. Reformation is possible and insisting on it is also possible. Our heart is open towards any suggestion for improvement so that love becomes prominent.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “روحية مجالس الرعايا” –Raiati 41- 14.10.2001

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2001, Articles, Raiati

The Cleanness of the Church and Priest / 07.10.2001

The two phrases: “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty” and “I love the house where you live, O Lord” (from the Psalms) refer to the divine beauty which is present in our temples, but they also carry the meaning that dirtiness and untidiness are not desirable things.

Church is a place that God put his name in and that was anointed with Myron when consecrated, a location that became a place where God is manifested and a place that has been filled with prayers for tens and hundreds of years. In particular, the Divine Liturgy is celebrated there, and this pushed the faithful into piety and spiritual ascension. This is one of the places of the kingdom.

We have seen righteous generations renovating this place and protecting it from falling down, cracking or any harm that could come from nature. People have lived feeling that keeping God’s house is a part of being faithful towards him. We have progressed a lot in taking care of Byzantine architecture. However, our temples differ from the aspect of their cleanness, as we have few churches that are not clean until now.

The Sanctuary is the most important place; the essential cleanness there is the cleanness of the altar and holy table. The table is covered with covers and one of them is obvious and nobody touches it even the priest. Nothing is put on it but the Gospel. We should also pay attention to candles so that drops don’t fall off them. And if something dirty appears, the priest must take it off. Everything could be cleaned; every piece of cloth could become completely clean.

In addition to that, there is the floor of the sanctuary on which we shouldn’t see any coal or incense that fell down or any trace of a person that walked on the floor.

All of this is the responsibility of the priest. He can choose any delegate he wants in order to do this work. He can use the help of any person that has gifts that qualify him to supervise this supreme place. One of the preoccupations of the priest should be to make the ecclesiastic utensils that are put on the altar decent in front of God and not repulsive for the faithful and the same applies on the covers of these utensils.

The priest is the only person that is directly responsible for these tools that should be clean as crystal so that this servant of the altar doesn’t make his lay brothers doubt and think that he is careless towards his service. This is a training for the priest to understand that God’s issues should all be done properly, in order and perfection.

In relation to this, we have the clerical clothing that he uses in the Divine Liturgy and services. These shouldn’t be torn and shouldn’t become very old because they are part of the service’s beauty.

The Priest’s cassock and the things related to it should always stay clean as all his clothes. This is a part of his love for organization. Of course we are neither seekers of elegance nor seekers of having too much clothing because this is profusion and doesn’t go along with austerity. Decent appearance might not be a virtue, but is something that goes along with general decencies which the clergy must have. This might sometimes be an image of his quest to gain decency in everything.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “نظافة الكنيسة والكاهن” –Raiati 40- 07.10.2001

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