2003, Articles, Raiati

To the Priest / 27.07.2003

This word addresses our lay brothers too because they shall become closer to piety when their pastor is or wants to be on Christ’s image. However, I am not addressing you because of a problem but because I desire that you become great so that Christ’s Church stays in its glory. People make you responsible for making it look beautiful or ugly. Yes, the Gospel was delivered to all believers, but you were asked to keep it well in your heart and on your tongue so that it is poured in the hearts of the faithful and embraces them to the Lord’s chest.

You know that, and you also know that we always stop reading. Yes, I know that you are occupied with worship, baptisms, and funerals and that some seasons take your time and energy. Beware not to get used to worship until it becomes a routine repetition with its words on your tongue and without any flame behind these words. Then, the devil whispers in your ears: “You are a good priest because you master the Liturgy and because you take care of the Church as a temple and you manage the parish council meetings and you gather children and the youth and you have the clinic for the sick. Isn’t all your time taken because of visiting houses? In principle, you work and teach, and according to the bible, you are qualified to enter the Kingdom of Heavens”.

Be careful! These are satanic words that could make you forget the most important thing. God said to the Angel of the Church of Ephesus: “You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first” (Rev 2: 3–4). Then he says to the responsible of the Church of Ephesus: “Remember therefore from where you have fallen and repent”. As if God doesn’t give any importance to the effort that this bishop has put because he still holds against him that he has left the love he had at first.

Then, the devil might whisper in your ear: “Are there other things to do and give all your time during the day and some during the night?” Sin is exactly the following: To think that the priest’s life lies all in his work and especially in rituals, teaching and some visits for the sick and poor. No my friend, the depth of a person isn’t in what he works and teaches. His depth is in his heart, and work flows from the heart.

The heart often becomes lukewarm and the person becomes a victim of his appearance, of his speech or of his church social life or sometimes of his earthly things. Sometimes he might make Christ drown in the masterful rituals and this person always drowns in the sweet talk that doesn’t flow from your luminous inside through the light of grace.

Nothing from what you say or do secures your internal health although this health doesn’t become correct except through a work and teaching that express your faith. But the important thing is to be constantly flaming with Jesus’ love who is the only one that protects you from pride. Pride threatens successful people and active priests.

You cannot continue the journey being lukewarm. Remember that the Lord spits the lukewarm out of his mouth. It is your decision to be hot and this is nourished through the Word and deep continuous prayer that is done in complete awareness word by word. People always differentiate between the person that recites a lesson and another whose words come from a loving heart for his Lord. If you had this flame, you will not consider any person great to the extent of fearing him and no one will still seem despicable. This happens because the Lord that dwells in you makes you see as he does and become humble in front of everyone as he did.

When your heart breaks down in order to receive Christ in it, nothing will worry you anymore. If any maliciousness or gossip happened, they will be crushed in front of your loving soul. Remember your first love when the Holy Spirit chose you and the bishop put his hand on you and you may have cried while kneeling in front of the Holy table and poured all your spirit, back then, in front of Christ. If you loved this way, a lot of people will be saved. If you loved this much and became chaste and died in front of everything in this world, you will be a martyr.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “إلى الكاهن” –Raiati 30- 27.07.2003

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