Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh: what might be the benefits of secularism

“We must remember that there is only one Priest, the high Priest of the Church – the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other priest in the full sense of the word” – what may be important anti-clerical position and how to return the priest in the context to which it belongs – the word of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh.


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Metropolitan Anthony Of Sourozh

There, and in the Church and in the secular world, another point that I think should be considered. It’s growing and spreading secularism. Not surprisingly, the world around us is anti-clerical; but secularism is growing and within the churches. If it reflects the melting pot that I see, anyway, quite often now a mixture of clerical and sacred – then it is evil.

But in another sense, I think, anticlerical position can be very important and valuable. I am not going to say that there’s a priest, but I would like in this connection to say a few words about what the priest is, more precisely, to return the priest in the context which it belongs.

A few years ago I heard a lecture on the importance of the priesthood, he was reading very well-known Western scholar. He emphasized the fact that the priest has incredible power. He said that Christ gave the priest the power to consecrate His Body and His Blood, the sacraments, and to allow sin or deny him, that is, the power to bind and loose (see MT. 18:18).

And he said something that seemed to me full of horror: “Strictly speaking, the priest has more authority than Christ, because now, when Christ ascended into heaven, in the power of the priest to deny people that Christ may be granted; enough to the priest to lock the temple for the key to the sick and dying were deprived of communion”.

So here is a picture of what the priest is not. This picture is blasphemous. We must remember that there is only one Priest, the high Priest of the Church – the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other priest in the full sense of the word.

Whenever we perform the divine Liturgy, acts – Christ.

I just reminded people of the words from the beginning of the Orthodox Eucharistic Liturgy: when ready, the community gathered, bread and wine prepared, it remains only to start the service, the deacon turns to the priest and says, “Time sotvoriti Lord”. How strange! Isn’t this the time when they begin to act? No. They will utter words that do not belong to them, and to take actions that are not their actions. The words of Christ; actions of the Lord. What do they expect from these steps, can perform no action.

What they hope as a result of these words, can not make no word, except that we recognize the theology of magic. To make an offer to do the prayer and answer it can only be the power of the Holy spirit. So the priest has his place, his value, but when it comes to creatures, to the most important achievements in the Church, there is no high Priest but Christ, no power but the power of the Holy spirit in His freedom and His love.

If theological schools, we are often reminded, where is our place, it would probably be very useful for both laity and clergy. This does not diminish the importance of the priest, but that God takes its rightful place and makes possible what is otherwise impossible to believe.

No human word, no action can transform the earthly into the heavenly. No human power or human tricks can’t force God to action, which is a kind of Incarnation.

1 February 1969

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