Sunday, December 18, 2011

The angel and the unworthy priest

The angel and the unworthy priest (amateur translation)
This icon is from the cemetary church of All Saints in the town of Perama, Rethymna, the seat of the municipality of Mylopotamou, by the iconographer Emmanuel Sephake.
The prototype is from the historic church of the Holy Trinity in the same town, near the monastery of Arkadiou, Rethymna...and is found in the Holy Alter, roughly next to the holy table of Prothesis, and the priest sees it across from him, though it is not visible from outside the Altar. It is directed, therefore, to the priest, and is aimed at his constant moral diligence.
This icon, I assume, is based on an old story which says that once there was a priest who got drunk one Saturday night, and went the next day to serve Divine Liturgy. However, as his wife was going to church, she saw him outside, tied to a tree. When she went inside, she saw him again, serving Divine Liturgy! She was surprised. After the Liturgy, her husband revealed how an angel prevented him from liturgizing, and served Divine Liturgy in his stead and with his appearance.
The meaning of the story is that, no matter how unworthy a priest may be, this does not hinder the validity of the holy mysteries, for it is the grace of God which completes them, not the priest himself. But priests should be worthy of their work, otherwise they will face consequences, now and to eternity...
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

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