Priesthood (Orthodox Church)

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Presbyter is, in the Bible, a synonym for bishop (episkopos), referring to a leader in local Church congregations. In modern usage, it is distinct from bishop and synonymous with priest. Its literal meaning in Greek (presbyteros) is "elder."

Bible Collection of religious texts in Judaism and Christianity

The Bible is a collection of sacred texts or scriptures. Varying parts of the Bible are considered to be a product of divine inspiration and a record of the relationship between God and humans by Christians, Jews, Samaritans, and Rastafarians.

A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight.

Holy orders

Through the sacrament of holy orders, an ordination to priesthood is performed by the bishop. But this requires the consent of the whole people of God, so at a point in the service, the congregation acclaim the ordination by shouting Axios! (He is worthy!)

Ordination religious process by which individuals are consecrated as clergy

Ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart and elevated from the laity class to the clergy, who are thus then authorized to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination vary by religion and denomination. One who is in preparation for, or who is undergoing the process of ordination is sometimes called an ordinand. The liturgy used at an ordination is sometimes referred to as an ordination.

"Axios!" is an acclamation adopted by the early Eastern Orthodox church and Byzantine Eastern Catholic churches and made by the faithful at the ordination of bishops, priests and deacons. The acclamation may also be made when a bishop presents an ecclesiastical award to a clergyman during the Divine Liturgy.

Orthodox priests consist of both married clergymen and celibate clergymen. In the Orthodox Church a married man may be ordained to the priesthood. His marriage, however, must be the first for both him and his wife. He may not remarry and continue in his ministry even if his wife should die.

Marriage Social union or legal contract between people called spouses that creates kinship

Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a culturally recognised union between people, called spouses, that establishes rights and obligations between them, as well as between them and their children, and between them and their in-laws. The definition of marriage varies around the world not only between cultures and between religions, but also throughout the history of any given culture and religion, evolving to both expand and constrict in who and what is encompassed, but typically it is principally an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually sexual, are acknowledged or sanctioned. In some cultures, marriage is recommended or considered to be compulsory before pursuing any sexual activity. When defined broadly, marriage is considered a cultural universal. Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that "Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses."

Celibacy State of voluntary sexual abstinence

Celibacy is the state of voluntarily being unmarried, sexually abstinent, or both, usually for religious reasons. It is often in association with the role of a religious official or devotee. In its narrow sense, the term celibacy is applied only to those for whom the unmarried state is the result of a sacred vow, act of renunciation, or religious conviction. In a wider sense, it is commonly understood to only mean abstinence from sexual activity.

If a single, or unmarried, or celibate, man is ordained, he must remain celibate to retain his service. A celibate priest is not necessarily the same as that of clergymen who are monastics, as celibacy does not automatically entail monasticism, though Orthodox monasticism does denote a call to celibacy. A priest-monk is called a hieromonk.

Monasticism religious way of life

Monasticism or monkhood is a religious way of life in which one renounces worldly pursuits to devote oneself fully to spiritual work. Monastic life plays an important role in many Christian churches, especially in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions. Similar forms of religious life also exist in other faiths, most notably in Buddhism, but also in Hinduism and Jainism, although the expressions differ considerably. By contrast, in other religions monasticism is criticized and not practiced, as in Islam and Zoroastrianism, or plays a marginal role, as in Judaism.

Hieromonk in Eastern Christianity, a monk who is also a priest

A hieromonk, also called a priestmonk, is a monk who is also a priest in the Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholicism.

Ministry

It is Church doctrine that the priesthood must strive to fulfill the grace given to them with the gift of the "laying on of hands" in the most perfect that they can. But the Church teaches that the reality and effectiveness of the sacraments of the Church, ministered by the presbyters, do not depend upon personal virtue, but upon the presence of Christ who acts in his Church by the Holy Spirit. The same as with bishops, it is Christ, through his chosen ministers, who acts as teacher, good shepherd, forgiver, and healer. It is Christ remitting sins, and curing the physical, mental and spiritual ills of mankind. The priest is an icon of Christ.

Priests normally exercise the function of pastors of parishes, a function which was normally done by the bishops in early times. They are rectors of the local congregations of Christians. They preside at the celebration of the liturgy and teach, preach, counsel and exercise the ministries of forgiveness and healing.

Since the presbyters are assigned by the bishop and belong to the specific congregations they have no authority or services to perform apart from their bishop and their own particular parish community. On the altar table of each parish, there is the cloth called the antimension signed by the bishop, which is the permission to the community to gather and to act as the Church. Without the antimension, the priest and his people cannot function legitimately.

History

The earliest organization of the Christian churches in Judea was similar to that of Jewish synagogues, who were governed by a council of elders (presbyteroi). In Acts 11:30 and 15:22, we see this collegiate system of government in Jerusalem, and in Acts 14:23, the Apostle Paul ordains elders in the churches he founded. Initially, these presbyters were apparently identical with the overseers (episcopate, i.e., bishops), as such passages as Acts 20:17 and Titus 1:5,7 indicate, and the terms were interchangeable.

Shortly after the New Testament period, with the death of the Apostles, there was a differentiation in the usage of the synonymous terms, giving rise to the appearance of two distinct offices, bishop and presbyter. The bishop was understood mainly as the president of the council of presbyters, and so the bishop came to be distinguished both in honor and in prerogative from the presbyters, who were seen as deriving their authority by means of delegation from the bishop. The distinction between presbyter and bishop is made fairly soon after the Apostolic period, as is seen in the 2nd century writings of St. Ignatius of Antioch, who uses the terms consistently and clearly to refer to two different offices (along with deacon ).

Initially, each local congregation in the Church had its own bishop. Eventually, as the Church grew, individual congregations no longer were served directly by a bishop. The bishop in a large city would appoint a presbyter to pastor the flock in each congregation, acting as his delegate.

Modern usage

The Orthodox Church often refers to presbyters in English as priests (priest is etymologically derived from the Greek presbyteros via the Latin presbyter). This usage is seen by some Protestant Christians as stripping the laity of its rightful priestly status, while those who use the term defend its usage by saying that, while they do believe in the priesthood of all believers, they do not believe in the eldership of all believers.

Presbyters are often referred to as Father (Fr.), though that is not an official title. Rather, it is a term of affection used by Christians for their ordained elders. In this context, a priest's first name is generally used after the word Father.

Priests are often styled as the Reverend (Rev.) and therefore referred to as the Reverend Father (Rev. Fr.). Higher in bestowed honor and responsibility, Archpriests and Protopresbyters are styled as the Very Reverend (V. Rev.), while Archimandrites can be styled as the Very Reverend (V. Rev.) or as the Right Reverend (Rt. Rev.). It is also appropriate and traditional to refer to a clergyman as "the Priest Name" or "Archpriest Name". This latter practice is especially prominent in Churches with Slavic roots, such as the Church of Russia or the Orthodox Church in America.

Monastics who are ordained to the priesthood are known as priest-monks or hieromonks.

Sources

As of April 17, 2010, this article is derived in whole or in part from OrthodoxWiki. The copyright holder has licensed the content in a manner that permits reuse under CC BY-SA 3.0 and GFDL. All relevant terms must be followed. The original text was at "Presbyter".

Further reading

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