On September 29, at the Holy Trinity Church in New Rochelle, New York, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America delivered a speech at the ordination to the priesthood of Hierodeacon Avgoustinos Psomas.
Particularly, the Archbishop said the following:
My beloved spiritual son, Hierodeacon Avgoustinos,
You have traveled many miles to arrive at this threshold today, at the very door of the Mystical Service to the Holy and Life-giving Trinity. From Kerkyra (Corfu) to New Rochelle is indeed many thousands of miles, but the few steps you are about to take around the Holy Altar are an even longer journey.
To embrace the life of a priest of the Most High God, and to commit to the service of this Altar and to the ministry of the Body of Christ – this is a distance that stretches on into infinity. It is a lifelong pursuit of the perfect and Angelic worship of God of which we chant at every Divine Liturgy:
Let us, who mystically represent the Cherubim and who sing the thrice-holy hymn to the life-creating Trinity, now lay aside every worldly care.
You stand before the Altar that rests upon the earth, but your ministry will take place in the Heaven of Heavens. Like the Twenty-four Presbyters “adorned in brilliant shining robes” in the vision of the Revelation, you will stand enrobed in the vesture of the dignity of the Priesthood.[*] And your worship and λειτουργία will rise up through the portal of the Divine Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ unto “the Throne that stands squarely in the midst of Heaven.”[†]
It is an Angelic ministry; thus, we “mystically represent the Cherubim” and ever strive to become living icons – εἰκονίζοντες – as we chant in the glorious Cherubic Hymn.
Indeed, for the life of a hieromonk, a celibate priest, is called to be like the Cherubim, as the Holy Father of the Desert, Abba Bessarion counseled:
“A monk must be like the Cherubim … all eye!”[‡]
* * *
Therefore, Beloved Hierodeacon Avgoustinos,
Let your ministry as a priest be marked by and be praised for vigilance – the νῆψις of the Holy Fathers and Mothers of our Church. As the Holy Chief of the Apostles, Peter encourages: Νήψατε; Γρηγορήσατε![§] Let introspection, meditation, mindfulness, and reflection expand your love and concern for others.
We engage in these disciplines through prayer, not to point a microscope on our own lives, but in order to telescope our love into the universe – even beyond the very stars, to the Throne of Heaven, that is “like a vision of jasper and sardius, glowing like an emerald rainbow.” [**]
The inward path of prayer, meditation on the Law of the Lord, as we read in the Psalms, is the basis of our own happiness, our own blessedness.
Happy is the man … whose will is in the Law of the Lord, and in His Law will he meditate day and night.[††]
* * *
My beloved Hierodeacon,
May you enjoy many, many years of service before the Throne of God, this Holy Altar. May your happiness ever increase as you meditate deeply on the supreme Law of the Lord – that we should love Him will all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves.[‡‡]
And may the Holy Trinity, whose name graces this Parish which you serve, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, ever keep you vigilant, mindful, and watchful through His grace and love for all people, this day and forevermore.
[*] Revelation 4:4.
[†] Revelation 4:2.
[‡] The Alphabetical Collection, Beta.
[§] I Peter 5:8.
[**] Revelation 4:3.
[††] Psalm 1:1,2.
[‡‡] Mark 12:30,31.