January 2008


Upon this account, therefore, O Bishop, endeavor to be pure in thy actions, and to adorn thy place and dignity, which is that of one sustaining the character of God among men, as being set over all men, over priests, kings, rulers, fathers, children, teachers and in general over all those who are subject to thee; and so sit in the Church when thou speakest as having authority to judge offenders. For to you, O Bishops, it is said:” Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

That It Is a Dangerous Thing To Judge Without Hearing Both Sides, or To Determine of Punishment Against A Person before He is Convicted. (more…)

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[When I said],”If a man seeketh the office of a bishop, he desires a good work.” I meant it was terrible to desire, not the work, but the absolute authority and power.

I think a man must rid his mind of this ambition with all possible care, and not for a moment let it be governed by it, in order that he may always act with freedom. For if he does not want to achieve fame in this position of authority, he will not dread its loss either. And if he does not fear this, he can always act with the freedom which befits Christian men. But those who fear and dread deposition from this office endure a bitter slavery, full of all kinds of evil, and cannot help often offending man and God.

But the soul ought not to be in this condition. As in war we see soldiers of fine spirit fighting eagerly and falling bravely, so those who have come to this administration should be ready either to be consecrated to the office or to be relieved of it, as befits Christian men, knowing that such deposition earns a crown no less than the office itself.

For when anyone has this done to him because he will not submit to anything which is unbecoming or unworthy of his position, he procures a greater punishment for those who wrongfully depose him, and a greater reward for himself. “Blessed are ye,” says our Lord, “when men shall reproach you and persecute. you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven.”‘ This is surely true even when anyone is expelled by men of his own order, either through envy or to please others or through enmity or any other wrong motive. But when he gets this treatment from his enemies, I do not think any argument is needed to prove how great a benefit they confer on him by their wickedness.

So we must be thoroughly on our guard against ambition and examine ourselves carefully.

—St. John Chrysostom

Sometimes the temptation for men to seek ordination in Christ’s Holy church can be born out of a desire for honor or power. That is why it is safer for Bishops to come from the monastic rank of the Church. They have a much better possibility to handle temptation for earthly glory and power having been previously formed on the foundations of ascetic spirituality. Bishops are celibates because they usually were monks. The pressure to act more like a Byzantine King rather than like “Christ the Servant,” is more (it seems) than most can handle. Some hierarchs manage to keep the way of humility in their leadership.

St. John Chrysostom writes: “But no one will always endure the strain; for fearful, truly fearful is the eager desire after this honor. And in saying this I am not in opposition to blessed Paul, but in complete harmony with his words. For what says he? “If any man desires the office of a bishop, he desires a good work.” Now I have not said that it is a terrible thing to desire the work, but only the authority and power. And this desire I think one ought to expel from the soul with all possible earnestness, not permitting it at the outset to be possessed by such a feeling, so that one may be able to do everything with freedom. For he who does not desire to be exhibited in possession of this authority, does not fear to be deposed from it, and not fearing this will be able to do everything with the freedom which becomes Christian men: whereas they who fear and tremble lest they should be deposed undergo a bitter servitude, filled with all kinds of evils, and are often compelled to offend against both God and man. Now the soul ought not to be affected in this way; but as in warfare we see those soldiers who are noble-spirited fight willingly and fall bravely, so they who have attained to this stewardship should be contented to be consecrated to the dignity or removed from it, as becomes Christian men, knowing that deposition of this kind brings its reward no less than the discharge of the office. For when any one suffers anything of this kind, in order to avoid submitting to something which is unbecoming or unworthy of this dignity, he procures punishment for those who wrongfully depose him, and a greater reward for himself. “Blessed,” says our Lord, “are you when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake; rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in Heaven.” And this, indeed, is the case when any one is expelled by those of his own rank either on account of envy, with a view to the favor of others, or through hatred, or from any other wrong motive: but when it is the lot of any one to experience this treatment at the hand of opponent, I do not think a word is needed to prove what great gain they confer upon him for their wickedness.”

“those who will deny men freedom first attempt to deny them truth. Yet truth can never be fully repressed, for it is not a fact or dogma, but a Person.”

Source: Dennis Engleman -Ultimate Things-