If you look at the Sacraments of Ordination (Priesthood) and of marriage you will notice striking similarities.
by Bishop Peter
During the ceremony of ordination the soon to be ordained priest is lead around the altar three times, while the choir sings “O Holy Martyrs”- the same prayer which is used in the marriage ceremony as the couple is lead around the altar.
The priest and the marrying couple, place their hands on the Holy Gospel make solemn vows before God.
Both ceremonies use the chalice as the symbol and the reality of the fact that they have unity only in God’s love as witnessed in the Holy Eucharist.
He says that every priest and lay person must attain the same heights, because each of us will have the same God to answer to at the last judgement.
Not only on the surface of it, but theologically the priesthood and marriage are sacraments which are willed by God – for the purpose of bringing love into the world.
Our Eastern early fathers said that there was a similarity between marriage and the monastic state. St John Chrysostom insists that the requirements of the Gospel are the same for both- namely perfection in the image of the Father in heaven. The Commandment of love and the beatitudes are addressed equally to every human being. He says that every priest and lay person must attain the same heights, because each of us will have the same God to answer to at the last judgement.
The church today calls all of us to respect the family because it is the domestic church. We respect the priesthood because it also is at the essence of our church.
The sacraments of the church, and in particular the sacrament of the priesthood, are vital and critical in our lives because the priesthood has a special task and meaning, and because with the Holy Spirit, the church through the priest restores our original nature. St Gregory says that “through Christ, our nature (destroyed by Adam and Eve in paradise) is restored. Through the priesthood, the Holy Spirit brings us back to the state we were created for. The priest does this restoration through the consecration of all of us through baptism, the anointing of the chrism (confirmation), through the rite of purification and cleansing of the Sacrament of Penance. Our human mature is fully restored by the Holy Eucharist. The priest celebrates our weddings, and ultimately prepares us for our pass over into eternal life. Eternal life is also a spiritual marriage which lasts forever.
The priest does this restoration through the consecration of all of us through baptism, the anointing of the chrism (confirmation), through the rite of purification and cleansing of the Sacrament of Penance.
In our Ukrainian tradition our life, our culture, our prayer are part of our liturgical vocation. We are a liturgical people. We are a liturgical Church. The priest is our liturgical leader.
One of the most beautiful and meaningful prayers of our liturgy is the Cherubic Hymn. In this prayer, men and angels are united in our praise of God. The prayer tells us that heaven, full of Glory, in unity with the Creator begins for each of us on earth.
A saint is not a superman, just one who discovers and lives his truth as a liturgical being. It is the task of each priest to become a saint, and to lead all of us to sainthood as well.