T H E P R I E S T H O O D I N T H E O R T H O D O X C H U R C H
“You are a priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 5: 6)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
The grace and mercy of Holy God has enabled us for one more year to arrive at the third Sunday of Lent. This is also known as the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross. Going through this spiritual journey of Holy and Great Lent we are asked to participate in the ongoing spiritual struggle. We participate in this by occupying ourselves with the spiritual exercises and the appropriate spiritual training. These will lead us to tame our old self and to make us followers of the Groom of the Church, the spotless Lamb, the fatted Calf, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
The Church today decorates the Holy Cross with fragrant flowers and myrrh of our devotion, elevates it and leads it in a procession in Church and asks the faithful to gaze at it and venerate it. In this way they will receive the Divine Grace, they will be enriched by the power of the Cross and they will be strengthened in the spiritual struggle they go through. Holy and Great Lent is already halfway through. The task of the faithful, therefore, becomes difficult and tiresome. They need encouragement. Thus, the Cross of the Lord inspires and leads every soul of good will.
Wishing now to refer briefly to the apostolic reading of the day, we recall that Jesus Christ is the eternal King, the permanent Archpriest and the irrefutable Prophet of the Church. As a prophet he is the undisputable Teacher. As a King he remains the experienced Captain of the Vessel of the Church and as an Archpriest he sacrificed himself on the Cross once and for all, shedding His blood on Golgotha, in order to wash away the sins of the revolutionary human race and open the doors of Paradise.
Apostle Paul compares the priesthood of the Lord with that of the mysterious person in the Old Testament, Melchizedek. The Bible does not speak about the origin of Melchizedek nor about his death. Thus, Melchizedek remains a priest belonging to a different order. He neither belongs to the priests who came from the tribe of Aaron nor to those who belong to the tribe of Levi. St Paul referring to the person of Christ, the Theanthropos, Who as God remains motherless and as man fatherless, places side by side the person of the Lord with the person of Melchizedek.
Let us remember that the word “melchi” means ‘king’. Melchizedek was the king of Salem, that is Jerusalem. This means king of peace and justice. The word “tsedek” means ‘justice’. The Church, having as its source the priesthood of the Lord, maintains three ranks of priesthood. These are deacons, priests and bishops. The priesthood in the New Testament differs from the priesthood of Aaron in the Old Testament, which is hereditary. The Church selects her priests from all classes of the faithful (from her congregation). The priesthood of the clerics in the New Testament begins from the day of their ordination and ends with their death. The priesthood derives from the apostolic era and has a canonical and unbroken link from then onwards.
The deacons serve the persbyters or priests and the bishops. If they are appropriately educated they occupy themselves with delivering sermons. The presbyters assisted by the deacons, perform the sacraments of the Church and the rest of their duties. They always implement their pastoral task after the permission, under the supervision and the given consent of their local bishop. The bishops assisted by the deacons and the presbyters, look after the faithful, bless and teach them, they guide the deacons and presbyters, and they co-operate with them so as to take the necessary care of the salvation of their faithful. Amen!
C O M M U N I T Y N E W S
MEALS FOR THE ELDERLY: The meals for the elderly during the month of March were subsidised by the following kind donors: Despina Soteriou; the Greek Women’s Philanthropic Association (Finchley/Barnet) and the Ladies’ Auxiliary Society of PANTANASSA. We thank all the kind donors for their generosity and consideration towards this worthy cause.
RENEWAL OF SUBSCRIPTIONS: The subscriptions for the Community (£50.00), Pantanassa (£25.00) and the Archdiocese Magazine (£15.00) are now due. If you have not already paid your subscriptions or wish to subscribe to any or all of these you may contact our Community’s offices.
ANNUAL SCHOOL RAFFLE: Once again St Barnabas’ Greek Schools Governing Body have issued the annual school raffle. We hope that as many of you as possible will assist in the sale of these by calling at the church office and purchasing some. Altogether 12,000 have been issued and so far we have managed to raise £1,500. We are certain that with your help we will be able to sell them all by the end of June.
SCHOOL CONCERT: The pupils of the Greek Schools of St Barnabas are organising their spring school concert which will celebrate the two National Events of 25th March 1821 and 1st April 1955. The concert will take place at 4.00 p.m. on Sunday, 25th March 2012, in the church hall. We look forward to your support by attending the concert so as to admire and encourage the children.
COMMEMORATION OF THE NATIONAL EVENTS: On Sunday, 1st April 2012, the Community of St Barnabas will be commemorating the two National Events of 25th March 1821 and 1st April 1955. This will take place in our two Churches towards the end of the Divine Liturgy with Doxology and prayers. At St Barnabas Church this will be about 10.30 a.m. and at St Mary’s Greek Cathedral at about 11.30 a.m.
NEW BOILER IN ST BARNABAS: Last week a new boiler was installed in the Church of St Barnabas and some radiators were replaced with more efficient ones. We believe that in this way the heating in the church of St Barnabas will improve.
NEW CHANDELIERS IN ST BARNABAS: It has been some time since the Church Council meant to improve the lighting in the Church of St Barnabas. Finally, a solution was found. Six small chandeliers are going to be fitted, three on each side, so that the faithful will be able to use their personal books, especially during Holy Week, more efficiently. The work is now in progress.
COLLECTION OF MONEY FOR GREECE: Our Archdiocese in co-operation with other organised bodies of our people in the United Kingdom, have launched an extensive collection of money to assist the people in need in Greece. Our Archdiocese in connection with this matter co-operates with the Church of Greece. The congregation in the churches was asked to contribute. Whatever money was collected in our two churches, was sent to our Archdiocese. Our community contributed £3,000.00 from the collections in both churches and another £2,000.00 from the Ladies Auxiliary Society of PANTANASSA, which is the philanthropic society of our community. Some individuals contributed various amounts separately. All the money is sent to our headquarters. Those of you who wish to contribute towards this cause are most welcome.
NEWS FROM OUR BOOKSHOP: We would like to inform you that the following books are available at our community bookshop:
The Akathist Hymn (Greek and English): £10.00 each
Holy Week (Greek and English): £25.00 each
The Holy Bible (English version): £50.00 each
Our Orthodox Christian Faith: £10.00 each
The Divine Liturgy (Greek and English): £ 5.00 each
Prayer Book (Greek and English): £ 5.00 each
Those of you who wish to obtain any of these books for your library and for your personal use may call at our Community offices. The offices are open daily, except Sundays