Advice on Priestly Pastoral Service

Ordination Picture 11

On Parish Life (Church Revitalization from Beauty for Ashes – Metropolitan Meletios):

  1. Priest must have Spiritual integrity and Authority.
    1. Priest must have Fear of God; proper piety, a follower of the commandments, and seeking personal holiness.
    2. Priest must be strict with himself and forgiving to others.
    3. Priest must NOT seek out money for Sacraments/Services (can accept if offered).
    4. Avoid political opinions.
    5. Avoid situations that would give the appearance of Scandal.
    6. Priest must be presentable and keep a priestly appearance.
  2. Church Experience must offer the fullness of its Spiritual, Traditional, and Aesthetical Glory
    1. Parishes should have traditional Orthodox Buildings, Icons, frescoes, etc. contribute to the internal spiritual development of the People.
      1. Changes will take time in some instances where parishes have many donated items.
    2. Liturgical Calendar
      1. Full Weekend Cycle should be the goal for the weekend (Vespers, Matins, and Liturgy)
        1. Vigils should be offered on special feasts
        2. Services could be shortened as a pastoral need for the parish but not eliminated.
      2. More daily services should be offered in the parish (vespers, matins, supplication services)
      3. Traditional Orthodox Singing needs to be developed and promoted.
      4. Ancient in Modern: “At times,this means adjusting ancient traditions due to modern constraints; at other times, this means inspiring the people to see the beauty and value of the ancient.” 
  3. Building a Community
    1. Develop New Forums for the faithful to gather.
      1. Have a speaker series where people gather to learn about spiritual topics.
      2. Social times in the parish hall where the priest can be accessible.
      3. Encourage and organize pilgrimages to holy sites and monasteries.
        1. Special relationship to a local monastery is good to establish a prime example of the faith and spiritual potential. 
  4. Education (re-education)
    1. People need to know their faith and be taught meaning not just the How and When.
      1. The Faith must be taught in a way that is understandable.
    2. Spiritual Books can cause as much harm as good. Avoid any extreme position while educating.
    3. Weekly classes can be useful to educate the faithful.
    4. The Sermon is the primary teaching tool.
    5. Success in the Parish is not by the number of people in the pews but by the depths of the spiritual lives of the people”


  1. Philosophy of Homiletics:
      1. Preaching is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and therefore prepared with prayer. (Archbishop John Shahovsky – The Orthodox Pastor)
      2. Sermons Should be Direct, Simple, Spiritually Pure, and have no worldly taint.. (Archbishop John Shahovsky – The Orthodox Pastor)
      3. Sermons are preached in words but confirmed in action. (Archbishop John Shahovsky – The Orthodox Pastor)
      4. Sermons can be Spoken extemporaneously or written, but MUST come from the heart, from the fullness of the faith and the sweet desire to comfort, strengthen, enlighten , and reassure.. (Archbishop John Shahovsky – The Orthodox Pastor)
      5. Sermons can only be beneficial to the faithful if it strengthens and enlighten the preacher himself also. (Archbishop John Shahovsky – The Orthodox Pastor)
      6. A Sermon or lesson has value to the faithful only if it comes from personal experience and knowledge. (You cant give what you don’t have). (Fr. Alexander Elchaninov – Diary of a Russian Priest) 
  1. Sermon construction:
    1. Sermons need not be lengthy. 7-10 Minutes for parishes are ideal. If one has the gift of preaching or is inspired then a longer sermon may be appropriate and needed.
    2. Know the Scripture to be presented. Read in advance. Pray about what needs to be communicated to yourself, the congregation, and the community at large. Read commentaries.
    3. The Sermon should be able to be summarized into Just one sentence – “One Pearl”. Focus on one topic without diatribes. (Ken Untener – Preaching Better)
    4. Make it applicable to the faithful. Real life. How can they respond?
    5. Do not be too prideful to use or get inspiration from a sermon from someone else.

Advice on Confessions:

  1. People need to be taught how to confess. (Fr. Alexander Elchaninov – Diary of a Russian Priest)
  2. To talk about others is not useful for a good confession nor is flattering talk about the penitent’s character. (Fr. Alexander Elchaninov – Diary of a Russian Priest)
  3. Always try to provide one good habit for the penitent to apply in the life. (Fr. Alexander Elchaninov – Diary of a Russian Priest)
  4. What is needed most in confession is the willingness to pray for the penitent. (Fr. Alexander Elchaninov – Diary of a Russian Priest)
  5. An outline for confession is;
    1. Prayer on how to confess, (Behold, My Child, Christ Stands here invisibly…)
    2. Pentintent confess sins without interruption (ask question only if they struggle),
    3. Pray that the Lord will send the spirit of contrition and grant forgiveness,
    4. Advice,
    5. Absolution. (Fr. Alexander Elchaninov – Diary of a Russian Priest)
  6. Spiritual Direction should establish that “disposition of the soul – repentance, faith and hope.” (Confession – Metropolitan Anthony Krapovitsky)
  7. It is a great mistake to assume that the one confession is spiritually lower and needs direction [in every instance]. (Archbishop John Shahovsky – The Orthodox Pastor)
  8. Relate to sin as a disease, more than as to a crime. (Archmandriate Cyrian Kern)
  9. A priest Must not only listen to, and then, after giving advice, read the prayer of absolution during confession, but is obliged to pray to himself while the repentant confesses. Make use the Jesus Prayer. (Archmandrite Cyprian Kern)
  10. During the time of one’s confession not only the person who makes his confession is judged, but the confessor as well. Do not concentrate so much on the sins being confessed as on thinking of how to treat the repentant person’s soul. From An Athonite Gerontikon by Archimandrite Ioannikios (Kotsonis)

On Celebrating services:

      1. (Fr. Alexander Elchaninov via St. John Krondstadt– Diary of a Russian Priest)
        1. Never let celebrating services become routine. Celebrate them with devotion.
        2. Prepare carefully for the liturgy
        3. Do not lift your eyes during the service.
        4. Avoid behaving like an actor
        5. Do not close your door to anyone, whoever he may be.
        6. Do not refuse money (pride) but do not ask (avarice).
      2. Never be showy, pompous, or theatrical (Archbishop John Shahovsky – The Orthodox Pastor)
      3. Strive to intensify your faith, and during the Divine Liturgy be undistracted and attached to the celebration of the service so that you might be granted to behold the majesties of God. Elder George Karslidis of Drama

On Prayer for Others

  1. Priest of God! Believe with your whole heart; believe always in the grace given to you from God, to pray for God’s people. Let not this gift of God be in vain in you, for by it you can save many souls. The Lord speedily hears your heartfelt prayer for His people, and is easily inclined to have mercy upon them, as He had at the prayers of Moses, Aaron, Samuel and the Apostles. Avail yourself of every opportunity for prayer – in church, when you celebrate the divine service or a sacrament, in private homes, at the ministering of sacraments, during prayers and thanksgivings; everywhere and at all times think of the salvation of God’s people, and you shall also obtain great grace of God for yourself. St John of Kronstadt (+1908)

  2. Whether we pray for ourselves or for others, the prayer must be from the heart. The problems of others should become our problems. (St. Paisios of the Holy Mountain)


    Remember: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain… “(John 15:16). Therefore, “… be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” (1 Tim 4-12-16)