Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

Ordination of deacon Sergey Hakkel to priesthood

12 July 1964
Theme: Worship, Sacraments, The Church   Place: London Parish   Period: 1961-1965   Genre: Sermon

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

What I have got to say I should like to say in English, so that not only Father Serge, but also Christina and his children and those friends of his who have come to witness his ordination should be able to understand fully; I will not speak in my own words; I would like to have handed to him what I have myself received at two different moments of my life, when I was ordained a priest first, and when I was consecrated a bishop. The first words belong to Father Lev who has been today Father Serge’s sponsor, and without whose prayers and blessing I would not myself have become a priest. The second message has come to me from the Russian Church, when I was to become Exarch of Western Europe, to represent our martyred Church and our suffering people in the midst of those Russians who have remained faithful to it and in the midst of those in the West who are prepared to hear a voice coming from the deep. These are the first words which I would like you to receive in your heart. It is difficult to express all I can wish you; I shall say only two things. I wish you may hear the voice of our Lord saying to you “Sois mon pretre” — Be My priest — the priest of the Lord Jesus, — before being the priest of any Church, even the Orthodox Church. And I wish that the piece of consecrated bread, placed in your hand during the liturgy on the day of ordination, may be token of the bread of life communicated by you to many men and women, the bread of the Word and the Eucharistic bread with which you will feed your flock. May you feed many hungry souls! And here is the word of a people, who starved and enlighted at the same time, speak to us: One hungry soul said to my soul: you have met a priest, light shines in your eyes, tell me what you saw, so that people may remember what a priest is… But I will say nothing, all has been said long ago and new words will disclose nothing to those who do not know by experience the secret of the crucifixion of the priest. In a permanent and personal union with Christ lies the meaning of the priesthood and this is its first condition – not personal perfection: one who hangs on the Cross does not think of perfection; as for the rest, it follows naturally: If I be lifted up from the earth, says Christ, I will draw all men unto Me.. And thus you too, within your measure, in your measure of your union with Christ. Your measure, priest, is known to God, as for us — we can only marvel, seeing how He trusts you, how He gives you souls which your prayers have torn from the jaws of death and hell. God may say to you “Go”, and you go, knowing nothing apart from this “Go” and depending in the fullness of your obedience, no earthly obstacle is strong enough to stop your progress to that one lost soul which God has discovered, has pointed out for you. And having found this soul, о Priest, you serve it in all its wretchedness as you would serve Christ Himself. This is simple and obvious like any mystery, so that those to whom it is granted will recognise it at once; while the ignorant will observe nothing.’ With these words on the priesthood I wish you to enter upon the nes (?) path of your service and I beseech God Almighty to grant you an attentive heart, capa­ble of responding to any orders from Him and to the call of any suffering human soul. God’s strength is made perfect and manifest in weakness, therefore it is not for strength that I pray to the Almighty but for the weakness full of grace divine which is all in a contrite and merciful heart. I beg the Lord that He may give you love and humility, the only firm foundations of eternal life, the very essence of Christianity, the sole source of knowledge, of wisdom, of understanding… May these words born in the hearts of those who know what the priesthood is, bear fruits in your heart and may your ministry be а blessing for you, a blessing on your family, a blessing on all of us. We shall always remember, you as a child of our own family, we will always remember, that together with your priesthood, Christina and the children are called now to be to us a vision of what God can do, of the way in which He builds up a simple human family into the kingdom of God. We remember also your mother, who for us is Mother Alexia, who has brought you up and made it possible for you to stand today as a priest of God; and we will never forget your father, for whom we always pray in the liturgy since you have become deacon, and whose joy today must be great. The blessing of the Lord be upon you always now and ever and unto ages of ages.

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