A homily by St. Nicolai Velimirovich
“And when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them” (Acts 6:6).
By laying their hands on the chosen faithful, the Apostles consecrated Bishops, Priests and Deacons. It is apparent from this that the Christian Faith is not only a teaching but also a power. It is not enough merely to know; it is also necessary to have power. It is not enough merely to be chosen by men; one must also be confirmed by God.
If power were not necessary for the Priestly vocation, neither would the laying on of hands be necessary; only teaching passed from mouth to ear would be needed. The laying on of hands, therefore, signifies the transferring of authority and the descent of power on the chosen one. The power is in the grace of God, Who strengthens man, sanctifies and illumines him. Truly, the grace of God is that which teaches, leads, shepherds, and through the Sacraments strengthens the flock of Christ.
A Priest is the vessel of this inexpressible, awesome and all sufficient power of grace.
Blessed is that Priest who understands what a precious treasury he has become! Blessed is he if the fear of God does not leave him day and night until his last breath! There is no greater honor on earth, no greater responsibility than the calling of the Priesthood. By the laying on of hands by the Bishop, the Priest has come into contact with the heavenly and eternal source of grace and with the authority of the Apostles.
By this, the Priest has become a companion in grace and a concelebrant with all the Orthodox Priest from Apostolic times until today, with the great Hierarchs, with the countless number of Saints, Confessors, Miracle-Workers, Ascetics and Martyrs. He is gently adorned by their dignity, but he bears the burden of their merit, their example, and their reproach.
O my brethren, great and most great is the ministry of a Shepherd of Christ’s rational flock. He is responsible to pray to God for all, and all the faithful are required to pray to God for him.
O Lord, Supreme Hierarch, sustain the Orthodox Priests in strength, in wisdom, in purity, in zeal, in meekness and in every Apostolic virtue by the grace of Your Holy Spirit.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
– Prologue of Ochrid, May 30