What are qualifications for priesthood

edited December 1969 in Coptic Orthodox Church
What do you need to do in order to become a priest???????????????????????????????????? 8)


  • It's a gift from God. You can't really earn it...
  • it's also partially a call from God for those who deserve it.....(i am waiting from some people--ONE SPECIFIC PERSON--to speak against what i just said!!!)
  • I am the least worthy of all priests and hardly represent the best model.

    But I guess that there is a need for the potential candidate to have already shown signs of spiritual growth and maturity in their own lives.

    They should have some knowledge of the scriptures and of theology, but it seems to me that the character is rather more important than the knowledge. Are they a person who brings peace? Are they thoughtful? Do they seek to bear the burdens of others? Have they already served faithfully and sacrificially in the diaconate?

    It also seems to me to be important that a candidate have a true vocation, and not simply see the priesthood as an option because of their intelligence, knowledge and skills. A vocation is an inner call so that the potential candidate senses strongly that it is God's will that they come to this service, even if the means of fulfilling this call are hidden in God's will.

    A potential candidate for the priesthood should perhaps seek to live spiritually as a priest, I mean being prayerful for the needs of all of the congregation, seeking to be holy, seeking to serve the humble people, seeking to grow in the knowledge of the scriptures and of theology. Persistence in such preparation shows our Lord God the seriousness with which we contemplate such service.

    God bless you

    Father Peter
  • you have to not want it
  • I am not sure that is true.

    You must not want to be a priest for yourself, but if you have no sense that God is calling you to the priesthood then you should probably not be a priest. There is a calling though.

    We would not say that the qualification for marriage is not wanting to be married. Yet we would say that a person should not seek marriage for what they can get out of it. They must enter marriage selflessly for the service of their partner. Just as, it seems to me, that a person should enter the priesthood selflessly for the service of others.

    Of course the person who says 'I would make a great priest', has problems they need to seek to grow out of. But the person who says, 'I am not worthy at all of this grace, but the calling won't go away', seems to me to be in the right place.

    St Paul says to Timothy, 'If a man desires the office of a bishop he desires a good work', and this may be applied to the office of the priesthood.

    In my own experience I went through many years when I knew that there was a possibility I could be called to the priesthood, but I did not seek it, but in the last six months I had a strong sense of vocation, that God was calling me to the priesthood. Now that I have been ordained I have a stronger sense than I have ever had in my life that I am doing what God wants me to be doing.

    Therefore I would say that a person in whom such a vocation stirs should seek to become the best Christian they can be, by God's grace and as a means of proving the calling. If we cannot make the changes necessary in our lives before we are ordained then the stresses and strains of the priesthood will make it less likely that we will see such a transformation after ordination. Such a person should also seek to find those avenues of service which God opens during such a period of preparation, which may last many, many years.

    The priesthood is never something we can demand, but if we respond to the call as we hear and understand it, then God will make his ways clear to us, and to our brethren and priests and bishops.

    Father Peter
  • till the last moment I was still debating if I should respond or not after abouna had already responded... but there is somethings that popped in my head, so I thought I should share!

    as abouna said, the person needs to be proven himself in his spirituality, which would be known by his father of confession!

    also something that the church will look at, is the family of the person, how did he bring up his children if he has any... how was he a priest over his family before he becomes a priest over a church!

    if all good so far, he has to be approved by the church, and her people!

    now we are brought to the person himself! is he willing to comply to everything he will vow?! (very strong vows in front of God)

    not only that... but is he willing to comply with this verse?! “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.

    is that person willing to stand in the final judgment not for himself only, but for everyone in his church? is he willing to go and seek the sheep that are lost during which he might have to put up with being rebuked and/or humiliated?!

    its not an easy task... when I was younger I use to joke around and say I will become a priest we mish 3aref eh... until I grew up, and learned about priesthood, its like God was telling me "enta homar, you can never come close to keeping up with such grace, and also such responsibilities"

    being a Shepherd over sheep is hard work... so imagine shepherding humans?!

    akhadna el baraka... neshkor Allah!  
  • Abouna, i think you mis-interpreted my statement due to my poor choice of words. I apologize. I meant to say:

    you have to not seek it, where 'it' refers to the priesthood itself; however, you should seek service and the well-being of all. Now, whether you are called to priesthood or not that is for God to choose, you must obey and serve wherever He desires. That is to say that your will must not contradict His will (just like in everything else), if He calls you to be a priest don't say "no, I am not worthy" and if he calls you to just be a servant, don't say "no, i want to be a priest".

    That is what i meant. What do you think?
  • I agree completely.

    It must be a matter of a willing co-operation with the will of God in all things. If he calls me to be a servant then that is itself a great responsibility, but if he calls me to serve others without anyone knowing then that is a greater blessing. We must be happy with the fact that God calls us all to different ministries and to be a priest does not make a person more important, even if the ministry is one that carries great responsibilities.

    We should not say, 'I want to be a priest', rather we should at most say to our spiritual fathers and spiritual brethren, 'I have a sense that God is calling me to the priesthood and ask you to discern his will with me'.

    It is a great responsibility even to be the least of servants in the Church, but the service which a lay person performs to their neighbours in the name of Christ, though perhaps unknown to most or all is no less a service. There is no career structure in the Church and even the service of a bishop is not more important than the hidden obedience of a faithful layperson - what matters in our service is the quality of our obedience.

    May we all be found obedient in the service which our Lord calls us to.

    Father Peter
  • If I may say this and please Father Peter correct if I am wrong. Priesthood has nothing to do with the person himself, I think the only thing required is calling from God, best example was when God said to Jeremiah "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

    If it is a call from God, everything else is irrelevant.
  • flexmd, what you wrote seems to make sense, but i still want to hear from Fr. Peter. you may think that St. Paul did not have the qualifications to be an apostle at first and definitely St. Moses the Black did not have the qualifications to be what he is but look at them now up there praying for us because they were called like you said.
  • Certainly the call is most important, more important than anything else, and there is no 'model' of a priest that everyone should copy. If the calling is true then a very academically ignorant priest who is spiritually wise is a gift from God, just as an academically knowledgable priest who has no true call may cause problems.

    But it seems to me, and this is not disagreeing with anyone at all, that if there is the beginning of a call then there should be some expectation of evidence of the spiritual gifts and spiritual maturity which a priest would need from God to usually fulfill such a call.

    When I was an evangelical I felt that I might have a calling to be a missionary in Senegal, so I arranged to go and spend a Summer there with an evangelical organisation, then I returned in the Spring term to spend more time in the same country. This experience certainly helped me to mature in my Christian life, and I was pushed to the edge of what I felt I could cope with. I am quite shy and I often had to travel around Senegal on my own with fairly poor French language skills. Now I believe that these experiences were a necessary part of God's will for me, but that it also allowed me to clarify the sense of calling and see that it was not directed towards that particular field of service.

    I think what I am suggesting is that a call to the priesthood does not come out of the blue or in a vacuum. A man who is ordained a priest should already have proved himself - in the usual way - it is out of the ordinary for there to be a miraculous calling of some person who seems unsuited. And so if a person has the beginning of a sense of call he should be seeking means of service to help that call be clarified, and to help other discern if there is a call to the priesthood or some other service.

    It is not so much that the knowledge or skills we may have suit us to be a priest, I think that the essence of the priesthood is spiritual. But the right use of that knowledge and those skills which we have may show that God is preparing a person for some other service. It is obedience and commitment which matter. Making the most use of the talent which God has given us. When I was ordained a priest my bishop said something about the years of my service as a deacon having shown that I had made use of the gifts which God had given. Now I know that I have many faults and have not made best use of my gifts, and that there are many people who would make better priests without the academic knowledge of theology I have (since academic knowledge is least important) but, my service, weak as it has been, has given my bishop additional experience of me to add to his prayerful consideration of the call I believed I had received.

    So I would suggest that some sort of track record is useful for priests and bishops to use when considering ordaining someone. Have they shown themselves to be obedient and dependable, faithful and committed? The actual nature of the obedience will be different, for me it has required writing theological articles among other things, for some other it might be obedience in liturgical service, for another obedience in serving the old and sick.

    But it would be hard to imagine a call being received as authentic if the person had not been committed to any service, or to prayer, or to study. And I do think that anyone wishing to be faithful in service should use all the means that the Church gives to mature in the faith, by service, prayer and study, and that this is necessary, certainly commendable, for all of us in whatever means of service God calls us to.

    Father Peter
  • i liked father peter's comprehensive answer.
    people who later are leaders start off as keen servants.
    in matthew 19:27, saint peter says 'we have left everything to follow you'. this was before he was a priest or bishop, he was just a disciple following Jesus, trying to do the best he could, and sometimes making mistakes.
    i think this is a good model for those who think about leading or serving in the church.
    may the blessings of the fast of the apostles be with you all
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