Ancient Orthodox Faith in our Modern Age

Eastern Apostolic Church

Do you have a vocation?


At some time in their lives, many feel the need to consider a calling to the priesthood or deaconate. "Do I have a vocation", they ask themselves, and, "How do I know whether I have a vocation?". Like most important choices in our lives, the call to the ministry is rarely so clear as to exclude all other possibilities. Those who expect "a sign from heaven" are likely to be waiting for the rest of their lives. We are invited to make decisions by carefully and prayerfully examining the matter, weighing the "pros and cons", and trusting that God will guide us in a way that is in keeping with His divine will. There may be indications that accurately suggest that God is calling. Below are a few self-help suggestions in this discernment process. You and your spiritual director may find some others.


(1) Regarding candidacy for the ministry, one would need to go through our diocesan vocational formation program and, if not already Orthodox, combine this with catechetical studies and preparation for reception into the Orthodox Church. This process involves elements, such as learning more in-depth about the Orthodox faith, church history, teachings, etc. - If not already in place, candidates in this formation program would also be asked to attend an Orthodox church in their area and to become involved in daily Orthodox spiritual practice.

(2) Once a person has successfully completed this component, he can be incardinated as an Orthodox seminarian. By analyzing and possibly crediting any previous educational achievements, we could admit the seminarian at our Divinity School to a program preparing and qualifying for ordination.

Some helpful elements of discernment


  • A love of spiritual things: A minister of Christ, whether Pastor or Deacon/Deaconess, must feel drawn to God and the things of God. He or she enjoys spending time in prayer or reading the Scriptures or learning about God in the study of theology. The Liturgy and other Services are opportunities (not obligations) to know, love and serve God -- even if the music is a bit off key, the flowers are wilting or the vestments are poor -- the minister of God sees beyond physical appearances to spiritual realities -- while doing his or her best, of course, to make the physical appearances worthy of our divine Creator.


  • A will conforming to God's Providence: Apart from our Lord, all humans are sinners, but a minister must be a man who rarely breaks God's law in a serious way; s/he breaks it by accident or inadvertence and not by design. One must remain in the state of grace through frequent recourse to the celebration of or the assistance in the Holy Eucharist ans well as the other graces God supplies. One must be able to draw strength in completing difficult tasks from the knowledge that one is doing God's Will.


  • A seeker of humility: "The Son of Man had no place to lay His head." The minister is "another Christ", who must not desire to be greater than his master. While upholding the dignity of the office, he or she shows no desire to lord it over his charges.


  • An adequate education: A minister of Christ, whether a Pastor or Deacon/Deaconess, must have a good understanding of the Christian faith -- what he or she believes and what one asks others to believe. One must be able to assimilate the learning that is necessary to teach the entrusted people from the pulpit, in counseling and pastoral care. One must be able to build rapport with all parishioners – the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the wise and the foolish, the educated and the illiterate. A minister does not have to be a genius, but will acquire a professional education. One must want to know and teach about the God whom one loves.


  • Emotional stability: The minister is called on to guide by means of both, advice and example. One must not be given to moods of depression or flights of fancy, nor to intemperate drinking or bouts of argument. One must not be hiding from the responsibilities of parenthood or family life. One must be of such disposition as to bear up under the pressure of a calling where the hours can be long and the material rewards few or nonexistent.


  • Good health: A minister must possess the physical stamina to carry out one’s ministerial duties, often without the luxury of having other clergy "fill in" when he feels below par.


  • Responsibility and Dedication: Like St. Paul, one must be ready to see to one’s own necessities -- even though "the laborer is worthy of his hire", for God's innocent ones may not always have the means to support him or her.


  • Freedom from incompatible obligations: Family, business and social relationships must be such as to allow the minister to perform his or her duties. One’s family and friends must not be a source of scandal to those entrusted to him or her. Saint Paul describes the qualifications of pastors and deacons in his Epistles to Saints Timothy and Titus.  His observations are equally applicable to those who are clergy in modern days.

                                                     Scriptural References

A minister then, must be blameless, married to one spouse, reserved, prudent, of good conduct, hospitable, a teacher, not a drinker or a brawler, but moderate, not quarrelsome, not avaricious. He (or she) should rule well the household, keeping the children under control and perfectly respectful. For if a person cannot rule one’s own household, how is he (or she) to take care of the Church of God? One must not be a new convert, lest one be puffed up with pride and incur the condemnation passed on the devil. Besides this, one must have a good reputation with those who are outside, that one may not fall into disgrace and into a snare of the devil. Deacons also must be honorable, not double tongued, not given to much wine, nor greedy for base gain, but holding the mystery of faith in a pure conscience. Moreover, let them first be tried, and if found without reproach let them be allowed to serve ... Deacons should be persons who have married one spouse, ruling well their children and their own households. In addition, those who have fulfilled well this office will acquire a good position and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

                                 [1 Timothy 3: 2-13. See also Titus 1: 5-9]


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