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Becoming a priest is now easier than ever. Perhaps you were asked to host a friend's wedding, or you want to become a professional priest. Many couples choose as priests friends or ministers who can hold a wedding ceremony according to interfaith and intercultural canons. Before you get down to business, you should study the most important government requirements for this position.
Why do they become priests?
It’s worth starting with a little rhetorical introduction. The work of a priest is a calling, not a way of enrichment. Naturally, there are those who wish to use the dignity for personal gain. But these people are sure to get what they deserve, because God sees everything. Including the sinful thoughts of man.
Basically, those who want to serve the Lord become priests. For such people, secular life is secondary. Its blessings and temptations do not bother them, since it is much more important for them to convey the word of God to people. However, to begin to preach, it is not enough to have faith in the Lord alone.
Requirements for Future Clerics
In Orthodoxy, only a man can become a priest in a church. To do this, he needs to graduate from a theological seminary. Education there is free, but everyone who wants to go there must meet the following requirements:
- Firstly, there are age restrictions. Entrance to the full-time seminary can be men from 18 to 35 years old. The correspondence department raises the upper threshold to 55 years, but at the same time significantly complicates the learning process itself.
- Secondly, you must have a certificate confirming the availability of complete secondary education. School grades do not play a special role, but a person must be able to correctly write and read.
- Thirdly, the decisive factor may be the marital status of a man. According to Orthodox canons, a priest can marry only once. Therefore, he cannot remarry, nor marry a widow or divorced.
Another important detail is a letter of recommendation from the parish priest. In it, the mentor reports on the achievements of his ward. For example, it may be said that the novice participated in all services, sang in the choir, rang the church bell, and so on.
For those who are contemplating how to become an Orthodox priest, there is a little advice: start preparing for admission to the seminary a few years before the target date. This must be done for the following reasons.
As mentioned earlier, all applicants are required to have a letter of recommendation. No self-respecting priest will give such a document to the first person he meets. You should be prepared for the fact that you have to prove the strength of your faith. For this, it is necessary to work for the good of the church, implicitly following all the instructions of the parish shepherd.
Besides, how to become a priest without possessing the necessary knowledge? Naturally, a lot will be taught at the seminary. But man himself must reach for the light of knowledge. First you need to read the Old and New Testaments, as well as get acquainted with the history of the Orthodox world. After all, this is the minimum without which no Orthodox person can exist.
What awaits on exams?
The theological seminary is in many ways similar to other educational institutions. Exams are held here in late summer, about a month before the start of the school year. They are received by a special commission, which consists of seminary teachers. There are written and oral exams.
First of all, applicants are asked questions about stories from the Bible. This helps to understand how well a person is versed in the scriptures. If the answers satisfy them, then there is another series of questions that touch upon the main prayers and psalms.
All who pass the oral part are admitted to the second exam. Here you will need to write an essay on the topic proposed by the commission. Most often asked to express their attitude to certain biblical events. However, one should be prepared for what they can instruct to describe the history of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Final stage of verification
It should be understood that the successful passing of exams is not a guarantee of admission to a theological seminary. After all, after an official examination of knowledge, all applicants undergo a final interview. At it, senior clergymen determine the sincerity of students' motives and how they are suitable for this role. And if one of the mentors decides that their ward is cunning with his heart, he will immediately be sent home.
The seminary is the same university. There are many subjects and teachers who are happy to tell you how to become a priest. Naturally, the main emphasis will be placed on spiritual enlightenment. In particular, students will be taught the features of the sacraments, sacred rites and prayers. Also, a lot of time will be devoted to the Old Church Slavonic language, which is considered the main among the clergy.
It should be noted that all students are provided with a free hostel. However, life in it imposes certain obligations. Young novices need to follow a strict regime. They cannot violate it, much less ignore it. You will also have to forget about things like alcohol, tobacco, television and the Internet.
Spartan conditions like this will quickly teach you how to become a priest. Indeed, in the future, a person will have to independently protect himself from all kinds of temptations and temptations.
Division into white and black clergy
In the last year of the seminary, the student must make the most responsible choice. He is obliged to decide to which clergy he will belong: white or black. It should be noted that in the future this decision cannot be changed.
The essence of the white clergy is that the priest reserves the right to marry. He can do this only once in a lifetime. Moreover, there are a number of specific criteria that limit the range of its potential partners. But much more important is the fact that the white priest cannot advance in the dignity beyond the archpriest.
What can not be said about the black clergy - its adherents are able to rise to the rank of bishop and above. Therefore, at this stage, a person will have to choose between the opportunity to create a family and the highest spiritual order.
How to become a priest without a seminary?
In truth, a clergyman position can be obtained without an appropriate diploma. To do this, the shepherd should conduct a special rite of passage. But this requires the permission of the bishop, who is unlikely to give the go-ahead without good reason. In addition, the lack of a theological seminary behind the back greatly limits the progress in the dignity.
For general development, let us say that such initiations were relevant during the war. When each priest was worth its weight in gold, and there was simply no time and opportunity to teach them from the clergy.