“The murderer at the confession asked to forgive him for his sins.” Priest – about life and profession

How did you come to Orthodoxy and the decision to become a priest?

It so happened that I grew up in a religious family. Maybe he didn’t go to church specifically, but everyone in him was a believer. There was no temple in our area, but my mother wanted a temple nearby and she started the construction of the Sarov Seraphim Church in the city of Tver. Gradually, he began to explore more and more liturgical life, and as a child it was interesting to me.

I soon started getting involved in church life and helping at the altar. Then I studied at the Varnitsa Orthodox boarding school and went to St. I entered Tikhon University. His desire to become a priest gradually matured.

I wanted to be a priest, but somehow I distanced myself from that desire because the priesthood is more than just service. The ministry of a priest is associated with responsibility, dedication, dependence on people and obedience. All this scared me too.

Of course, I was not in a hurry to become a priest, although in the depths of my soul I wanted to become a priest.

Why did you choose to serve in the village?

– Some time after graduation, I met the Bishop of Rybinsk Veniamin and Uglich (now the Bishop of Rybinsk and Romanovo-Borisoglebsk) and began to help him in various obediences, taught theological disciplines at the Theological Department. The time has come, and he has invited me to be appointed. I was waiting for the blessing, but I did not know for sure what day it would be: it was due to Vladyka. One day he called and asked: “Where are you now?” I replied that I was on duty. After that, he informed me that I will be performing a deaconal blessing tomorrow.

I served as a deacon for a year. And Vladyka Benjamin asked me if I wanted to serve as a priest. I said I wanted it, but I was afraid. And I probably need a push. The bishop understood the essence of my experience. And he was ordained to the priesthood. Then I served in different churches. Then we moved to Pereslavl and now I serve here in the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin in the village of Gorodishche.

Has anyone ever reacted negatively or unsympathetically to their decision to become a priest?

— No, everyone in my family is a believer. next to your mother [жены отца Димитрия] all believers in the family as well. My husband’s father was also a priest. So no, it didn’t.

— Do you associate yourself more with priests or secularists?

— I associate myself more with Orthodox Christians. It is wrong to think of yourself as a clergyman. Of course, as the eldest of the ward, you must take on a leadership role. But this is how it is in our Christianity: whoever wants to be first, let him be a servant.

For this reason, it is wrong to distance yourself somehow, to go away, everything should be together and together. I just feel like a priest. Sometimes I’m serious, sometimes I like to joke, sometimes I’m sad.

In general, the priest is the same person with his own characteristics, shortcomings and experiences.

– Do you think it is possible to say that the priesthood is a profession?

– It would be more correct to say it this way: The priesthood is a ministry, like a doctor’s ministry. On the one hand, there is a work schedule, but this schedule is often delayed. So if we get doctors and their ministries during epidemic times, they go far beyond office hours to bypass all the patients who need help.

In this context, the priesthood is the same ministry. It would be wrong to describe it as a profession or a job, and it cannot be said that it can somehow be learned professionally because the priest is constantly learning. He learns to truly serve, to truly pray, to be truly (not theoretically, but deeply, humanly) compassionate, to understand people and move towards them.

– Is the work of a priest comparable with the work of representatives of other professions? How much time do you spend on your job?

– It’s not always the same. And occupations are also different. The priest’s work schedule is irregular. The first is that especially revered saints have an annual circle of festive services and days of remembrance. At one point the services stay very close together, at other times it’s a little looser.

In addition to services, people need some kind of support and help: they need to talk and make time for those who need it. Seriously ill believers must be confessed and communed. This is also unscheduled. For the congregation, the prayer work itself requires constant participation. The work of healing and preparing the Temple for Services also requires participation and time.

– How is a priest’s salary formed?

– There are different conditions. If we talk about a village church, in general, the priest lives “from the altar”, that is, from donations. A priest somewhere receives a regular salary, but these are full-time priests in city churches.

Village temples have no staff, no large donations that can provide a permanent salary. Therefore, the priest lives on the donations that are available. They may be, they may be a little more, they may be very little, or they may be absent. So, in general, how will this existence turn out?

There are temples where priests are assisted by people who can support the community, including by donating money for the construction of the temple and helping the priest and his family financially.

How much do priests earn?

My last salary as a full-time priest was 18,000 rubles a month. As I said in village churches, there is no salary.

Often the conversation turns to the fact that the priests drove expensive cars, led a kind of luxurious life – this is already a hackneyed pattern. Unfortunately, the press often presents only what is interesting and shocking, what is “noisy” and “bright”.

One way or another, I’d say most priests live pretty badly. Some even live in poverty, most live on what they have. This is especially true in provinces. as needed here.

Is it possible for priests to have a family and children?

Orthodoxy has a black and white clergyman. Black priests are monks, while white clergy are priests with a family. I think both are needed.

Monasticism is traditionally present in the church. Jesus himself did not have a wife and children. Family priests are also needed. The Apostle Peter was a married man, and the first bishops had families. This is also a valuable path, because the experience a priest has in the family is important to people. The parish itself and the community are also a family, and it is also necessary to establish family relations, not some kind of administrative.

– Do you have family? How do you feed your loved ones on a priest’s salary?

Yes, I have four children. In general, the parishioners help us as best they can. Who can do it. Someone will help with money, someone will bring food. In this respect, our congregation may not be average because it is just beginning its journey. If we take the average, then somewhere compassionate parishioners help with money, somewhere people donate for some needs (for example, Baptism or funeral). Believers also help with food.

Where is the money donated by the congregation going?

The temple has many needs. If this is a village temple, you need to buy lamps, candles, Cahors, incense, coal, oil for liturgical utensils, pay for heating and chants. In general, in village churches they mostly sing for free, but if you invited a person, I think their work should be paid for.

A serious expense item repair job is updating dilapidated icons and purchasing flowers. Sometimes the parishioners bring flowers, sometimes they do not.

There are holidays when congregants should cheer up and give them something to eat. Some parishioners need to help in some way, including financially.

Donations also go towards consumables (glasses, napkins, antiseptics, etc.) during the ongoing pandemic. For Moscow this is of course insignificant, but for a village temple it is a tangible expense.

– In 2017, Pope Francis was given a Lamborghini Huracan and later sold at auction. He did the same with another donated Ferrari Enzo…

I believe everyone should do as their heart or life situation tells them. In that case, I think Pope Francis did the right thing: He’s a monk, why does he need a Ferrari? And there are priests, for example, who have a family, they have to go to services. It will not be a good car, it will not be able to go to commune a person. He needs a reliable horse.

Often priests have to travel long distances. The machine plays a big role and must be powerful. I’m not saying it has to be a top class company like Ferrari, but it’s strong and reliable.

People are surprised to see some rich cars or just new cars in the priests. Some grateful parishioners simply help the priest and give a car. It doesn’t happen often, but it exists.

Let’s talk a little bit about the mystery of confession. What should a priest do if a confessor talks about his desire to commit a massacre, for example?

“The secret of confession is the secret of confession, nothing can be done here. As a shepherd, you can talk to a person and try to give advice, help. I don’t think any of the priests I know will reveal the secret of confession. It seems to me that the preservation of the secrecy of the confession is quite natural for the clergy. Of course, in such a situation the priest will try in every possible way to dissuade the person, will not stand passively and offer his pastoral help.

After all, man comes to heal his spiritual wounds and must be sure that he can be sincere. Confession is not just a psychological trick. It has a spiritual meaning, the Lord can give strength to a person and change the course of his thoughts and perspective on the situation.

I know the situation, but this is not the disclosure of the secret of the confession, because the priest did not give the surname and first name of the man who came to confession. He said that a murderer had come to him and asked for his sins to be forgiven.

The priest refused and said: “I will not let you go, you will continue to kill.” The man then threatened to kill her.

It is clear that the priest is not easy. But what to do? In a situation where he was at gunpoint, he still remained a priest. Fortunately, the killer did not return.

Have you ever wanted to stop being a priest?

There were times when it was difficult and frustrating. You always worry when people don’t open up and perceive what they’ve planted. Of course you want immediate results. Of course you’re tired. But I will say this: When you serve the liturgy and receive communion, new powers arise, both for service and for life in general.

Father Dimitry Penkov has been serving in a village church near Pereslavl for two years. In an interview with socialbites.ca, he talked about what the “profession” of a priest is, how much he earns, where the money donated by the parishioners goes, and what a priest should do if a murderer comes to confession.

Source: Gazeta


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