(May 30, 2013, Gupta Govardhana)
First of all, I would like to say: the first thing we need is the blessings and grace of Guru and Gauranga, Nityananda Prabhu. Whatever business we start, we need their blessings, their mercy, the divine connection with them. Everything should happen according to their holy will. And if we have instructions from them, then we will preach.
To be a preacher, you need to be a practitioner. We must practice what we preach. We cannot do one thing: just preach or just practice. We do both, and then - then it will be real and will be effective. If we sincerely incorporate all teachings and practices, principles bhakti yoga, we try to apply the cultures of Gaudiya Vaishnavism in our lives, follow the teachings of Mahaprabhu, practice humility and patience, pay respect to everyone - then we can successfully preach. We can share what we know, what causes a response in our heart. We give it to others. What inspires us is that we share it with others.
If we do not share what we have, then this is harmful. It does not benefit humanity and can even be regarded as cruelty: jiva chimsa - cruelty to jivaconditioned by the soul. You are given a saving decision, you receive the greatest blessing and are saved from great danger, receive a connection with the Infinite, mercy descends on you, you realize yourself and your life is filled with goodness - and at the same time you do not share it with anyone? This is not good and in extreme cases can be attributed to the form of cruelty.
Therefore, driven by the desire to help others and be useful to them, we share what we have learned, what we have with others, remembering that this is the best thing we could do for any person - for ourselves and for others. Like this.
Devotee: May I also ask. I remember you once said that Krsna consciousness is not cheap.
Bhakti Lalita Devi Dasi: Yes.
Devotee: And if someone does not want to listen, we do not need to speak. And you told a story on this subject - about the utterance of Sridhar Maharaj or Srila Govinda Maharaj.
Bhakti Lalita Devi Dasi: I don’t remember what kind of story we are talking about. Do you remember?
Devotee: I could be wrong, but something like: “If Krsna does not want to open, why should I open Him?”
Bhakti Lalita Devi Dasi: Yes. Gurudev said: “If Krishna does not want to show Myself to someone - why should I show Him?” So Gurudev said after exhausting attempts to help others - when he realized that there may be a lack of perception, and one of the listeners does not understand , what is this about. After all, Krishna reveals Himself only to those whom He Himself chooses, and there will be no revelation to others.
And Gurudev said: “If Krishna decided not to reveal Himself to someone, why should I do this? Why should I try to show Krishna to someone if the Lord Himself does not want this, does not want them to know Him or come close to Him. " But usually he doesn’t do that. Krsna is merciful, the Guru is also merciful, and usually we are situated for those who want to hear something, for those who want to find Krsna, who are struggling to find Krsna in their lives, who are interested in spiritual life and spiritual practice, who sincerely waiting for this. We preach to them and do not preach to unbelievers. This is one of the insults of the Holy Name - to spread the glory of the Lord to those who do not care, to those who have no interest, to those who do not want to hear. A well-known example of throwing beads in front of pigs. It is as if you gave something extremely valuable to someone who does not deserve it and is not able to appreciate. Where we see interest and disposition, a request from those who want to hear, we preach to them. And we have more than enough opportunities for this: in the world there are both righteous and atheists. Lord Krishna said in the Bhagavad-gita: there are two types of people - the righteous and the atheists. The righteous will be interested, they will try to comprehend the Reality and the Absolute Truth, at least they will be humble, innocent. They have a tendency to believe in God, to do good in their lives. They can appreciate the teachings of a higher, spiritual life. Atheists are those who live a selfish, sinful life and think that they themselves are God and the world revolves around them, everything around is created for their pleasure. The opposite of the first. That is, those to whom we preach are the righteous part of society. There is fertile soil, favorable conditions.
Translation and transcription by Yuwati Devi Dasi
Who can become a priest?
Virtually every man can devote himself to serving the church if desired. However, this path is not easy and involves great endurance and faith. Even before receiving a theological education, the priest must show a tendency to serve, cultivate high moral qualities, tame his base and sinful aspirations, and, of course, often attend church. It will be better if he studies church books and chants in advance, becomes familiar with how they perform the service, and so on. This will greatly facilitate further training.
How to Become a Preacher?
First and foremost I would like to say that first, we would need the blessings and grace of Guru and Gauranga, and Nityananda Prabhu. Before we do anything, we need their blessings, their mercy, their divine connection, their divine will to be present. And if it is their order, then we will preach.
And to be a preacher we also need to be a practitioner. We have to practice what we preach. It can’t be only one way. We can’t just be preachers or just be practitioners we do both. Then it’s real and substantial if we are sincerely imbibing all the teachings and the practices, and principles of bhakti-yoga, Gaudiya-vaishnava culture and applying them to the best of our ability and following Mahaprabhu’s teachings being humble, tolerant, honoring everybody. Then we can preach successfully. We can extend that, what we know, what is resonating in our hearts, we extend that to others. What inspires us, we extent that to others.
And if we don’t extend what we have to others, it’s like a disservice, it’s unhelpful to humanity and even considered to be one type of violence jiva-himsa. Violence towards the jiva, the conditioned soul that you are getting the positive solution in life, you are getting the greatest thing and solving the greatest danger and connecting with the infinite and mercy is coming to you and you're becoming realized and full of grace is in your life and you are not sharing with others? It’s actually, unkind, but taken to an extreme, it’s a type of violence.
So, out of the desire to help others and to be useful to humanity, we are sharing what we’ve learned, what we have with others. Knowing is the best thing we could do for anyone, for ourselves and for others. So.
Devotee: Can I ask you also, one moment I remember you told that Krishna consciousness is not a cheap thing ...
Bhakti Lalita Devi Dasi: Yeah.
Devotee: ... and if someone don’t want to hear some things we don’t need to tell. And also you told one story about this, about saying of Shridhar Maharaj or Shrila Govinda Maharaj, about this.
Bhakti Lalita Devi Dasi: I don’t remember which story that is. Do you remember?
Devotee: I can mistake, but something about “If Krishna don’t want to open, why should I?”
Bhakti Lalita Devi Dasi: Yes Gurudev said, “If Krishna doesn’t want to reveal Himself to others, why should I?” Gurudev said that was after exhaustive attempts to help others, to. finding that actually, maybe sometimes there is a lack of receptibility, maybe the hearer is not getting it. Then Krishna reveals Himself to whom He choses. And there are others that will not have that revelation.
So Gurudev said, “If Krishna chooses not to reveal Himself, why should I? Why should I try to reveal Him to someone who Krishna doesn’t want them to know about Him, to approach Him? ”But that’s not his normal disposition. Krishna is kind, Guru is kind an generally we are disposed towards those who want to hear. Who want Krishna, who are trying heart and soul to find Krishna in their lives. Who are interested in spiritual life and spiritual practice, who are inquiring innocently, we preach to them. We don’t preach to the faithless. And it’s one of the offenses to the Holy Name to try to spread that glories of the Lord to who doesn’t care, who doesn’t have interest, who doesn’t want to hear. And the example given there is like throwing pearls to a swine, to a pig. Like, giving the most precious thing you have to someone unworthy and who can’t appreciate it. So we find interest and favorable disposition, inquiry from those who want to hear. We preach to them and we have more than enough opportunities to do that. There is the godly and the ungodly both in this world. It’s started by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad gita, “You’ll find generally two kinds, the‘ godly ’and the‘ ungodly ’. So the godly people will be interested and inquisitive as to reality and Absolute Truth, at least be submissive, innocent. And have a tendency to believe in God and to do pious activities in their life and can appreciate higher teachings, spiritual life. Then, the ungodly, who’re just you know, living egoistic sinful life thinking they’re god and that the world revolves around them, everything’s meant for their enjoyment. The opposite. So, generally who we preach to are the godly section of society. There is some fertile ground there, some favorable environment, in that field.
* With Russian and English subtitles
Profession and entry
Those who wonder how to become a priest in Russia need to know certain rules. The primary task is to receive education in a theological seminary. Entering it must comply with the following rules:
age: 18 to 35 years old, man,
marital status: married for the first time or single,
complete secondary education,
recommendation from an Orthodox clergyman.
After providing all the required papers, the applicant passes an interview, which assesses the motives for admission, sincerity of intent, as well as the ability to correctly and coherently express their thoughts.
The entrance examinations assess the knowledge of the Old and New Testaments, the Catechism and the history of the Russian Orthodox Church. In addition, applicants must pass a written exam - a presentation on a church-historical or biblical theme. The knowledge of basic prayers and chants, as well as vocal data, is checked. A mandatory requirement is the ability to read the Psalter in Church Slavonic.
How is the training going?
Those who are interested in becoming a priest should also know the conditions of study at the seminary. Entrance exams are held in August. Classes, as in other educational institutions, begin on September 1. Seminary training is a rigorous test of faith and the correct choice of life path. There is strict discipline in it, and not everyone can go through this stage to the end.
Note that students who came from other cities receive a place in the hostel for all five years of study. Naturally, seminarians must strictly observe the rules of living in it, in particular, nights must be spent in their room.
All students receive a scholarship. Young people who are trained can count on ordination as priests. This is possible only after passing the confession and passing another exam. At the same time, we note that training in the seminary does not guarantee compulsory dignity.
Parish priest or monk?
Before the seminary ends, students must determine whether they intend to marry. This decision is very responsible, because it is no longer possible to change one's marital status after initiation. So, the future minister of the church must either choose the path of a monk who is forbidden to marry, or marry and become a parish priest. In this case, absolute monogamy is assumed not only from a man who is ordained to the dignity (he cannot dissolve marriage or remarry even in case of widowhood), but also from his wife: she should not be a widow or divorced.
What happens after graduation?
After graduation, graduates are distributed in the parishes, to which they are attached. With the passage of service, it becomes possible to obtain a new dignity. The first step in the church hierarchy is the deacon. It is immediately followed by ordination. And the highest degree of priesthood is already the rank of bishop. At the same time, those who want to know how to become a priest need to know one more detail.
Monks (those who have chosen celibacy) have more opportunities to advance in the church hierarchy. Only they have a chance to receive the rank of bishop and become metropolitan, leading an entire diocese. In addition, the Patriarch is chosen solely from the monks. If a graduate chose the path of a married parish priest, he cannot rise above the archpriest in the position of rector.
Is it possible to become a priest without special spiritual education?
There is a question that interests many who wish to devote themselves to the church. It sounds like this: "Is it possible and how to become a priest without a seminary?" In fact, this is possible, but only on condition that the head of his ward personally performs the rite of passage. It should be noted right away that receiving the dignity in this way is practiced in very few churches. So, one cannot do without a special theological education in a seminary. This is an indispensable condition for obtaining dignity.
Theological education in Belarus
For many, the important question is how to become a priest in Belarus. In this country there are a large number of relevant institutions in which those who wish to devote themselves to church can study. Let's try to list them. So, in Belarus there are now three schools located in Minsk, Vitebsk and Slonim. In addition, there is a seminary in the capital, as well as a theological academy. Still need to mention the Institute of Theology at the Belarusian State University.
Moreover, only men with higher theological education are admitted to the Academy. The future priest must be single or first married, be sure to be baptized. The seminary of Minsk accepts both those who have higher education, and those with only a secondary theological education. In addition, only those who have served in the army or have been documented released from it can get here. Note that some departments of theological schools may also receive girls.
Thus, the choice of educational institutions is great, and everything here is also primarily determined by the sincerity of the motives and faith of the future clergyman.
What about Catholics?
Those who are interested in how to become a Catholic priest need to know some nuances. The path to ministry in the church is even more complicated than is customary in Orthodoxy. The first difference is that in Catholicism there is no so-called white clergy. Thus, a priest cannot create a family. The training of future ministers of the church takes place in seminaries, which can be entered either after graduating, or graduating from high school.
Thus, the path of the Catholic pastor, although not in many ways, is different from how to become an Orthodox priest.
As already mentioned in the article, only a man aged no younger than 18 and no older than 35 years can enter the seminary, that is, having completed his studies, you can become a priest at 40 years old or earlier. However, some people begin to feel a craving for this calling much later than the established deadlines. They ask the question: "Is it possible in this case to become a priest?"
An option for such people may be distance learning in a theological academy - there is an age limit of up to 55 years. But there is one condition: the applicant must bear parish obedience, and this must be documented. Even after admission, it is necessary to annually provide a characteristic from the place of obedience, and it must be certified by the ruling bishop.
In any case, the issue of priesthood after the established deadlines should be decided on an individual basis.
How to become a priest’s wife?
Many believing girls want to marry a priest. However, such a life is also a kind of vocation, and not everyone is ready for this. But those who are still interested in how to become a priest's wife need to know some details.
First of all, it is worthwhile to understand that a young person studying in a theological seminary cannot get acquainted in the usual way, for example, attending parties or concerts. The brides of future priests are usually girls from faithful families attending a church or regency class at a seminary. As we have already mentioned, the chosen one of the priest cannot be a widow or divorced, and she must also be a virgin, however, like her fiancé. At the same time, only the rector can give a wedding permit to a seminarist.
By the way, certain requirements are also imposed on the profession of the future wife of the priest. She should not compromise her spouse. And before there was a precept forbidding church officials to marry actresses, this profession was considered unworthy.
Be that as it may, girls who wish to unite their fate with the priest must be aware that this choice is fraught with certain difficulties. For example, a wife should follow her husband to any, even the most remote and poorest parish, and not complain that the spouse pays much more attention to other people.
In addition, the life of mother often provokes a discussion of church parishioners, she is always in sight. Thus, this path involves high responsibility and requires great moral strength and endurance to be not just a companion, but also a support and a reliable rear for your spouse.
Profession or vocation?
Now we know how a person becomes a priest. However, certain moral qualities should also be included among the basic requirements: fortitude, patience, desire to help with word and deed, love for people. Those who wish to become priests must be prepared for life according to special canons, for the voluntary renunciation of many joys and pleasures.
Not everyone is ready for such steps. And they should be done exclusively at the behest of the heart, only then this path becomes truly righteous and good. And then the question of how to become a priest and how difficult it is is fading into the background. But the paramount is the desire to adequately prove themselves in this difficult field. Thus, priesthood is not primarily a profession, but a vocation and a choice that determines the whole person’s life.