The Clergy retreat ended today with a Divine Liturgy and a light brunch--eaten quickly to get packed and on the shuttle by noon.
The sound of three hundred priests chanting together is still ringing in my ears. Bishop Anthony gave the homily based on the theme of St. Elias (whose memory we celebrate today). "Just as Elias called down fire on the sacrifice, we too as priests call down the fire of the Holy Spirit on the gifts at the Altar." The fire, he went on to elucidate, is the zeal of Holy Spirit and a life lived on the prophetic frontier. This is God's calling for priests. On the day of our ordination we left the land of safety. It is like the story of the Coast Guard captain who in the midst of a hurricane said to his crew, "We are going out. There is a ship floundering." A young crew member said to the captain, "But sir, if we go out in this storm, we may never come back." The captain replied, "Don't worry, we have only been commanded to go, not to come back."
This is the calling of a priest--and of all God's people really--to go, to leave the land of safe predictablilty and to seek and save those who are floundering. We may lose everything comfortable and predictable in the attempt, but that's OK. We've only been commanded to go.