June 2, 2013
Your Beatitude Patriarch John of Antioch, brother
concelebrant in Christ,
Honorable Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate “Panaghia Pammakaristos,” residing in Athens,
Brothers and sisters in the Risen Lord,
Christ is Risen!
Indeed, “all things are filled with light, heaven and earth and beneath the earth” because we are celebrating “ as the earth entire the resurrection of Christ our God.” And our joy is surely complete, despite the trials and suffering that plague the world and humanity.
After all, is it not in this love, which is “filled with the grace and truth” of the Risen Christ that the Orthodox Church proceeds along its earthly journey through the ages and throughout the world, transcending all manner of crosses and looking to the consolation and glory that lie in heaven? “Behold, we yet live.”
The Ecumenical Patriarchate and our Modesty deeply appreciate the goodness of character, the unfeigned devotion, the ecclesiastical and bold ethos, the ascetic life as well as the sincere words and actions to date of Your Beatitude; we consider you as a most precious co-laborer in the work, to which the Lord has called us in our vocation “at this sacred post” and the battlements, always certain that “salvation has come to the world, for Christ has risen as almighty.”
We assure you that, in your particularly difficult Patriarchal ministry during these equally difficult years, you will always have the due support of the Great Church in hope, expectation, faith and love, just as the long tradition of our fraternal relations and mutual assistance of our two Patriarchate in any case mandates. Indeed, this support is to the end, namely “until people are renewed” and “the mortal is rendered immortal through death and the corrupt is rendered incorrupt through burial, while humanity receives the divine dignity of immortality.”
* * *
We are on this hill of Hope, on the beautiful island of Halki of the byzantine Princes’ Islands.
Hope and Halki have been identified with one another in the conscience of the Ecumenical Patriarchate over more the last forty years. Contributions, efforts and words “increase the visions” without “manifesting the secrets,” while “the sheet and tomb manifest the entire mystery” of the anticipated hope on this historical island, in the knowledge and faith that the risen Lord “has shattered the bronze gates.”
The Church in Antioch, Constantinople and the whole world continues in humility its salvific journey and ministry for those who willingly seek the Lord’s grace in a spirit of constant hope, which “never puts to shame.” For our part, as humble servants of the Church, we are together humbled as we continue “in spirit and truth,” and not just in words or outward celebrations and expressions, consuming ourselves and “looking to the leader and perfection of our faith” (Heb. 12.2), the crucified and risen Jesus Christ.
* * *
We are fulfilled in our joy today, at least to the degree that this is humanly possible, inasmuch as we also have among us the blessed children of the Mother Church of Constantinople, who honor us by accompanying us to this pilgrimage of Hope and Halki, Archons of the Brotherhood of “Panaghia Pammakaristos,” which has its central office in the glorious city of Athens.
It is with special paschal joy and resurrectional delight that we all find ourselves in this sacred Monastery of the All-Holy Trinity, who grants the treasure of truth “to those expecting resurrection” of theology and justice. And we address to one another as well as to all of spring creation that rejoices with us the festive greeting of our faith: “Christ is Risen!” The sacred Theological School of Halki has known this greeting – which constantly emerges from the Cross and Tomb – through practical experience as the essence of its life, its existential hope and sweetness of heart in the dual unfolding of its universally inspired and fruitful history for over a century as well as its four decades of silent activity.
Both His Beatitude Patriarch John of Antioch and we personally welcome you, honorable Archons, with much love and affection, to our always wounded and healing School, which has been deeply hurt by injury and cured by divine grace.
We know the spontaneous and sincere love and devotion, which you Archons, beloved children of the Holy Mother and Great Church of Christ, as co-sojourners in this way of the cross, demonstrate toward our Church, which incarnates the Orthodox people and their many trials, but which also realizes the unifying power of Pentecost, above all nation and race – after all, students from your own Church of Antioch have graduated from here, Your Beatitude, some of them even elevated as saintly predecessors on your throne, such as the blessed Alexander, Theodosius and Elias – and through this Pentecostal power, the witness of our salvation and faith is granted in truth and love to our much troubled contemporary world.
We, too, personally derive strength and support from your presence here, Your Beatitude, and that of everyone else, which renews our reserves of patience, strengthens our godly zeal, nurtures our productive inspiration that we actively radiate throughout the universe.
You in particular, children in the Lord, honorable Archons, are continually being baptized anew by means of your annual pilgrimage to the life-giving font of the sacred traditions and customs of our faith, while expressing a vigilant interest for the whole world, which our blessed predecessors in this ministry, who now inhabit heavenly abodes, demonstrated through the centuries “in toil, labor and danger.” It is the same work that we, too, endeavor to serve today, albeit with our weak capacity, from this advanced battalion of Orthodoxy and the Nation, convinced that “our strength is perfected in weakness.” At any rate, every supposed power and authority is condemned to “weakness,” “disappearance” and burial” inasmuch as its sole obligation, responsibility and mission is the glorification and praise, “in an act of faith and essential goodness,” of the promise by the almighty Lord, who rose from the dead, that he “will be with us to the end of the ages” through the gift of His grace.
The City is alive. Antioch is alive. The Church is alive. They are alive and exist in order to provide the inner freedom while at the same time strengthening the spiritual defense of us all. The Ecumenical Patriarchate is alive and constantly awaits all those who live in its rhythm, with those who coordinate the beat of their heart with its own rhythm. It is alive and invites everyone to be a co-sojourner on the revelatory road “to Emmaus,” until the invitation and appearance of the risen Lord “behind closed doors,” as “He breaks bread with them,” without their knowing,” and as He is invited by the holy Apostles to “come and stay with them, for it is late and the day is over.”
Both the sacred visitor to the Mother Church, our brother Patriarch of Antioch, and our Modesty personally bless you and welcome you to this place of prayer, ascesis, martyrdom, expectation and hope, beloved Archons and children in the Lord. We paternally pray that the loving Lord Jesus Christ, “from whom comes every good thing and every perfect gift,” and who invited the Samaritan woman to new life by the well, may renew and restore your life, while also always directing your steps to every God-pleasing deed worthy of divine glory.
* * *
Your Beatitude, as we come here today, to Halki, in a spirit of prayerful communion “in the light of the Resurrection,” “while we do not see with our eyes but believe with the desire of our hearts,” we hear the words: “Rejoice in Christ, who speaks to you.”
The word of this School “has gone out to the whole world and its sound has reached the ends of the world.” (Ps. 18.5) At this moment, it is temporarily silent. But there is no doubt that “there is no word or tongue, whose voice is not heard.”
In this Holy Monastery, creation and the generations of our forefathers eternally sing “not a burial or memorial song,” but a “resurrectional paean” of hope. Always in prayerful and universal silence and expectation, without words or displays or loud expression of demands or retribution – for “there is a time for all things; a time to speak and a time to keep silent;” and we would add “a time to act” in unfading prudence and classic consequence – we are utterly convinced about the future of the School, that the Risen Lord, “who holds times and periods in His hands,” will provide what is proper, necessary and right. As for us, “we do not await help from human beings, but only God’s rich mercy.”
Your Beatitude and beloved friends, at Halki, “day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.” (Ps. 18.3) And all of us – animate beings and inanimate things – await “the blessing of goodness,” “the crown of precious stone,” and “the grandeur” of our actual Hope.
Today, therefore, “let every mortal flesh be silent and stand with fearful trembling, without considering anything earthly whatsoever. For the King of kings and Lord of lords,” who was sacrificed, has risen and is found among us all, even through the presence of Your Beatitude and all of you.
Pray, then, Your Beatitude, that “the darkness” of the words, promises and formal or informal, as well as responsible or irresponsible declarations may be dispelled, and that our illustrious Theological School of Halki “may one day reach” its own resurrection.
Christ is Risen; and welcome to the courtyard of grace, hope and mercy, Your Beatitude, brother Patriarch John of Antioch. For these are precisely the sacred gifts that we expect to acquire through the compassion and love of Christ, who suffered and arose for us. Amen.
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