His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros

Address at the Ordination to the Diaconate of

Sub-Deacon Pavlos Sotirelis

February 5, 2020

Holy Cross Chapel

Brookline, Massachusetts

 

            Beloved Sub-Deacon Pavlos,

Yesterday, you joined the ranks of the Angels when you embraced the monastic cowl. Today, you commence your ministry with them as a Deacon in the Church of Christ. As we say in every Vespers:

Ὁ ποιῶν τοὺς ἀγγέλους αὑτοῦ πνεύματα, καὶ τοὺς λειτουργοὺς αὑτοῦ πυρὸς φλόγα.

He makes His Angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire.[1]

***

In your embrace of the monastic calling, you have made a commitment to the life of the Spirit, Who blows where He wills.[2] And by this angelic re-commitment of your Baptism, you are born of the Spirit, and your stature in Christ will not be measured by an earthly standard, but by a heavenly one.

But as the Psalm says, God also makes “His ministers a flame of fire.” This is the calling that you embrace today, to be a faithful minister, a devout deacon in Christ’s Church. And to do this, you must be a “flame of fire.”

What is this flame? Is it not what the Rich Man felt after his sudden death, after he ignored Lazarus the Poor, who sat at his door every day?[3] Is it not the living flame of God’s intense and ever-flowing divine love that the Rich Man lamented when he cried out: ὀδυνῶμαι ἐν τῇ φλογὶ ταύτῃ! I am suffering in this flame![4] All of a sudden, he showed concern for his five brothers who were still alive. See how the Rich Man learned compassion for others after death – in the presence of God’s burning love, even though he could not recognize the suffering of another right before his eyes while he was yet alive.

Yes, as Saint Paul reminds us, “Our God is a consuming fire.”[5] But this fire is the Living Flame of Love for every creature, a merciful heart fiercely “burning for the sake of the entire creation, for men, for birds, for animals, for demons, and for every created thing,” as Saint Isaac the Syrian so poetically says.[6]

My beloved Sub-Deacon, although you are young, you have grown up in a house surrounded by love, with the noble examples of your parents. You have given yourself to love by being an eager doer of the word, by serving and being of help wherever you have been called. And now you are called to deepen your love of God, and your love of neighbor, and so follow the One Who hung on the Crossbar of the Law and Prophets,[7] in your ministry as a Deacon of the Church.

To aid you in this high calling, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew conveys to you a great gift and an honor, a new name by which you shall be known: Ieronymos!

You receive this name to honor His Beatitude, Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, where you were born. And with this name, you receive a heavenly intercessor, Saint Ieronymos Simonopetritis, who was canonized just this past November 28th, after the decision of the Holy and Sacred Synod to recognize recent Holy Ones of Mt Athos.

And you will need St. Ieronymos’ help, because you have been called to go to the Phanar – the Sacred Center of our Faith – to assist in the English Office of the Patriarchate. As you may know, St. Ieronymos Simonopetritis was the Secretary of his Monastery before he became the Abbot. And even when he became the Abbot, he continued with those very duties.

He will be your guide as you embark on this mission of service; and for your translation needs, you can invoke the elder Saint Jerome, the greatest translator of the Divine Scripture in the history of the Church.

So now, Beloved Sub-Deacon, ready your heart, still your mind, and breathe deep of the Spirit as you join Saint Stephen the Archdeacon and all those deacons throughout history who have been well-pleasing to God.

May your service at the Holy Altar always be marked with purity, dignity, and above all, love.

 

 

PHOTOS from Tonsure and Ordination

 

[1] Psalm 103:5.

[2] Cf. John 3:8.

[3] Luke 16:19 - 31

[4] Luke 16:24.

[5] Hebrews 12:29

[6] Homily 71

[7] Cf. Matthew 22:37 – 40.