October 20, 2019
Holy Trinity Archdiocesan Cathedral
New York, New York
Your Beatitude, Metropolitan Epiphaniy,
Reverend Hierarchs and Clergy,
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Today is truly a day of rejoicing in the Church, for we embrace new Archons of the Ecumenical Throne – new defenders of the Faith, who have committed themselves to the Great Church of Christ with all their heart, soul and mind. In the presence of His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphaniy of Kyiv and All Ukraine – who was honored just last night by the Order of Saint Andrew with the Patriarch Athenagoras Human Rights Award – before God and before this spiritual Assembly, these Archons-elect will receive their commission in the mighty Τάγμαof Saint Andrew the First-Called Disciple of the Lord.
I address myself to you, new Archons of the First Throne of Orthodoxy, and I offer you this exhortation. As you wear the Archon cross, the insignia of your devotion, so you will be called to bear the Cross of the Lord, and to live sacrificially for the Mother Church of Constantinople.
That a child should sacrifice himself for the life of his mother is no small thing, since, as the Apostle Paul says:“children ought not to provide for their parents, but parents for their children” (II Corinthians 12:14). But we have such a Mother in the Church of Constantinople, a Mother who has provided for us through the ages of ages: provisions of faith, of liturgy, of canonical order, of leadership, and above all else, of the love of the Mother Church for all her children.
Beloved Archons, you are all exemplary sons of the Mother Church, and your declarations of faith and devotion are no mere pronouncements. They are bonds of duty and responsibility that bind you to the fellowship of Archons around the world. There are no substitutes for loyalty, fidelity, dedication, and filial love. You will be known by your deeds! And I know that they will be ones of honor, nobility, and dignity, as befits your high office.
We live in times that call for deeds of honor, for we see the Ecumenical Patriarchate under pressure, and sometimes outright attack, from within and without. Our world is shifting in every way: geopolitical, ethical, and even moral. You are called to be the “watchmen” of the House of God, just as the Prophet Ezekiel was called to be “a watchman unto the House of Israel” (Ezekiel 3:17). A watchman was called to stand high up on the walls of a city and sound the alarm when the enemy approached. Their eyes were ever open; their minds were ever vigilant. Even when they were weary from their watching, their muscles neither loosed nor slackened, remaining taut and prepared for the moment, as they keenly observed the horizon line for any sign of danger.
Today, you are also installed as watchmen on the wall. These walls are not the same as the famed double line of the Theodosian Walls of the Queen of Cities that shielded Her for a thousand years. But they must be as strong, as thick, as impregnable. The walls upon which you stand today are the virtual walls of information, of communication, of technological perception that allow us in a moment’s time to come to the defense of the Mother Church from half a world away.
TheΤάγμαof Saint Andrew is an extraordinary network and sacred Ἀδελφότηταwhich guards the Ecumenical Throne with the truth, and not with the propaganda that we hear daily from every side, and which seeks to infect the Body of Christ. Is it any wonder that some have broken Communion with us, feigning fear that sharing the Blood and Body of Christ with us will somehow contaminate them? But is it possible for the Immaculate Body and Blood of Christ to be impure, to be afflicted from within with disease and sickness?
MyFriends, theonlysicknessintheChurchisself-inflicted. AndImean“self” – based in theegotisticalandselfishlustsofwhichtheApostleJohnwrites: “allthatisintheworld, thelustofthefleshandthelustoftheeyesandtheprideoflife” (I John 2:16).
All of the self-inflicted wounds in world Orthodoxy today are the result of pride and desire for glory, by those who, in the words of the Evangelist John: ἠγάπησαν γὰρ τὴν δόξαν τῶν ἀνθρώπων μᾶλλον ἤπερ τὴν δόξαν τοῦ Θεοῦ, “They loved the glory of men more than the glory of God” (John 12:43).
But make no mistake – these wounds are only temporary! The Roman soldiers subjected our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to inhuman punishments and tortures throughout His Saving Passion and Crucifixion. But the damage done lasted only Three Days, and the night brought on by the Eclipse of the Son of God – when the sun darkened in the midst of the day (Luke 23:45, τοῦἡλίουἐκλείποντος) – was overcome by the morning of joy on the First Day of the Week (cf. Psalm 30:5).
Thanks be to God, beloved Archons, that you are part of this morning’s joy! You have no share in any sickness. Your Office as an Archon is part of the healing, an antidote to the poisons of duplicity and falsehood that is being perpetrated in the Church today.
Embrace your Offikionwith that joy of the Resurrection! It is none other that His All-Holiness himself who chose the title for you, out of his love for you and appreciation of your dedication to the Great Church of Christ. You are all most worthy of this noble honor!