His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America Address on Ordination to the Diaconate of Emanuel Tsarnas The Fifteenth Sunday of Saint Luke

St. George Greek Orthodox Church

Asbury Park, New Jersey

January 31, 2021

 

My beloved Sub-deacon Emanuel,

         

You stand before the Holy Altar, as if it were before the Dread Judgment Seat of Christ, in order to present your heart, your soul, your strength and your mind to the Lord of Glory.[*]

Indeed, your approach today to the Holy Office of Deacon is a noble work. And its holiness and honor is attested by the sacred nature of this very Liturgy. It is one of the three “steps” of the Holy Priesthood, and each step is a ministry unto itself. In fact, your desire to remain a Deacon is an affirmation of the completeness of the office of Deacon.

My dear Emanuel, you have come to this point in your life through the grace of our Loving and Merciful God.  And all of the small steps that you have made through your life thus far have directed you to stand before this Altar at this moment. Your journey has been a long and fruitful one, replete with many blessings.

You were inspired by the Church from a young age. You married your beloved Josephine, had a family, and through the adventure of your life, you were always found close to the life and ministry of the Church.

Thus, your ordination today is a logical outgrowth of the course of your life. And although this is true in so many ways, it is also – as we chant on Palm Sunday – an act of God:

Σήμερον ἡ χάρις τοῦ ἁγίου Πνεύματος, ἡμᾶς συνήγαγε

Today, the Grace of the Holy Spirit has gathered us together …[†]

Only the grace of the Holy Spirit, “heals that which is infirm and completes that which is lacking.” [‡]

Only the grace of the Holy Spirit, imbues your ministry as a Deacon with efficacy and meaning.

Only the grace of the Holy Spirit provides the perfecting purpose that endows all the clergy, who are mere humans, to participate in the Divine and Holy Mysteries.

Truly, this is a great miracle that we – who are sinners – all participate in the Great High Priesthood of Melchizedek.

We are invited to hold in our hands the very Flesh of God, Who was born of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary.

And we are entrusted to communicate the most Holy Body and Most Precious Blood to the faithful – something that even Angels dare not do.

Therefore, my beloved Sub-deacon Emanuel:

Enter into the ministry of the table – the Holy Table – with hope and faith, because you were graced to hear the call of the Lord.

Enter into the fellowship of the priesthood of the Most High God, where you will be supported and encouraged by your brothers and fathers.

Enter into this joy of the Lord, where your service will imitate the Angels, and even excel them, because, as the Apostle Peter says, we minister in “things which Angels desire to look into.” [§]

As I said earlier, today you present your heart, your soul, your strength and your mind to the Lord. For this is the first and great commandment, but the second is like unto it:

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [**]

Herein is the secret to your ministry as a Deacon.

Love of God.

Love of neighbor.

Love of yourself.

My beloved Emanuel, may the Lord always bless you and your family, so that you may know all these loves, which like the Trinity, are a Unity. They are inseparable from one another, and will guide you in all things to glorify our God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – this day, and forevermore, unto the ages of ages. Amen.


[*] Cf. Luke 10:27.

[†] Great Vespers of Palm Sunday, Stichera Idiomela.

[‡] Prayer of Ordination.

[§] I Peter 1:12.

[**] Matthew 22:39.