Archpastoral Letter for Pentecost 2002
Prot. N. 149
now, what is so good or so joyous
as for brethren to dwell, together in unity?
It is like the oil of myrrh upon the head..."
Psalm 132 (LXX)
To the Very Reverend an Reverend Fathers, Members of the Diaconate,
Monastics and Laity of our God-saved Diocese:
GLORY TO JESUS CHRIST!
Beloved in Christ:
Truly, what is so good or what is so joyous as the unity that springs from
the bond of love? For it is love that poured forth from the Tomb -a love that
cannot be conquered by sin, by fear , or even by death. And that love -the love
of the Risen Christ -abides forever. It remains with us through the outpouring
of the Holy Spirit, which began on the Holy Day of Pentecost, and continues
until the present through the Mysteries of the Church.
It is the same outpouring whose grace and presence I experienced during Holy
and Great Week. It was my privilege to represent our Diocese by participating
in the Consecration of the Holy Chrism, the Holy Myrrhon, at the Sacred Center
of our Faith, the Holy and Mother and Great Church of Christ, the Ecumenical
Patriarchate of Constantinople. What a wonder it was to behold so many
Hierarchs, so many clergy and laity gathered from the four corners of the
world, to participate in this great spiritual work. Indeed, as the Deacons
intoned the verses of this very Psalm 132, the Ecumenical Patriarch pronounced
the words of Consecration over the Holy Chrism. Once again, the Holy Myrrhon
has been blessed! And by faith, we know that these prayers were answered and
that these oils are now a special means of the Spirit of God in this world.
The sacred Chrism is a visible symbol of the unity that Christ has called us
to and that we share by His grace. We are united to all our fellow-believers
through the same oils of Chrismation that convey to us the gift of the Holy
Spirit. We are sealed on our foreheads as the servants of the True and Living
God just as the Angels will seal the elect at the end of time, by the same Holy
Oil (see The Book of Revelation, chapter 7). This visible tangible sign is
provided by God to affirm that which we must live each and every day- our unity
in love and faith. For it was for this unity that Christ prayed on the night in
which He gave Himself up for the life of the world:
"Sanctify them in your truth. Your word is truth. And just as You sent
Me into the world, even so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes
I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified by Truth. But I am not
asking only for these. Indeed, I am asking for those who believe in ME because
of them;. that they may be one, even as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You,
that they may also be one in Us, that the world might believe that You sent Me.
(John 17: 7-21)
These oils of Chrismation are treasured in sacred vessels throughout our
Diocese- in every Parish
Church. In fact, the:.
are treasured throughout the world and the many Orthodox Churches that receive
them from the Ecumenical Throne.. But we also know that that the Holy Spirit is
Himself the "treasury of blessings!" He is Himself the "Giver of life."
The Spirit is the One. Who is everywhere present and fills all things."
The Spirit, as the Lord said, "blows where He wills" (John 3:8). and even we
cannot be sure where He is coming from or where He is going.
Truly the Same Spirit Who is present in the Sacred Chrism is present in
every aspect of the Church, and beyond. We cannot limit the Spirit according to
our own devices and designs. He is the guarantor of our freedom in Christ, and
because He is the Spirit of Truth, He is freedom itself. He is the sweet
fragrance that permeates all of creation, and that can permeate our lives, if
we want Him to.
My beloved Faithful, on this Feast of the Holy Pentecost, when we celebrate
the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Disciples of the. Lord, and in this
year, when we have celebrated the Consecration of a new repository of Holy
Myrrhon, let us not be found lacking in the spiritual gifts that we can give
each other. Let us strive for the Unity of the Faith -the good and joyful unity
that is the gift of God - the unity that is based on the fruits of the Spirit:
love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness,
self-control (Galatians 5:22). With such provisions, we shall never find
ourselves spiritually hungry or thirsty. With such mutual behavior, we shall
find that peace will reign in our communities. With such "oil of myrrh"
flowing down upon our heads, we shall find that the whole body of the Church
will be covered -'even down to the fringe of our raiment.' May it become for us
"like the dew of Hermon, which flows down upon the mountains of Sion. For
there the Lord commanded the blessing, life for evermore." (Psalm 132).
Through the grace of the All Holy Spirit, may this same blessing come upon
us -life eternal - 'to know Him, the only" true God and to know the One
Whom He sent, Jesus Christ. (John 17:3). Amen!
With love and peace in the Holy Spirit,
together with my blessing, I remain
Most sincerely yours in Christ,
THIS ARCHPASTORAL LETTER IS TO BE READ IN ALL PARISHES OF THE DIOCESE AS THE
SERMON ON SUNDAY, JUNE 23, 2002.