Remarks on Diocesan Days, 2000
Please allow me, my dear brother priests and brothers and sisters,
to extend to you my heartfelt greetings and to first of all give thanks to God
who has gathered us together here in the Holy Liturgy for these Diocesan Days
in Jackson. I would like to also thank all of you for coming and together offering
our gratitude to God, so that we would be spiritually refreshed and enriched
by the Gifts of the Holy Spirit which we received through our participation
in the Divine Liturgy at this gathering in which we express our unity. This
too comes from all that we heard and learned these days, and that is, that Christianity
and the Christian life are unthinkable and incomprehensible outside of the community
of the Church. This is the very purpose of our gathering here for Diocesan Days.
The essence of my message to you and to myself, dear brothers and sisters is
that we always remain with God. Remain with Him until the end of your life.
What does this mean? How does one remain with God? The answer to this question
is simple. To remain with God means to be with Him at every hour and every moment
of our life. In other words, it is insufficient to simply be called a Christian
by name, but we must also live the Christian life. In this way, you will always
be with Christ. It is imperative that our whole life, all our actions and behavior
everyday and at every moment are not spent in other ways than Christian ways.
For example, one need not be simply a doctor, teacher, laborer, carpenter, father,
or brother and the like. Rather, one must be a Christian doctor, Christian teacher,
Christian laborer, Christian carpenter, Christian parent, Christian brother,
A Christian remains a Christian forever regardless of his job and is always
examining himself whether his actions and behaviors in every way remain Christian.
For sure, in this way Christianity will be fulfilled in our life and Christ
will always remain in us as our Guide.
Here in Jackson, the other day, yesterday, and today, through the bishop, priests
and faithful, the fullness of the Church of Christ has been assembled. This
gathering of ours is foremost a liturgical gathering, for only through the liturgy
can we understand why the liturgy of the Church in all Her expressions, is the
center of Orthodox Spirituality and piety. Therefore, the life of the Liturgy
is a call to participation in the Revelation of God. To find ourselves before
God, beside His Guiding Light, to glorify Him-for worship is the history of
events and the event itself-that of salvation and salvation itself-the revelation
of God and His presence in the Eucharist.
In this way, the Liturgical life give rhythm to the faithful, for every day
and every evening, every day of every week, every season of the year, and with
every important personal event such as birth, marriage, sickness and even death-the
faithful enter into the awesome and saving events of the Revelation of God.
And at every moment in our life, the liturgy bestows upon us the one grace of
Salvation, faith, and spirituality are inseparable. They are experiences of
one's real personal nature which have the fullness and complete expression in
the community of the Body of the Church.
Today, gathered together here around one table of the Body and Blood of our
Lord, we represent the community of the Church. However, a person outside of
the community of the Church remains separated, alone, weak and depressed, held
captive often by the will of men or the devil himself. Therefore, a person who
does not participate in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit which give the grace of
salvation, abides outside of the life the transfiguration and godliness which
is the life of the community in the freedom and love of God in Christ. We frequently
speak now of human communication, and we create never-ending methods of human
communication. Man has become international and cosmopolitan. There are mass
gatherings and mass communications always increasing-huge cities swallowing
up countless citizens, and the ideology promises unity for mankind. However,
the world, which is not the Church, still remains separated and divided. People
continue to distance themselves one from another and everyone remains alone
in his evil and loneliness-searching unfortunately to be healed by making and
spending through countless and unprofitable things and goods.
So, it is important today that the Church once again be rediscovered as the
mystery of sanctity and of personal holiness which is given through baptismal
grace and which truly gives freedom and brings peace.
The Church must not be used for anything other than to teach people to struggle
through the spiritual warfare, which is "even more intense than the battles
between men," for the inner does not oppose the outer, but rather embraces
it and fortifies it. The Church should not be used for anything other than to
transform "the sadness of death" into the joy of the Lord.
And so, Christ has taught us throughout these two millennia and for all millennia
to come until His second and glorious coming to this world, that He is the only
Way, Truth, and Life, and that apart from Him, there is no other path which
leads to Eternal Life and into His embrace, in which one lives even here and
now earth, inasmuch as one grows to "the measure of the stature of the
fullness of Christ." And this can only be experienced within the community,
that is, the Church of Christ. Therefore, as long as we remain outside, apart
from the Church, we will be unable to properly understand the real meaning of
life, and so we find ourselves in distress and misery.
For us Christians, the way is clear. As Christians, we are on a journey. As
the Hellenic fathers would say, our situation is similar to that of the Israelites
in the wilderness of Zion: We are living in tents, and not in houses. For from
the spiritual perspective, we are in a never-ending movement. We are on journey
through the interior place of our heart-a journey that is not measured by the
hours of the clock or by the days on the calendar, since our journey is from
time to eternity.
This is precisely the purpose of our spiritual assembly here for Diocesan Days.
It is so that through the Divine Liturgy, the lectures and presentation with
our spiritual fellowship, we experience the path which leads from this time
to eternity. May God grant that we, in this new millennium also follow Christ,
through our faith and life of prayer.
In conclusion, I would like to thank all of the parishes and faithful, lead
by their priests, who have labored and given of their time in preparing for
these Diocesan Days in Jackson: the parishes of Fresno, Moraga, Sacramento,
Santa Clara, and Jackson. My gratitude goes to all for all that you have done
for the good of our community the Church and for your participation and prayers.
God Bless all of you!