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Metropolitan Moses - Ascension, 2007 Encyclical

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  • Fr. Panagiotes Carras
    Beloved Clergy and Faithful, Christ is in our midst! I greet you for the feast of the Ascension of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ. During this feast
    Message 1 of 1 , May 18 12:19 PM
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      Beloved Clergy and Faithful,
      Christ is in our midst!
      I greet you for the feast of the Ascension of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ. During this feast we are taught to “seek those things which are above’ (Col 3:1) as Saint Paul exhorts us. There are many things that the evil one hurls in our direction in order to drag us down, but if we set our heart on God and know that He is the true and impartial Judge of the contest, we will not falter.
      Of late I am told that there are some that misquote me and claim that I said that ‘all clergy and faithful are accountable to the bishop and the bishop is accountable to none.’ I just want to go on record and state unequivocally that I never said such a thing.
      There was an incident in the life of Saint Pachomius the Great where a guest came to the monastery and Saint Pachomius first told Saint Theodore the Sanctified and then another brother to prepare a meal for him and the guest. Both Saint Theodore and the other brother were sure that Saint Pachomius told them to depart so he could have privacy to speak to the visitor. Later, Saint Pachomius confronted both of the monastic brothers and asked them if their father according to the flesh had asked them to do something, would they do it. They replied that they would. He then asked them why they did not prepare a meal. They told him that they thought he had asked them to depart in order to allow him to speak privately with the visitor. Then Saint Pachomius said something very significant. He told them that at the time he understood that this was a temptation of the evil one and that it is with patience that one overcomes such temptations.
      There are also times when human error is the cause of miscommunications. It is for us as Christians to remember that we are all in need of forgiveness.
      In the spirit of making sure that everyone understands my sentiments on the role of a bishop in the Church I am distributing an article that I wrote in November of 2005.
      May our Ascended Christ aid us in our efforts to rise above the temptations of this age that we might stand in the choir of the saints in His Glory. Amen.
      Your fervent suppliant unto the Lord,
      +Metropolitan Moses
      Quote from the Orthodox Christian Witness
      NOVEMBER 2005, Vol. XXXIX, No. 1554
      1. Metropolis Day Missive, 2005
      2. Special Report: The Exorcism of Europe
      3. The Decline of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. St. John, Archbishop of San Francisco
      4. The God Gene and Human Pride
      5. Why They Hate Us
      6. New Items from the Book Center
      is published monthly by St. Nectarios American Orthodox Cathedral,
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      NOVEMBER, 2005, Vol. XXXIX, No. 11, (1554)
      1. Metropolis Day Missive, 2005
      2. Special Report: The Exorcism of Europe
      3. The Decline of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. St. John, Archbishop of San Francisco
      4. The God Gene and Human Pride
      5. Why They Hate Us
      6. New Items from the Book Center
      1.  Metropolis Day Missive 2005
      To the Beloved and Pious Priests, Deacons, Monastics and Faithful Flock of our Parishes and Missions
      We live in a world of competing creeds, and there is a diversity of opinions and much confusion. The general opinion of society is that truth is relative; everyone can have his or her own "personal truth." We confront thousands of different organizations that claim they are the Church.
      How can modern man sort this out? Beloved, we are saved through the order and hierarchy of the Church. Most modern men or women would probably respond to this statement with complete skepticism and disbelief. Yet, in his books "Celestial Hierarchies" and "Ecclesiastical Hierarchies" Saint Dionysius the Aeropagite explains that through the saving principle of hierarchy the hidden mysteries of God are brought down to our level. It was through the Archangel Gabriel that Mary, the daughter of Joachim and Anna heard of her election and calling to become the Mother of God. Likewise from the very beginning of the New Covenant, the Holy Apostles received the revelation of God through direct experience and then brought this experience to us through the words of their preaching.
      This concept and context of hierarchy is lost on many. The Sacred Scriptures are indeed sacred, but they are not revelation, they are about revelation. One can say that Holy Scripture is the map, but it is not the territory. It was for this reason Saint Peter explained that Scripture is not subject to private interpretation. One cannot read the map without a guide and that guide is Holy Tradition.
      The Church that our Savior established on earth is hierarchical, but hierarchs are subject to Apostolic Tradition and the Councils and Canons. This is clearly illustrated in the ordination service for a bishop wherein during the third confession of faith the hierarch to be states:
      In this my confession of the holy Faith, I promise to observe the Canons of the holy Apostles, and of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, and of the holy Local Councils, the traditions of the Church, and the decrees, orders and rulings of the Holy Fathers. And all things whatsoever they have accepted I also accept; and whatsoever things they have rejected those also do I reject.
      Hierarchy does not exist for its own sake and is only properly understood in the context of Holy Tradition. Ultimately it is an expression of the principle that we are all subject to God in a context that He established. The saints from ages past have always revered hierarchy, i.e., the Tradition and structure of the Church that provides for sound doctrine, right ritual and the grace of the Holy Mysteries. It is all interconnected. Those that seek to undermine any of the above stand in opposition of the Church, no matter what their title may be.
      After the descent of the Holy Spirit and the establishment of the priesthood of the New Testament, the holy Apostles preached the word of God and ordained bishops to oversee the Church, establishing the hierarchical structure that Saint Paul references in his Epistle to the Corinthian:
      Brethren, As the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. For in one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Greeks, whether we be slaves or free, and all have been given to drink in one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot say, Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body, is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body, is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God hath placed the members, every one of them, in the body, as it hath pleased Him. And if they were all one member, where would be the body? But now there are many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. (Corinthians 12:12-26)
      From ancient times it was understood that the "eye" signified the episcopos, the overseer of the flock ( the bishop). The hands signified the priesthood who lifted their hands in prayer and offered the oblation in the name of the local high priest (bishop) and the feet were the deacons who ministered unto the needs of the faithful.
      Throughout the history of the Church there have been those that seek to undermine this hierarchical structure of the Church, i.e., the Bogomils (a Bulgarian sect that rejected all authority), the papists (who rejected the authority of the local bishop and local synods), the Protestants who at first made synods of presbyters (Presbyterians) and then took the next step of allowing any man to start his own church.
      There will always be demonically inspired forces that seek to undermine the faith and order of the Church. The Holy Apostle Paul who spent his days preaching the word of truth and establishing bishops throughout the world spoke clearly, "But though we, or an Angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be anathema. As we said before, and I say now again, If anyone preach any other Gospel unto you than that which ye have received, let him be anathema."(Galatians 1:6-10)
      Let us be faithful to Holy Tradition and let us give thanks to God for providing for us. During these days of spiritual confusion we have a light in the midst of darkness, and I am referring to the legacy of that true hierarch and Confessor Saint Philaret of New York, the Champion of Orthodoxy in our age. He it was who proclaimed the Anathema against Ecumenism, the heresy of our days that has confused so many. He it was that gave support to and recognized and regularized our Archbishop Auxentius and his synod back in the 1970's. This provided a haven for us when we had to flee the Synod of the New ROCOR when it became obvious that they abandoned the legacy of Saint Philaret and desired to be in communion with compromised orthodoxy.
      It was because of Saint Philaret's understanding and faithfulness to Hierarchy properly understood that we have hierarchy. Ours it is to simply follow in his footsteps. May the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit preserve us in this by the prayers of the Theotokos and all of the Saints. Amen.
      Your fervent supplicant unto the Lord,
      +Metropolitan Moses

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