Bishop Photii Responds to ROCOR-MP Union
- DESCENT FROM THE CROSS OF ORTHODOX WITNESS
by Bishop Photii of Triaditza
(The present document is a sermon by His Eminence,
Bishop Photii of Triaditza, delivered during the
Divine Liturgy on the Feast of the Ascension of our
Savior, in the Cathedral of the Dormition of the
Theotokos, in Sofia, Bulgaria (4/17 May 2007).
The God-Man, the Savior came not only to show us
the path toward the Truth; He came as one Who was
Himself the Truth and the Way to it. Christ the
Lord levelled down the walls between earthly humans
and the celestial Truth.
Indeed, if we do not rise above the terrestrial dust,
if we do not rally courage enough to transcend our
own nothingness, and overcome our voluptuous desires
for earthly things, we are unable to walk on the path
towards the Truth; we are unable to be children of
the Truth; and we are unable to live with the Truth
and in the Truth.
And the path leading towards the Truth leads all
the way upwards, and never downwards, just as Christ's
path led up to Golgotha. Our very first step in rising
from the earth to Heaven, our very first rupture with
earthly bounds is our ascent upon the cross, as Christ
Himself was raised from the earth upon the Cross, in
order that He might draw every man toward Himself:
toward the Truth, toward the Way, and toward Life.
The path from the cross to Heaven, to immortal life,
is indeed sometimes of extensive duration and of long
distances--very long; sometimes it may be traversed in
but an instant, as was the case with many of the Holy
New Martyrs of Batak, whose memory we celebrate today,
together with Christ's glorious Ascension.
However, there is nothing at all so grievous as one
who, having once torn himself away from the earth
and ascended his cross, afterwards becomes frightened
by the way of the Cross and the Resurrection, or who
has been misled by the earthly desire to feel again
the earthy dust under his feet.
Lo, today the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox
Church Abroad descends from the cross of its Orthodox
Today, by serving the liturgy together, the stage is
set for the Church Abroad to be absorbed into the
organism of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Lo, today the Archpriests seal their descent from
their cross by exchanging a liturgical kiss with those
who beckoned them to descend from the cross, as they
had themselves done in the past.
How painful is the lie, which in our days calls the
descent an ascent, and the fall a rising!
When the Hierarchs of the Church Abroad were raised
from the earth on the cross of witnessing for
Orthodoxy, they were called schismatics; when they
descended from the cross, when they delivered to
Caesar--be he even an ecclesiastical Caesar--that
which belongs to God, they immediately rose in his
eyes and became his brethren.
Indeed, is there anything more disheartening than to
see how falsehood bedecks itself with the garments of
Indeed, those who descended from the cross pronounce,
and will continue to pronounce, just as many words of
fidelity to the Church and Orthodoxy's words
glorifying the exploits of the Martyrs and Confessors;
but is it really decent to plait wreaths of verbal
praise for spiritual heroes, having oneself fled in
disgrace from the battlefield?
Is it not immoral, having yourself abandoned your
witness to the Truth for the sake of earthly benefits
and gains, to glorify persons who held the love of
Truth to be higher than their own lives?
And yet, Caesar will not celebrate his victory for
long. He will not be jubilant for long, that what is
God's has been delivered to him by the hands of
Bishops, with the sole purpose of acquiring his
favor. For God is never mocked! For the God-Man,
after His Ascension, abides with us, with all who,
even though weak, aspire to tread the path leading
upward, and only upward--to Golgotha and the Cross,
and thence toward the Heavenly Homeland, from which
there pour down on us the streams of the love of the
New Martyrs of Batak, of the Holy New Martyrs and
Confessors of Russia, and of all the citizens of
Heaven, who walked their earthly path in the never-
setting light of the Way, the Truth, and the Life!