Tuesday, 21 May 2013

St. Anna’s Orthodox Church, Boston, Massachusetts
Sunday of the Myrrh-bearers, May 6/19, 2013

Your Eminence, Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston,
Your Grace, Bishop Gregory of Brookline,
Your Grace, Bishop Andrew of Markham,
Reverend holy Abbot Isaac,
Dear fellow clergy and God-loving faithful of our Church, 


Today’s Sunday of the Myrrh-bearers stands out in the annual cycle of feasts of the Orthodox Church. The Holy Fathers dedicated this day to the holy Myrrh-bearing women not without cause or reason. They dedicated it because these courageous women — starting with the Mother of our Lord, the all-immaculate Lady, the most-holy Theotokos, our Panagia — burning with divine love and zeal for our suffering and entombed Master, ran very early, even before day-break on the first day of the week to the Holy Sepulcher to lament over Him and to bring myrrh. And the just God rewarded these women not only with seeing and worshiping the Risen Lord-of-all, but also by making them, before the Apostles, co-apostles to them! 
Lo and behold! The authentic and chief Apostles are informed by the mourning Myrrh-bearing women of the jubilant event of the Resurrection! 
By the Grace of our Resurrected Lord, Who once again gives to us one more resurrection from human errors, weakness, negligence, or omissions of the past, and we come to you, our dear brethren, as apostles of a joyous event.
Today’s Sunday of the holy Myrrh-bearing women is singled out, and will remain deeply etched in our memories for another reason: because today we are here present with indescribable joy, as guests of your worthy Father and Bishop, Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston, to crown the unity, the consensus, and the Orthodoxy among us with this concelebration according to the hallowed tradition of the Holy Fathers. 
It is therefore relevant and befitting to cry out on this day the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “Rejoice, heavens and be glad, O earth; O mountains burst out with exhilaration for God has shown mercy to His people, and the humble hath He comforted”!
Primarily, of course, because the Resurrection of our Lord opened the heavens (which before were shut), for the whole human race, bringing us redemption, divine grace, and reconciliation with God. With double joy today, heaven and earth rejoice, because the present day brings us the seal of Church unity and communion between brethren who up until recently were separated, although they were, and are, Defenders of the same Faith, visionaries of the same sacred purpose, and guarantors of the same Holy Tradition, and followers of the same Lord and God.
Today takes place a happy and pious end of a long series of dialogues, research, and anguish over the possibility — or impossibility — of our unity. 
Today affirms our common enlistment, with the help of our Holy God, in our struggle for Orthodoxy against various heresies, the first being the omnivorous heresy of ecumenism — you here in America, which is distant for us, and we in our episcopal see in our beloved Greece, the common homeland of many of you. 
Today the dividing wall and the distance have fallen and the common faith, love, and agreement reign. 
Today, the Grace of the Holy Spirit visits us richly and generously, co-celebrating with us the fellowship that, although we delayed and neglected to achieve it in the past, today, however, we jubilantly announce to the whole world. 
Today, the Leader and Guide and Teacher of love, peace, and correct Faith, our God Who for our sake became Man and taught here among us and suffered and was crucified and was buried and triumphantly rose again with His own power, the Lord Jesus Christ, co-celebrates along with us with abundant joy as the Offered and the Offerer and as common Validator of the peace between us. 
Today, common joy rises in the earth, uniting the heavens of America and Greece under the common and beneficent umbrella of our common Mother, spotless Orthodoxy, as the Apostles preached, the Martyrs validated, the Holy Fathers delineated, and age-old tradition carried down to our own days. 
This is the Holy Faith in which we live, preach, breathe, and for which we are ready to die, if occasion requires it. 
This Holy Faith, which with joy and satisfaction and certainty we actually found to be professed and defended in this distant land of America, by your Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston with his venerable co-workers in the vineyard of the Lord, the bishops, the presbyters, and the deacons. 
“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24) as the Prophet King David says! 
In every land, at all times, in every nook and locale God maintains, raises, and supports His faithful servants, teachers, and followers of the Holy Apostles within the Church of “Him which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth” (I Timothy 3:15). 
And we praise God, who in the person of your holy Shepherd, Metropolitan Ephraim, we found and verified all those qualities that need be in this position, and with immeasurable joy and satisfaction we accomplish today the final union, and peace, and brotherhood in Christ Jesus, between us.
For He is “our peace, the maker of the two into one” as the Apostle Paul says (Ephesians 2:14), which were before separated and divided, now are one body and one unity “having, in him, destroyed their enmity. And He came and preached peace unto you, which were far off and to them that were nigh” (Ephesians 2:16–17). 
Today, we, by the grace of Christ, the Author of Peace and Peacemaker, we have come here before you, as messengers of the Gospel and we bring this peace and grace, together with His Eminence, our brother and our co-celebrant and shepherd, your Metropolitan Ephraim, building together as we assembled in one holy body of the Orthodox Church of Christ, overcoming geographical boundaries and various obstacles. 
And we, being far away from you, at the request and pleadings of the faithful members of our Church, we re-examined the events of the unfortunate separations of 1985 from our predecessor, Archbishop Auxentius of Athens, of blessed memory, whose holy prayer and blessing we invoke. So now, today, we praise God, who enlightened us in an appropriate time and we investigated without fear and passion all the information that we were able to collect, which showed clearly how unfairly His Beatitude [Archbishop Auxentius] suffered unjust punishment. We praise God, because our Holy Synod was the first to restore the reputation of the blessed Archbishop Auxentius without hesitation and with a loud voice to restore his place that he deserved in the history of the Church. After us, other bishops examined the same events and they also reached the same conclusion in favor of the blessed one, which increases our joy, to redress this injustice. 
So today, as Messengers of peace and concord, we stand before you, each one of you separately and all of you together. 
Today, we are sharers of the joy of the brave Myrrh-bearing women, emulating their courage, determination, and perseverance so that they might achieve their purpose, since it was not easy for us to remove from our midst all that was separating us or those things that we thought were separating us, which ultimately were simple misunderstandings and misconceptions of the actual truth. But, with a selfless attitude that comes when there prevails godly love, the difficulty becomes easy and apparently impossible things become possible! Glory be to God for all things! 
Thus, today, with a God-pleasing and peacemaking assembly and concelebration, we initiate the unity among us and the restoration of love and communion, and happily, without cowardice and fear, but with awe, we by our internal satisfaction embrace again and strengthen our brotherly bonds, loudly proclaiming the Orthodox faith in our unity. 
We humbly pray to our common Master, the Risen Lord, to keep us with His rich Grace of being thus reconciled and assembled under a common shelter and confession, in peace and love and unity, having in our midst our Lord Himself, Jesus Christ as He Himself promised us — “Where there are two or three gathered together in My name, there I am in the midst of them” — who, at the proper time, will give us eternal life and glory and the Kingdom. 
Which we wholeheartedly wish that we all achieve through the grace and love for mankind of the peace-giving God, our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be all glory, honor, and worship, together with His beginningless Father and the life-creating Spirit, unto ages of ages, Amen! 

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