Archpastoral Letter for Pentecost 2002
Prot. N. 149
"Behold 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,
+ METROPOLITAN NICHOLAS
THIS ARCHPASTORAL LETTER IS TO BE READ IN ALL PARISHES OF THE DIOCESE AS THE SERMON ON SUNDAY, JUNE 23, 2002.