icon st peter st paul

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of the British Isles and Ireland

Registered Charity Number: 1175538

Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East

'... And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch'

Acts 11:26

Home » Archdiocese

Category Archives: Archdiocese

Message of Sayedna Silouan, October 2017

To the Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers, Deacons and beloved people of our God-protected Archdiocese,

The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon you all.

In August I underwent surgery in my right ear. By the grace of God and your loving prayers the surgery was a success but, under the advice of my doctors, I have had to rest for two months. During this time you have all remained in my prayers. Little by little, my strength has returned and I am much better. I can now resume more fully my duties within our Archdiocese.

I invoke the blessings of the All-holy Trinity on all of you.

+Silouan

Metropolitan of the British Isles and Ireland

Palm Sunday (24th April)

entry-jerusalem3xPeople had gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover and were looking for Jesus, both because of His great works and teaching and because they had heard of the miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus. When they heard that Christ was entering the city, they went out to meet Him with palm branches, laying their garments on the ground before Him, and shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he that comes in the Name of the Lord, the King of Israel!”

At the outset of His public ministry Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God and announced that the powers of the age to come were already active in the present age (Luke 7:18-22). His words and mighty works were performed “to produce repentance as the response to His call, a call to an inward change of mind and heart which would result in concrete changes in one’s life, a call to follow Him and accept His messianic destiny. The triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is a messianic event, through which His divine authority was declared.

Palm Sunday summons us to behold our King: the Word of God made flesh. We are called to behold Him not simply as the One who came to us once riding on a colt, but as the One who is always present in His Church, coming ceaselessly to us in power and glory at every Eucharist, in every prayer and sacrament, and in every act of love, kindness and mercy. He comes to free us from all our fears and insecurities, “to take solemn possession of our soul, and to be enthroned in our heart,” as someone has said. He comes not only to deliver us from our deaths by His death and Resurrection, but also to make us capable of attaining the most perfect fellowship or union with Him. He is the King, who liberates us from the darkness of sin and the bondage of death. Palm Sunday summons us to behold our King: the vanquisher of death and the giver of life.

Palm Sunday summons us to accept both the rule and the kingdom of God as the goal and content of our Christian life. We draw our identity from Christ and His kingdom. The kingdom is Christ – His indescribable power, boundless mercy and incomprehensible abundance given freely to man. The kingdom does not lie at some point or place in the distant future. In the words of the Scripture, the kingdom of God is not only at hand (Matthew 3:2; 4:17), it is within us (Luke 17:21). The kingdom is a present reality as well as a future realization (Matthew 6:10). Theophan the Recluse wrote the following words about the inward rule of Christ the King:

“The Kingdom of God is within us when God reigns in us, when the soul in its depths confesses God as its Master, and is obedient to Him in all its powers. Then God acts within it as master ‘both to will and to do of his good pleasure’ (Philippians 2:13). This reign begins as soon as we resolve to serve God in our Lord Jesus Christ, by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Then the Christian hands over to God his consciousness and freedom, which comprises the essential substance of our human life, and God accepts the sacrifice; and in this way the alliance of man with God and God with man is achieved, and the covenant with God, which was severed by the Fall and continues to be severed by our willful sins, is re-established.”

The kingdom of God is the life of the Holy Trinity in the world. It is the kingdom of holiness, goodness, truth, beauty, love, peace and joy. These qualities are not works of the human spirit. They proceed from the life of God and reveal God. Christ Himself is the kingdom. He is the God-Man, Who brought God down to earth (John 1:1,14). “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world knew Him not. He came to His own home, and His own people received Him not” (John 1:10-11). He was reviled and hated.

Palm Sunday summons us to behold our king – the Suffering Servant. We cannot understand Jesus’ kingship apart from the Passion. Filled with infinite love for the Father and the Holy Spirit, and for creation, in His inexpressible humility Jesus accepted the infinite abasement of the Cross. He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows; He was wounded for our transgressions and made Himself an offering for sin (Isaiah 53). His glorification, which was accomplished by the resurrection and the ascension, was achieved through the Cross.

In the fleeting moments of exuberance that marked Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the world received its King, the king who was on His way to death. His Passion, however, was no morbid desire for martyrdom. Jesus’ purpose was to accomplish the mission for which the Father sent Him.

“The Son and Word of the Father, like Him without beginning and eternal, has come today to the city of Jerusalem, seated on a dumb beast, on a foal. From fear the cherubim dare not gaze upon Him; yet the children honor Him with palms and branches, and mystically they sing a hymn of praise: ‘Hosanna in the highest, Hosanna to the Son of David, who has come to save from error all mankind.’” (a hymn of the Light.)

“With our souls cleansed and in spirit carrying branches, with faith let us sing Christ’s praises like the children, crying with a loud voice to the Master: Blessed art Thou, O Savior, who hast come into the world to save Adam from the ancient curse; and in Thy love for mankind Thou hast been pleased to become spiritually the new Adam. O Word, who hast ordered all things for our good, glory to Thee.” (a sessional hymn of the Orthros)

 

From Metropolitan Saba

The Address of His Eminence, Metropolitan Saba to our Bishop upon his Ordination

11900058_606669159436801_588522144560569435_n

To My Brother in the Episcopate

When the Patriarch of Antioch placed his right hand upon your head and lifted up the Holy Gospel, brought by the hands of your brother bishops, he called down up you the Spirit of God to perfect your human imperfection, heal your infirmities, and release you into the service of His Church. The bishop, my brother, is the primary guardian of the Lord’s most precious deposit, His Church.

From now on you have become a watchman guarding over the purity and uprightness of this Church militant. Keeping watch over your soul and keeping watch over the Church are always inseparable.

Inasmuch as you are vigilant about the purity of your soul and are attentive to its salvation, it will be a factor for the purification of the Church of the Lord and an instrument for the salvation of the children of your diocese whom He has placed in your custody. They are His children and they become your children inasmuch as you are truly a child of God. A child bears the attributes of his father. Thus you emulate your Heavenly Father. We humans, including us bishops, are your brothers. However, we bear our imperfect humanity and remain without a model. You are what you have and our stumbling. Always fix your gaze on the Model and rely on the activity of the Lord, here and there, among your weak brothers.

You are going to a foreign land. Good. This will remind you of your authentic home: the Kingdom of Heaven. There you will serve a people who were born in the Orthodox faith and who have the usual freedom of a son of the house that may reach the point of irreverence, and have disadvantages as well as advantages. You will also serve people who came to Orthodoxy after a journey of searching and study.

Be a father to all. The people of today are in dire need of a father. Our world today has lost its fathers. You will come across many in your new sojourn who do not understand the fatherhood of God because they have not had a father on earth. For them your fatherhood will be an image of God’s fatherhood. If they sense your compassion, your watching over them and your sternness with them when necessary, then they will see fatherhood and will turn to God exclaiming “Our Father”. Europe threw away its heart long ago and its mind took total control, while the East suspended its mind, leaving its heart captive to passions and the effects of emotion.

You are called to serve both in your diocese. Perhaps God wanted you there because He knows the balance and harmony between the two that He has given you. Treat them all as your children and love them as your children. A father loves, educates and rears. This mission of his succeeds when it is based on love, setting a good example, and sobriety. Whatever we may teach and do, people are still most affected by our example and our love. You will devote yourself in your diocese to spiritual service. There is no integration in that part of the world between the world and religion, as we have here. The people there do not need the Church for their basic necessities. However, they are in need of meaning, the meaning of their existence, the meaning of their life. Your mission is to bear witness to them of the fullness of life, that which Christ unleashed within you as soon as you were aware of His empty tomb and the work of His presence within you. The world is enticing, but it does not fill and it never satisfies those who chase after it. The world is in need of true witnesses to the true joy of the Lord.

You will be a witness to His joy, His peace and His presence. At the beginning of your new pastorate, you will lack a personal pastoral role, but you will make up for this by first of all tending to the priests. The bishop, my brother, is responsible first of all for tending to the priests, so that they may tend to the people of God. They live alongside the people and are with them in the details of their life. However, the bishop sets their pastoral policy and directs them in the steps to implement it. He watches over them and assesses them so that, if they serenely dedicate themselves to pastoral service, they bring into it inner peace and tranquillity.

Now you are bishop over a diocese and responsible for it. However, through your presence on the Holy Synod of Antioch, you do not limit yourself to only your own diocese. The episcopate is universal. Every bishop is a universal bishop, in the sense that he bears the pains and challenges of the Church and is sensitive to them. We have been given the duty of facing and solving them, wherever they may be, naturally according to the canons of the Church. Do not limit yourself to your own diocese and become isolated from your brothers and their dioceses. Even if you are geographically far away, contribute to strengthening the bonds of unity between our dioceses. Our people long for a situation that makes them feel that they are embraced by their family of faith. Is it right for us to be members of Christ’s family and be entirely concerned with just a part of this family? You come from a people that is wounded and broken but still standing. You come to your dioceses with the suffering of your Antiochian people in your heart and there you will bear witness to their faith and spiritual strength. The experience of suffering catches the ear of humanitarians, and for them it may be an entryway to knowledge of Christ who embraces all, who only asks in return for it “that we have the fullness of life” (cf. John 10:10).

You will contribute to Christ’s being Master of the hearts of the people of that country. Your children who have come from other churches to Orthodoxy came to it seeking the spiritual fullness that they have found in it. You know that the West has come to be materialistic to a terrifying degree, but people still search, in every place, for some spiritual fullness. In that you have been brought from your upbringing in a purely Orthodox environment, you are called from now on to embody what you experienced in a new land and in new souls. In the beginning, you will need to listen, have patience, and very often keep silent with keen attention. This is so that you will be able to understand their culture, their way of thinking and how to speak to them. You will learn this quickly inasmuch as God has granted you intelligence, peace and love.

Put everything before Him and start out with trust. It is enough for you that He called you and you yourself never once sought the position you are now in. He who accompanied Tobias with an angel and delivered him safely shall alone accompany you and make firm your steps so that you may always be according to His heart.