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Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of the British Isles and Ireland

Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East

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

Acts 11:26

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Ordination Address

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This is the text of Sayedna Silouan’s address at the ordination service on 30th August 2015.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit!

His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East,

Excellencies, members of the Holy Synod of Antioch,
All brothers, relatives and friends and beloved children in the Lord.

On this day, The Lord has raised me the unworthy, to the rank of Hierarch in His priesthood, not because He bestowed on me gifts, but that His will is manifest in this.  And rendering myself to Him, in my submission, I express my gratitude for His love and confidence, with total faith that He will always be beside me in my new service of care for the souls of the faithful in fulfilment of His will.

I thank Patriarch John for his confidence and love firstly in appointing me Abbot of the Holy Monastery of St. George in Humaira and then for my nomination and election by the Holy Synod of Metropolitans to the Archdiocese of the British Isles and Ireland.  You taught me sir: that which is bestowed is not only in our hands, but all is in the hands of God.

I thank Metropolitan John Mansour, Bishop of the Archdiocese of Latakia, under God’s protection demonstrated in so many ways.  My Father, you taught me that Holiness is deeds and prayer, not words.

I thank Metropolitan Saba Esber Bishop of the Archdiocese of Bosra, Houran and Arab Mountains for his spiritual guidance, I learned from you, Father, that the Church has no limits, it emanates from the heart to all the world.

I thank all the members of the Holy Synod of Antioch for the great trust they confer on me by my election and beg them to keep me always in their prayers, so that I can complete my service as God wishes, and that they will not withhold any advice for the edification and building of the Church of Christ.

I will never forget my family, especially my mother, who exerted great efforts for us after my father passed away.  In her prayers on our behalf, and in her care, she made provision for all our needs in life, so that we are able to advance.

My brethren, relatives, friends, beloved children, thank you for standing beside me and supporting me.

Beloved people of the Valley, I lived among for a short while, but I have loved you greatly, pray for me.

People of Latakia, O people of God, I truly loved you too and served among you in every way that I can, as God gave me strength by His grace, forgive me if I have failed in any way, but I declare that I have loved you with the love of God, you who deserve His love.

For more than twenty years I have been coming to this monastery for spiritual refuge in prayer, fasting and reading, taking me out from my attractions to this world and throwing me into the midst of a spiritual furnace that cannot be extinguished.  Now I leave it, this Monastery of St. George, as Metropolitan Bishop.  As if the Lord, through the intercession of St. George, wants me in this third priestly order, to be thrown into another spiritual furnace for my sanctification; so that I can sanctify others, not because I am worthy, but because now God wills this and as long as He wills it, He helps me despite my weaknesses.  He will guide me in the steps of holiness desired by me for every human being in this world.

God’s love is not words nor emotions but pure life.  St. Silouan the Athonite says: “The Holy Spirit trains us to love God and the world, that is, the whole of humanity.”  I want in my life to be trained in the love that emanates from the love of God, not seeking individual selfish love which distances us from the Holy Spirit.  He also says: “Know the Apostles of the Holy Spirit by the descent on them of tongues of fire, teaching them the meaning of God’s love, and the love of mankind.” In our difficult world how great is our need for this love, coming from the descent of the grace of the Holy Spirit in order to be purified and cleansed from any impurity. We learn from this how to love truly, it is for us to acquire the Holy Spirit, who will teach us this.

Here begins the work of the church in its quest for the acquisition of the Holy Spirit.  The result of any work of the Church which does not flow from the acquisition of the Holy Spirit, will be temporary not permanent as it is not built on the Rock. We must always strive for the acquisition of the Holy Spirit so that our works are pleasing to God because they come from Him.

I turn now to my children in the British Isles and Ireland with these words: From here, from Antioch, from Saint George’s Monastery, I would like to speak to you all in every Parish in our Archdiocese of The British Isles and Ireland and say: that from the moment I was elected Metropolitan, I felt that I have known you for a long time and love you in Christ. I ask you all to work together with love of God and humanity. Let it be our main goal to gain the Holy Spirit and to have saints in our parishes as a result. The ordination of bishops in the Orthodox Church means election into the service of Jesus Christ, head of the Church, and so the bishop should be conformed to the characteristics of Christ who he serves, through teaching, love and self-sacrifice, offering himself for the sake of others.  In teaching, the Bishop must follow Christ’s example by using few words, in the richness of His thoughts and meanings and the simplicity of His style and vocabulary, so that His words enter into the heart, without explanation and interpretation.  As the apostle Paul says: “But speak thou as befits sound doctrine” (Titus 2: 1) because the teaching is right when it is from the Holy Spirit and with the love that He Himself taught us when he sacrificed himself for the sake of mankind and our salvation. Let us attend Christ our Lord who says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

I ask this day, of the Lord, head of the heavenly Church, to help me, I who will serve Him working for the people, to help the people and alleviate their suffering; sure in Him, that the only solution to end the pain in this world is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. So teaching and self sacrifice is my path, and I will follow them in my life, and in my service to the archdiocese entrusted to me. I ask for your prayers, you who I love. So that the Lord enables me to lead you securely in His example, to sanctify myself and others, so that His Church is shining, resplendent, full of saints.

Finally I thank His Beatitude and Eminences for your confidence and your love, and I thank everyone, who came and endured the burdens of travel, especially those who came from Latakia, and I thank all those who are waiting for me in Britain and Ireland in the hope of remaining in your prayers.

I love you all…

Amen