Address of Metropolitan Philip at the 2011 Assembly of Bishops

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Address by Metropolitan Philip

25 May 2011

Your Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios, Chairman of this Assembly, beloved hierarchs, Christ is risen!

With this hopeful and joyful proclamation, I greet you all in the name of the risen Lord. We are still basking in the light of the glorious Resurrection, but ten days from now, next week, we will celebrate the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord.  And somehow ? when we stop chanting, ?Christ is risen from the dead,? somehow I feel lonely, because this is the most joyful season of the year.  Ten days later, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Pentecost, and we read in the Book of Acts that while the disciples were gathered in a hall in Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit descended on them like a mighty wind and filled them and filled the house where they were gathered, and that was the beginning of the Church and her mission to the world.

Things were not easy.  Things were very difficult.  The Church went through the era of persecution, and the Church survived, because He said, I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against her.

I was very moved this morning by the address of our venerable Chairman about our problems in this country, the different practices which we have and some aspects of international Orthodoxy.  Not all is well with the Orthodox Church, either on this continent or on other continents of this world.  We have so much work to be done.  Our Lord, according to the Gospel which was read by His Eminence today, said, I am the good shepherd, and my mission to this world is to watch over my sheep.

And we as successors of the Holy Apostles, we are also commissioned to watch over our sheep in a spirit of diligence and a spirit of unity.  It is true that we are united in the faith; nobody can deny that. But administratively we are not united.  We are still divided into various jurisdictions.  And we hope that through the efforts of this Assembly and through the efforts of His Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch, and the autocephalous Orthodox Churches involved that this task will be accomplished, because we cannot live with our young people anymore.  We have been asked so many questions wherever we travel ? at least I speak about myself.  What happens to Orthodox unity in North America?  We have talked about it so much in the past, and until now we are what we are.  We have not progressed, except we get together, we talk to each other and we break bread with each other and we pray together.  But I feel there are so many other things which must be done for the glory of Orthodoxy on this continent.

So I ask the risen Lord to enlighten our minds and give us the strength to concentrate on these real, real issues which are facing our Church on this continent.  We have our theological schools, we have our scholars, we have our venerable bishops, who are doing an outstanding job for the Church in North America.  We ask the risen Lord to continue to lead us through many Pentecosts, this coming Pentecost and other Pentecosts, which we all should experience in our personal lives.  Christ is risen.