by Paul D. Garrett
The Word Magazine
“Haqqan qam!” — “Alethos aneste!” —”Indeed He is risen!” As millions of New Yorkers all around slept soundly April 14, 1901, 5,000 voices echoed the Good News down Washington Street. Hundreds of rounds of rifle fire provided joyous accompaniment to the first strains of Paschal hymnography as was the custom in the Middle East. Caught up in the sheer animation of the moment, the police assigned to cordon off the block joined in the shouting and discharged blank rounds from their service revolvers. Christ was risen in a truly unique celebration in the nation’s largest city. 1
A month earlier the trustees of the Holy Trinity Greek Church in New York had most inopportunely turned out their pastor, Archimandrite Agarhodoros (Papageorgopoulos), spiritually stranding some 5,000 parishioners too loyal to the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece to turn to their sister parish, Annunciation, which was under the Ecumenical Patriarchate. With Pascha drawing near they turned to Archimandrite Raphael (Hawaweeny), head of the Syro-Arab Mission for the fulfillment of their religious needs.
This solution was in a sense most natural. The Archimandrite’s primary education had been in the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Theological School in Halki, so his Greek was fluent. In addition, his parishioners were accustomed to singing some hymns in Greek. Raphael, however, was a key member of the Russian Mission in America, and as such had fallen frequent target to the Greek press; their experience would not allow them to share his certitude that Russia would eventually prove their protection and salvation against the Turks. Their hostility had been especially fanned in 1899 when the Russians engineered the election of an Arab, Meletios, to the Patriarchal throne of Antioch.2 A lesser man than Raphael might well have borne a righteous grudge; he never hesitated in welcoming his co-religionists. He offered their chantors a position of honor on the left kleros in his cramped apartment-church (St. Nicholas Cathedral on Pacific Street, Brooklyn, would not be ready for occupancy for another year), and Fr. Raphael promised to chant several litanies, prayers and Gospels for them in Greek in addition to Arabic.
Holy Week began. Attendance was meager through the first half of the week. Palm Sunday was rainy; even Greek Independence Day failed to draw many out. On Wednesday the Archimandrite bore the pastoral burden of hearing an additional 200 confessions as the Greeks began arriving. At Matins of Holy Thursday, Greeks outnumbered Arabs by two to one, and the passion Gospels and hymns were chanted in alternating languages. On Friday, the crowd already overflowed into the streets; the church was hot and airless as services continued until 11 P.M.
The priest began to fear the crowds which would gather on the next night. The low-ceilinged wooden building with limited access up a narrow stairway would be a deathtrap in the event of a fire. When he arrived on Washington Street at 11 P.M., Fr. Raphael had to be passed hand-over-hand into church, and people were still gathering. Tempers were on the rise among those unable to draw near enough even to hear the service. The regular parishioners were incensed at having to yield their positions to the Greeks, and confronted their pastor in the altar. With the weather good, Raphael obtained permission from the police to celebrate matins outdoors to accommodate all. . . As one participant observed, it was “a wonderful hymn of Christ’s victory,” unforgettable, unique. All were satisfied, all delighted. True to Sr. John Chrysostom’s admonition, no one went
away hungry. Liturgy was celebrated inside the church for those who remained, and at its conclusion Raphael intoned “Many Years” to the Russian Tsar, the American President, the Greek King, the Russian Holy Synod, Patriarch Meletios of Antioch, Bishop Tikhon, and all Orthodox Christians. At Vespers 2 P.M. on Sunday (Deutera anastasis) the Gospel was proclaimed in Arabic, Greek, Church Slavic, Russian, English, French, Italian, Turkish, and Maltese.
March 13, 1984, marked the eightieth anniversary of the Episcopal consecration of this remarkable man, and all Orthodox Christians would do well to contemplate his example of forgiveness, toleration, and compassion. 3 Throughout his ministry he transcended that narrow nationalism which too frequently poisons and vitiates the practice of the Orthodox Faith, and embodied St. Paul’s admonition to be “all things to all men,” in order to “save some of them by whatever means possible,” (I Cor. 9:22).
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1Compiled primarily from Bp. Raphael’s “Sviatye dni Strastnoi Sedmitsy i Paskhi v Siro-Arabskoi N’iu-Iorkskoi tserkvi” (The Holy Days of Holy Week and Pascha in the Syro-Arab Church of New York), Amerikanskii pravoslavnyi vestnik 5:8 (1901), 168-9; a number of other background materials in the same periodical, and Vasileios Th. Zoustes’ Ho en Amerike Hellenismos kai he Drasis Autou (Hellenism in America and its Activities) (New York, 1954). See also an unsigned article. “A Study of the Greeks in Chicago,” in American Journal of Sociology (November 10, 1909) which describes a similar, contemporaneous scene: if an American were to visit this (Greek) neighborhood on the night of Good Friday when the stores are draped with purple and black ,and watch at midnight the solemn procession of Greek men march down the streets carrying their burning candles and chanting hymns, he would probably feel as though he were no longer in America; but after a moment’s reflection he would say that this could be no place but America, for the procession was headed by eight burly Irish-American policemen and along the walks were ‘Americans’ of Polish, Italian, Russian, Jewish, Lithuanian, and Puritan ancestry watching with mingled reverence and curiosity this celebration of Good Friday; while those who marched were homesick and mourning because ‘this was not like in Tripolis.”‘ (quoted in Melvin Hecker and Heike Fenton, eds., The Greeks in Amerca, 1528-1977 (Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., Oceana
Publications, 1991). 77-78)
2 A particularly pointed and painful example is seen during Raphael’s 1899 visit to Chicago. There he was accosted by a Greek archimandrite from Australia, Dorotheos, for his loyalty to Russia and charged with “deny(ing) your Greek heritage.” Dorotheos declared the election of Patriarch Meletios “contrary to the principles of the Orthodox Church” and threatened that soon we’ll declare all Syro-Arabs schismatics as we did with the Bulgarians — then let Russia help you.” Raphael dismissed such foolishness, replying calmly that he doubted that “the Greek Patriarchs will decide on such an ill-considered step, all the more so since the Antiochian Church has from apostolic times been independent of the other autocephalous Orthodox Churches, and cannot, therefore, be compared with the Bulgarian Church which consisted of a simple diocese of the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate.” He countered the charge of Russian indifference towards the Greek clergy in America by decrying the latter’s aloofness (Amerikanskii pravoslavnyi vestnik 3:17 (1899), 473-4).
3 0n Christmas Eve, 1910, by then Bishop Raphael again demonstrated his pastoral zeal for his non-Arabic brothers in Christ. Archbishop Tikhon had not yet returned from Russia, and the parishioners of St. Nicholas Russian Cathedral were melancholy at the thought of celebrating the feast deprived of the splendor of a hierarchical service. Raphael officiated at a full vigil on 97th Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues, then raced across town to Brooklyn for midnight vigil and liturgy. The Russians took pains most effusively to thank him for taking this added burden on himself (Amerikanskii pravoslavnyi vestnik 14:2 (1910), 19-20).
Paul Garrett is the Librarian at St. Vladimir’s Seminary and is currently teaching a course on Orthodoxy in America. Mr. Garrett, extremely interested in the place of Bishop Hawaweeny in our Church in America, has honored THE WORD with this unique translation.
Are You A King, Then?
The Word Magazine
By Father James C. Meena
In the prophesies of Isaiah, we find the following statement: “For there is a Child born for us, a Son given to us — and dominion is laid on his shoulders and this is the name they gave him: Wonderful — Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Wide is his dominion in a peace that has no end, for the throne of David and for his royal power, which he establishes and makes secure in justice and integrity,” (Isaiah 9:5-7).
This prophesy refers to the royal line of David in a mystical manner that defies immediate understanding. One who would look on the surface would think that Isaiah is talking about someone fulfilling the lineage of David in a temporal monarchy, yet if we read the prophesy carefully we find that the implications are very clear, that the monarchy of which he speaks transcends earthly dominions and domains. It is a universal Kingship, beyond all time, all space.
When Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin and confronted by Caiaphas, the High Priest, He refused at first to answer him. The High Priest said to Him “I put you on oath by the living God to tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus answered, “The words are your own. Moreover I tell you from this time onward you shall see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven”, (St. Matt. 26:59-65). Notice that Caiaphas did not ask him, “Are you a King?”, because the Priesthood of Judaea was more concerned about the coming of the Messiah than they were about an earthly king because the Messiah promised to bring with Him peace everlasting and dominion of the people of God.
However, it was Pilate who asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”. Jesus replied to Pilate, “Do you ask this of your own accord, or have others told you this of Me?”. Pilate said, “Am I a Jew that I should know these things? Of course others told me about you.” Jesus answered. “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, My men would have fought for Me”. Pilate asked Him again, “So then, are You a King?’ Jesus answered flat out, “Yes, I am a King. It is you who has said so. I was born for this and I came into the world for this to bear witness to the truth and all who are on the side of truth shall listen to My voice”, (St. John 18:33 -40).
You will please notice that Jesus did not circumvent the question the second time. Yet He answered it in such a way that it was no answer at all because Pilate wanted to know, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus sidestepped that question, but when he asked Him, “Are You a king, then?”, He said, “You have spoken. You say that I am a King. And I say to you that for this reason I was born, for this reason I came into the world.” So it is not the Kingdom of Judah with which Jesus is concerned for He had said many times, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” He has said to Pilate, “If My Kingdom were of this world My men would have fought for Me”. After all, other leaders had militias of men to protect them. We read about several revolutionaries of that time who, when their leaders died, the rebellions died with them, (Acts 5:33-39).
Jesus made it very clear. His Kingdom had long since been established by His Father with Whom He is co-eternal and consubstantial. Long before the earth was ever created or conceived, He is King. Nonetheless, in the minds of men, then and now, there is the insistence that we reduce things to a level that we can understand and sometimes, in that process of reduction, we fall way from the truth. When Jesus entered into Jerusalem, the people called out to Him, “Hosanna, blessings on the King of Israel, Who comes in The Name of The Lord”. The people had not fully understood the spiritual teaching of the prophesies. They were looking not for a Messiah, but for a king, a King for Israel, someone who would come and help them get rid of all foreign intruders and re-establish the Throne of David. And you and I, although we don’t live in a monarchy, often think in the same terms as the children of Israel and the members of the tribe of Judah thought two thousand years ago. Sometimes we are so concerned about the earthly Kingship of Jesus that we forget that the Kingdom that He brought to us is the Kingdom of Heaven. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be granted unto you”, (St. Matt. 6:3 3).
We worry a lot about things, our future, about educating our children. So many earthly things concern us, and I suppose we should have a normal concern. I don’t think God wants us to totally abandon all utilization of our common sense or our need to make provisions for ourselves and for the needs of our families. But I think what God objects to is when we reverse our priorities and put these “things” first, when glorifying God comes after all other “things,” when we don’t seek the Kingdom of God until after we have sought all these other “things”.
When Jesus says, “Behold the lilies of the field, they neither sow nor do they reap, yet I say unto you that Solomon in all his glory was not adorned as one of these”, He doesn’t expect us to be nourished by the sun and sink our roots into the earth and suck up the vitality that we need. He is telling us, allegorically, that we, as the rest of creation, should be more dependent upon God and less dependent on our own talents and abilities. While we develop those talents and abilities to their highest point, we do so under the Dominion of God as citizens of His Kingdom.
“Art Thou A King, then?”. My Kingdom is not of this world. I am a King of eternity. I am a King of all the universe and I am a King of all that which transcends time and space. Seek ye first My Kingdom and everything else will be forthcoming. The Resurrection of Jesus is living proof of His concern for our welfare. The Kingdom was established for our welfare.
CHRIST IS RISEN!
Christ is risen, and the tomb is emptied of the dead; for Christ, having risen from the dead, is become the firstfruits of those that have fallen asleep. To him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.