The Word Magazine November 1985 Page 3-4
Final Address of His Beatitude, Patriarch Ignatius IV
1985 Archdiocese Convention
Thank you Saidna, thank all of you. I was told that I have to speak with a louder voice, in spite of the fact that I am “scared” this morning. With so impressive an assembly, with such excellent chairmanship, of course. . . I say so because I do not often see it — but you know that much, much more than myself.
I was wondering when I came here how this Archdiocese would express its motto for this year . . . that it will be a Holy Antiochian Year. Then I thought there should be two aspects of the life of the Archdiocese (to this expression). One directly related to inject something (Antiochian) into this year, and second, to inject something which is holy. How then do I see the expression of these two aspects through the multiple visits I have already had, through the multiple observations I have made, the multiple activities I have already been informed about. I see that all the life of our Archdiocese cannot forget its general context: it is ANTIOCHIAN, it is ORTHODOX, it is in NORTH AMERICA. And all of these factors most certainly determine a specific reaction and a specific kind of activity. With regard to “Antiochian” it seems to me that everything has been done so that this consciousness of being Antiochian exists to the fullest.
I have seen many things in the celebration of the Holy Liturgy that put us in the tradition of Antioch. I have seen some of our
priests, most of them I would say, being “immersed”; I was going to say “baptized” completely in the Antiochian Spirit. I have seen that the Antiochian point of view, theologically and spiritually, has been expounded in many, many aspects, in many expressions, in many ways. I have seen our boys and girls, our SOYO, Teenager and Senior, studying the Saints of Antioch, speaking of the virtues of those Saints, of their theological discourses that we have to appropriate. So many times I have heard that emphasis on the Incarnation of our Lord. Here we have much of the purity that we long for, the purity of the spirit of Antioch. Here you have spoken of man. You have spoken of both natures of our Lord, Jesus Christ, His Divinity and His Humanity. I like very much some of the expressions defining more precisely our relations to the past. That it is not in order to make an idolotry of the past when we refer to the Fathers and to our Traditions. Because it is there too (not there only) that we find the face of our Lord, Jesus Christ. And when we read, when we refer to the Fathers, it is for the sake of that person, it is that person (Christ) that we seek and want to find for ourselves. Because Christ is He who was and who is and who will be, always, the same.
I have seen the Holy Communion. I remember that some of our priests spoke in their sermons sometimes of people who sleep in Church. They said the truth. But I know that many of those I have seen were not sleeping. On the contrary, they were very courageous, very zealous. They approach the Holy Mysteries frequently, with reverence, with seriousness and I should say so for I believe that this is a reality that we have to speak about.
I have seen more than that. I was very happy to see books concerning Orthodox Life on display. I always wonder why our homes do not become small churches. And how can they become small churches if the Word of God is not set in a certain way there, in any circumstances. Even on Birthdays, there is no mention of God on that occasion. Then I was relieved myself seeing those books, coming to enrich the furniture, the spiritual furniture of our homes, because our homes are supposed to be spiritually rich. I like all that. In the Old Country, I have always asked our people to keep a corner at home for the members of the family in case they want to read, to find something to read; in case they want to pray, to find a peaceful corner in which they can talk to God. How can a faithful person not talk to God? How could he express his faith? Where can he get his faith from without talking to God?
I have seen a little more. With our SOYO, young men and women, I felt that it’s here we should expect that opening we are eternally longing for — that opening toward the future; to expand; to go, as I said to our priests and as I am quoting from the Scriptures, to go forth; to move; not to be contented with repetition, just repetition. Our young people here are so dynamic, they want to move, they want to move to Latin America, they want to move to the people who were not touched by Orthodoxy even in the United States and Canada. They want to be in contact with the old country, with the Patriarchate, they want to feel that their family is unlimited. We are a real family – an open family, receiving every year new members, leading those members to the Orthodox Faith. I was so happy for that. This is the Spirit of the Apostles. This is the Dynamis — dynamic force of the true faithful people. Your faith is not just yours. You cannot freeze it. You are nor allowed to freeze it. Your faith is entrusted to you so that it can be communicated to others.
I have seen that the Holy Year has been sanctified by such concerns, by much prayer, by much goodwill and good planning. And I believe that this day (and this Year) God sanctified His Creation. He did create and then He sent His Spirit on that creation to sanctify it. I know our time is limited. Already I am looking at my watch. But I wish to affirm that you are responsible for the next step! And I always consider even the end of a convention as a beginning, a point of departure toward something that has not taken place yet.
May He who sent His Holy Spirit on the Apostles, He to whom you have prayed at the beginning of this meeting, continue to send His Spirit on all of you, to give all of you thoughts, vision and good spirit and goodwill so that we can build (unite) our Church according to the will of its Chief, who is our Lord, Jesus Christ. And, of course you join with me in praying for Saidna (PHILIP) and his collaborators without whom I would not be able to conceive that such work be possible and such achievement be possible. All of you may the Lord bless you; Saidna, God bless you.