Sermon at the nomination of Archimandrite Luke (Murianka) as Bishop of Syracuse
From the Editors: On Monday, February 11, 2019, at the conclusion of small vespers and the reading of the rules before Holy Communion, the rite of *nomination of Archimandrite Luke (Murianka) as Bishop of Syracuse took place at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, at which the nominee read the following sermon:
Your Eminence, Eminences, your Grace, Godly-wise Archpastors!
“Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me.” (Ps. 54,6). “I am straitened on every side” (Daniel 13, 22).
With fear and trembling in my heart, with great turmoil I come to your summon, for if according to the words of St John Chrysostom, few priests will be saved, what can await me in the future life?
By God’s will and the decision of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad, though clearly unworthy, I am called to this obedience of hierarchical service, and I express my gratitude, acceptance and do not oppose.
I have seen leading me throughout my life, the Hand of God, Providence. All of my ancestors hail from the same region of Carpathian-Russia. My paternal grandfather organized parishes under the Russian Church when he arrived in America. It was he who brought me into the altar for the first time to serve when I was four years old. On my mother’s side there are many generations of priests and four bishops, one who was a confessor for Orthodoxy against the Uniate heresy. My parents guided with simple Christian wisdom, and my father piously and conscientiously worked out his salvation as a funeral director, by burying all of the Orthodox Christians in Philadelphia. The memory of death was always present at home with the fragrance of incense and the singing of pannikhidas.
While studying at a local university since 1970, I attended services at the monastery, and in 1975 I entered the monastery with the firm intention to become a monk. My first years were spent studying in Seminary and working in the garden under strict obedience to Monk Germogen. I was able to learn much about the spiritual life, piety, and Church life from many of the fathers who are now reposed. This was especially true of my almost daily conversations for guidance about life in the Monastery and Seminary with Metropolitan Lavr who was exceedingly patient, never hastily making decisions and always seeking first a blessing from God. Their advice and wisdom have guided me to this day. Although I never wrote any of their words down on paper, they remain in my heart. However, now I will write this down. Once, when out of vanity, I mentioned to Hieromonk Ilarion, now Metropolitan, “ St. Luke, my patron, had so many talents to emulate. He was a missionary, apostle, historian, physician, iconographer, martyr.” Vladyka responded, “ All true, but you should emulate his holiness!”
Immediately after finishing Seminary Vladyka Lavr gave me the obedience of teaching. Gradually my involvement increased both in teaching, furthering my education, and in administrative duties. Although I never sought to be a clergyman, and any form of administrative or office work is the complete opposite of my natural inclinations, not my will but God’s will has been done in me, including this present very awe-inspiring day. Providence has also arranged that this consecration takes place on the Feast of the Three Hierarchs, the heavenly patrons of our Seminary. Their God inspired writings and lives are for us the source of guidance for our spiritual improvement and advise us in making decisions concerning Church life in our present stormy and confusing circumstances.
“ [Although] For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me” (Ps. 50,5) But my hope is expressed by St. Paul, “For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God…”. (2 Cor. 13,4) is that through the mercy of the Holy Trinity, the prayers and intercessions of the Holy Mother of God, the Holy Three Hierarchs and all the Saints I will be given the strength to carry out this new obedience in a worthy manner, and that it will be to my salvation and those for whom I am responsible, repeating at the Last Judgment the words of the Apostle, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Tim. 4, 7-8) Amen.
* The "announcement" of a candidate to the episcopacy as having already been duly approved by the hierarchy for consecration.