Sermon by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, Upon Entrusting the Episcopal Staff to Newly-Consecrated Bishop Luke of Syracuse
Your Grace Bishop Luke,
Beloved in the Lord Brother of Mine,
Both of This Monastery and Now In Archpastoral Service:
I extend my heartfelt congratulations on your receiving the great grace of episcopacy. Grand and joyous is this feast day not only for you, but for the brethren gathered in this monastery dedicated to the Life-Originating Trinity. Now Christ has set you upon the “candle-stand” of hierarchal service after a very long time living in this monastery. Entering here in your younger years, you performed the podvig of spiritual labor under the shelter of this monastery and under the guidance of elders wise in the ways of monasticism. The entire way of life here is directed towards one goal: to emulate Christ as possible: prayer, divine services, obedience, active struggle with sin and the attentive reading of the works of the Holy Fathers and Teachers of the Church, including the Ecumenical Hierarchs being celebrated today. It is this path in maturing in Christ that a monk follows, when he humbly carries the yoke of the Gospel. While studying such knowledge of properly ordering one’s soul and its eternal salvation, many lanterns of the Church departed to solitude in the wilderness and in monasteries, and then, as a result of heresies, schisms or difficulties in the administration of the Church, they would be called to a special form of service to the Church.
And now in these difficult times of weakened faith, divisions and temptations in inter-Orthodox affairs, the persecution and sufferings of believers, the Chief Pastor calls you to the lofty service to His Church, “which He purchased,” as we sing during these days, “with His honorable Blood.”
What spiritual qualities are demanded of a bishop during such exceptional times? Of course, first of all firm faith and complete subjection to the will of God. When a helmsman confidently holds the wheel of the vessel he steers, then all the passengers are at peace. So it is with the ship of the Church. When the ship’s helmsman not only firmly believes in God but trusts in His leadership, then prayerful, peaceful, calm and constructive life reigns in the Church.
Apostle Paul writes to his disciple Timothy that he remember the genuine faith which his grandmother and mother has possessed before, and which establishing himself in this must be the subject of his constant efforts. “Take heed unto thyself,” he says, “and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:16).
May the edifying examples of the many ascetics who are buried here, many of whom you knew personally, serve to your spiritual benefit, consolation and strengthening in continuing their great work. May they point you to every truth!
Receive this staff as a symbol of new responsibilities lain upon you today, ascend the cathedra, lift your monastic hands over the monastics and worshipers gathered here, who await your first Archpastoral blessing.