Writings from His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph
His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph has an extensive selection of text and audio teachings that have been published over the years. The collection will continue to be expanded as he shares new material with the faithful.
Bishop John visited Metropolitan Joseph on July 26, 2014, to receive his blessings and a message for the readers of The Word. Metropolitan Joseph was hospitable, candid and loving. Here is what he had to say.
We thank God for all of His blessings, wisdom and guidance bestowed upon us. I thank our Father in Christ, Patriarch John X, for his leadership, love and constant prayers for this Archdiocese. We pray to almighty God that He will grant our Father, Patriarch John X, strength and perseverance during this critical time in the life of our Patriarchate, especially the challenges and danger facing the people and land of the Middle East. We thank my brother Metropolitans, the members of the Holy Synod of Antioch, for their confidence, their love and their support. I also would like to take this opportunity to thank my brother hierarchs of this Archdiocese for all of their hard work, godly ministry and efforts to maintain the unity and strength of our Archdiocese. We pray that the merciful God will remember our beloved Metropolitan Philip in His heavenly Kingdom and will reward him richly for all of the accomplishments realized during his half-century ministry. He left for us a big legacy to build upon.
Now we begin a new chapter in the life the Archdiocese. The Archdiocese is not one person, but the whole body; metropolitan, hierarchs, clergy, monastics and all the believers.
Update July 23: A full written transcription of His Eminence's speech is available below.
At the closing banquet of the 2014 Clergy Symposium, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America, gave a speech including his initial vision for the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America (beginning at 11:20 in the recorded audio). These remarks are available as an audio recording from Ancient Faith Radio.
His Eminence says in part:
Tonight, I am going to utilize my time by sharing with you my vision for the future of this Archdiocese. I truly believe that each and every one of us is an important and integral part of this body. We are grateful for everything that our beloved Metropolitan Philip of thrice-blessed memory created over the past 48 years. We humbly accept the fruit of his labor, as well as the labor of the faithful who worked alongside him and the legacy upon which we will now build. We have serious work ahead of us. We don’t have time to waste. ...
Your Eminences, Your Graces, my brothers in the Risen Lord; the very reverend, reverend priests and deacons, our beloved clergy; Dear beloved faithful, Saliba family and friends of our God-protected Archdiocese.
Today is the day that we bid the final farewell to our father, brother and friend in Christ of long years, Metropolitan Philip Saliba. How many times has the church echoed with his bass voice, expounding the Gospel of peace and forgiveness?
I express my gratitude on behalf of our Archdiocese for the pastoral care exercised by our father in Christ, His Beatitude, Patriarch John X, and his vicar, His Eminence, Metropolitan Silouan, during this time of mourning over the loss of our Metropolitan. With the care of the Mother Church, the See of Antioch, we here in North America sense in the heart of our souls the community of love guaranteed by the apostolic spirit of Ss. Peter and Paul. We know that our Church will continue and thrive in the spirit of the Gospel because of such faithful and consistent pastoral love.
Contemplating the blessings of the Advent season, at times we ponder whether we have lost our blessings to the material world in which we live. Surrounded by ostentatious displays of wealth and unhealthy indulgences, we realize that they are slowly taking the place of more appropriate preparations for the celebration of Christmas. The very foundation of the Christmas Feast is the birth of an unassuming Child born quietly, humbly. The King of Glory was born of a mother who was turned away from every house, in a cave among the animals who could not speak.
Advent is the time of our preparation to meet the Lord of Lords. Certainly, we desire to offer our best gifts to the Christ Child, but they must be gifts of substance - the gifts of prayer, repentance, forgiveness and love.
On October 8, 2011, Archbishop Joseph offered this homily encouraging parents of adolescents.
"It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth."
"Let no one despise your youth."
1 Timothy 4:12
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Our holy Mother Church teaches us and nourishes us spiritual children with the food of eternal life, even the flesh and blood of the Son of God Who loved us and gave Himself for us. All of us are "children of God" and little brethren of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Father adopted us in the Son through holy Baptism and constantly feeds us with "the good things of Jerusalem," His sweet divine Grace. As those born again from the baptismal font and who live in Christ, we know the sweetness of spiritual youth, learning and growing. Even though our bodies grow old with age, our hearts and minds within become ever young in renewed faith, hope, and love. Truly in the holy Orthodox Church, in the company with the Mother of God and all the saints, we are ever growing, ever young.
On March 10, 2008, His Grace Bishop Joseph addressed the faculty and seminarians at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Yonkers, New York.
Father John Behr, Dean, Father Chad Hatfield, Chancellor, Reverend Presbyters and Deacons, Seminarians and Distinguished Guests:
Over the ages, the practices of the Church have evolved in the ever-more difficult quest to save mankind from spiritual death. While our Lord, Jesus Christ, through His Resurrection, has saved us from the consequences of humanity's fall, i.e., death and tyranny of the evil one, the devil's temptations have remained relentless.
Although religion has played a major factor in shaping the identity of the American Culture, the secularization of the society is inflicting evil on the American mindset. The attempts of de-Christianizing the American culture are ruthless. These malicious attacks are driving the new generation to forsake their centuries-old culture for the sake of self-gratification and alleged compensations.
Whereas the American population is still manifesting religious observances, the genuine characters of these observances are not for the most part worthy of acceptance. Many Churches are undergoing the worst predicament of Faith and Morals in their History. The fragmentation of American Churches into conflicting bodies has uprooted the Christian ethos from the Churches.
For this reason, many individuals and groups are changing their religions and their denominations, inasmuch as they are changing their jobs, their habitation, and their spouses. Many adults leave their cradle faith for another one. Becoming a highly competitive marketplace, religion is a buyer's market where many groups dilute their traditional beliefs in order to compete.
On February 25, 2007, His Grace Bishop Joseph gave the Sunday of Orthodoxy Address in Worcester, MA.
Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers, Reverend Deacons, and brethren in Christ:
On this first Sunday of the Holy Fast, we commemorate our Holy Fathers who struggled, suffered and, in some cases, perished for the sake of the Holy Icons. Since 843 AD, the Church has celebrated this day in honor of those martyrs and confessors whose faithfulness to the theology of icons was upheld at the Seventh Ecumenical Council, and the holy Empress Theodora, who ended decades of persecuting the Church, and restored the Icons.
The question many ask is why would a man or woman suffer and choose death for the sake of mere works of art? The truth is that icons are not simply works of art, but they are something more.
The icon is a type and an image of spiritual reality which constitutes the highest truth. It is a testimony of what exists, showing in itself what it depicts. The icon is a depiction of real people transformed by real grace. The icon bears testimony to the existence of both holy people and the Living God who has true relationships with these people. Icons express the hope for us all, that God has not abandoned mankind.
In the icon, we see that God is not some abstract concept. He is real because we can see His marvelous works in the faces of the saints depicted in iconography. Icons bring all of the truth of God and the saints into us as we gaze upon them, kiss them, and venerate them.
The second council of Nicea (7th Ecumenical council) clearly states: “I venerate the icons and the relics with honor (τιμητικῶς), hoping to have a share in their holiness.”
By Metropolitan Joseph
This article is adapted from a speech given by His Eminence to a Northern California Antiochian Orthodox Christian Women of North America retreat in November, 2002.
How do we attain the Kingdom of Heaven? Where is it to be found? It is very easy for us in the Western world to view this Kingdom as something that one attains as a final destination or ending of a journey. As Orthodox Christians, we believe that the Kingdom of Heaven is Christ Himself, not a physical place or location.
It is within Christ that the Kingdom is to be experienced. For this reason, we cannot think of the Kingdom as something we are either “in” or “out” of. Through baptism and a life of repentance, we participate in the Life of Christ, and thus we participate in the Kingdom. The Kingdom is a dynamic state, wherein we grow in perfection through God’s grace. Our journey is not to the Kingdom, our journey is in the Kingdom.
As long as we are struggling to be Christlike, we are assuredly tasting of the Fountain of Immortality. When the struggle ends and the growth ceases, the Kingdom disappears. It is nowhere to be found. The moment we think we have achieved something, that we have earned our place, then we have lost the Kingdom. Our struggles are meaningless without Christ, and vice versa: without struggles, we are meaningless, because we will lose Christ.