Writings from His Eminence Metropolitan Philip
Excerpted from “Out Of The Depths Have I Cried: Thoughts on Incarnational Theology in the Eastern Christian Experience,” by Metropolitan Philip Saliba and Fr. Joseph Allen, Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1979
What can we say of Jesus and our depths? What is needed to let his presence flow forth? To touch the Christ that lives in our depths, we must experience like the child and the poet. These are the ones who live with their hearts, who will see the kingdom. “Lest ye be like the children.”
Why do we now emphasize the need for childlike and poetic qualities? A child is a poet who has not been taught. A poet is a child who has not been spoiled. St. Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is man most fully alive!” But life is never lived – never really lived – until we can experience the beauty of the cosmos.
We have referred to experience, good and bad. A child and a poet are sensitive to experience in the valuable sense. It is how they relate to life. Experience is the most immediate consciousness of reality; it tells us exactly what is happening to us when we and reality touch.
Experience is the memory, the record, the impression of life on a person. Experience happens when a child runs freely into the world and is confronted with pain and joy. Experience happens when the poet beholds the sea and the mountains and allows the words which capture them to mysteriously pour forth. Experience is not learned as such; it is lived, if we let it. As we have said, it can be misused. But then, so can the name of God, faith, scripture, sex. In spite of that, experience, like that of the child and poet, is how we best locate Jesus flowing from our depths.
Your Eminences, Your Graces, Reverend Clergy, Esteemed Members of the Board of Trustees, Generous Members of the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Energetic Members of the Antiochian Women of North America, Members of the Fellowship of St. John the Divine, Beloved members of SOYO, and members of our Parish Councils throughout North America and all faithful of our God protected Archdiocese.
Before I address the theme of our convention, first, I would like to convey to you some very good news about our Archdiocese. We have completed the purchase of property and buildings in York County, Pennsylvania for the establishment of the Convent of St. Thekla Monastic Community at a price of $885,845. The property is located in Glenville, Pennsylvania and consists of 51 acres of land which includes a four bedroom “move in ready” house, a two story barn, and a three car garage with an attached workshop. The property also has a pond, and includes 30 acres of farmland and 7 acres of woodland. Our original plan was to build this convent at the Antiochian Village. However, it became clear that the cost of building at the Antiochian Village would have been $4,091,907. This is a total saving of $3,206,062. The purchase was funded by money saved in the Archdiocese from an endowment fund by the late Archimandrite John Matthieson, money which has been raised by the Antiochian Women, and generous donations from individual members of the Archdiocese Board of Trustees.
Since the so-called Arab Spring began in Libya in 2011, we have seen the devastation and destruction of that Arab country by Libyan and NATO forces. This Arab Spring has since spread to Tunisia and Egypt, the most populated Arab country. This fire has burned relentlessly in Gaza and all of Palestine since 1948. It is spreading into Jordan, Bahrain, and Iraq and has caused the most devastation in Syria, where many of us have ancestral roots. Unfortunately, the American and European news outlets are not reporting such stories to the world, neither through the written word nor graphic photographs like the ones you see in this sad issue of The WORD magazine. The WORD has been able to obtain these pictures and information from reliable sources. Syria has been most victimized and experienced the most devastation by this seemingly endless war. The WORD believes that the only country that can bring peace to this most explosive region of the world is the United States of America, because America has leverage over Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Europe.
Primate’s Message Delivered at Biennial Parish Council Symposium
By Metropolitan Philip
From The Word, December 1994
Esteemed members of Parish Councils:
On behalf of the entire Archdiocese, I would like first and foremost, to welcome you to the Antiochian Village and especially to the Heritage and Learning Center. While here, I am sure that you will have the opportunity to see our camping facilities where your children spend some of their summer. You will also see our library which now houses more than twenty-five thousand volumes. Moreover, you will see our museum and School of Iconography, our beautiful dining room and the rest of our fine facilities. Surely, without your cooperation, the Heritage and Learning Center would never have existed. I am most thankful to you.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Excerpted from “Out Of The Depths Have I Cried: Thoughts on Incarnational Theology in the Eastern Christian Experience,” by Metropolitan Philip Saliba and Fr. Joseph Allen, Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1979
We are never totally aware of how God is moving in our lives, how He is active in our existence. We do know that He is there, that “in Him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). We are in Him and He is in us. But we are never totally conscious of just how He is there, and what are His motivations for our lives.
The Fathers of the East have known this truth of His “incomprehensibility” and have variously expressed it, remembering that we see, as Saint Paul said, “darkly, as through a glass.” Not understanding completely, we wonder in fact if we can lure Him into doing what we want. We make a “deal”: if this happens, I will do this or that. We sometimes make our faith conditional, even though our faith must be there in spite of what happens – not because of what happens.
We try to comprehend it all rationally, with our heads, but it does not work like that. We know such things not with our heads; we know them with our hearts – we intuit, we perceive, we sense, we experience. This is dangerous, as we will see, and yet it is truly the deepest kind of knowing.
But even with this kind of knowing, God’s existence in our lives remains only partially in our awareness; the rest is out of our awareness.
by His Eminence Metropolitan Philip
from The Word, December 1968
It is easy to lose sight of the miracle of Bethlehem in our modern world of pressure politics and commercial Christmas. This annual reminder of the continuous presence of the Divine in our wayward world is a necessary thing for us all; nothing is more usual, nothing is more miraculous than the birth of a child: every child’s birthday is a reminder of the presence of God in the world.
The atheist forces of the world try to tell us that God does not exist, that there is no connection between man and the eternal cosmos, the eternal mystery; they tell us that we are slaves of the world and of the material forces of existence. And yet, our experience tells us that GOD IS: too many aspects of our life clearly reflect the presence of the divine, the presence of God, among us. The birth of a child tells us this truth; the birth of the Divine Child sums up the common experience of all mankind.
The present troubles of our world seem overwhelming; the sorrow, the injustice, the poverty, the wickedness of war, the inhumanity of man to man, the distortion of the divine image which we cause, is everywhere; we have lost sight of God, and we suffer; the renewal that comes with the birth of our Lord can restore us, if we perceive it with the eyes of faith, and the simplicity of a child.
The blessing of our incarnate Lord be with you all, this Feast of his Nativity, and throughout the coming year!
What shall I offer you on your birthday in return for your infinite love?
I have neither gold nor silver, neither myrrh nor frankincense.
My house is without a roof. I have no room for you; not even a manger.
My soul is even darker than the clouds of my passion.
My eyes are too dim to look beyond the horizon of myself.
Help me behold your bright star; "For in thy light we shall see light."
This speech was delivered by Metropolitan Philip on the Sunday of Orthodoxy in 1984 in Worcester, Massachusetts. It is excerpted from Metropolitan Philip: His Life and His Dreams, by Peter E. Gillquist, published by Thomas Nelson Publishers in 1991. Click here for more about Metropolitan Philip.
Once every year, on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, the Orthodox people in America emerge from their ethnic islands to celebrate the triumph of the Orthodox Faith over the iconoclastic heresy. This victory happened in the year AD 787, 1197 years ago. I am proud of our history; for those who have no past, have no present and will have no future. There is a difference, however, between contemplating history and worshiping history.
During the first one thousand years of her existence, the Church was courageous enough to respond to the challenges of her times. Many local councils were called, and seven ecumenical councils were convened to deal with important issues which the Church had to face. The question now is: What happened to that dynamism which characterized the life of the Church between Pentecost and the tenth century?
Did God stop speaking to the Church? Did the action of the Holy Spirit in the Church cease after the tenth century? Why are we always celebrating the remote past? Have we been lost in our long, long history? I wish we could gather to celebrate an event which happened five hundred years ago or two hundred years ago or perhaps something which happened last year.
by Metropolitan Philip
Fifty years ago, Divine Providence or my destiny brought me to these blessed shores of the United States of America. After a short stop in Boston, i.e., a semester at the Greek Theological School of Brookline, Massachusetts, and a summer working at John Stevens Factory in Boston, I received a scholarship from Wayne State University. Thus, I came to Detroit and lived at the rectory on East Grand Boulevard. Sometimes, when I didn’t have the bus fare, I just walked to the General Motors Building, turned a corner and walked straight to Wayne State University. Two years later, at the end of 1958, I graduated.
On March 1, 1959, I was ordained a priest for St. George Parish of Cleveland, Ohio, where I spent seven of the most beautiful years of my life. In March of 1966, after the falling asleep in Christ of Metropolitan Antony, I was nominated to succeed him as Archbishop of New York and all North America. On August 5, the Holy Synod of Antioch elected me as Metropolitan of this God-protected Archdiocese. On August 14, I was consecrated Metropolitan Archbishop, and on that day I promised:
“to visit and watch over the flock now entrusted to me, after the manner of the Apostles, whether they remain true to the faith, and in the exercise of good works, more especially the Priests; and to inspect with diligence, and to exhort and inhibit, that there be no schisms, superstitions and impious veneration and that no customs contrary to Christian piety and good morals may injure Christian conduct.”
Needless to say, the formative years of my episcopacy were most difficult. …
by Metropolitan Philip
Beloved Hierarchs, Your Eminences, Reverend Clergy, Esteemed Members of the Board of Trustees, Members of the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Members of the Antiochian Women of North America, Members of St. John the Divine and Members of SOYO, Parish Councils and Delegates to this 48th Archdiocese Convention:
The theme of our convention this year is chosen from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians, “Building up the Body of Christ, until we all come to the unity of faith” (Ephesians 4:12-13).
Before I address the theme of this convention, which is “Unity of the faith,” I would like to joyfully reflect on a very significant event which took place in this Archdiocese, not one thousand years ago, but twenty years ago when we welcomed home more than two thousand former Evangelicals into canonical Orthodoxy. That was indeed another Pentecost and another chapter to be added to the Book of Acts. It is meet and right to celebrate this recent event because we Orthodox are always celebrating the remote past.
Twenty-five years ago, I said in one of my sermons, on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, “the triumphalism of the past cannot save us from the sterility of the present and the uncertainty of the future.” The Holy Spirit will work with us if we courageously respond to the Divine challenge. The reception of the former Evangelicals to Holy Orthodoxy was a positive response to the Holy Spirit and an affirmation of our Lord’s commission: “to make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19).
Your Beatitude Metropolitan Herman, Your Grace Bishop Tikhon, Very Reverend Father Michael Dahulich, Dean of St. Tikhon’s Seminary, Members of the Faculty and Beloved Seminarians, I am honored indeed to be standing on the same ground which was hallowed by the presence of one of the great Orthodox confessors of the twentieth century, St. Tikhon, later Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia. It is very interesting to note that St. Tikhon was a contemporary of St. Raphael of Brooklyn, who was canonized a few years ago by the Church at this very same Monastery. Throughout the years, St. Tikhon’s Monastery has played a tremendous role in Orthodox theological education in North America, which culminated in the establishment of St. Tikhon’s Pastoral School in South Canaan in 1938. We are indebted to you for the education of our Antiochian seminarians and all seminarians, especially with emphasis on pastoral theology.
I was humbled to be asked to deliver the commencement address today. The commencement day usually belongs to graduates. My remarks today, however, are directed to all seminarians. Commencement day is an occasion of great joy and great expectation. Joy, because after years of theological study and spiritual preparation, you have realized your academic goal. And expectation, because sooner or later, you will be ordained to shepherd the flock of Jesus Christ in our broken world. In his first letter, St. Peter said: “Attend the flock of God, that is your charge, not by constraint, but willingly, not for shameful gain, but eagerly, not as domineering of those in your charge, but being an example to the flock” (I Peter 5:2-3).
By Metropolitan PHILIP
July 31, 2006
Cana (modern spelling is “Qana”) is a little village in South Lebanon which was blessed by the presence of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, his Holy Mother and his disciples. Cana is the Village where Christ performed his first miracle by changing the water into wine at the marriage feast. (John 2: 1-11). Thus, Cana is deeply rooted in our Christian history.
Unfortunately, in modern times and due to the conflict between Israel and Arab nations, including Lebanon, Cana has been the victim of Israeli aggression twice: once in April 1996, when an Israeli rocket killed 105 Lebanese men, women and children. And second, on Sunday morning, July 30, 2006, when an Israeli rocket killed 60 people, including 37 children. This indiscriminate killing is against the Geneva Convention, the United Nations Charter and all laws of civilized nations.
This savage war is between Israel and Hezbollah. Lebanon has no air force, no navy and no large military force. As a matter of fact, the Lebanese army is not involved in this war at all. This war, then, is between Israel and Hezbollah. Why is Israel bombing Lebanese cities, villages, bridges, roads and killing innocent men, women and children – in the south and north, east and west of Lebanon? According to UN statistics, more than 800 civilians have been killed, many of them children, and more then 800,000 Lebanese have been made refugees in their own country. Israel knows very well where Hezbollah is. Why doesn’t Israel fight Hezbollah on its own turf? Why is Israel bombing civilian cars, motorcycles and pickup trucks carrying food for hungry people and medical supplies for the wounded? Lebanon is a poor country; the devastated infrastructure will cost billions of dollars to rebuild.
- edited by Father Joseph Allen, Th.D.
I see three main issues which define our Orthodox Christian theology.
First, the doctrine of man in our theology is based on the biblical view which was fully defined by our Church Fathers. Man has all the potentialities for perfection, simply because he was created in the image of God. St. Maximus the Confessor states:
Those who followed Christ in action and contemplation will be changed into an even better condition, and there is no time to tell of all the ascents and revelations of the saints who are being changed from glory to glory, until each one in order receives deification.
Man was not created to be a slave, neither to society nor to history, neither to science nor to technology, neither to communism nor to capitalism. Even though nature has limitations, these limitations can be overcome by the sacramental life of the Church. Each and every one of us can become Christlike through prayer, contemplation, and action. St. Maximus further says:
While remaining in his soul and body entirely man by nature, he becomes in his soul and body entirely God by grace. Deification involves the whole human being.
All the ancient Greek dichotomy between body and soul disappears in St. Maximus. When God created man, He created him as a whole being, and when man collapsed, he collapsed not partially but as a whole being. Likewise, when man was redeemed, he was redeemed totally, body and soul. Through the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, God enters into union with the whole man.
The second issue is the theology of hope. While other Christians have focused their eyes on Calvary, we have focused ours on the empty tomb. Do we not experience this reality every year on Easter morning when we shout, “Christ is risen from the dead”? In I Corinthians 15:14, 22, St. Paul said:
- edited by Father Joseph Allen, Th.D.
The central biblical theme regarding our Ecclesiology is taken from the first Epistle of Saint Paul to the Corinthians 3:9-17:
We are laborers together with God: you are God’s field. You are God’s building. But let every man take heed how he builds; for no other foundation can man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Every man’s work shall be made manifest, for the day shall declare it. For it shall be manifest by fire, and the fire shall try every man’s work, of what sort it is.
Certainly we do not organize for the sake of organization. We do organize in order to coordinate our efforts, so that our vision and dreams for a Christ-like Church might be fulfilled and realized. The purpose of all our organizations is to grow spiritually in Christ. If we fail to do so, then all our organizations and all our efforts will have been in vain. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and everything else will be added unto you.”
For many years we have been administering our local parishes under a false dichotomy, under a dangerous and completely un-orthodox dualism. Thus, we have been preaching two kinds of theologies: one for the church upstairs, and one for the hall downstairs. We do not believe in this “upstairs-downstairs” theology. Nor do we believe in the existence of two classes in the parish opposing each other: namely, clergy versus laity. This kind of dualism has caused us many problems.
—edited by Father Joseph Allen, Th.D.
Our Lord Himself was indeed the missionary par excellence. In Matthew 4:23 we read: “And He went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people.” And in the “fullness of time,” the “Word became flesh” and entered time on a mission of salvation. He was sent by the Father to make us “partakers of the Divine Nature.”
In John 20:21, Christ said: “As the Father has sent Me, even so I send you.” The Church, which is the extension of Christ in time and space, was sent by Christ to missionize and evangelize. Evangelism means “to preach the Gospel.” “Woe unto me if I do not preach,” said St. Paul. After the birth of the Church on Pentecost Day, the Apostles and early Christians went about the oikomene, the known world at that time, preaching the Gospel and missionizing, despite their persecution and the monumental difficulties which they had to face. Although the Church was born in Jerusalem, Antioch became the greatest center for missionary activities. It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.
There are many stories about the missionary travels of the Apostles. It is clear, however, that Christianity did not spread throughout the entire Roman Empire until after the Edict of Milan. The Pax Romana presented what Michael Green describes as both opportunities and difficulties for evangelism. Some of the opportunities were (a) peace and unity; (b) philosophical hunger; and (c) religious dissatisfaction.
Some of the difficulties were:
The Most Reverend
Archbishop of New York and
The Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese
358 Mountain Road, P.O. Box 5238, Englewood, NJ 07631-5238
TO BE READ FROM THE PULPIT AND PUBLISHED IN THE PARISH BULLETIN
July 25, 2006
What is a merciful heart? It is a heart that burns with love for the whole creation—for men, for birds, for beasts, for demons and for every creature. —St. Isaac the Syrian
Christmas music is filling the air. In every home there is a Christmas tree; some are real and some are plastic. Lights of every color are glittering in windows, shops, bars and even the discos. Some people are selling, some are buying, some are eating, some are drinking and some are starving to death.
I put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on my door because Christmas Eve is a very special and private time to me. I want to be alone in order to embrace all men and love all things. In the depths of my aloneness, the past, the present and the future become one single moment. In the depths of my aloneness I experience that boundless love which encompasses the whole creation. I am alone on Christmas Eve but not lonely, because in Christ Jesus there is no loneliness and there is no separation. The walls are destroyed and the barriers are no more. The Child of the manger has reconciled everything to Himself; henceforth, there is no race, no color, no conflict and no hatred; in Him there is "a new heaven and a new earth."
“He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one to His own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:5-6)
“O Christ Saviour, we were but yesterday buried with Thee, and we shall rise with Thee in Thy Resurrection. We were but yesterday crucified with Thee: glorify us with Thee in Thy kingdom.”
(Verse from the Third Ode of the Paschal Canon)
Beloved Hierarchs, Clergy, Trustees, Parish Council Members, and All Faithful of our God-Protected Archdiocese:
Christ is Risen!
I greet you with the Paschal greeting, praying that our Risen Lord will bless you and your families as we celebrate His glorious Resurrection from the dead. As we live in the midst of a world plagued by war, famine, crime and moral decay, we have no other hope than to look to our Lord who destroyed death and gave new life to all. This new life and hope should strengthen us to overcome all of these destructive forces and, in fact, enable us to speak out against them. Indeed, as Christ ended the “wailing of Eve by His Resurrection,” we must also “proclaim that the Saviour is risen from the dead.”
May the eternal light of the Empty Tomb shine in your hearts and in the hearts of people everywhere.
Wishing you a glorious Paschal season, I remain
Yours in the Risen Lord,
Primate, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
TO BE READ FROM THE PULPIT AND PUBLISHED IN THE CHURCH BULLETIN
October 20, 2003
Beloved Hierarchs, Clergy, Trustees, and All Faithful of this God-Protected Archdiocese:
On Saturday October 18th, 2003, by the grace of God, we returned safely from our historic trip to Damascus to attend the meeting of the Holy Synod of Antioch. On Thursday, October 9th, 2003, after two days of intense discussion, the Holy Synod of Antioch voted unanimously to grant self-rule to the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America. The full text of the Resolution of the Holy Synod is attached for your review.
I wish to express my gratitude to His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius IV and the members of the Holy Synod of Antioch for their unanimous expression of support for this Archdiocese.
I am extremely pleased and grateful to God on several fronts for the outcome of this meeting. First, that the Holy Synod of Antioch, in granting self-rule to this Archdiocese, has unanimously affirmed the need for us to move forward and to make important decisions in the life of this Archdiocese which will allow it to stand as a beacon of hope for now and for the future. Second, that the unanimity of this decision has demonstrated not only the unity of the Church of Antioch, but our ability to make decisions, guided by the Holy Spirit, which protect the best interests of the Church. Third, that our own internal deliberations and decision making, fully involving all of the clergy and laity of this Archdiocese in an orderly process which insures that the voice of the people is heard, has borne the fruit of these decisions. Finally, that our travels were blessed by God with safety, productivity, and fellowship.
June 27, 2002
TO BE READ FROM THE PULPIT
Esteemed Members of the Board of Trustees
And all Faithful members of our God-protected Archdiocese:
Greetings and best wishes in the spirit of this Holy season of Pentecost.
I have just returned home, together with my delegation, after a very successful journey to Syria and Lebanon. We were extremely busy participating in the meetings of the Holy Synod of Antioch. And we bring to all of you the blessings and best wishes of our Father-in-Christ, His Beatitude, IGNATIUS IV, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East. In the September issue of the WORD Magazine, you will read a full account about our entire trip.
We have very good news. The Holy Synod of Antioch has blessed and recognized the autonomy of our God-protected Archdiocese, not “in theory” as it was wrongly reported, but in reality.
The following is the translation of the Synodal decision which was adopted unanimously on Thursday, June 13, 2002:
“The Holy Synod of Antioch, at its regular meeting, held at the Patriarchate in Damascus, Syria, from June 11 to June 14, 2002, and having reviewed the plea of the General Assembly of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, which was adopted in Los Angeles, CA, July 26, 2001, and has been submitted to His Beatitude, Patriarch Ignatius IV and the Holy Synod blesses the wish of its children in the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, and recognizes their Archdiocese as autonomous.