Metropolitan Tikhon on the Beginning of Great Lent 2014

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Source: OCA.org.

Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon on the Beginning of Great Lent 2014

Christ

March 2, 2014

To the Very Reverend Clergy, Monastics and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke’s account of the parable of Prodigal Son, we hear the following words of the son to the father:  “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.”  While all of us have received the spirit of sonship (Romans 8:15), like the Prodigal Son, we have squandered that gift and have rejected the pledge of future inheritance.

And yet today, we are given that opportunity to come before our Heavenly Father as repentant children, crying, “Abba, Father, turn not Thy face from Thy servant, for I am afflicted; hear me speedily, draw near unto my soul, and deliver it!” (Psalm 68/69:17-18).  The present season of repentance allows us to assess what we are doing with our lives, discerning what has caused us to turn away from sonship and striving to regain the spirit of sonship through the acquisition of love.

Through the examples of Moses’ forty days and nights without food or drink on Mount Sinai, and the forty days and forty nights that our Lord fasted in the desert, we are reminded of Saint Simeon of Thessalonica’s words: “Fasting is the work of God.”  And it is this work that takes place in the arena of repentance—Great Lent.

While our battle takes place within this world, we know from the words of the Apostle that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (2 Corinthians 10:4).  Rather, the weapon given to us by our Lord is His commandment to “love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34).  This commandment is the basis on which we will be judged by the Son of Man at His awesome second coming.  When we saw the least one hungry, did we love him?  When we saw the least one imprisoned, did we love him? When we saw the least one homeless and a stranger, did we love him? If we do any of these tasks, if we give of all that we possess but do not do it in response to Christ’s commandment, we have gained nothing (1 Corinthians 13:3).

We are given this time of the Great Fast to grow closer to God and His Holy Church.  But, before we can even begin to take steps toward a closer relationship with our Lord and Savior, we must learn to love, for “whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8).

Brothers and sisters: I too have sinned before heaven and before you, and thus I beg your forgiveness for my failings, and I ask for your prayers as I assure you of mine.

As we enter together into the season of Great Lent, let us “cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light, that having sailed across the great sea of the Fast, we may reach the third-day Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of our souls” (Apostikha at Vespers, Sunday of Forgiveness).

With love in Christ,
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The Paschal Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon

Source: OCA

To the Venerable Pastors, God-loving Monastics and Devout Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America

“We celebrate the death of death and the overthrow of hell, the beginning of another life which is eternal; and in exultation, we sing the praises of its source.  He alone is blessed and most glorious, the God of our Fathers.”

(Paschal Canon, Ode 7)

Dearly Beloved in the Lord:

The central mystery of the Christian Faith is the glorious Resurrection of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, through which mankind is offered the gift of another life, which is eternal. This miracle of divine and everlasting life was wrought for us in a most remarkable way, for our Lord accomplished it by voluntarily suffering His Passion, being nailed to the Cross and descending into the tomb and into hell.

Pascha

To the world, suffering is understood as something to be avoided at all costs.  The Cross is perceived as foolishness, while the reality of death is ignored as often as possible. But Christ takes the very things the world fears and uses them, not only to reveal His glory and His power, but to share that power and glory with us. He voluntarily endures suffering to free us from our suffering.  He ascends the Cross to bring joy to a world that is so often shrouded in war, destruction and hatred.  And He willingly endures death so that He might trample it down and reveal that, in the risen Lord, it has no power over us.

Throughout our beautiful Paschal services, we sing of the great paradox of eternal life, revealed and accomplished through death: of mortality, clothed in the robe of immortality; of the Sun of Righteousness shining forth from the tomb; of death being trampled down by death. Christ, Who is Life itself, dies for us, so that we who are dead might live. We no longer fear those things that the world fears, for they no longer have power over us. As Saint John Chrysostom reminds us in his magnificent Paschal homily, “Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. He who was prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into hell, He made hell captive.”

Let us, therefore, rejoice in the Risen Lord and be strengthened to face our own struggles with courage and hope, knowing that the Lord is ever with us. As we celebrate the bright and joyous day of His Resurrection, let us exclaim with the Apostle Paul, “O death, where is thy sting? O hell, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).  And let us all partake of the Banquet of Immortality, the Feast of Faith, with joy and thanksgiving.

With love in the Risen Lord,

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+TIKHON
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada

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Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon

Source: OCA.

Great Lent 2013 To the Very Reverend Clergy, Monastics and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In his first Epistle, the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian writes: “This, then, is the message which we have heard of Him and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). There is no darkness at all in Christ, Who is “Light of Light, True God of True God;” and there is no darkness in His Bride, the Holy Church, for in her “the light of Christ illumines all.”

We are entering the sacred season of Great Lent which, externally, might be perceived as a season of darkness and gloom, reflected in the somber color of the vestments, the physical exertion of fasting and prostrations and the labor of long services. But in reality, though externally dark, this season places us on the path that brings us to the eternal light of the Resurrection and the glory of the Kingdom.

The season of repentance introduces us to the reality of that glory, through our participation in God’s divine grace, which is both freely given to us and experienced through our own efforts, small as they may be and daunting as the struggles may seem. This is why Saint Silouan can say, “Glory be to the Lord that He gave us repentance. Through repentance we shall, every one of us, be saved. Only those who refuse to repent will not find salvation, and therein I see their despair, and shed abundant tears of pity for them.”

We can only find true peace and lasting joy when we are led out of the despair of our passions and into the light of Christ by His Grace and through our labors of repentance, fasting and prayer. As we enter upon the struggles of the Fast, let us be encouraged as we listen attentively to the sacred hymns of the Church: “Let us joyfully begin the all-hallowed season of abstinence, and let us shine with the bright radiance of the holy commandments of Christ our God, with the brightness of love and the splendor of prayer, with the purity of holiness and the strength of good courage. So, clothed in raiment of light, let us hasten to the Holy Resurrection on the third day, that shines upon the world with the glory of eternal life” (Sessional hymn, Matins on Monday of the First Week).

I humbly ask for your forgiveness and pray that the Lord will bless each of us with a profitable and peaceful Lenten journey.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

 

 

+TIKHON Archbishop of Washington Metropolitan of All America and Canada

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Metropolitan Tikhon: Sanctity of Life Sunday 2013

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Source: OCA.org

Sanctity of Life Sunday 2013

Sanctity of Life

January 27, 2013

To the Hierarchs, Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America

Dearly Beloved in the Lord:

As we make our way into the civil New Year, we continue to grieve over the tragic loss of the innocent lives at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Those directly affected by this most recent act of violence, as well as those who have suffered through the many other examples of inhuman brutality during the past year, undoubtedly will require a long period during which they can find healing for their broken hearts and answers to their questions concerning the providence of God and the goodness of humanity.

Our society is increasingly weary of the sting of death and human sin and wary of the proclamations of hope and life coming from religious circles. Young people, unconvinced by shallow theology and hypocritical sermonizing, are increasingly identifying themselves as unbelievers, atheists, questioners or simply confused. People of all ages are losing faith or becoming critical of it, in part because they do not seem to find a satisfactory Christian response to tragedies such as the Newtown and Aurora massacres.

As Orthodox Christians, we too dwell under the shadow cast by every assault on the sanctity of human life, whether it be against the unborn, the infirm, the terminally ill, the condemned, or innocent school children. We, too, wrestle with the same questions with which society wrestles, since every one of us faces the same reality of death. But unlike those who have no hope, we know that, just when death seems to have gained the victory, life blossoms forth, as seen most clearly in Christ’s arising from the tomb on the third day.

The same paschal confirmation of death being swallowed up by life is revealed in our most recent celebration of the feasts of the Nativity and Theophany of Christ. The months of December and January are the richest in commemorations of some of the most venerable saints of the Church: Prophets and Ancestors who pave the way for the birth of the Savior and Hierarchs, Confessors and Monastics who shine with the glory that was revealed at His baptism. But no less proclaimers of His glory and His life are the martyrs, including those little ones who suffered incomprehensibly—the Holy Innocents.

We proclaim, as Orthodox Christians, that all life is a participation in and reflection of the One Who is Life Itself. And we do so, even in the midst of the insanity of this world, knowing that human passions and human sin may cause destruction in our communities. But Christ Himself, by His example of voluntary suffering, reminds us that we have our part to play in proclaiming life. If we are to transform the collective heart and mind of our society, we must begin by transforming our own hearts and minds.

Heeding the Gospel, let us remain faithful to the vision of human life as a sacred gift, recommitting ourselves to defending the lives “of all mankind,” as we pray at every Divine Liturgy. And let us commit ourselves to bearing witness to the life of Christ in all we do, say and think, so that even in small ways, we might proclaim the glory of the Kingdom not yet fully revealed, but already fully present in our midst.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
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+TIKHON
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada

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Metropolitan Tikhon’s Nativity Message

Source: OCA.org

Archpastoral Nativity Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon

The Great Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord 2012

Nativity of Christ

“I behold a strange mystery: instead of the sun, the sun of righteousness contained ineffably in the Virgin. Seek not how this is so, for where God wills the order of nature is overcome. It was His will, He had the power to do so, and thus He came down and saved us.”

—Saint Athanasius the Great, Homily on the Nativity of Christ

Grace and Peace from our Savior Born in Bethlehem to the Honorable Clergy, Venerable Monastics, and Pious Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America.

My Beloved Brethren and Blessed Children in the Lord,

God’s infinite love for us has once again accounted us worthy to bow down in worship before the great mystery of the incarnation of God the Word. We do so with deep reverence and spiritual gladness in the knowledge that if we worthily celebrate the feast of the Nativity, our souls and our countenances will be made radiant with the heavenly light of our Redeemer.

Worthily celebrating the feast means drawing near the divine Christ child with deep gratitude and humility even as the Magi approached the celestial revelation of divine love with their symbolic gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, even as the Shepherds did so with their guileless faith, simple piety, and undivided heart. The spiritual joy that the faithful experience at this time of the year is so very different from the emotional, external, and temporary pleasures that the world offers. Christian joy wells forth from a deep spiritual awareness of God’s unbounded love revealed so fully in the incarnation of God the Word. The Lord of glory who was born as a child in the days of Herod the King in the humble cave of Bethlehem is eternally born in the humble and repentant hearts of the faithful in a mysterious way that does not intimidate us with a display of divine power and dominion.

Through the feast of the Nativity, the Holy Church teaches us the mystery of God’s freely offered love that neither coerces nor constrains. Referring to the divine incarnation, Saint John Chrysostom remarks, “Today, Bethlehem has become like the firmament above, for in that town angels hymning God take the place of the stars and the Sun of righteousness in a marvelous way takes the place of the physical sun. Where God so wills the laws of nature are overcome. And God so willed, it was in His power, and He did save man, for all things are obedient to God. Today, the eternal One becomes what He was not. While still being God, He also became human without ceasing to be divine. This wondrous and ineffable condescension was hymned with a loud voice by all His angels.”

Beloved in the Lord, the Nativity of Christ is the unfailing surety that we are not lost in a dangerous, meaningless world in which we blindly wander into an unknown darkness. Christ Jesus, our Light, is in our midst! He shares in our life, our struggles, our worries, and even our death, “that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil… for in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to help them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:14,18). Now that the Son of God has become the Son of man with His advent on earth, we know the true God, and we know the truth that sets us free. Even further, we are brought to life and given the strength to fight the good fight, for we know that we are no longer alone and unable to rise to life’s challenges, but that with the Apostle Paul each of us can confess “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). Let us prepare, my brothers and sisters, the manger of our hearts by keeping His divine commandments, so that the Savior and Redeemer of the world might be born and dwell in us. Then, we can truly experience within us the peace “which passeth all understanding.” Then, the inner man of the heart will be radiant with the unsetting light of Christ who “illumines every man that cometh into the world.” From the depths of my soul I wish all of you a blessed and sacred feast of the Nativity of our Lord,

With heartfelt prayers and the ineffable love of the Holy Christ child,

+ Tikhon
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada

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Biography of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon

Archbishop Tikhon was born Marc R. Mollard in Boston, MA on July 15, 1966, the oldest of three children born to Francois and Elizabeth Mollard. After brief periods living in Connecticut, France, and Missouri, he and his family settled in Reading, PA, where he graduated from Wyomissing High School in 1984. In 1988 he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in French and Sociology from Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, PA, after which he moved to Chicago.

In 1989 he was received into the Orthodox Church from Episcopalianism and, in the fall of the same year, he began studies at Saint Tikhon Seminary, South Canaan, PA. One year later he entered the monastic community at Saint Tikhon Monastery as a novice.

After receiving his Master of Divinity degree from Saint Tikhon Seminary in 1993, he was appointed instructor in Old Testament at Saint Tikhon Seminary. He continues to serve as Senior Lecturer in Old Testament, teaching Master level courses in the Prophets and the Psalms and Wisdom Literature. He is also an instructor in the seminary’s Extension Studies program, offering courses in the lives of the Old Testament saints, the liturgical use of the Old Testament, and the Old Testament in patristic literature.

Archbishop Tikhon collaborated with Igumen Alexander (Golitzin) in the publication of “The Living Witness of the Holy Mountain,” published by Saint Tikhon Seminary Press, by illustrating this classic book about Mount Athos.

In 1995 he was tonsured to the Lesser Schema by His Eminence, Archbishop Herman, and given the name Tikhon, in honor of Saint Patriarch Tikhon, Enlightener of North America. Later that year he was ordained to the Holy Diaconate and Holy Priesthood at Saint Tikhon Monastery. In 1998 he was elevated to the rank of Igumen, and in 2000 to the rank of Archimandrite.

In December 2002, he was appointed by Metropolitan Herman to serve as Deputy Abbot of Saint Tikhon Monastery.

His Beatitude, Metropolitan HERMAN presided at the consecration of Archbishop Tikhon [Mollard] to the episcopacy at Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery on

Archbishop Tikhon was elevated to the rank of Archbishop on May 9, 2012.

On November 13, 2012, Archbishop Tikhon was elected Primate of the Orthodox Church in America at the 17th All-American Council.

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AXIOS! Archbishop Tikhon elected Metropolitan of All American and Canada

Archbishop Tikhon, Archbishop of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, was elected Primate of the Orthodox Church in America during the 17th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America at Holy Trinity Church here Tuesday, November 13, 2012.

Six hundred and sixty three hierarchs, clergy and lay delegates and observers representing OCA parishes across the US, Canada and Alaska participated in the Council. Five hundred and ninety were eligible to vote.

The Council opened with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy and, at noon, the plenary session.  After the celebration of a Service of Thanksgiving and the singing of the troparion invoking the Holy Spirit, Archpriest Eric G. Tosi, OCA Secretary, opened the plenary session.

“Christ grows brighter as we grow dimmer, as we approach the eternal light,” said His Eminence, Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate, Locum Tenens of the Metropolitan See, in his opening address. “And it is within this context that we gather today for one purpose: to glorify Father, Son and Holy Spirit… and to elect the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America.”

No single candidate received the required two-thirds margin on the first ballot. On the second ballot, His Eminence, Archbishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania and His Grace, Bishop Michael of New York and New Jersey, received 317 and 355 votes respectively.

The members of the Holy Synod retired into the altar where they elected Archbishop Tikhon.

A photo gallery of Monday evening’s registration, Vespers and reception may be accessed here. Additional information and photos will be posted as they become available.

Podcasts of the Council proceedings may be accessed on Ancient Faith Radio.

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