June 15, 2003
To the Venerable Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America
Dearly Beloved in the Lord:
“The Spirit is in us all, and He is the Living Water Which the Lord grants to those who rightly believe in Him and love Him and who know that there is one Father, Who is above all and through all and in us all.”
With these words, Saint Irenaeus of Lyons reminds us of the central truth of our faith - that our God is not a hidden or remote God, indifferent to the plight of His People. Rather, our God is a God Who not only sends His only-begotten Son into the world to transform us and all creation by His unconditional love, but makes us worthy to partake of His divine glory by filling us with His Holy Spirit. And it is precisely through the acquisition of the Holy Spirit that we, like the apostles on the great day of Pentecost, are united together into one body, the Body of Christ, the Church, in the very image of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit itself.
Having had their belief in and love for the Lord perfected by the Holy Spirit, the apostles were convinced “that there is one Father, Who is above all and through all and in us all.” No longer did they sense the need to remain hidden, lest they meet the same fate as their Lord and Savior. Rather, at once they began to proclaim the wonderful things the Lord had done “on behalf of all and for all.” Peter boldly proclaimed his faith to the masses, no longer fearing the consequences which would ultimately befall him and the other apostles. By His death, Christ had conquered death, revealing once and for all that death is neither the end, nor something to be feared. Convinced of this mystery, the apostles devoted their lives to preaching, teaching, and healing, not “in imitation” of the Savior, but as participants and coworkers in the mystery of salvation itself.
While times have certainly changed since the day of Pentecost, the Church’s message has remained the same. The world today is no less spiritually unsettled and in need of that “Living Water” of which Saint Irenaeus speaks than it was in the apostles’ time. And, like the apostles, the Holy Spirit challenges us to quench the world’s thirst, to preach, teach and heal, and to proclaim boldly that God indeed “is above all and through all and in us all.” May the all-holy Spirit renew us on this Great Feast, and may He account us worthy to proclaim the Gospel with the same fervor displayed by the apostles two thousand years ago.
With love in Christ,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada