Of His Eminence Metropolitan Nathanael
At the Doxology to welcome the arrival of
His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
To South Bend and the Holy Metropolis of Chicago
(Sacred Church of Saint Andrew, IN, October 28, 2021)
Your All-Holiness, our Father and Master,
The Holy Metropolis of Chicago rejoices and celebrates, as the “little flock” of Christ today beholds, in the West, the bright face of the Archpastor of the East, Bartholomew, the Archbishop of Constantinople, New-Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch. We ascribe due praise and thanksgiving to the Triune God for Your arrival in our Metropolis, borrowing a phrase from the Book of Revelation: “Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever.”
Today we welcome the Venerable Head of Ecumenical Orthodoxy to the Holy Church of St. Andrew, the First-Called Apostle, who was also first to sow the seed of the Gospel in the spiritual field of what was then known as the city of Byzantium. Undoubtedly, the brightest beacon and greatest accomplishment of the Apostle Andrew’s sacred mission is and will remain the Church of Constantinople, which traces her lineage and foundation to his evangelization efforts.
Of course, the apostolic nets of the First-Called Apostle could not be restricted to the narrow straits of the Bosporus, but were cast “to the ends of the world”: to Achaia, Thrace, and Asia Minor, to Novgorod in Russia, to Ukraine, Georgia, Cyprus, and the Middle East, to Africa, France, and Italy, to Scotland, where he is the patron saint, and more recently, to the New World, to the United States of America, and to this sacred Church dedicated to St. Andrew in South Bend, Indiana.
Throughout the world, Saint Andrew, the First-Called Apostle, was revered as a pillar of the Faith for his preaching of the Gospel, as well as for his martyrdom. Likewise, the Church of Constantinople—the rich fruit of his labor—has attained prominence throughout the world as the supreme guardian and witness of the unshakeable dogmatic teaching, exact canonical tradition, and sacred liturgical order of Orthodoxy. As a faithful branch of the vine that is the Ecumenical Patriarchate, we too preserve “according to the measure of Christ’s gift,” the sacred triptych of ecclesial life—our venerable dogma, the sacred canons, and divine worship—continually watered, together with the entirety of our Holy Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, by the life-flowing springs of the Great Church of Christ. This inspires us greatly, as does the radiant example of Your thirty-year Patriarchal Tenure as the First-Hierarch of Orthodoxy and Patriarch of the Genos (of Christ’s People), especially on the anniversary of Your All-Holiness’s synodal election to and subsequent enthronement on the Venerable Ecumenical and Apostolic Throne of Constantinople. It is a source of great joy for our Metropolis to have You in our midst, blessing and sanctifying us all.
We recognize, Your All-Holiness, that soon You will be honored by one of the most recognized and distinguished institutions of higher learning and research in the United States, a university bearing the name of our Lady, the Theotokos, Notre Dame. Certainly, in this case, as the First-Hierarch of Orthodoxy, and with Your own academic background and love of knowledge, this academic institution will also consider Your visit a great honor in and of itself. All these honors and blessings extend even to our modest community, being that You—despite Your demanding schedule—hastened “with feet exultant,” as a loving and caring father, to visit all of us gathered here today, Your faithful children, the pious flock, and the clergy of the Holy Metropolis of Chicago. In this way, You fulfill the saying of Your predecessor, St. Photios the Great, who declared: “To be Patriarch is to effortlessly make oneself equal to the exalted and to the lowly alike.”
Your All-Holiness, our Father and Master,
On behalf of the entire Christ-loving flock of the Holy Metropolis of Chicago, both those who are present today as well as those who are absent with good cause, especially due to the pandemic, I wholeheartedly and humbly welcome You to this God-protected Metropolis and pray that here with us You will find rest for Your mind and joy in Your heart. I assure You that through the grace of God and by Your Patriarchal prayers and blessings, the clergy and faithful of this Metropolis are tirelessly working “in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night” in the vineyard of the Lord, and that in carrying out the work of the divine harvest, “we put no obstacle in any one’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry.” We remain forever oriented and dedicated to the command of Your All-Holiness, who bears the yoke of “anxiety for all the churches.” We seek once again Your Patriarchal prayer and blessing, so that “He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply our resources and increase the harvest of our righteousness.”
Together with our brethren who have come together today, we express in one voice, welcome Your All-Holiness, our Father and Master! Ὡς εὖ παρέστητε, Παναγιώτατε Πάτερ καί Δέσποτα! May Your years be plentiful, peaceful, and blessed! Amen.