October 2003

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Fr. Antony PortraitChrist is in our midst!

To those of you who helped make Metropolitan PHILIP’s pastoral visit such a wonderful affair, I offer my heartfelt thanks. By the grace of God every event went smoothly and was well-attended. The highlight, of course, was the Sunday Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, the ordination to the Holy Diaconate of our own Peter Defonce, the beautiful chanting and singing of the service, the sermon of our Chief Shepherd who exhorted us to “take up the Cross,” the reverent reception of the Holy Eucharist and finally the induction of fourteen of our parishioners into the Order of St. Ignatius.

I was blessed to spend a considerable amount of time discussing important issues facing the Archdiocese with His Eminence. Believe me when I tell you that we are indeed living in interesting times! One never knows how the Holy Spirit will nor where He will lead, but how and where may not be for us to know. Sometimes we just have to follow. My spiritual father once told me “stay away from the cold and the dark, set your course towards Jerusalem and walk.” I am convinced that the vision Sayidna PHILIP has for the Church in America is inspired by God. It is true to the essence of Orthodoxy and alive with a dynamism that is sorely lacking among some of our Orthodox brethren. The path ahead is challenging, but it is also obvious: Orthodoxy in America must proceed without delay towards unity and towards a true identification with the country and culture in which we live. Those who are not willing to cooperate will find themselves left behind as the Church of Jesus Christ moves on. The Lord is not behind us calling us to move backwards nor driving us forward like a taskmaster, He is always in front inviting us to follow him to greater works and new horizons.

Sacrifices will be demanded of us. We will have to endure the criticism of people in “high places.” But if so, then let it be. The road to the Kingdom is narrow and difficult. The Gospel that turned the world upside down in the Acts of the Apostles may well do the same in our time. As a matter of fact, if the Gospel of Jesus is true, living, active and at the heart of our faith, then I think we should expect it.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Antony Hughes