Dear brothers and sisters: parishioners and guests of our celebration!
Today we celebrate the 110th anniversary of the first historic visit of the Russian Orthodox bishop, Saint Tikhon (Bellavin), the future Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus’, to Canada and the consecration of the first Russo-Orthodox church in honor of the Holy Trinity on Canadian soil.
Why was this visit Bishop Tikhon very important for Orthodoxy in Canada? Why do we remember this event today? How should we look at those who continue the service of St. Tikhon in Canada?
What are bishop and priests? How are we to view the pastors of the Church, and the work assigned to them? Let us hear the words that Jesus Christ addresses to His Apostles: “He that listens to you, listens to me, and he that refuses you, refuses me; and he that refuses me, refuses him that sent me” (Luke 10:16). These words the Lord Jesus spoke to the first 70 preachers of His Gospel of Grace. The whole mission of the Apostles, in their sermons and in their lives, was to present Christ. The attitude of the people to those who preach the Gospel of Christ is indicative of their attitude toward Christ Himself, and toward the Father who sent Him.
What is the bishop’s or pastor’s mission to the world? Is he to be a social worker, an architect, whose business is to erect schools and recreation centers, to raise money through dances and banquets, raffles and bingo? Many people today seem to think in this vein.
St. Ignatius the Theophorous wrote: “Without bishops, presbyters, and deacons, the Church does not exist.” St. Chrysostom views the calling and ministry of the priesthood as above that of the angels. St. Basil thinks that there is no mission more important than that of the priest. And St. Paul calls the priests “ministers and stewards of the mysteries.”
It is evident that there exists in the Church a special order, that of the clergy, to which has been given a spiritual authority “to feed the church of God.” This is the position and the duty of the pastors, of the sacred clergy who received their uninterrupted succession from the Apostles.
Bishops, presbyters and deacons are not employees in the same sense as those who are privately or publicly employed. The priest is divinely called and appointed by God. He has as a pastor the spiritual authority necessary to shepherd his flock.
In the Church there is to be an order of things. St. Paul writes, in his first Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 14, verse 40, “Let everything be done in a proper and orderly way.” God Himself has established this order in His Church, and no man or organization of men can violate it or overthrow it. Yet there has always been some amount of disorder in the Church; it is for this reason that we have had so many heresies and schisms over the centuries. In the times in which we now live, however, a revolutionary wind, and a spirit of disobedience seem to prevail everywhere, even among the co-workers of the priest. Sometimes these people, lacking in proper understanding of the priesthood and the Church, adopt methods and manners not only foreign to the Orthodox Christian faith, but diametrically opposed to it.
Let’s be real Christians in our Holy Church, and worthy spiritual children of Saint Patriarch Tikhon, and every year gather in this holy place to strengthen and evidence our true faith in Christ!
We greet you all, dear brothers and sisters, with today’s celebration. Through the prayers of St. Tikhon, may the Lord preserve you and your families in good health, spiritual joy, and every happiness. May our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ send His blessing with upon each one who came today to glorify with love and prayer our intercessor before God.
SAINT PATRIARCH TIKHON, PRAY UNTO GOD FOR US! Amen.
Saint Tikhon, Patriarch and Confessor of Moscow and All Rus’ visited and served at this Holy Place along with many other known Orthodox priests of the Moscow Patriarchate. Since 1997 a great shrine – an icon and a piece of the Holy Relics of St. Tikhon are enshrined in the church.