FROM ARCHBISHOP ANTHONY
July 4, A. D. 2017
To the Most Reverend and Right Reverend Hierarchs, Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of The Orthodox Archdiocese of America (New York)
Dearly Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In the so called Secular American Religion there are two major feasts, the 4th of July and Thanksgiving Day. The first teaches us that we do not bow to any other man or nation. And the second, Thanksgiving, reminds us that we owe our existence to Almighty God.
But do not be deceived by the current revisionist “take” on the original documents. The appeal to God is woven throughout the Declaration of independence:
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness....
We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown....–And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
We find later in the Constitution the statement that there should be no “establishment of religion” meaning that unlike England where the Anglican Church was the established Church, America would not have one expression of religion, but many. Unfortunately our courts have taken the idea of freedom of religion to sometimes be interpreted as freedom from religion. They appealed to Thomas Jefferson who wrote of a “wall of separation.” However Jefferson’s writings are not the mind of the founding fathers nor present in the official founding documents.
Today there is an appeal by many for freedom from government which is getting more and more intrusive in our lives. Some of these measures (the Patriot Act) are reactions or responses from very clear and present dangers. Others may be considered “over-reach.” Time alone will tell.
Finally, on this weekend, let us remember that our freedom was won and is maintained by the high costs of the sacrifices of many men and women….and that the love of country is a good and noble thing.
I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.
And there’s another country, I've heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.
--Sir Cecil Spring Rice
Faithfully in Christ,
Archbishop of New York
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Over the years, some have asked to have a copy of Archbishop Anthony’s Prayer. Here it is: