To the Most Reverend and Right Reverend Hierarchs,
Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers,
Deacons, Subdeacons, Acolytes, Seminarians, Monastics, Laity and Friends
of The Archdiocese of America, the Anglican Vicariate,
and the Diocese of East and Southeast Asia:
Dearly Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
In a day when people in the USA seem to be gathering behind one of two animals: an elephant or a donkey I suggest there is a better choice. Both the elephant and donkey divide people. Both claim a long history and the absolute truth. But the reality is that neither the elephant nor the donkey can bring us truth and peace. And those who believe in their promises are most often disappointed.
I suggest that the Lamb is a far better choice to gather around! The Lamb has been around for a long, long, time! The Lamb has seen wars and rumors of wars, he has been steadfast in season and out of season, in good times and in bad. He understands poverty, deprivation, homelessness, betrayal, abandonment, frustration, torture, and even death. Yet the Lamb has shown that even death cannot break his promise that He “would be with us always….even to the end of the world.”
By now you have figured out that Jesus Christ, “the same yesterday and today, the alpha and the omega” is the Lamb who is the only one worthy of our total loyalty. We call this “faith” and though faith implies total trust, it also implies living everyday for the one to whom we have pledged our allegiance.
The Orthodox West had a motto during Lent “Memento More” - “Remember death”. From the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday, when ashes are sprinkled on top of our heads (the older practice) we are told by the Church “Remember man, you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Quite a sobering thought! It leads to questions like “When will I die?” “What is it like to die?” “Will I be prepared?” It is this last question that leads us to make the most of Great Lent.
Lent is a time when we become very introspective. We know that God can heal us. We review our lives doing a thorough, deep, fearless and searching inventory of our lives. We then confess our sins to our confessor/spiritual father. We make a list of those whom we harmed and be willing to make restitution, ask forgiveness, and in the case of those who have wronged us, extend forgiveness. We then seek to have more conscious contact with God through the Eucharist, daily prayer, and acts of compassion toward others.
So by now you may be asking…does this work? Yes! Others have taken this outline in even non-religious arenas and the results are miraculous. Men and women are healed and freed from the most gripping of addictions, sanity is restored in their lives, and many find Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. You see, people put their trust in elephants, donkeys, alcohol, drugs, sex… their thinking becomes muddled…they become “human doings” rather than human beings.
It is only when we become powerless and admit it, that the freedom and resurrection begins! Only when Jesus says “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” that the story begins to focus on the resurrection. When we “die to self” a spiritual resurrection takes place within us. No longer will we have the fear of facing death. We shout “O death where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” and joyfully we sing “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling on death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!” Then we shall see the Lamb of God carrying the banner of victory in resurrection.
May you have a spiritually profitable Lent.
Fraternally in Christ,
Archbishop of New York
The Holy Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church of America
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Archbishop Anthony’s Prayer
HOLY ORTHODOX CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH