In the midst of the joy of Pentecost, the Grace of the All-Holy Spirit, which conducts the sacraments, has deemed us worthy to celebrate two blessed events today: 1) Mr. Maxime Lesage’s entrance into the ranks of the holy priesthood through his ordination to the Diaconate, and 2) the fifth anniversary of my enthronement to the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s historic eparchy in Scandinavia and the 30th anniversary of my ordination to the Diaconate, within the framework of celebrations, commemorating the semi-centennial of the Holy Metropolis of Sweden and the 130th anniversary of the construction of the St. George Cathedral of Stockholm.
Our local Church is particularly happy, because with Mr. Maxime Lesage’s ordination, the number of priests in our clergy registry has grown to 13 over the past five years. We also celebrate the establishment of nine new parishes and the entrance of 102 new members into the Orthodox Church, through adult baptisms and chrismations for heterodox.
My beloved Sub-Deacon Maxime,
I am certain that at this very moment of your ordination, you will feel the tongues of fire that appeared on the day of Pentecost descending onto your heart and soul. You will feel the breath of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, calling you to serve, sing praises, and glorify God.
Soon, we will call upon the Holy Martyrs and we will glorify Christ, the head of this celebration, the exultation of the Apostles and Martyrs, the reason for triumph and victory crowns. We will proclaim the consubstantiality of the Holy Trinity. You will walk around the Holy Altar three times, led by your brother priests. During this sacrament, witnessed by heaven and earth, you will be accompanied by our Lady the Theotokos, the Angels, the Apostles, the Martyrs, and the faithful.
All of us who serve the Church, we minister to the people and celebrate the sacrament of their healing, salvation, and union with Christ. The saints of the Church are our quintessential healers, for they have been restored to full spiritual health. Your work is to bring the problems and needs of the people into the midst of the Church and strengthen them. Do not forget that the Lord’s prayer begins with the words “Our Father,” not “My Father.”
The Church is co-constituted in a spirit of love and exists in this world to “bear witness” to love and make it present, because only love can create and transform. A Christian life is genuine when we love the cross more than we love our comforts, when we love the struggle more than the victory, when we experience the Kingdom of God as more real than the events of history, when our faith is stronger than our rationality, when we discern the truth more through the Mysteries or Sacraments than the things we can rationally comprehend, when we are more prayerful and less pensive during difficulties, when we ascertain that grace is more effective than the strength of our individual struggle, and when our brethren are closer to us than our very selves.
Place the love of God and not the views of the people as your life’s criterion and guide, and do not heed the pettiness of hypocrites or the excessive formalism and fanaticism of those who twist the faith.
I hope that you shall always walk on the path of the resurrection, on your personal and familial journey to Emmaus. Stand before the Holy Altar of the Metropolitan Church of the Annunciation of the Theotokos in Oslo, where you shall be assigned as a Deacon, and experience the reality that the Lord is present on the Holy Diskarion and that His Most Precious Blood is inside the Holy Chalice, so that you may undergo the most decorous transformation through divine Grace.
Allow me to convey to you, beloved candidate, your wife Delphine, as well as your esteemed company from Oslo, Fr. Alexander and Mrs. KyriakiPapadopoulou-Samuelsen, the paternal wishes and blessings of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the senior-most, highest ranking, and supreme Spiritual Leader of the Orthodox Church worldwide, from the martyrous Phanar in Constantinople, from where I just returned. The Spiritual Center of Orthodoxy Worldwide is a true place of martyrdom and testimony; the wellspring of Romanity and Orthodoxy.
Be eternally grateful to God for choosing you to minister to Him, and to your brother clergymen, who serve in our parishes with devotion, here at the far ends of Europe, and they shall support you, together with our faithful people.
We all pray that the feeling of joy inside you today will grow day by the day and blossom into a lifetime of responsibility, voluntary self-sacrifice, and above all, service without complaints in the Risen Christ.
Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of your Lord!