“You are the salt of the earth […]. You are the light of the world. A city located or, a hill can’t be hidden. Neither do you light a lamp and put it under a measuring basket, but on a stand; and it shines to all who are in the house. Even so, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven”
Episcopal service, according to the teaching of the Scriptures, has had and still is of unspeakable importance. Especially in today’s world of relativism and consumerism, rejection of clear, traditional values, great threats to our physical and spiritual health, the fall of all authorities.
Episcopal service is the light of a lantern that guides a lost man of the 21st century through the rough seas of the modem -world to a safe harbour in paradise. A bishop is a rock of faith for the faithful entrusted to him by God.
The bishop does not look at others but is the first to join the ranks of the Lord’s disciples. He is called by Christ himself to proclaim the Holy Gospel, not only in “safe Jerusalem”, but wherever the good God finds His children, he teaches “in season and out of season” (cf. 2 Tim. 4:2), in thought, word and deed. He is a living Gospel, making the Master present here and now.
His life is rarely quiet and peaceful. His teachings are seldom well received. To the great and small of this world, he points out mistakes, rebukes sins, condemns pride and calls to humility.
Although he himself often feels lost and tired, although often – so purely humanly – he wants to hide in order to taste such rare minutes of respite, he cannot do so, because “Neither do you light a lamp and put it under a measuring basket” (Mat 5:15).
The love he carries inside commands him to be a model of peace when a deadly battle is played out, to be an example of wisdom when stupidity triumphs in society, to be a sower of love when the world glorifies hatred, to be a vaccine for doubt, weariness, fear, loneliness, etc.
The apostles were hard and steadfast rocks in their Christ ideals. They were the first in humility and love. They were and they still are!
Just look at His Beatitude Daniel.
Seventy years ago, in the godly family of Alexie and Stela Ciobotea, the Lord brought into being little Dan Ilie. He led him through his native universities in Sibiu and Bucharest, as well as foreign ones in Bossey, Geneva, Strasbourg, Freiburg, so that he would become familiar with the broad Christian view on theological issues and confront them with the rich tradition of the Holy Fathers and Mothers of Neamț, Putna, Voroneț, Humor, Moldovița and others.
Thanks to that that he can beautifully and harmoniously combine the Romanian Church tradition, the hesychasm of St. Nicodemus of Tismana, with the scientific heritage of the whole world, as well as look at contemporary phenomena and challenges through the prism of the eternal and ever-present tradition of Holy Orthodoxy.
No wonder then that when the Lord crossed our paths at the end of the last century, still in the lands of Moldova and Bukovina, a deep friendship was born in our hearts. Beloved Romanian Patriarchate and the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church are two Sisters with a common heritage.
Does St. Peter Mogila, the diamond of Moldova, is not the crown jewel of the Church in Poland? It was his “Catechism”, written in our lands than went to the Romanian Church, and the Slavic translation of “Philokalia” made by our beloved St. Paisius Velichkovsky came from Romania to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Are we not united by St. Paraskeva? Who if not the Patriarch of Bucharest Miron, as one of the first hierarchs of the world Orthodoxy, blessed our autocephaly, and we welcomed with joy the elevation of the Romanian Orthodox Church to the rank of patriarchate. We were therefore happy to welcome His Holiness Patriarch Teoctist when he visited our country in November 2000, accompanied by the Metropolitan of Jassy, Daniel.
We greeted him with equal warmth when he was in our land in February 2004. We could not do otherwise, remembering with the great intention he accepted our humility when in September 2000 good God allowed us to tread on the holy Romanian ground.
It was during that visit he opened Romanian monasteries, churches and his heart to us. Secu, Sihăstria, Neamț, and finally Durău with the grave of the Venerable Father Cleopa, which have been forever remain in my heart. Prayer, talks, stay at the Theological Seminary of Metropolitan Veniamin Costachi, and above all deep theological conversations, true Christian brotherhood, openness to the problems of the faithful and the clergy, concern for youth and theological education, a deep analysis of the spiritual threats of the modern world, a penetrating mind firmly rooted in the Orthodox tradition – showed me how a great Man of Providence God is preparing for the Romanian Church. With deep regret, in 2007, in my prayers I escorted Patriarch Theoctist to his final resting place, and with undisguised joy, I welcomed His Beatitude, Locum tenens of Caesarea Cappadociae.
Since then, we have had so many interesting and uplifting conversations, consultations and discussions. By letter or in person, as it was in case of Crete Council in 2016.
All in the spirit of partnership and brotherhood. Is there a need to talk about the great involvement of His Holiness in educational and charitable activities, about the restoration of world monuments of Romanian sacred art, about the nourishing monastic state, about thousands of vocations to the priesthood, about great ecumenical openness but inscribed in the unwavering foundation of the Orthodox tradition?
Everything will be easily seen by anyone who takes a look at Romanian everyday life. “By their fruits you will know them […] A good tree can’t produce evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree produce good fruit” (Mat 7:16-18). This one sentence closes the truth about Patriarch Daniel.
Good God knows where to put his best candles. It’s good that the Candle knows what it was lit for.
On behalf of the fullness of the Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church, I wish His Beatitude, on such a wonderful Jubilee day, a lot of health and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
May Almighty God give His Beatitude strength and peace, inexhaustible energy and inexhaustible love. May through His Beatitude, God bless our Beloved Sister, our Romanian Patriarchate, allowing him to be a thriving and fruitful vineyard of the Lord for all time.
On the day of the Patriarch’s Jubilee, I unite myself in prayer with my Beloved Brother, regardless of the thousands of kilometres separating us.
True friendship overcomes the distances and high peaks of the Carpathians. I hear His prayers for us and I assure of our prayers for Him… I thank God for the years of our friendship and I hope to continue it.
Once again, I cordially greet and congratulate you on such a beautiful Jubilee. May the All-Merciful God give His Beatitude many more years of worthy service for the good of the whole of Orthodoxy and other people, for the glory and benefit of Romania, because if “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8), then what do these 70 years mean? This is just the beginning of a beautiful and long path.
I would not be a friend of the Romanian Church and its Superior Patriarch Daniel, if I did not conclude, to quote St. Apostle Paul, exhort: “Not lagging in diligence; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; enduring in troubles; continuing steadfastly in prayer” (Rome 12:11-12).
Mnogaja leta, Your Beatitude! One hundred years, Your Beatitude! La Mulți Ani, Stăpâne!
Orthodox Metropolitan of Warsaw and All Poland