September 19, 2016, Monday — Meeting by the Sea
“Today, with the blessing and on the invitation of His Eminence Archbishop Bruno Forte, the local archpastor of the local Roman Catholic diocese, we, the Orthodox members of the Joint International Commission of Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches, have the great blessing to celebrate this Divine Liturgy here, in this sanctuary of Manoppello, where the holy relic of the image of Christ not made by human hands is kept since the beginning of the XVIth century.”
—Greek Orthodox Archbishop Job of Telmessos, in his homily yesterday in Manoppello, Italy, at the shrine of the Holy Face. Archbishop Job delivered the homily in English. Below is the complete text of the homily, sent to me by Archbishop Job, with his permission to publish it in this letter
“May the Lord, whose image not made by human hands we venerate and who invites all of us to deny ourselves, take our cross and follow him, inspire our work for the unity and the glory of His Church, and for the salvation of His people. To Him, glory and adoration to the ages of ages.”
—from the same homily yesterday by Archbishop Job
The sea waves are foaming white against the rocks off the coast near Pescara today.
What one can not see in a photo is the the waves and sea are quite powerful — one could hardly imagine launching a little sailboat into these waves without capsizing.
I am on the eastern coast of Italy, across the country from Rome.
During these days, the Joint International Commission of Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches (there are 14 individual Orthodox Churches, all in communion with one another) is meeting near here, in the diocese of Archbishop Bruno Forte, a member of the Commission on the Catholic side.
The Commission is seeking common ground on important theological issues which continue to divide the Catholic and Orthodox Churches — especially the issue of papal primacy.
The meetings are taking place not far from the same Adriatic Sea I am watching as I write.
I am not participating in the meetings.
But yesterday, as I wrote in my last letter, I attended a public Orthodox liturgy celebrated at the Shrine of the Holy Face in the tiny town of Manoppello, not far from here.
And I have been able to have some interesting meetings on the fringes of the dialogue.
These meetings have helped me to understand better the difficulties of this slow and delicate process of improving mutual understanding between Catholics and Orthodox.
As I write, I am sitting in a seaside cafe. The water of the Adriatic is only about 40 yards away. The wind is whipping the waves into a white-capped frenzy. This morning there was bright sun, but now the sky has clouded over and it is beginning to rain.
In the cafe, the owner, an old Italian Antonino (photo), tells me he is glad that Catholics and Orthodox are meeting together nearby, because, as he says, “the world needs ‘la serenita — la pace‘” — the world needs serenity… peace.
Above his cash register are photos of his grandchild, a beautiful boy of about one year old (photo).
“I looked exactly like that when I was a boy,” Antonino tells me.
And then he adds (because I have told him a bit about the meeting): “The only chance for the Churches to reunite is for God to perform a miracle.”
“Then what is our role, if it is all in God’s power?” I ask him.
“We must prepare for the miracle,” he says. “To make ready for it when it occurs.”
And then he adds: “Two miracles occurred to me in my life. First, I have had two cancerous tumors, one of my colon, one of my liver, and an operation 10 years ago removed both, and I have had no problem since. That is a miracle.”
“And the second miracle?” I ask.
“It is when I was a year old,” he said. “The Allies were driving the German forces out of Italy, and the Germans were setting bombs in Pescara and the surrounding towns to blow up everything, following a ‘scorched earth’ policy. They wanted to leave nothing valuable for the Allies. And then the Allies began to bombard the region. And my own house was hit. I was just one year old. The house collapsed on me and I was hidden under the rubble, and no one could find me. My parents began excavating in the rubble, and after 24 hours of digging, they dug me out. I was alive.”
“You were under rubble for 24 hours, as a one-year-old?” I asked, astonished.
“Yes,” he said, smiling. “Yes. It was a miracle.”
No doubt the task of arriving at Church unity after a 1,000 years of separation is, humanly speaking, almost impossible.
But perhaps a miracle of God may occur, to overcome the divisions which are so deeply felt, and to bring about the peace and serenity all of us long for, for ourselves and for our children…
Here follows the text of the homily of Archbishop Job delivered yesterday in Manoppello. Telmessos is a titular see; today it is the city of Fethiye, on the southern coast of Turkey.
Homily at the Orthodox Divine Liturgy During the 14 th Plenary Session of the Joint International Commission of Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches
September 18, 2016
By Greek Orthodox Archbishop Job of Telmessos (photo)
Eminences, Excellencies, Reverend Fathers,
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
On this Sunday after the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, we heard the words of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ addressed to each one of us: “If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mk 8:34).
By His sacrifice on the Cross, our Lord and Saviour has offered himself once for all for the salvation of all, as we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews: “having been offered once to bear the sins of many” (Hb 9:28).
The mystery of our salvation has been accomplished by the sacrifice of Christ on the Golgotha and through His Resurrection.
This event became the foundation of our faith as well as the central event of our ecclesial life.
Through baptism, which is our incorporation to Christ and our entrance into this ecclesial life, we have participated in mystery in the death of Christ and in His Resurrection, and we have “put on Christ” (Ga 3:27).
Therefore, we can appropriate to ourselves the words of Saint Paul in today’s epistle: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Ga 2:20).
As St. John Chrysostom has noted, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ does not oblige us, neither constrain us to be saved, but invites us, through our free-will, to participate in His heritage.
“If anyone wishes to come after me…” He says!
In order to follow Him, we need to renounce to three things: first to deny ourselves, secondly to take our cross, and thirdly to follow Him.
To deny ourselves means to leave out our individualism, our egoism, and our egocentrism, which according to His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Albania is the greatest problem and danger in the ecclesial life.
To take our cross means to be ready to die for Christ, to be a martyr, that is to be a witness for Christ and for His Gospel.
We must therefore be courageous in the testimony we bring about Christ in our contemporary society.
To follow Christ means to practice and to incarnate in our life all the Christian virtues, so that we might say that is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us (Ga 2:20).
Thus, by choosing freely to follow Christ, putting aside our egoism and egocentrism, being ready to witness Christ by every little deed in our daily life and reflecting thus the image of Christ around us, we will progress with Him on the path towards His Kingdom.
Today, with the blessing and on the invitation of His Eminence Archbishop Bruno Forte, the local archpastor of the local Roman Catholic diocese, we, the Orthodox members of the Joint International Commission of Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches have the great blessing to celebrate this Divine Liturgy here, in this sanctuary of Manoppello, where the holy relic of the image of Christ not made by human hands is kept since the beginning of the XVI th century.
According to some scholars, this veil corresponds to the soudarion, the cloth mentioned in the Gospel of John, that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head and that was lying separate from the linen in the empty tomb, after His Resurrection (Jn 20:7).
According to another tradition, recorded in the Acta Pilati, this would be the holy face of Christ printed on a veil, the veil of Veronica.
On the way to the Golgotha, Veronica encountered Christ and gave him a veil to wipe off the blood and sweat, and the image of His face was then imprinted on the cloth.
Venerating this holy relic of the Passion and of the Resurrection of Christ, which unites East and West, Jerusalem and Manoppello, we are invited to encounter Christ by being His true disciples, by denying ourselves, taking our cross and following Him.
We are called to receive Him in the Eucharist, and therefore, the sad situation that we, divided Christians, cannot share the same Chalice, as it is the case today at this Divine Liturgy, is a scandal and a wound in the Body of Christ that must be healed.
A very important and significant event in that perspective was the lifting up of the anathemas of 1054 between the Churches of Rome and Constantinople at the end of the Second Vatican Council on December 7, 1965.
Since that significant event, our Churches are now standing in the situation they were before the imposition of the anathemas, that is a state of rupture of communion (akoinonesia), due to historical events and theological disputes.
This state of rupture of communion has to be resolved through the theological dialogue our Churches have engaged into since 1980, which has precisely as a goal the restoration of the full communion between our sister Churches, through the resolution of theological disagreements.
As the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church has declared last June, “the Orthodox Church, which prays unceasingly for the union of all, has always cultivated dialogue with those estranged from her, (…) she has played a leading role in the contemporary search for ways and means to restore the unity of those who believe in Christ. (…) The contemporary bilateral theological dialogues of the Orthodox Church and her participation in the Ecumenical Movement rest on this self-consciousness of Orthodoxy and her ecumenical spirit, with the aim of seeking the unity of all Christians on the basis of the truth of faith and Tradition of the ancient Church of the seven Ecumenical Councils” (Relations, 4-5).
This is why the Holy and Great Council has also underlined that “the Orthodox Church considers all efforts to break the unity of the Church, undertaken by individuals or groups under the pretext of maintaining or allegedly defending true Orthodoxy, as being worthy of condemnation” (Ibid., 22).
Eminences, Excellencies, Reverend Fathers, Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, It is in this spirit that we, the Orthodox members of the Joint International Commission of Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church have come together with our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters to Chieti, and are now working together towards a common understanding of synodality and primacy, one of the most delicate questions in the relationship between our two sister Churches.
May the Lord, whose image not made by human hands we venerate and who invites all of us to deny ourselves, take our cross and follow him, inspire our work for the unity and the glory of His Church, and for the salvation of His people. To Him, glory and adoration to the ages of ages.
— Archbishop Job of Telmessos
Here is some biographical information about Archbishop Job:
Job of Telmessos (born Igor Wladimir Getcha on January 31, 1974 in Montreal, Canada) is an Eastern Orthodox Archbishop of the Ecumenical Patriarchate who was elected to lead the Patriarchal Exarchate for Orthodox Parishes of Russian Tradition in Western Europe in November 2013. His election was heavily influenced by the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I of Constantinople, at the request of the Metropolitan Emmanuel of France. As a consequence, the election of Archbishop Job was achieved after two unknown names were placed on the ballot at a late stage in the election process, inducing the electors to vote for Job Getcha.
A Ukrainian Canadian, Getcha was educated at College Francais (Montreal) and the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg. He studied theology at St. Andrew’s College, Manitoba and the St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute, Paris from which he was awarded a doctorate, jointly with the Institut Catholique de Paris, in 2003.
On January 9, 2004, he was raised to hegumen, and on July 18 the same year, to archimandrite.
He has worked as a lecturer and professor of Church history, liturgy and canon law at various academic institutions including St Sergius, of which he was dean from 2005 to 2007, the Institut Catholique, the University of Fribourg and, since 2009, the Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambesy, Switzerland.
Having been tonsured a monk and ordained deacon by Metropolitan Basil of Winnipeg of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada at Saint Sophia Cathedral, Montreal in 1996, Getcha has served mostly in the exarchate. He was ordained priest by Archbishop Gabriel of Comane in 2003.
Getcha’s tenure as archbishop was marked by deep divisions within the archdiocese concerning the manner in which he discharged his pastoral responsibilities. He was accused by some of his priest and lay faithful of being “authoritarian.”
Removal from office by the Holy Synod
On November 28, 2015, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate removed Archbishop Job from the office of Exarch and appointed him as the Patriarchate’s representative to the World Council of Churches at Geneva.
Therefore, Job remains an Archbishop but does not have any further pastoral or administrative role in the Archdiocese he formerly had in his care.
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What is the glory of God?
“The glory of God is man alive; but the life of man is the vision of God.” —St. Irenaeus of Lyons, in the territory of France, in his great work Against All Heresies, written c. 180 A.D.