SAN FRANCISCO: September 6, 2008
Metropolitan Hilarion Heads the Rite of Nomination of Archimandrite Theodosius (Ivashchenko) as Bishop of Seattle
Today, at the Cathedral of the Mother of God Joy of All Who Sorrow, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion celebrated the Rite of Nomination of Archimandrite Theodosius (Ivashchenko) as Bishop of Seattle, in concelebration with His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany and His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, His Grace Bishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada, His Grace Bishop Michael of Geneva and Western Europe, His Grace Bishop Peter of Cleveland, and His Grace Bishop John of Caracas.
At the end of the Rite of Nomination, Archimandrite Theodosius delivered the following address:
Your Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, Your Graces, most honored fathers!
It has pleased the Lord that, through you, the true ministers of the Church of Christ, He declare His will to me, a sinner. What can my mouth utter; and is it possible for human imperfection in general to comprehend the economy of God?
After the resolution of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad concerning my election as candidate for the episcopal ministry, the first things that occurred to me were the words of the holy and righteous Job the Much-suffering: "…that which I feared, the same hath overtaken me" (Job 3:25).
Having nothing wherein to boast save my infirmities alone, how will I bear the responsibility I will now receive from you? At this time, my soul is seized with great trepidation. This state is like that which I experienced twenty years ago, when I received the monastic tonsure in the cradle of Orthodoxy, the Far Caves of the Lavra of the Caves of Kiev. I studied much while I was within the walls of that ancient monastery of Holy Russia, one of the estates of the Mother of God. The clergy and elders of the Lavra, who had survived persecutions and the liquidation of the monastery, served as its living chronicle. The accounts they related confirmed me in my faith, and their wounds bore witness to their struggles and the recent era of persecutions.
I am also grateful to the Kiev Theological Seminary, which opened at that time on the grounds of the monastery, and where, through the efforts of the instructors, the seed of the divine Truth was sown in our souls.
I desired to serve the Lord in that place, to which He had called me. But while our intention suggests one thing, life determines otherwise. Well did Bishop Barnabas (Belyaev), one of the blessed hierarchs of our Church who struggled in the last century, say: "Man chooses the path, but the Lord directs his steps."
And so, even though I envisioned this path of service to the Lord, He set for me one such as is described by St John of the Ladder: "I desire ovesight [episcopacy] over my own heart" (Discourse 28:51).
Yet apparently it pleases the Lord, through you, divinely wise hierarchs, to appoint for me another great service to Him.
I would not dare take this responsibility upon myself if I did not feel that it is not my will that is being done, but that this is being prepared by the Lord.
I remember the words of the Rite of the Monastic Tonsure, which were read by the abbot of the Lavra when I received the tonsure: "It behooveth thee, who art setting out on the path which leadeth to the kingdom of heaven, not to turn back; for thou wilt not be guided toward the kingdom of heaven if thou wilt prefer aught to God" (Rite of Tonsure to the Lesser Schema).
I trust only to the power of God, which is made perfect only in weaknesses.
I find strength for myself in the examples of the holy hierarchs of our Church:
Considering himself unworthy, St John Chrysostom strove to avoid episcopal consecration, and later, having accepted it as the will of God that guides all toward salvation, he became Archbishop of Constantinople.
And St Nicholas of Myra in Lycea, who struggled in the Holy Land and lived in a cave not far from the town of Bethlehem, and who desired to spend his whole life there, heard the voice of God: "Nicholas, go and serve the people if thou desirest to be crowned by Me. This is not the field in which you will produce the fruit I am expecting; but turn to the people, that My name may be glorified in thee" (Life of St Nicholas).
Gregory the Deacon, who fled from hierarchal consecration, was discovered by the bishops and the clergy of Agrigentum in the Monastery of St Mercurius and was then made bishop of that city.
In them, as in many other holy hierarchs of our Church, is glorified the genuine monasticism from which the true episcopacy proceeds, and which stands as a good model of contemplative and active service on the field of the Lord.
Looking to these spiritual giants, but lacking anything similar in my own life, I put my trust in the help of God. I ask the Lord to grant that I may fight the good fight and fulfill all that is needful for the hierarchal ministry, of which the Gospel says this:
"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood" (Acts 20: 28).
And I dare to address to the Lord the words of the holy and righteous John of Kronstadt,, the centennial anniversary of whose repose we will mark this year:
"Bind me, O Master, in the sweet captivity of Thy Holy Spirit, that for Thy glory and the salvation of Thy people I may pour forth my words like streams of the south” (Psalms 125: 4), “Grant me the sweet and mighty interior conviction to set forth freely, as on a scroll, the fullness of spiritual visions and sensations. Let my tongue become as the pen of a swiftly writing scribe” (Psalms 44: 2), the most Holy Spirit.
With the Apostle Paul I wish to give thanks to the Lord for His great mercy:
" Now thanks be unto God, Who always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of His knowledge by us in every place" (II Corinthians 2:14).
In my own prayer, which is offered up to the Protectress of the Christian race before her all-pure images—the Joy of All Who Sorrow, on whose feast day the Lord vouchsafed that I receive holy baptism, the Kursk-Root Icon, the Directress of the Russian Diaspora, the myrrh-streaming Iveron Icon—the eschatological significance whereof is bound up inviolably with monasticism, I ask the help of the All-Holy Virgin Mary.
I address the glorious and All-Immaculate Ever-virgin with the heartfelt sighing of the holy and righteous John of Kronstadt: "O Mistress, grant me purity of heart, simplicity of heart, filial trust, commitment and love for thee always" (My Life in Christ, p. 195).
I call to my assistance in prayer the holy hierarchs of God Tikhon of Zadonsk and John of Shanghai and San Francisco. Their labors are a good example for our edification, and the miracles wrought by them continue to strengthen souls weak in the faith.
I offer my deepest thanks to all who directed me to the path of monastic service. To my mother I am indebted because at an early age I came to know Christ, and through her prayers I was able, while yet a youth, to determine my vocation in life.
I ask the Lord to grant rest to my departed guides and relatives, the elders and eldresses, in the mansions of the righteous. Their counsels, bold supplications and prophecies helped me to understand aright the manifestation of the will of God.
My spiritual helpers who are still alive may the Lord strengthen with power from on high.
I offer my gratitude also to His Holiness Patriarch Alexy of Moscow and All Russia. It is with his blessing that I set out on this path of my new service.
As I take up my work for the Lord with fear—Your Eminence, Vladyka Hilarion, who have supported me with your prayers over the course of many years; Your Grace, Vladyka Kirill, by whose instructions and spiritual assistance I have benefited all the years of my ministry in the Diocese of Western America; Your Graces, who have special grace within you; and you, Spirit-bearing fathers—I beseech you to pray for me, a sinner, that my service will be upright and my faith will not prove lacking.
I also ask you, dear brethren and sisters, to remember me in your prayers. Let them serve me as a goodly support in the work and service to which the Lord is now calling me.
Following after Christ, I choose the evangelical words of the Apostle Paul for my own edification: "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and those who hear thee" (I Timothy 4:16). Amen.
Below we append photos of the Rite of Nomination and the Vigil Service that followed it.