Orthodox Christian faithful who trace their roots to Cappadocia filled the Church of the Mother of God here on the Sunday of All Saints—June 23, 2019—as His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon concelebrated the Divine Liturgy.
Metropolitan Tikhon and a delegation representing the Orthodox Church in America that included Archpriest Alexander Rentel, Chancellor, and Archdeacon Joseph Matusiak had been invited by His All-Holiness to participate in the annual pilgrimage to Cappadocia in conjunction with a three-day pilgrimage to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
His Eminence, Metropolitan Paisius of Lerou Kalimnou also concelebrated with His All-Holiness, His Beatitude, and the OCA delegation.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, His All-Holiness warmly welcomed His Beatitude, recalling the many occasions on which Metropolitan Tikhon, representing the Orthodox Church in America, had visited the Patriarchate of Constantinople. He also spoke of the close friendship that has been built as a result of those visits.
His Beatitude responded by thanking His All-Holiness for the invitation, and especially for the opportunity to experience the martyric witness of the deserted caves and church ruins across the Cappadocian region. The complete text of Metropolitan Tikhon’s address appears below.
During the pilgrimage, Metropolitan Tikhon and the OCA delegation had the opportunity to visit the ancient cave churches and monasteries that dot the region, as well as churches that had been closed following the exchange of populations between Greece in Turkey in 1922.
Address of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon to
His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople
Sunday of All Saints
June 23, 2019
Your All-Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomew,
It is a great joy for me to concelebrate the Divine Liturgy with Your All-Holiness, together with His Eminence, Metropolitan Paisios, and the brothers who serve with us, on this great day of the Feast of All Saints, when in the glory of Pentecost we honor the great cloud of witnesses offered to us in the holy men and women of our Orthodox Christian faith.
When I travel abroad, I normally bring the prayers and greetings of the faithful of North America to the place where I am travelling. But after these days, when I have had the honor of walking — at the invitation of Your All-Holiness — in the lands of Cappadocia, I feel that it is rather I who am receiving, on behalf of North Americans, the prayers and embrace of the martyric witness which resound from the deserted caves and the ruins of church temples around us.
In today’s Gospel, the Lord said to us: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.” These lands echo with the trials and loss of the past, but these clouds of past sufferings are made brighter by the hope offered to us by Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
It is this hope, this faith, this joy which we find fulfilled as we gather as brothers and sisters in Christ in the celebration of this Divine Liturgy, which is the goal of our pilgrimage in life. We have all come here because we are seeking that which was lost: our homeland, our families, and our churches. But this seeking is also for something deeper in our hearts, as the Psalmist says: “As the deer pants after the fountains of water, so pants my soul after Thee, O God. My soul thirsted for God, the mighty, the living; when shall I come and appear before the face of God” (Psalm 41:1).
I come from America, the land of freedom, the land of abundance, the land of hope. It is to this land that many from Anatolia fled, and it is the land to which many emigrated from Eastern Europe, from the Middle East, and from other places where difficulties were to be found. But there are difficulties to be found in America as well, and we have been working, through the process of the Assembly of Bishops, to find solutions by which all the Orthodox in our lands might offer a strong and united witness to Christ and His Holy Church, in imitation of the great saints that we celebrate today and in fulfillment of the exhortation made by Your All-Holiness, that we all need “to move beyond what is mine and yours, to what is ours.” This is the goal for us as Orthodox Christians: to move beyond what is mine and yours, to what is ours – and what is ours is Jesus Christ and the communion of the saints.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking, as our parents and grandparents did, to Jesus Christ, Who gives us life and Who gives us hope.
Thank you, Your All-Holiness, for your prayers and for your hospitality.