Metropolitan Tikhon sends condolences on repose of Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch

Patriarch Ignatius

On Wednesday, December 5, 2012, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, sent condolences to the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Antioch, assuring them of the prayers of the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops and the clergy and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America on the repose of His Beatitude, Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch and All the East.

Patriarch Ignatius, 91, had suffered a stroke and was admitted to the intensive care unit of Saint George Hospital, Beirut, Lebanon, on Monday, December 3. [See related story.]

The text of Metropolitan Tikhon’s message to reads as follows.

“At virtually every liturgical celebration, we pray for ‘a Christian ending to our lives, painless, blameless, and peaceful.’ It is in this spirit that I write, on behalf of the Holy Synod of Bishops and the clergy and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America, to share our deep sorrow upon learning of the repose of His Beatitude, Patriarch Ignatius of Antioch and All the East, and to assure you of our earnest prayers for his repose, that his soul might ‘shine like the stars of heaven’ as he in born into the eternal Kingdom.

“Patriarch Ignatius’ ministry as a hierarch and shepherd, an author, and an advocate for the youth of the Church is well known and stands at the heart of the legacy he leaves, not only for the venerable See of Antioch, but for the entire Church. His writings have inspired countless faithful the world over. The encouragement he offered to the Church’s youth — touching many souls not only within the Patriarchate, but likewise through his involvement in and support of Syndesmos, the World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth — has been a witness to his concern for the Church’s future, as well as her present, well being.

“But above all, like his saintly predecessor and namesake Ignatius of Antioch, Patriarch Ignatius has reflected throughout his life the very image of the Good Shepherd, faithfully tending to that portion of the Flock entrusted to his care at all times and in every circumstance, good and bad alike. The tenacity of his faith in the One Who is Love Itself has provided comfort to countless souls, especially in recent times, as the Church has faced, and continues to face, unprecedented challenges. He has distinguished himself as one who has fully embraced our Lord’s words, “Do not be afraid,” for which he now receives the crown of victory.

“Please be assured of our prayers for Patriarch Ignatius’ repose, as well as for the consolation of the hierarchs, clergy and faithful of the beloved Church of Antioch. Your sorrow is our sorrow; your hope is our hope. And may the joy of the ‘blessedness of the Kingdom,’ in which Patriarch Ignatius now delights, consume us now and in the days to come.”

Metropolitan Tikhon sent a similar message to His Eminence, Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian Archdiocese.

It has been reported that funeral services will be celebrated in Damascus, Syria, the seat of the Patriarchate.