Orthodox America

Abbot Kyrill's Oration at His Election to the Episcopacy

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!

Your Eminence! Most Reverend Archpastors!

Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Lord of the world, in speaking to His disciples not long before His cruel torture by those servants of Satan-the pharisees-said to them: These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you (John 15:17-19). In the world, He concluded, ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

At the very moment when the war, which Lucifer initiated in the first days of Creation, approached its culminating encounter between the Divine Redemptor and the powers of darkness, when the entire universe was to see Him hanging on the Cross, murdered by evil-doers, God proclaimed His Victory. Even before the "son of perdition" committed his betrayal, God promised VICTORY. On the eve of being mocked, scourged and crucified, the Son of God, omniscient, All-good, knowing what grief, horror and fear the sight of His shameful and bloody death would evoke in those sinful and weak people He deigned to call His friends, pitied them with Divine compassion which we can scarcely comprehend, consoling them, not seeing, not understanding, He said these remarkable and gladsome words: Be of good cheer, for I have overcome. Who was overcome? What was overcome? The world-that is all men, all things.

Christ said these words for everyone, forever, that we might remember that He is Conqueror and Lord of the Universe, and that without His will a bird shall not fall from the sky, nor a hair from our head. Only one thing is left up to us and that is our choice-to be with Him, or with His enemies, doomed to perdition.

Calling the holy Apostles (and through them-us) to be companions in His victory, Christ summoned all to battle against the world's evil: Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword (Matthew. 10:34). And to this day the world is engaged in a war between sin and Christ's Truth. Due to the brevity of human life and man's spiritual blindness, sometimes it seemed that this war had abated:

Christian kingdoms appeared, the Word of God was preached, paganism was shamed... So it was in our Fatherland. And, to their misfortune, many, many believed that God's vineyard had been securely planted in Holy Russia and that it was thriving without peril, that in the world Christ's harvest was ripening. They became indolent, they forgot the war to which they had been called as Orthodox Christians, and it was just then that the enemy struck in all his fury. Holy Russia experienced what the Lord had forewarned: When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusteth, and divideth his spoils. Because he who is not with Christ, is with His enemy: He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first (Luke 11:21-26).

The Russian realm exploded in revolution, a riot against God, a bacchanal of Satanism...

In those years of oppression, it was God's will that our Church become an exile: Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:10). As a result of this struggle for power over the Universe, the struggle to control the Body of Christ, the struggle to eradicate from the face of the earth the seal of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, the apostasy from the Restrainer, a small part of the Russian hierarchs and their flock were expelled outside the boundaries of the prison into which Russia was transformed by the theomachists (.kuk.kj]s). So it was that our Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, the Church-in-Exile fully accepted the terms of an open and uncompromising struggle with the Devil and his works. Her very existence opposes what has proven to be the most vehement manifestations of the powers of darkness in our age. And if by God's will we are partly safeguarded and have been spared those cruel persecutions that were inflicted on our Orthodox brethren in Russia, the Lord has instead placed upon us the full responsibility of clearly understanding what is really happening to the world. He opened the eyes of our conscience once and for all, and nevermore can we allow ourselves not to notice the horrors that have engulfed humanity, nor can we ever forget them.

We are at war. We are fighting for God's Kingdom, for the destruction of the power of darkness, for the indictment of lies, for the cleansing of church life, for the souls of each of these lesser ones, fighting to ensure that no one who receives Holy Baptism and partakes of the Holy Mysteries in our churches succumbs to Satanic temptation and forsakes Christ, but remains with Him, inheriting with Him life eternal and blessed. We are fighting for the mysterious and ineffable communion of mankind with God, violated by the sin of the forefathers and restored by Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who for our sake suffered, was buried and rose from the dead. With each passing year the ranks of our pastors and flock are shrinking, while in the world the war rages as before. The time has come, as it did in our Civil War, when duty called for every age and death spared none. Youthful cadets, schoolboys... their turn came-and they went. So, too, I stand before you today, my fathers, as the youngest and least experienced. Not on account of any supposed merits am I called, but because, as we all know, the war continues.

If I were to begin enumerating all those glorious warriors of Christ, who are no longer on this earth, then I could stand counting until morning. Who am I, to stand among the ranks of your glorious predecessors and yours, my fathers? I am-nobody. I have no qualities of which to boast or through which I can consider myself in any way a deserving successor of those great and angel-like men who served Christ in our sorrowful time.

Christ is our only shelter in this difficult and dangerous time. I came to monasticism not to lead but to be led, not to save but to be saved. How then, has this duty of service come to me? I do not understand how this happened; this only do I know, that I, the most undeserving one, am being called by Him with Whom we dare not argue, and Whose call we must follow to the end.

We live at a time acknowledged by many to be apocalyptic. Inexplicable, extraordinary and unpredictable events and portents are engulfing the world. Christ is coming, maybe even during our lifetime. I cannot view the great Mystery taking place today except as the most awesome and responsible hour of my life, because the battle is in full heat and I, an untested warrior, cannot allow myself to avoid it. I can only rely on God's mercy, on the healing Grace of the Holy Spirit, the King of Heaven, to Whom with all my soul I strive to submit myself to the end, in no wise to oppose God's Providence and Christ's will. I can only appeal to His Most-Pure Mother, to the Holy Apostles, the Heavenly Hosts, and all the saints, that they be with me, assisting me all the days of my forthcoming ministry. I can only beg from you, my fathers, your holy prayers, counsel, instruction and indulgence.

May the ineffable love of Christ Conqueror, our Lord and King, cover and supplement all my failings, and may His holy, good and all-perfect will be wrought in me and in the whole world. Amen.

San Francisco, 24 May/6 June 1992 Abbot Kyrill (Translated from the Russian)

See Also A New Bishop and The Rite of Consecration