of bishop Gregory (Abu-Assaly)
Beloved Archpastors, pastors, and faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church:
"Great and fearful is this dignity of the episcopacy, and it requires an angel as a pilot. For this reason, I am afraid and count myself miserable, because I know myself, that I am not worthy to take up the care of so many souls."
I echo these words of Saint John Chrysostom; yet, because the Church needs shepherds, I am persuaded and do not resist the call to accept. This is because Christ says that the harvest is great, but the laborers are few; therefore, we pray that God will grant shepherds.
Wonderful and mysterious are the ways of God. The path of the spiritual life leads those who seek righteousness in mysterious ways. True Orthodoxy came to America from Russia. Then, because of Communism, America became a home to the Russian Church Abroad, which was exiled until such time as the Church could be freed in Russia. By the providence of God, the banner of pure Orthodoxy was brought back to Russia before the collapse of the Russian Church Abroad. Now the banner is held high by our Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church, which has not compromised its confession of Faith amidst a world of apostasy.
There is God-revealed Orthodoxy, and also a man-created heterodoxy. Today this heterodoxy is embodied in the ultimate union of all heresy, called Ecumenism. Ecumenism mocks the words of St. Paul, which say that the Church is without blemish. Yet, "without blemish" describes how the Church must be in regard to Her Faith. Now that the Russian Church, by the mercy of God, again has given to America the mantle of true Orthodoxy, pure and without blemish, those who desire canonical order, and who will not permit blemishes on the garment of Christ, will follow us and join our Church. I express my heartfelt gratitude that our Metropolitan Valentine has recognized the need to establish, once again, a bishopric, which will proclaim Orthodoxy in America in the spirit of St. Tikhon and St. Philaret the Confessor.
Such activity is possible because religion is not openly persecuted in America. There is therefore no reason why a bishop in America should not proclaim openly the uniqueness of Orthodoxy. Neither does anything prevent a bishop in America from saying with great sincerity that the Church of Christ has no communion whatsoever with heretics or schismatics, whether they be Ecumenists, Zionists, Communists, Masons, phyletists, modernists, materialists, scholastics, or any other person, persons, institutions, or organizations opposed to sound doctrine.
Oh, how important it is to have a bishop for the faithful! The Church is built most swiftly with the presence of a bishop. In similar fashion, but with tragically different results, nothing can destroy the Church more quickly than a bishop's actions in falling away from the truth. This calamity has been, in large measure, the story of our time. The Orthodox Church all over the world has been devastated by heresy over the past 100 years. This situation is an indicator of the terrible times we live in. This time of the great apostasy, of which St. Paul spoke, must come before the advent of antichrist. In this era, persecution of the faithful, for their Faith, is a prospect for which we must prepare. Should persecution come, we will never deny our beloved Savior. The condition for such persecution today is manifest in the evils so plainly present in all societies. Great is the work that is before us.
The Russian Church has honored me with the task of "cutting in a straight line the word of the truth [2 Tim. 2:15]" (that is, disseminating and correctly explaining) the word of God's truth for those in America. With that task in mind, I call upon the prayers of the All-holy Virgin Mary with all the Saints in heaven, and ask as well the prayers of all the bishops of our Holy Synod and the faithful here on earth, to sustain me in preaching and building up the Church of Christ. Those in America, who are not ashamed of the words of the holy Fathers, will be drawn to our holy Church. For we say, as do the holy Fathers, in opposition to the spirit of Ecumenism, that there is one God, and one Christ; one hope, and one Faith in the one Church; and one Baptism with the one chalice sanctified only in the one true Orthodoxy, from which whosoever will depart is found to be in the company of heretics. May God grant us, despite our many shortcomings, always to be found within this one Ark. The Church of God must live and will continually give birth to those who desire to be saved. I have been given the privilege to serve Her. I will, if necessary, accept the honor of dying for Her.
In addition to thanking Metropolitan Valentine, and the Holy Synod for entrusting me with this dignity, I wish to thank those in America who besought me to accept this responsibility. There are many others to whom I must express gratitude, even if they are now at rest in the Lord. They include especially my parents David and Agnes, who were born into the Russian Church and, as devoted parents, sacrificed themselves for their twin sons. I also thank Archbishop Andrew (Rymarenko) of Novo Diyevo, the disciple of Saint Nectary of Optina, who greatly helped me when I was in need and who prophesied of this moment over 20 years ago.
I pray that, God helping
me, their efforts on my behalf shall bear fruit a hundredfold. Amen.