please note that from now on, SPOTLIGHT
published first on this website,
and then printed when long enough to fill four pages.
HIS EMINENCE METROPOLITAN PAUL
TO NEW ZEALAND
Wherever the Bishop is, there let the people be gathered together, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. - Ignatius I the martyr of Antioch, quoted (from memory) from one of his epistles.
Our Metropolitan is not just an official of an institution as the world understand institutions. As S. Ignatius implies, he is a focus (an icon) of the presence of Jesus Christ in His Church. And so the christian people always turn out for him. Although each presbyter represents the Bishop; although Jesus Christ is just as much really present at every Eucharist, whether celebrated by bishop, presbyter or patriarch; nevertheless this special rôle of the Bishop in his own Diocese is still sensed by the Orthodox people. And so his visit is always a lift for the local Church. Those who gather to meet him renew their desire to be gathered as the people of God in the weeks after he moves on.
Metropolitan Paul delivered a message as he went through New
Zealand, which is more or less the message published in Orthodox Contact
as an ordination sermon on Lazarus Saturday 2000. So we are grateful to
Virginia Hutchinson who responded to our reference in an earlier draft
by sending us the text which you see below.
Part of that message was a call to renew the mission of the Church in each place, and to take new initiatives. Some of us may have been tempted to reply that our efforts in the past had not always met with success, as S. Peter said to our Lord: Lord, we have toiled all the night and taken nothing. If so, we must remember that S.Peter added: nevertheless, at thy word I will let down the net; and we remember what the result was then, and we may expect a response now.
I am writing up first my impressions of the visit in Canterbury, and I am hoping to be able to add contributions, and perhaps photographs, from others. The new initiative in this area results from the fact that among the 62 or more people at Vespers at Ashley on June 14 (whom we could remember afterwards), besides Ministers and Food Bank helpers from other Churches, a few Helping Hand clients, and some of the Ashley Residents' Church Committee, there were some 35 Orthodox, among them some 13 from North Canterbury and 20 from Christchurch. Between the Christchurch people and the Metropolitan some words were heard to be exchanged about an effort to come to Church once a month; and there have already been conversations about how to encourage this by providing the S.Chrysostom Liturgy on the first Sunday in the month at various locations, including Christchurch itself, and by organizing lifts for those who need to be brought.
I want to say how much I appreciated it personally how people turned out and supported us on this occasion. We really did not know what to expect, and just contacted as many as we could. The result was an enormous encouragement to us.
In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
This day is one of those historic days in the life of our Church in Australia. There is moaning, there is grumbling, there is groaning in different places of the world. There is fear, there is unbelief, there is much doubt and loss of faith in many quarters in this world. We see that, and I say this with much sadness in my heart, I see that the Church is not faithfully following what its Teacher wanted it to preach and teach. We see in many places and often the Church is following what the world wants it to teach and preach. We see that the Church is caving in, the Church is becoming a follower of the world instead of sanctifying, instead of directing, instead of leading the Church toward the light, instead of that, we see that the Church is following the world towards the darkness. And the last fact, and I shouldn't say fad because the first woman was ordained in the year 1853 - that is 150 years ago - and it was an exception but that's the time the first ordination of woman took place. And they want to tell us, that the Holy Spirit is working so the Church must keep working with it. That the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of change, and the Church must change with it. We say 'Yes, it's true!' The Church must change with it. But the Church cannot change the Word of God, the Holy Spirit is not revealing new teaching, opposite to the teaching of Jesus Christ. No one He said, no one is going to take away one word, or one dot of what I have taught. ...
So, we came to follow a few feminists, secularists, feminists, who think that they, only they, have been given the spirit of change, then only to them the Holy Spirit is revealing to change what Jesus Christ Himself taught, what the disciples carried, and gave us, and ordered. We have to change whole concepts, we have to change phrases, we have to change even the will of God, because if we do not change, or we do not teach and people accept the concepts, that God cannot be male figure, then the teaching is not going to work. We have to convince the world that God is a not either, feminine or single, God is neutral. Where did you find that? That's your reason! Yes. Because the Holy Spirit keeps working, for that time it was good. Jesus couldn't do otherwise. They continue to say. It was the culture, it was the society. It was not true because Jesus did work against the society. Jesus did work against the traditions. But He did not revoke against the teaching of the Old Testament, neither did He not work against what is the plan of God for humanity. Nobody ever, especially the Church, ever confused equality with uniformity. The Church never confused the right of the woman, as saved as man, that's no discussion, there's no topic. Woman and man are created in God's image and likeness. But there is a role for each one of them. Having different roles that does not mean that one is better than the other. Because I cannot bear children that does not mean that I am lower than a woman. She has a function, I have a function, but we are through Baptism, we are in Baptism, the same. There is no change here. I am not different in God's eyes because I am a Priest or a Bishop, from a woman, I am not. I have a function, I perform it. She has a function, she is performing, but we are both equal, and God made it clear. When He had chosen twelve, there were other people around Him, women who helped Him, they were there all the time with Him, all the time, wherever He went they were there. His Mother, who was the closest confidante to Him, she was there too, all the time, but He did not ask her to be a disciple. But they will tell me, 'Yes' but that was the culture. I say OK that was the culture, but according to the culture, the Pascha, the Jewish Pascha, women must be there at the meal. Why didn't He take women with Him? Again He is against the culture, because He did not take women, according to the culture, according to the Law, at the Pascha the women must be there, eating the Pascha with the people. Jesus had disciples, He did not take women with Him, He took only the Twelve. And the disciples, they were going from place to place, teaching, preaching and setting Presbyters, Deacons and Bishops in different places. For 2000 years the Holy Spirit on this topic did not move anybody. Until feminism came and said: Yes, now is the time through you we are going to change and we have to have bishops, and we have to have presbyters, well - that's not a big problem to us in the Orthodox Faith because we do not believe that the Word of God changes.
Why is this happening? What is my vision or my concept or my feeling about it? I do believe that this in this part of the world at least, as in North America, and in other parts, God is working His way through that Orthodox Church. But the Orthodox Church cannot do it without the new disciples, those who are faithful to that to the teaching of the Bible, those who are faithful to the teachings of the Fathers. The Orthodox Church cannot do it without them, again. Again, I see the disciples prepared to go and work, but there is something missing, they needed Paul, to come to the Church. He came and put a new spirit, a new image. They needed Paul who is able to talk the language of the people, who are well educated, those ... they needed Paul. Thank God, ... Sent that Paul, ... to put the Church, not to its path, because Jesus is the One, but to clarify it, ... to speak the sentence, to speak the language, to witness with the same language of the people. And I believe that God is sending us Pauls, different Pauls, and the two of whom we are today ordaining to the Presbyters, are two Pauls, Saint Pauls. I don't know that I am going to announce them saints but we have two Pauls. And their mission is to carry, to carry the teaching of the Bible, unadulterated, the way it has been for 2000years, to take it to the communities of which they speak the language, they understand the mentality, and give it to them. Witness to them. Carry to them the message of Jesus Christ, like Paul did to specific segments of the society of the time.
In order to do that, beside the faith, I do believe we need two elements: one repentance and two humility. Wherever there is no humility God cannot go down, any soul that has no repentance and humility the Holy Spirit cannot penetrate, cannot work. In order to counter that, for the Holy Spirit to penetrate we have to repent, we have to have humility. In this world, humility and repentance are bad words. They are signs of weakness. But in the Christian understanding and concepts they are giving in the highest authority, to the High Authority. I am humbled in front of my God. I repent. The first word of Jesus' missions was, 'Repent.' So we are going to be walking on the path of repentance and humility in order to open up souls to Jesus Christ and His Teaching, together with the new presbyters, we will work, with one thought in our minds, to give the outside world, to give to others what God entrusted us with to give. What He entrusted us in His Bible, what He entrusted us with Tradition, what He or what the Holy Fathers of the Church understood, explained and gave to us. Anything outside this circle or the Bible, Tradition and the explanations of the Fathers of the Church in the Orthodox work is not acceptable, and that is the reason why we see a lot of revolts against the Church, a lot of people who want new understanding and explanation, they left the Church and the Church kept going, that's OK, we don't want to , but ... it's going to happen, it's what you want, you're going to leave ... the Church must keep going. Especially these days, especially these days when darkness and emptiness of the secular, of the economic, secular world is so strong and tries to take us away. The world is moaning, the world is thirsty, very thirsty, very hungry for the Word of God, but the Word of God according to the Gospel, not according to A and B and C. The Gospel according to A and B and C led me to where I am, or, better led the world to where it is. We see groups here, we see groups there, they tolerate there, they teach there, everything you can imagine is there outside, in what they call or what is the ... churches, sects. The work is very, very hard. The road is planted with lots of difficulties, and thorns, we know that, but His strength, His Spirit is our strength.
These two young workers in the field of God are determined, they have the faith, they have the determination, and more than that I do believe in the bottom part of my heart that they have the calling, they have the calling to work in His vineyard. What I am asking from everyone of you today and tomorrow is to keep praying first for the Bishop, I need the prayer more than anybody else, and then for Fr Geoff and Fr George. Fr George soon will be going to Canberra, where a new Church which we have been preparing for will be established, and Fr Geoff is going to be here at St. George's working with Fr George (Nasr) especially he's going to be in charge of the youth, then in second place he will be where we need new churches, and he's going to do just that, beside helping for a year or so, Fr George. So, we are proud of them, they are thankful first of all to God, the Holy Spirit, who is sending new workers to His vineyard. May God be with them, lead them, inspire them, keep away from them all imagination of the evil ones.
1. Our Metropolitan arrived in Auckland on the evening of Friday 9 June. On Saturday 10 June, he met members of St Ignatius Parish Trust Board for an hour before travelling to Howick.
On Sunday 11 June His Eminence celebrated the Liturgy at St Ignatius Church during which he ordained Bryan Paynter to the subdiaconate. At the luncheon that followed he conversed with many parishioners.
Monday 12 and Tuesday 13 were taken up with meetings with groups of Orthodox served by Fr Michael and St Ignatius parish; a meeting with the Roman Catholic Bishop of Auckland, Bishop Patrick Dunn, private meetings, and social occasions.
In the early morning of Wednesday 14 June, His Eminence travelled by plane to Wellington
Fr Michael Combias, Ihsan and Marie Bosauder, Charles and George Haidamous, Saydeh Attaya, Maurice & Janine Attaya and their son Emile (2years old), Emile Hawley, Lahez and Josephine Haddad, and Toni Azuri congregated at the Auckland International Airport and gave a warm welcome to His Eminence, Metropolitan Paul Saliba Archbishop of Australia, New Zealand and their Dependencies. Then they spent some time sipping coffee while discussing various topics as the group asked questions and immersed in debate.
Friday night and Saturday morning were spent with Fr Michael and the St Ignatius Parish. Saturday 10th June 2000. Saturday morning Ihsan and Marie Bosauder had the honour of having Metropolitan Saliba at Howick. On the way, a quick tour was provided showing St. Ignatius Church, the old site at the Methodist Seminary at Grafton Gore Rd. and arriving to Stockade Hill Howick where the Howick and Pakuranga Times newspaper arranged for photo session for His Eminence, they used these photos in article published the following week. After wards, His Eminence toured Howick's main Church locations particularly the Star of the Sea convent building (sold by the Catholic Church), and the All Saints Anglican Church (First to be built in New Zealand).
The Bosauder Family then had lunch with His Eminence at the Waipuna Lodge where they celebrated Ihsan and Marie's 28th wedding anniversary. There, His Eminence spent quality time with their offspring and answered many of their questions regarding the Orthodox Church and informed them about the correspondence courses in theology now available. This created interest and we hope to receive application forms to follow on it in due course.
The Dinner on His Eminence's honour given by the group in Howick's was held at Nixon Park, and attended by more than 45 people interested in the Church. Mr Lahez Haddad gave a poetic speech in Arabic and His Eminence gave a fiery speech in reply drawing constant applause from those present. After the sumptuous meal, the gathering asked questions about forming a Church where all can worship. Frank and honest exchange of possibilities and feelings were a true measure of His Eminence's ability to unite diverse opinions and to find the best course of action. Also, some requests to unite the Lebanese in Auckland were voiced particularly with regard to the Melkite group in South Auckland. In this regard, opinions were very diverse and expectations were more than what the present could provide in this avenue of interest.
Sunday 11th June 2000. Sunday Morning Ihsan and Marie Bosauder enjoyed the trip with His Eminence to St. Ignatius Church, and joined the multitudes in attending a beautiful Liturgy. His Eminence's musical talent provided the vehicle for many to transcend into the spiritual realm. His address enlightened the soul and challenged those present to show more commitment.
After the Liturgy His Eminence was hosted by Fr Michael, The Khouri Family, and The Ataya Family on Monday etc
Tuesday 13th June 2000. Tuesday morning His Eminence met with
Ihsan Bosauder and proposed that the Howick Group consider the following:
1. Working Committee Appoint a Committee of five members, to be increased to ensure the representation of all involved Denominations.
a. Chairman (The Metropolitan)
b. Deputy Chariman (Orthodox)
c. Treasurer (Orthodox)
e. Two to Four members subject number of participating Denominations.
2. Monthly Meetings
a. Meet twice monthly, choosing the right day after discussing and agreeing with Fr. Michael options are Saturday morning to evening, Sunday Afternoon to evening and or Monday morning to evening. b. Every meeting two collections will be made, first tray for general Church expenses and the second to the Priest.
c. The meeting could to take place in a Local Church. Like, the Anglican in Howick or Flatbush or the Catholic Church at Howick.
a. All participants should offer their talents, to form a Choir of at least three members, and readers for the letters.
b. Before and after the Byzantine Liturgy Hymns and special prayers other than Byzantine Rite could be performed.
c. Theological studies could be prepared by those with Theological knowledge, and present their studies to a meeting, after discussing the content with Father Michael and getting his approval. However, we should avoid any political topic.
d. Prepare an educational program for youth groups.
e. Each family will take turn in preparing the tea and coffee (no Biscuits or cake). In addition, the same family would prepare the Holy Bread "Corban".
Tuesday night Rameh Hachache invited His Eminence, Fr Michael Combias, John Bassili, Dr Aftimous, Ihsan and Marie Bosauder, and the Melkite group (Elias and Henriet Nakhle, Nageeb and Janet Haddad, George Haddad, Rene Abdou and many others). The night was long and again frank discussions were exchanged about their Melkite group in South Auckland.
Monday 19th June 2000. His Eminence, while in transit at Auckland Airport reaffirmed what he expects from the Howick Group and the cooperation he would like to see. The first Liturgy is planned for 13th August 2000 and a meeting afterwards would decide on the points received from His Eminence.
Family during the Lunch at Waipuna
Standing L/R Marie, Lisa Peacock, Paul, Johnny,
Seated L/R Joanna, Michael, Mtr. Saliba and Ihsan.
HIS GRACE GRACES WELLINGTON
Archbishop Paul graced Wellington briefly during his inaugural pastoral visit to New Zealand on the feast of Saint Basil, Wednesday 14th of June. Wellington put on its best weather, if a little cold, and he put his best foot forward as he engaged in a very packed day.
He was met at the airport by George Haidamous, George
Harach and Marie Sayah Harach. The party retired to George Haidmous'
home where Metropolitan Paul met about a dozen other Lebanese people who
have moved to New Zealand at various times in the past ten years or so.
Whilst at George Haidmous' he was interviewed by the "Evening Post" who
printed a very favourable article in the Friday edition. During his
interview he publicly announced that he intended to extend his assistance
to the local Lebanese community to form a small parish in Wellington of
Antiochian Orthodox Church.
Following the interview Metropolitan Paul removed with some members of the group to a restaurant in Wellington itself where several other people met him including Fr. Theodor Postelnicescu of the Romanian Orthodox parish in Wellington.
Lunch was brief as Metropolitan Paul had an interview with Maureen Garing at Radio New Zealand at 1:45pm. The interview went well and should be broadcast in the not too distant future. His interview was over at 2:30pm, and this left just enough time to drive back to the airport to catch the 3:15pm flight to Christchurch.
Subsequent to Metropolitan Paul's visit, Fr Jack has helped organise a liturgy for the Lebanese community in Wellington. The service will be in Arabic and English. It is to be held at Saint Barnabas Anglican church, Roseneath on Sunday the 13th of August at 1 pm
HOMILY BY S. GREGORY THE GREAT
(Appointed for the Saturday after Ascension; not found, and given from memory by Fr Jack after the Gospel at the Mass on June 15.)
These signs do not follow us now, but should that make us any the less believing? They were necessary at the time of the dawn of the Church, for it was necessary then for great numbers to be brought to believe, so that the Faith might grow, and so they were nourished by miracles. It is like planting trees: at first we continuously water them, until we find that they have taken root, and then, when the roots are firm, we cease watering; or, as Paul says, Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not.
is yet greater depth to be plumbed in these signs and wonders. In our own
times Holy Church works spiritually each day that which in apostolic times
was done bodily. For when her priests are endowed with the grace of exorcism
and lay hands upon believers whose souls are vexed by evil spirits, what
else are they doing but casting out devils? And when the faithful forsake
their worldly conversation and sing of Divine Mysteries, and show forth
the praise and power of their Maker, what else are they doing but speaking
with new tongues? Others, when they bear away the malice from the hearts
of their fellows, with entreaties supplemented by their own good example,
do indeed take up serpents.
Others, when they hear poisonous suggestions and are in no wise tempted to follow after evil works, are then drinking a deadly thing, but it does not hurt them. Those who run to assist their neighbour whenever they see his piety weaken, and strengthen him by the example of their good deeds: what else are they doing but laying their hands on the sick so that they recover? Undoubtedly these are the greater miracles, since they are spiritual ones, and they are so much the greater, in that they raise up not merely the body, but the very soul.
3 6 2000 Nicholas Tice Page, of Eastbourne, Wellington; at his home.
MONTHLY SERVICES FOR CHRISTCHURCH
The following have been arranged so far:
6th August, 11. 00 am:
Divine Liturgy in the Chapel at Diamond Harbour.
this was arranged at quite short notice, so we thought it quite encouraging
that 9 people were able to attend from a wide area.
19th August, 10 30 am:
baptisms at Ashley
3rd September, 11 am:
Divine Liturgy in S. Saviour's Chapel, Cathedral Grammar School
1st October, 11 am:
Divine Liturgy at Ashley.
Please note these details; they have been changed 4 8 00 and 14 8
Lifts are available for those who do not have their own transport. Please ask.
Watch this space for further details.
Sayedna, along with Fr Jack and several other of our Antiochian people, was welcomed by Fr Deacon Michael and Diaconissa Colleen Christina. Great Vespers of the Leavetaking of the Ascension was served in the chapel. Following the Vespers a most excellent supper was shared.
After a pleasant evening of conversation and exchanges, Sayedna was taken to historic Godley House, a local guest house originally built in the 1880's.
The following morning Sayedna, Fr Michael and Diaconessa Colleen Christina left by car for Dunedin City, the capital of Otago. This journey to below the 45th parallel in the south normally takes 5-6 hours, including a stop for lunch. We were due in Dunedin before 4.30pm to be present at the Mayoral reception which had been arranged as part of Fr. Ilyan's programme to take place in that city.
Metropolitan Paul arrived in Dunedin by car, with Fr.Dn Michael and Colleen Elder (from Diamond Harbour near Christchurch ), on the Friday afternoon, an opportunity to provide His Eminence with a good look at the South Island countryside.
At 4.30pm, a Mayoral Reception was held at the Dunedin Civic
Centre, the Deputy Mayor Dame Elizabeth Hanan presiding. Dunedin City Church
leaders, and representatives of The Lebanese Community, St.Michael's
Orthodox Parish Council representatives together with Fr.Ilyan, Khourieh
Mary,and Parishioners.A welcoming speech by Dame Elizabeth Hanan (giving
Metropolitan Paul's background),was replied to by His Eminence,after which everyone present had the opportunity to speak with him over a late afternoon tea provided by the City Council.
Friday evening Vespers (for Saturday of The Dead ) followed at St.Michael's, with a good attendance, and Metropolitan Paul had an evening meal with Fr.Ilyan and Khourieh.
On Saturday,Metropolitan Paul met with people and had discussions with Fr.Ilyan and Fr.Deacon Michael. His Eminence presided at the Saturday evening Vespers (for the Feast of Pentecost), again with an opportunity for more of our people to meet our new Metropolitan.
A Dinner for Metropolitan Paul was held at the Valentine's Restaurant (in the old Dunedin Railway Station), which was enjoyed by all who attended.
Several Parishioners took His Eminence for a drive later that evening to show him some of the very beautiful night-time views of Dunedin.
Pentecost Sunday morning,Orthros and The Divine Liturgy Celebrated
by Metropolitan Paul with con-celebrants Fr.Ilyan and Fr.Dn.Michael,
were well attended, with Lebanese, Greek, Russian, Macedonian and
New Zealanders represented in the congregation.(Fr.Ilyan is learning Slavonic
Russian,and uses Greek and English,to accomodate the different nationalities in the St.Michael's Community.)
At the close of the Divine Liturgy, Fr.Ilyan was elevated to the rank of Arch-priest, and addressed the congregation (rather tearful and overcome) to thank the parishioners for their continuing prayerful love and support. The Pentecost Kneeling Service followed.
A Luncheon for Metropolitan Paul was held at the Cedar Club (Lebanese Community club - rooms), with invited guests which included Clergy from the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches, President of the Lebanese Community, City Councillor Malcolm Farry, and many Orthodox and their families, (some from as far away as Invercargill). A fine spread was provided for all, and the Luncheon began with a Maori Welcome (Powhiri) which was put on by a Maori childrens' Concert party with adult help. This greatly impressed Metropolitan Paul, and he personally thanked them all for sharing their culture with him. His Eminence then blessed the food and the large gathering sat down to a very enjoyable meal and social occasion.
Metropolitan Paul dined with Maurice Ayoub, and other guests and family, Sunday evening at Mr.Ayoub (jnrs) residence up in Waverly. Monday morning, His Eminence was driven to Dunedin Airport, for his flights to Auckland, and then overseas to the United States.