This most recent instalment of Archbishop Paul’s Reflections appeared on January 20 on the Orthodox Family Life page of the website of the Diocese of the Midwest, Orthodox Church in America.
Two weeks ago I posted about why Jesus needed to be baptized. I then went on to celebrate Theophany Liturgy at Holy Trinity Cathedral. I had a glorious experience. The feast taught me about what community is, as the “worship of the Trinity made manifest.” I truly believe that we find true communion with one another in the waters the Lord sanctified when He entered the Jordan. The waters we prayed over that day became waters of sanctification, salvation, reconciliation, and love.
Then I went home that day only to observe the horrendous sight of our nation’s Capitol being invaded. The Congress needed to suspend their work for a short time to be kept in a place of safety. Thankfully, by evening, the Congress was able to reassemble and continue their work. I felt as if I went from heaven to hell that day.
What do we say to our children regarding this day; especially for those who saw these events unfold before them? First I think we tell our kids that whatever our parties may believe whether Democrat or Republican, there is absolutely no justification for what happened. For a brief period, evil triumphed. We need to speak out against these acts of sedition and rebellion.
Speak to your children about the need to hold accountable those who were involved in promoting this violent, seditious behavior. They showed no respect for the laws of our country or for the Capitol police who sought to enforce the boundary that stood between peaceful protest, and unlawful rebellion when a good number of those people turned into a mob; who then knocked over and crossed those steel railings that were set up for everyone’s safety and protection. This would lead other well-meaning people to cross that threshold not realizing what was going on or what they were getting into.
Finally, and most importantly, let this day be a reminder to make the celebration of Holy Theophany a real priority even it means leaving work and taking children out of school to attend Church and participate in the Great Blessing of Water. It is only in these waters of sanctification that we will ever be reconciled to God and to each other. It is only in these waters of sanctification that we will understand what a united communion of love is. It is only in these waters of sanctification that we will begin to understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity as the ultimate icon of what real community is.
The blessing of the Lord be upon you,
With love in Christ,
The unworthy +Paul
See the Mark Hodges: The Scandal section in our Archives 2020-21.
Archbishop Paul (Gassios) has been the ruling hierarch of the Diocese of Chicago and the Midwest, Orthodox Church in America, since December 2014. See his full biography on the OCA website. He is suspended Archpriest Mark Hodges’ bishop.