The Arabic original can be found here. A French translation can be found here.
The Words of His Eminence Metropolitan Ephrem Kyriakos upon his Consecration in the Maryamiyya Church
Your beatitude Ignatius IV, patriarch of Antioch and all the East,
Your eminences the members of the Holy Synod,
The members of the diplomatic corps,
A word is required here, a word of thanks and a word of hope. A monk becomes a bishop. Why and how did this happen? A hidden secret that only the Spirit of God reveals. Words spoken by His Beatitude echo in my memory: “Every true Orthodox is a monk, no matter where he may be in the world.” Is this because of his belonging to God or because of his practical moral conduct? This topic merits profound meditation, but its basis is the inner foundation of man.
Beloved, our noble people loves singing and entertainment and speechmaking. Words do not always reach their real meaning, but remain entertaining poetry. But what is the difference between poetic words and words inspired by God? A profound inner sensation comes down from the Holy Spirit to the heart. This sensation works in one’s entire being, even to the extremities of the senses and opens one to others. It connects words to action. It comes from God and opens a heart of flesh to others.
Here I ask myself, “Why did you come here, brother? What is your calling? What does the Church ask from you, one so wretched and weak?” The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a sacrifice for many (Matthew 20:28). I came, then, to serve my Church first of all, and the whole world, that is, every person I find along my way. I serve and I will give of myself unto death so that there will be no distance between speaking and doing, so that the people will never again say, “there is a chasm between us and the leaders” and word spread that the Church is far from her people. I know very well that our people are good and that they want from us today to go to them, to seek them out wherever they are, to search out the lost and return them joyfully to the fold. They hunger and thirst for the Word of God.
Our Church is an evangelizing church. Let us restore this tradition. “Woe to me if I do not evangelize (1 Corinthians 9:16)” says the Apostle. The Gospel, according to those who know the state of the world today, is man’s return to God, leaving behind his lusts, his pleasures, his selfishness. Our Antiochian Church has a unique and exceptional mission that it must carry out and take to all the world, to every person.
Beloved, the ground upon which we tread is holy ground and its soil has been kneaded with the blood of martyrs and saints. “Let us redeem the time, for the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). Let us take advantage of the opportunity given to us before the moment slips away. Help me, O lovers of God, to not drown in the cares of this life, in its wealth and its pleasures, lest its thorns strangle me--- formalities, festivities, worldly banquets. I ask you to help me because without you I am nothing. One of the high priests said, “The Lord must die on behalf of the people, and not only the people, but in order to return to one all the dispersed people of God” (John 11:51-52).
Indeed, to die so that others may live, because service is servitude to God and to others, a servitude of love in which there is true freedom. I will not forget the prayers and trust of His Beatitude, which will watch over me, fortify me, and strengthen me throughout my life. I will not forget the prayers of all the metropolitans without exception. I will not forget the priests who will strive with me and those on whom I will especially rely. I will not forget the prayers of my brothers the monks and nuns and all the believers and especially the holy fathers at Balamand and on the Holy Mountain of Athos who begat me in Christ, my spiritual children and the nation and the Monastery of St. Michael and its monks and its beloved village of Nahr Biq’ata, who have caused me to relish the pleasure of true common life.
I will not forget my obligation: pasturing the new generation of youth, looking over them with nearness and love because “love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8). This is so that they may never drown in the lusts and seductions and poisons of this world. Last but not least, I will not forget my brothers the poor, those little ones whom I must approach with God’s compassion so that I will not be judged for not loving them.
I thank you all for your trouble and your love. I thank God for all things, amen.