Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Met. Georges Khodr's Eulogy for Patriarch Ignatius IV in Damascus

Arabic original here.

You go up from Antioch to the heaven that the righteous have chosen as their homeland. This is because you have gone from glory to glory, with what the Spirit, the Lord has brought you. I said the Spirit who descended upon your native intelligence and the intelligence that shined within you was a human ascent. But the Spirit came down upon you In Him you had rest and by His favor you reached high levels of knowledge, in depth and balance, and through it you revealed the Gospel to those who were prepared for it. He is avid for the souls who were entrusted into your care as as service to the great Shepherd of our souls.

By His grace you became bishop of Syria, if we can borrow the expression from your patron, who felt that he was called to look over the entire country. The country you are from was the heart of the Christian world for many centuries after the light of the Gospel dawned. Your Lord wanted you to bear the riches of Ignatius of Antioch, Romanos the Melodist, Elian of Homs, Chrysostom, the Damascene, and that great wonder, Maximus the Confessor, who was from Hauran.

As we now bid you farewell, we feel that in one way or another you come from them and that we want to come from them forever, and from you, in the measure that you are their inheritor. Over the course of many generations, master, Antioch was the primary theater for the Gospel and I do not exaggerate if I say that that Christian word, aside from a few lights in Alexandria, was spoken here and that the people tasted its crumbs in other regions.

The great Christian glow in this land  was brought to us by the Gospel, through the great men who sanctified this country. The Lord came to us through you after we came to know you as a servant of the Word.

You were not intoxicated by philosophy, which you learned well. You lived by the Gospel in every thought, to the point that it is possible for me to say that you did not stop at human opinion, since you knew that humans are temporary or transitory, just as you knew that we, the people of Antioch, do not subsist through our bodies, but through every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Indeed, we do not claim that our human aspect is something great. However, we contend that those lasting things within us have come to us from this Gospel that stands beyond the ages and that you yourself only wanted to serve it.

For this reason, from the time when you were teaching children and youth, you desired to focus all your intellectual effort on what God said in His good Book, since you were not patriarch of the Rum, but rather God's patriarch for the Rum. Your Lord did not call them by this name, but rather He breathed this saying into the Book of Acts: "The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch." These dear words mean that there is an unbreakable connection between Christianity and Antioch-- intellectual heritage was trained in asceticism and keeping watch in exercises, day and night, so that your Lord might be glorified from the desert of Syria to our coasts. You watched over all this expanse. The Lord's eyes were upon you and upon us, so that we might remain sincere bearers of the cross of glory toward each resurrection in the heart and mind, so that the face of Jesus may appear, and through it we might live unto ages of ages.

You were born of pure water and the Spirit and you grew up in Orthodox belief and worship such that you trained your taste to lead us in singing. When you came to Beirut as a teenager, you were one of the leaders because of this aspect of worship that was impressed upon your being, such that one can say that with your training in acquiring knowledge, people could discern in your thinking and your words the stamp of the Church.

You took up the clerical robe at the American University and you were distinguished in it and were insistent upon it when you went to France for theological instruction. Upon your return, you were entrusted with the Annunciation School in Beirut. It shined on account of you and you became known as an educator and administrator. This became clear to the spiritual leaders and they entrusted you with lofty responsibilities at the Monastery of Our Lady of Balamand until you were given authority over the Archdiocese of Lattakia and then sat upon the patriarchal throne, to shepherd all of Antioch. You lift us up to where you are seated now, in order to seriously follow the path you never strayed from at any stage of your life. Much seriousness comes from this mind, and your Shepherd Christ the Lord is the mind of the Father.

We hold on to everything you have given us, hoping that the Lord will keep us sincere. We shall meet with you, if the Lord desires to perfect us in mercy.

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