TOAST by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew during the Formal Luncheon
in Honor of His Beatitude Patriarch Kirill of Moscow (July 5, 2009).
|Your Beatitude Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All-Russia, distinguished and dear Brother,|
We have not received you here today – at the martyric, albeit always bright Phanar, whose very “foundation” involves “the care of all Churches” – as a stranger or even as an especially beloved friend, but literally as bone of our bones and flesh of our flesh”! For we do not regard you as an outsider but as a genuine Brother, as a healthy cell and noble member of our own Body, a child – even as we are – of this fertile and rich Mother, the Holy, Apostolic and Ecumenical Great Church of Christ in Constantinople.
We can boast in the Lord because this First-Throne Church, already from the time of our saintly predecessor Photius the Great, has cared for and nurtured the passing of the light of the Gospel to the great people of the Rus, whom later, under the Prince and Equal to the Apostles Vladimir, whose baptismal name you were originally given, this Church also baptized with his entire nation in Kiev 1021 years ago. We take pride because, even after this event, our saintly predecessor Ecumenical Patriarch Philotheos Kokkinos carefully provided for the transmission of the genuine hesychastic spirit in your land, while another of our greats, St. Maximos of Vatopedi who was also known as “the Greek,” came to Russia in order to clarify many theoretical and practical aspects of the faith, accurately translating the Scriptures and liturgical texts, while supporting your forefathers in the Orthodox Faith. In one way or another, the blessed Greek Leichoudes brothers, together with the multi-talented musical Hierarchs Evgenios the Bulgarian and Nikiphoros Theotokis, brought numerous gifts to your Church, working in one way or another for the glory of God in Russia.
We are deeply moved because your people did not receive God’s grace in vain, but was instead rejuvenated by it, painstakingly cultivated the Gospel, proclaimed a cloud of Saints, Martyrs, Neomartyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Hierarchs, Teachers, Missionaries, Startsi and Theologians, from the beginning to these very days, when such saintly men and women adorn the spiritual world of the Church as splendid luminaries of Christ. We are grateful to your pious nation because, in harsh periods of our own nation, you demonstrated much love and charity to Christ’s poor. You provided refuge and protection to many homeless and persecuted brethren, to numerous people orphaned and destitute, while extending hospitality over many years – with appropriate honors – to the martyric relic of our blessed predecessor Patriarch Gregory V. In addition to all this, Your Beatitude, contemporary theological thought owes so much to renowned modern Russian theologians, such as Vladimir Lossky, and particularly Fr. Georges Florovsky, who opened great doors not only for the West today to understand the healthy spiritual roots of the East, but also for us Orthodox to reconnect with the spirit of the Church Fathers, which the prevailing foreign pietistic spirit had ignored for many decades. For all this, in the name of these theologians, we owe a great deal to the Russian Church.
Your Beatitude, our beloved Brother and concelebrant,
Once again, we assure you that we are beside you at all times in love and honor, eager to continue the good cooperation of our blessed predecessors for the glory of God and in the name of His Church. Moreover, we pray and wish that God may deem you worthy to direct the Russian Church and theology to days of new growth and glory. May you give wings to the hopes of the pious Russian people. May you establish them in the holy Faith of its fathers. May you protect them from every assault of foreign and deceitful teachings both from within and without. May you strengthen the sacred bonds of love and concord with all local Churches of God. May your name be inscribed in the book of ecclesiastical history with gold and bold letters for the benefit of the blameless Orthodox Church.
With these wishes, coming from the centre of our soul and heart, we raise this toast for your health and many years.
Many years, Your Beatitude and beloved Brother.