by Archbishop Gibran (Ramlaoui) of Australia and New Zealand
TODAY, THE DIVINE GRACE has gathered us in a manifest expression of the Holy Spirit that has never ceased to work in the Church of Christ: through the laying on of the hands of the Bishops. Today, another man — in spite of his unworthiness — has been raised as the successor of Christ, to tread the very path which Jesus has walked, and carry the Cross on which Salvation was accomplished for all men. Today, the sinful is made holy, the feeble is given strength, the fool is granted wisdom, and the humble is exalted like the Cedars of Lebanon. For no man has the merits by his deeds or works to become a Bishop. The Holy Spirit makes us Deacons, Priests and Bishops to minister unto His Holy Church. Therefore, in my independence, I shall remain dependent upon the Holy Spirit to guide my steps and enlighten my paths, and support my weakness, and speak through me as the Church sings: "As I open my mouth, it shall be filled with the Spirit."
I am fully aware of the didactic and dogmatic responsibilities that the Church has placed upon my frail shoulders. I have made the solemn pledge to uphold the teachings of my Church. However, it is my understanding that any teachings unless it is lived, experienced, and personalized, will remain meaningless. And meaninglessness has, and must have NO room in the Church.
Thus, I shall strive to live even as Christ. My first concern as a Bishop is the salvation of men. In the Creed. I confirmed my faith in the Son of God "who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven." He has not yet come to judge. Let us, hence, lax’ aside our condemnatory attitude, so that the grace of God, in us, max’ function freely for salvation. The salvatory love must pervade the Bishop, emanate from him, and permeate all and every one. Yes, my beloved ones, I speak to you of salvation because I conceive the Church as a Baptismal Pond, where the Grace Divine purifies those whom the water touches. I will try to be the modest instrument of God that keeps the water in motion, so that sanctification and purification might be accessible to all human beings for whom Christ has which Christ has established the Priesthood on this earth. And, as Christ loved His Church and gave Himself up for Her, thus must the Bishop do, "that he might sanctify Her and cleanse Her with the washing of the water by the Word, that he, the Bishop, might present Her to Christ a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle or any such things; but She should be Holy and without blemish."
Today, I have committed myself to the Church as a groom to His bride. Many things the bride expects from her groom, but, the one expectation that supersedes all others, is love. For love engenders loyalty, integrity, earnestness, honesty and conscientiousness. I do reaffirm my love for the Church. I do not have much wisdom. I do not have much intelligence. I do not have much knowledge. But, I humbly state that I have enough love to consume the multitude of my sins and the sins of my flock; enough love to lay down myself an oblation for my brother’s salvation. This love enables me to see Christ in every man and woman and seek Christ in every and each human being. I shall not build a Cathedral of stones and clay, but a Cathedral of souls and bodies where Christ shall reign as the King and Master. I believe in God and in Man, and if my sins stand in the way of my intention I shall not despair nor give up. Pray with me that the might of God may work through my weakness, that His wisdom may overcome my ignorance, that His compassion may pervade me so that the suffering max’ find comfort near me and peace of mind. But, speaking of sins and forgiveness, I must clarify myself. I forgive, hence I am forgiven. Thus the Gospels teach us. However, it is not a matter of trading. In my existential process of becoming, I encounter the "other." I either accept him or reject him. It is my decision. If I reject the other, then I am locked up in myself, I am closed up within my selfish shell, where I eventually suffocate and disintegrate. On the other hand, if I accept him, I am to make room for him within me. Now, to make room for my brother, I have to eliminate something of me. The authentic "me" can not be died. For, you are the reason for eliminated. Hence, the unauthentic has to be demolished and thrown out in order to make room in me for my brother — the other — whom I accept in a tension of love. In this manner I participate with God, I co-work with Him, in the purifying process of me and of the others.
This other, for whom Christ died, shall be my main concern, because he is the meaning of the whole universe. The mumuring streams in the prairies, the singing birds in the forests, the crystal dew on the dreaming meadows, the slumbering valleys, the boasting mountains, the yearning rivers to the bosom of the oceans, the flaming horizon at the sunset, the warm dawn enveloping the darkness and bringing light to our days, all these and many a thing have meaning ONLY by man and because of man.
Every thing was created first, then man, to whom was given the honor to reign over all that has been created. Thus man is both the meaning and the end. In him, the world meets God. He is the encounter-point of the Divine and the human. This encounter is active, it is Incarnation; and Incarnation is Action. Therefore. man is active upon himself and upon the universe. In his activeness he rises; and everything that rises must converge. Thus. Unity is established: Unity, not only of human beings, but of the cosmos also. In my rising, I place God in the heart of the Universe and I bring the Universe into the heart of God. If this is not action, I wonder what action can be.
My beloved ones, keeping this in mind I shall help my brother - every human being to become committed to Incarnation in order to perform the Oneness that God intends and that the Holy Trinity represents.
As for this Staff, delivered to me by the Church, it will be used to help the faithful, to support them when they feel weary, and to remove the thorns from their way towards God. Woe to me if I forget this. Woe to me if I do not love. Woe to me if I do not preach. Woe to me if I hinder the Action of the Cross.
May the Grace of God be with you all and with me. AMEN.