Catechetical Letter


February 1, 2006

Forefeast of the Meeting, Martyr Tryphon, Ven. Bridget of Ireland


Let your speech be alway[s] with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know

how ye ought to answer every man.


-- St. Paul the Apostle





When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, “Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?”


-- The Gospels






Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.


-- The Apostle Paul













If you should think of me in my unworthiness, offer my name in prayer. – the unworthy


Your History

Godchildren, you’ve been my friends for some time – you, my godson, since 2000 and you, my goddaughter, since 2005. You’ve been under my tutelage since March of last year (my godson), when you believed in the Incarnation of Christ, and August (my goddaughter), when you began to ask what we were talking about, and have been Catechumens in the Church since October, with the blessing of Archbishop, and by the hands of Father Joseph since, and have remained students of mine and with me.


Do Nothing Without The Bishop – St. Ignatius

In having led you, and with the very first lessons I provided from our father among the saints Ignatius, you know how I have always exhorted you to cling to the Bishop, venerating him as Christ, without whom there is no Church to save. And you have always done so. In fact, since there has been no priest at the local mission, which has been under the Bishop’s care, so that it is the Bishop who has been our priest, as Father Basil has put it. Again, I have had cause, recently, though you have not been the cause, to remind you to cling to the Bishop. We must always resist the temptation to do anything against his intent or instructions. Without the Bishop, we will drift in a sea of our own delusion, cutting ourselves off from the Apostles and from Christ, our first Bishop and prototype of all. I would be remiss, seeing how we have need again to seek the safety of his omophor, if I did not charge you, though I know already where you hearts lie, to flee independence, cast aside any temptation to illusory liberty, and to cling to him. Do not be lax in this endeavour.


Save Yourself – St. Seraphim

You have probably also grown used to my rather constant refrain of the words of holy St. Seraphim – ‘save yourself, and thousands around you will be saved’. Again, though, I’ve had recent cause to remind you, not to correct but to protect you. We must each seek first our own salvation, if we are to have anything to give to others. It’s like avoiding waste or luxury, so we have something to give to the poor. We must pursue theosis before all else. Before mission. Before comfort. And we must sometimes endure difficulty, solitude or desertion; we must sometimes take pains. “Save me by any means,” we pray. That is our great work of mission. We can give out of our poverty, only by the richness of union with Christ, but it is all idle talk if we step off the path to guide others, and lose our own way. This is the humility that robs us, of which the Holy Apostle warns the Church at Colossi; it is not yet the humility of Christ.


Reverence in Speech

Throughout the scriptures, we learn to be gentle in our speech with others, to season our speech with grace, to be reverent of that which is worthy of reverence, wherever we find it, and to avoid speaking ill of that which is not helped by our condemnation. Christ did not condemn the woman taken in adultery, but spoke with Grace. The Apostle warned us of speaking flippantly – without gravity – of angels, reviling the bodiless powers. You have heard me many times also say to you that we should offer piety in our speech, not casually throwing around the word “Jesus” or “Mary” as we would “dude” or “bud”, and to take such pains with our prayers, also, following the example of the Holy Fathers, indeed of Christ. Particularly grievous is flippancy when speaking of clergy, as likewise I’ve already advised you – even calling a priest “Jimmy” or ‘that guy’ instead of Fr. James teaches our minds an inappropriate (lack of) piety. Let us always avoid the temptation to speak too casually of those who are responsible for our salvation; the next step toward the pit, after that, is to speak against them, and then to denounce them. Let us not even set out into such darkness.