Enthronement Address of The Right Reverend Daniel
Bishop of Chicago and the Midwest
Holy Trinity Cathedral, Chicago, Illinois
October 1, 2022 – Feast of the Protection of the Mother of God
Your Beatitude, Your Eminences, Your Graces; Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers; Honorable Deacons; Venerable Monastics; Diocesan Seminarians; Esteemed Guests and Friends, Beloved Brothers and Sisters in the Lord:
Glory to Jesus Christ!
Throughout the history of salvation, we are able to observe a consistent dynamic in the relationship between the Lord God and His people. The Lord has called those chosen to be servants to draw near to Him and to hear His voice; He then sends them out to speak His word and to serve His people. This dynamic of calling and sending, proclaimed in the Holy Scriptures and echoing through the centuries in the life and mission of the Church, continues in our time, in our very own day. This enduring call has been given to each one of us in Holy Baptism. Each one of us is called to serve the Lord and to build up the Church, each using our own talents and abilities and gifts in their uniqueness and in their variety. As the Holy Apostle Paul reminds us in the twelfth chapter of his First Epistle to the Corinthians, we have been given a diversity of gifts for this very task of building up the Church. “And God has appointed these in the Church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that, miracles, then gifts of healings, of help, of administration, and varieties of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:28). The Holy Apostle then urges us to desire the best gifts and reminds us that love is the most excellent way in which these gifts are exercised and realized.
And now, a call to serve Christ and to build up His Church has been given to me in a new way as I embark upon the archpastoral ministry as Bishop of Chicago and the Diocese of the Midwest.
I accept this as God’s will and design for my life, but I also want to acknowledge that this is not for me alone. God’s marvelous and merciful plan also includes each one of you, the dedicated clergy and faithful of this God-protected Diocese. I am grateful that you are willing to join me in accepting this plan and in living it. In entering upon this role of service, today in a formal way, I express my gratitude to Almighty God for His many mercies and pray that His merciful love will continue to work within me and within us all as I take up this yoke, this responsibility that has been placed upon me by the Holy Synod of our Orthodox Church in America.
As Orthodox Christians, we understand the importance that the office and role of bishop has in the Church’s life and mission. The Bishop is described as Shepherd, Icon of Christ, Teacher, Priest, Successor of the Apostles, Brother, Overseer, Pastor, Father, Celebrant, Steward, Administrator, Unifier, and Servant. These are but some of the roles ascribed to the bishop in the exercise of the archpastoral ministry.
Among all these roles and functions, I fully realize that the first and foremost role of a bishop is to reflect the image of Christ the Servant, the one who came “not to be served but to serve” and “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). All the other roles and titles assigned to the episcopal ministry can be summed up into this one role of bishop as servant. And we find this image of Christ the Servant most movingly and powerfully expressed when the Lord, gathered with His Holy Apostles and Disciples in that Upper Room on the night before He died, and washed their feet. I offered a reflection on this image almost eight years ago, at the time of my episcopal ordination, and it has inspired me a challenged me every day since then. I recall it again today as a reminder to me personally, to my brother bishops, and to all of you who have been called to serve within the Church.
There in the Upper Room, facing His Passion and Death, the Lord Jesus Christ, in a last example of loving service and in a last gesture of teaching, as a last testimony, knelt on the floor—He got down on his hands and knees— and humbled Himself before His followers, He who was Lord and Master, He Who had healed the sick and raised the dead and proclaimed the message of God’s saving love in word and in deed, lowered Himself to the floor and went from apostle to apostle and washed their feet; something that not even the lowliest of slaves wanted to do. The Master of All became the Servant of All.
As we sing at Matins of Great and Holy Thursday… “The Master shows to His disciples an example of humility; He who wraps the heavens in the clouds girds Himself with a towel; and He in whose hands is the life of all things kneels down to wash the feet of His servants” (Holy Thursday Matins, Fifth Ode of the Canon). The Lord and Master of All, the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the World condescended to perform this self-effacing act as He humbled Himself and provided His apostles and disciples, and us, with an example of service, of what it means to be a servant who serves with humility, who puts himself in the place of the last and the least.
Undergirding, upholding and defining every other role of the bishop, is this type of humble servant-hood. The servant who readily responds to the call and commandment of Christ given on that night in that Upper Room: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:14-15). I hear these words clearly today and accept them as spoken to me very directly and very personally—as the Lord has done, so I am also to do.
I am limited and unworthy, but it is my hope, my aspiration, and my prayer that my response to the call to be the archpastor and chief servant of this Diocese will be based and modeled upon the example of humble service of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Shepherd Who lays down His life for His sheep; the Servant Who serves humbly, the Condescending One who washes feet and Who commands us to do the same.
What a blessing it is to be called to servanthood in this Diocese which has as its mother church, Holy Trinity Cathedral. Saints have stood and prayed in this very place, where we ourselves stand and pray today. This historic temple has been sanctified throughout its long history in so many ways. Beginning with the priest who pastored the local flock and led that flock in building this cathedral, Saint John of Chicago, whose priestly life and faithful ministry were crowned with martyrdom as he became the first priest-martyr under the Bolshevik yoke. And it was Saint Tikhon, our father among the saints, our Archbishop in America, the Patriarch of Moscow and Enlightener of North America who, as diocesan bishop in America, consecrated this very temple in which we have just celebrated the Divine Liturgy. Others who have been numbered among the saints and those whose holiness is known only to God, whose faith has shone forth in these lands have also served and worshipped here.
And we cannot forget that, for several decades, this cathedral church also was the home of the wonder-working Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God. Built in 1903, for almost 120 years this very temple has been the spiritual home to countless faithful people here in Chicagoland and beyond. I ask you to join me in giving thanks for this temple built of wood and stones, but, even more importantly, for the temple of living stones that continues to worship here and in every parish and mission of our Diocese.
Today, I am filled with much gratitude and humbled by the support and guidance I have received throughout the years. I wish to thank His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon and the Holy Synod of Bishops for calling me, in the name of the Church, to serve here in this corner of the Lord’s Vineyard. And I want to express my special and heartfelt gratitude to His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin, for his trust and confidence and the support he has shown me in the almost eight years I served as his auxiliary bishop. I also recall, with all of you and with thankfulness, the memory of my brother concelebrant, and ever-memorable predecessor in this See, His Eminence Archbishop Paul. May his memory be eternal!
On this, the feast of her Protection, I ask the Mother of God, invoked in her Tikhvin Icon, to accept us all under her protecting veil. Looking to her example, may we, too, be numbered among the most faithful of Her Son’s family of disciples. Like her, may we all hear the word of God and keep it with every fiber of our being. I also ask the prayers of the Saint Tikhon, Enlightener of North America, the prayers of Saint John of Chicago and Saint Alexis, Saint Sebastian, and Saint Alexander who all worshipped in this cathedral; as well as the intercessions of our venerable father Herman of Alaska and of all the men and women, both known and unknown, who have served Christ and His Holy Church in North America. May their example continue to guide, and may their prayers continue to bless the Church in this Diocese and throughout this American continent.
Lastly, I presume to ask each one of you here today for your prayers and your support. As I respond to the call that has been given me and commit myself to serve Christ’s Holy Orthodox Church as the bishop of the God-protected Diocese of the Midwest, I am deeply aware that each and every one of us – each and every one of you — participates uniquely in the one work and common mission of the Church. Each one of us is called to proclaim the Gospel of Salvation in our own unique way. But no one- bishop priest, deacon, monastic, or lay member of the faithful—serves in isolation or on their own. Each one of us relies upon the support of those around us—I rely upon you and will rely upon you for your support and the inspiration your lives give me. Let us, therefore, “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Here with you in this revered and venerable Cathedral, encouraged by your faith, surrounded by your love and supported by your prayers, I trust that the Lord will accept my willingness to serve—and that He will supply what is lacking within me. And I pray that the Lord will grant me, unworthy though I am, to be a Servant in His own image and likeness and to be a Shepherd according to his very own heart (Jeremiah 3:15). Amen.