Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul
Father Panteleimon read this message on behalf of Metropolitan Methodios at the beginning of the Mass:
Your Eminence, Cardinal O’Malley, Reverend Fathers, Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The exchange of formal visits between Catholic and Orthodox, both on the universal level as well as in the local level, on the patronal feasts of our Churches, honoring their respective founders and two brothers among the Apostles, Saint Peter for the Church of Rome and Saint Andrew for the Church of Constantinople, has become a meaningful tradition that both Your Eminence and Metropolitan Methodios has faithfully kept over the years. Sadly, Metropolitan Methodios, who leads the Orthodox faithful in Boston and throughout New England, was not able to be here with us today, on account of the clergy-laity Congress that meets these days in Phoenix. Nevertheless, he has entrusted us with the duty of representing Him and of conveying to all of you His fraternal wishes and blessings on this solemn day of the feast of the first among the apostles, Peter and Paul.
This exchange of visits goes beyond ecclesiastical formality: there are real, visible tokens that affirm in the most unambiguous way the desire and commitment of our Churches to be united again in perfect communion around the Eucharistic table. They are signs that profess in the clearest way our respect for each other’s traditions; they remind us of everything that we held in common during the first thousand years of the Church’s history and that we continue to confess today; they encourage us to work sincerely towards overcoming whatever misunderstandings keep us apart, so that the Church’s witness may remain strong and beyond any reproach, such that our divisions might invite from those who haven’t yet embrace Peter’s confession: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16:16).
It is thus that Peter’s confession becomes the unshakable rock over which our Lord’s Church is built—the rock over which the futile waves of relativism, secularism, and atheism break. Throughout its history, the Orthodox Church has kept Peter’s confession in adverse times and in the face of fierce adversaries. I pray that our Lord will bring it to pass that we continue to do so in the future, in unity with St Peter’s successor.
V. Rev. Panteleimon Manoussakis, Ph.D.