The Address of Bishop Daniel of Santa Rosa

Bp Daniel

SAN FRANCISCO, CA [OCA] – January 2015

On the eve of his consecration to the episcopacy at historic Holy Trinity Cathedral here, His Grace, Bishop Daniel addressed the assembled hierarchs, clergy and faithful. The text of his address appears below.

Address of the Right Reverend Archimandrite Daniel
Bishop Elect of Santa Rosa
on the Eve of His Episcopal Consecration

Your Beatitude, Your Eminences, Your Graces; Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers; Honorable Deacons in Christ; Venerable Monastics; Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Throughout the history of salvation, the Lord has called His people to draw near to Him, to hear His voice, to speak His word, and to serve His people. That constant call, proclaimed in the Scriptures and echoing through the centuries, continues in our own day and 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 building up of the Church. “And God has appointed these in the Church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, 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, this call to serve Christ and to build up His Church is given to me in a new and remarkable way as I am asked to receive episcopal ordination and to serve Christ’s Holy Church as a bishop. In responding to this call, voiced by the Holy Synod of Bishops, I have just repeated the words spoken by so many before me: “Inasmuch as the Holy Synod of the Holy Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America has found me worthy of the office and dignity of a bishop, I respond with a grateful heart. I humbly accept and I say nothing to the contrary.”

I accept with fear and with a deep sense of my unworthiness at having been called to serve Christ’s Holy Church in the Order of Bishops. And I express my gratitude to Almighty God for the many mercies he has shown me throughout my life and I pray that His merciful love will continue to work within me and through me as I take up the yoke that is now being laid upon me.

In the Orthodox Church, we understand the importance that the office and role of bishop has in the Church’s life and mission. The Bishop is Shepherd, Teacher, Priest, Successor of the Apostles, Overseer, Pastor, Father, Celebrant, Steward, Administrator, Unifier, and Servant. These are but some of the roles ascribed to him in the exercise of the archpastoral ministry. And among the external marks and symbols that express these roles is that a bishop is vested in liturgical vestments distinctive to his office. Among the most distinctive—and most significant— of these vestments is the omophorion, the wide band of fabric that is placed upon the bishop’s shoulders. It is often made of very fine fabrics and beautifully decorated and sewn. We should remember, however, that the omophorion that is placed upon the bishop’s shoulders was originally and traditionally made of simple wool, and is meant to signify that the bishop takes upon his shoulders the sheep entrusted to his care; he takes the sheep upon his shoulders, in imitation of that Good Shepherd “who lays down his life for his sheep” [John 10:11], the Good Shepherd “who knows his sheep and whose sheep know him” [John 10:14]. By symbolizing that sheep that is gathered up and carried on the Good Shepherd’s shoulders, the omophorion recalls that the bishop is called to embody the image of Christ Who is the “Shepherd and Bishop of our souls” [1 Peter 2:25].
I fully realize that as a bishop I am also being called to reflect the image of Christ the Servant, the one who came “not to be served but to serve” [Matthew 20:28]. And we find this image of Christ as Servant most eloquently expressed when the Lord, gathered with His Holy Apostles and Disciples in that Upper Room on the night before He died, washed their feet.

There in the Upper Room, facing His Passion and Death, the Lord Jesus Christ, in a last example of loving service, 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 Savior and Redeemer condescends to perform this self-effacing act as He humbles Himself and provides 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 that of servant, 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.

Although I am limited and unworthy, it is my hope, my aspiration, and my prayer that my call to the Office of Bishop and my living out of this call 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 and Who commands us to do the same.

I wish to thank His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon and the Holy Synod of Bishops for calling me, in the name of the Church, to take up the yoke of Christ as a bishop. And I want to express my special and heartfelt gratitude to His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin, for his trust, confidence, and support in calling me to serve as his Auxiliary Bishop in this God-protected Diocese. And what a blessing it is to be called to episcopal ordination in this City which once was the Episcopal See of Saint Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and the Enlightener of North America, the Confessor, and which witnessed the archpastoral labors and is the resting place of the Relics of Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco—both archpastors who were Shepherds and Servants in the very image of Christ.

I also wish to express my gratitude to so many, too numerous to name, and to remember with love the people who have accompanied me through life, who have taught me to know, love, and serve the Lord and his Church through their own examples of generous and committed service: Family; Friends; Spiritual Fathers; and Co-workers in the Lord’s Vineyard. Those here and those who have departed this life in the hope of the Resurrection.

I ask the Mother of God, the most-pure, ever-blessed, Virgin Mary to accept me under her protecting veil … and I also ask the prayers of our venerable father Herman of Alaska; of Saint Tikhon, Saint Innocent, Saint Raphael of Brooklyn, Saint Nikolai of Zhica, Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco, who served as Shepherds of the Flock of Christ on this continent, and of all the Saints who have shone forth in North America. May their example continue to guide and their prayers continue to bless the Church in this Land.

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 a bishop, I am deeply aware that each and every one of us 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 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].

Gathered here in this revered, all-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—that the Grace Divine which always heals that which is infirm will, indeed, supply what is lacking. And 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 heart [Jeremiah 3:15]. Amen.