Statement of the Council of Bishops of the UOC of the USA
on the 244th Anniversary of US Independence
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation,
conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
Beloved Clergy and Faithful of our United States of America: CHRIST IS AMONGST US!
The decisive battle of America’s Civil War took place on 1-3 July 1863 in Gettysburg, PA. It was the deadliest battle of the war with 46,000 to 51,000 deaths of soldiers from both the Union and Confederate Armies. During the dedication ceremony of a Union Army cemetery in Gettysburg, PA in November of that year – 157 years ago – Abraham Lincoln uttered the words above – profound then as they still are today! Lincoln continued:
“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation,
or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”
Sometimes it seems that our nation today is once again embroiled in “civil war” on many levels of life – spiritual, social, political, constitutional, racial – and the list could go on. Sometimes at these levels we even experience death or attempts to restrict the beliefs, rights and well-being of “others” – those who do not agree with our individual point of view, our beliefs, our dogmas or our choices. Of course, this modern “civil war” is not as deadly as the Civil War of 160 years ago, where more lives were lost than in all the other wars with USA involvement combined – 620,000 vs. 441,087. The Civil War lasted four years and the effects of it are still troubling our nation all these years later.
Certainly, all the issues we face in the 2020 “civil war” do not trace their origin to the “Civil War”, but regardless of their origin, they potentially seem to be just as divisive, hate producing and destructive. As we celebrate Indepedence Day 2020 – 244 years of our existence, which is amazingly infancy in terms of other historical nations and empires of the world, it may seem to us that all is lost. In particular, as Orthodox Christians we witness unrelenting attacks against the sanctity of life from conception to natural death and the fulfilling of our responsibility as individuals and as a society to care for ALL who are in need among us. We see little attention or concern given to the clarity of our Lord’s description of the Great and Final Judgment (Matthew 25:31-46) or the Two Great Commandments that stand above all others: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and with all your mind…You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:35-40)”
If, in all circumstances of our lives today, we continue to simply ignore all that is central to God about that life and our relationship with Him, then certainly we are headed for the proverbial “doomsday” as a nation and as a people. Let this celebration of 244 years of independence today, dearly beloved, be a time of honest reflection more so about ourselves as individuals, rather than society and policy as a whole. Let us contemplate exactly what it is that we as individuals contribute to making things RIGHT in the Eyes of God and in His Eyes alone. Lincoln concluded:
“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
We all bear some degree of responsibility for the path our nation will follow into the future. We do not contribute to the stability of our future by isolating ourselves from one another, except for the likes of the present pandemic, simply hoping to run the course of our relatively short lives on this earthly pilgrimage – unscathed by the evil that surrounds us. Let us be faithful witnesses of Christ’s Love, Light, Strength, Compassion and Mercy in our every word, deed and thought. We MUST remember that the true character of any man or woman is revealed in what he or she thinks, says or does when they think that no one else is looking. God in the Holy Trinity sees all. Let us permit the Holy Spirit to guide us by the Grace He inspires within us unfailingly during each moment of our lives.
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE TO DAY TO ALL! Let us live and do all that is necessary to ensure that this day remains a happy celebration long after our own earthly journey concludes – LET US CONTRIBUTE THE BEST OF OURSELVES FOR THE GOOD OF ALL!
We pray daily for all of you in the Hope and Faith that our Lord’s blessings will be yours always.
In our Lord’s All-Encompassing Love,
By the Grace of God, Metropolitan
By the Grace of God, Archbishop