His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon, made an archpastoral visit to the Orthodox Church in America’s Diocese of Mexico for the celebration of the Great Feast of Theophany January 6-9, 2018. His visit also marked the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the construction of Mexico City’s Cathedral of the Ascension and the 45th anniversary of the reception into canonical Orthodoxy of what is today the OCA’s Diocese of Mexico.
After being welcomed upon his arrival in Mexico City by His Eminence, Archbishop Alejo of Mexico, Metropolitan Tikhon met informally with the clergy and faithful at the cathedral. Accompanying Metropolitan Tikhon as translator was Archpriest Antonio Perdomo, Rector of Saint George Church, Pharr, TX.
On Sunday, January 7, Metropolitan Tikhon concelebrated the Divine Liturgy at the cathedral with Archbishop Alejo and His Eminence, Metropolitan Ignacio, Archbishop of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Mexico, Venezuela, Central America and the Islands of the Caribbean Sea, and area OCA and Antiochian clergy. Also in attendance were His Eminence, Metropolitan Athenagoras of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Mexico, Central America, Columbia, Venezuela, and the Caribbean Islands of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and his Chancellor, Archimandrite Damian. The Liturgy marked the first time Metropolitan Ignacio had served at the cathedral and Metropolitan Athenagoras’ first visit to the church.
“It is a great joy to be with you again this year, at the invitation of His Eminence, Archbishop Alejo, for the Feast of Holy Theophany and to participate in the Great Blessing of Water here at the beautiful Cathedral of the Ascension in Mexico City,” Metropolitan Tikhon said at the conclusion of the Liturgy. “This feast is one in which we most clearly receive the light of Christ and are filled with the joy of his appearing.
“The joy of the feast is made even greater through the blessing of our concelebration today with His Eminence, Metropolitan Ignacio of the Antiochian Patriarchate, and with the presence with us of His Eminence, Metropolitan Athenagoras of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,” Metropolitan Tikhon continued. “It is wonderful to give concrete and visible expression to the good relations that exist between all the Orthodox Churches, and particularly here in Mexico.
“I have had the honor of concelebrating with His All-Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomew, and with His Beatitude, Patriarch John X, but this is the first time that I have served with His Eminence, Metropolitan Ignacio, who is just beginning his service, following in the great footsteps of His Eminence, Metropolitan Antonio, of blessed memory,” Metropolitan Tikhon said. “It is a great joy to have with us His Eminence, Metropolitan Athenagoras, who has long been known here in Mexico for his many years of pastoral and missionary work. Indeed, the mission of the Church is a single mission, and we all have a share in the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as bishops, priests and laypeople.
“I am grateful to His Eminence, Archbishop Alejo, for gathering us all here today, and on his behalf, I would like to present a special gift of an icon and relics of Saint Raphael of Brooklyn, who is a saint shared by both of our Churches, and a saint who is beloved in the universal Church,” Metropolitan Tikhon concluded. “We pray that the intercessions of Saint Raphael will continue to inspire all of us in our shared mission within the Church.”
In response, Metropolitan Ignacio expressed his joy in concelebrating the Divine Liturgy. He recalled how Metropolitan Tikhon’s patron, Saint Tikhon of Moscow, had worked very closely with Saint Raphael in the North American missionary field. “I pray that Saint Raphael will continue to guide all of us in the common work of the Church,” Metropolitan Ignacio concluded. Metropolitan Athenagoras offered similar words, adding that “we are indeed all part of one Church” and that Metropolitan Tikhon’s presence stands as a reminder that “we all take part in the common missionary work of the Church.” After offering his own words of greeting, Archbishop Alejo presented each of the three Metropolitans with silver candelabras as a remembrance of their visit.
Metropolitan Tikhon and Archbishop Alejo then celebrated the Great Blessing of Waters, after which Metropolitan Tikhon blessed the cathedral and faithful. Certificates were presented to several children who had completed catechetical classes before the hierarchs, clergy and faithful left in procession to bless the park adjacent to the cathedral, to the delight of the many people who had gathered there. Prior to the procession, a large cross, which was elevated in the park, and a floral arrangement marking the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the cathedral’s construction were blessed. Prior to the festive luncheon, which featured homemade tamales and other local delicacies, Archbishop Alejo distributed food baskets to the cathedral’s most elderly members while Metropolitan Tikhon blessed everyone with icons of Saint Tikhon of Moscow.
On Monday, January 8, Metropolitan Athenagoras hosted Metropolitan Tikhon and Archbishop Alejo at Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral. After a brief tour of the cathedral, the hierarchs discussed several matters of common importance to the mission in Mexico and world Orthodoxy. The conversation extended into the luncheon that followed. Metropolitan Athenagoras presented a gift from Jerusalem and a commemorative stamp marking the 10th anniversary of the consecration of Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Cuba to Metropolitan Tikhon, who in turn presented commemorative gifts to his host. Later the same day, Metropolitan Ignacio welcomed Metropolitan Tikhon and Archbishop Alejo at Saints Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral, where similar discussions were held prior to dinner. At both gatherings, the subject of missionary outreach received much attention.
Metropolitan Tikhon returned to the US on Tuesday, January 9.
Homily of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon
The Blessing of Water at the Cathedral of the Ascension, Mexico City, Mexico
Sunday, January 7, 2018
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is revealed gloriously in today’s feast, when we participate in a very real way in the revelation of the Holy Trinity. “The Trinity, our God, today has made Itself indivisibly manifest to us, for the Father in a loud voice bore clear witness to His Son, the Spirit in the form of a dove came down from the sky while the Son bent His immaculate head before the Forerunner, and by receiving baptism He delivered us from bondage, in His love for mankind.”
This revelation is more meaningful when we live in a world of change and uncertainty. This city and this country have recently endured some terrible natural disasters, as have many other parts of the world. Often, when we are faced with such disasters, we might wonder where God is during such tragedies. But today’s feast of Theophany, together with the Feast of the Nativity in the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, are a vivid reminder to us that indeed “God is with us.”
He is with us, but it is through the preparation that we make in our own hearts that this presence becomes real and life-giving. It is during times of difficulty that Christians not only show themselves to be true followers of Christ, but also are strengthened in their own faith by active participation in His grace and His love. Today, we bless the waters, but we also bless the Cross that stands outside this cathedral. This means that, just as God is with us, so He asks us to bear our Cross. The Cross is often heavy, but the life we receive today in Holy Communion of His precious Body and Blood, and the regeneration we receive through holy water, are the means by which we are strengthened and filled with our Lord’s divine grace.
May we all continue in our witness on behalf of Christ and His Church. You will always have big challenges in front of you, but as we heard from the Lord, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” May our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom the Father bears witness, and upon Whom the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove, continue to bless all of us, both now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.