PR kindly left a comment on my last post providing a link to the text of Metropolitan Jonah’s address. Here are some extracts:

Our leadership is leadership from within.  Underlying this is the central theological principle that is in every aspect of our theology.  It underlies our soteriology.  It underlies our Christology.  It underlies our ecclesiology.  That is the principle, in the word of St. Paul, of synergy, of cooperation.  And it has to be a voluntary cooperation.  And obedience within that context is not some guy who can lord it over you and make you do what he wants you to, and you’re going to get in trouble, one way or another.  Obedience is cooperation out of love and respect.

On a broader level, our whole life in this Church together is a life of synergy, a life of voluntary cooperation, a life of obedience to Jesus Christ and to the gospel.  If it is not about obedience to Jesus Christ and the gospel, what are we doing here?  What are we doing here?  The gospel has to be first and foremost above every other consideration, and it is the canon by which we measure ourselves.  So, when we look at our ecclesiology, when we look to see what the Church is and what the Church can be, it is always in that process of becoming.  It is always in the process of entering into that Divine synergy which is nothing else than the very process of our deification, together as one body, with one spirit, with one heart, with one mind.  And it is a mutual decision to cut off our own will, to cut off our own selfishness, to cut off our own ideas, to enter into that living synergy which is communion.  Otherwise our Eucharist is a sham, and we are alienated from Christ if we are not at peace with one another.

a culture of intimidation is alien to Christ.  … And this demon needs to be exorcised.  Intimidation, fear is never appropriate.  Now, that doesn’t mean that you are not going to get a rebuke, because what father doesn’t, out of love, rebuke his children?  Even the scriptures say so.  God chastises those whom he loves.  But for our life in the Church to be controlled by fear and intimidation – and I had plenty of it, I had more than I even want to think about, and I resolved that never, ever would I allow myself to fall into such a thing because power corrupts.  And that power needs to be renounced, because it is only in our powerlessness it is only in our weakness that we can allow ourselves to become vessels for Jesus Christ, the ultimate image of whom is the ultimate in weakness surrendered dead upon the cross. 

We need to be able to speak our minds.  But we need to do so in a sober way.  Sobriety is not just about the use of substances.  Sobriety is sobriety in regards to the passions – anger, bitterness, resentment, vengeance – it is all selfish passions.  And whenever we are possessed by those passions we need to sit down and shut up because all we are doing is sinning and compounding our sin by the words that come out of our mouths. 

It is so important for us to keep watch over ourselves, to keep watch over our words and to keep watch over our thoughts.  Because if we are possessed by anger, by judgment of someone who has sinned (Have they sinned?  Obviously.  Do you sin?  Obviously.  How can you judge?), it is the same kind of hypocrisy that St. Paul condemned. 

The elder who founded the hermitage in Point Reyes, Fr. Dimitri Igoroff of blessed memory, had a saying which I think is of the greatest value to us as a fundamental spiritual principle, “You must mercilessly persecute hypocrisy within yourself.”  Mercilessly persecute hypocrisy within yourself.  If we can do this as a community, the gospel of Jesus Christ will shine through us. 

And so, what is the essence of the gospel?  It is repentance and forgiveness.  And what is that repentance, it is to see that these things have become distractions for us, that they have become ends in themselves, and that we have lost sight of God and to turn back to God.  Repentance also means conversion.  It means transformation of the mind.  And that is a constant process for every single committed Christian.  It is a constant process that we have to engage in both personally and corporately.  And when we engage in that process we have to confront the anger and the bitterness and the hurts and the pain and the resentment that we have born within us as reactions against the people that have hurt us.