Memorial Address for the Repose of Metropolitan Philip Saliba
Delivered by His Eminence, Archbishop Joseph
The Antiochian Village, March 31, 2014
Your Eminences, Your Graces, my brothers in the Risen Lord; the very reverend, reverend priests and deacons, our beloved clergy; Dear beloved faithful, Saliba family and friends of our God-protected Archdiocese:
Today is the day that we bid the final farewell to our father, brother and friend in Christ of long years, Metropolitan Philip Saliba. How many times has the church echoed with his bass voice, expounding the Gospel of peace and forgiveness?
I express my gratitude on behalf of our Archdiocese for the pastoral care exercised by our father in Christ, His Beatitude, Patriarch John the X, and his vicar, His Eminence, Metropolitan Silouan, during this time of mourning over the loss of our Metropolitan. With the care of the Mother Church, the See of Antioch, we here in North America sense in the heart of our souls the community of love guaranteed by the apostolic spirit of Sts. Peter & Paul. We know that our Church will continue and thrive in the spirit of the Gospel because of such faithful and consistent pastoral love.
Metropolitan Philip was a man of action. “America, come home! Come home to the holy Orthodox Church! Come home to the Faith of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul!” His words echoed through the nave of our cathedral of St. Nicholas in Los Angeles and beyond, throughout the entire continent more than 25 years ago, and gave concise expression to Metropolitan Philip’s evangelical and Antiochian vision. His long Archpastoral career produced the fruit of spiritual children, greatly extending the evangelical witness of Antioch in North America. He not only unified the immigrant children from the Middle East and elsewhere to North America, but he went out to the highways and the hedges to seek the lost. He fed his Arabic-speaking flock and their children, while at the same time seeking out the lost children of our generation.
This Christianity in action, must and will continue to flourish in yet greater ways under the direction and guidance of our next Metropolitan.
King David fought the wars, but King Solomon built the house!
We can never accept mere small talk or empty argumentation about our duty as Orthodox believers; instead, taking up the mantle which Metropolitan Philip dropped from his heaven-bound chariot, our new Elias has ascended the heights and we, like another Elisha say, “Where is the Lord God of Elias himself?” And the presence of the Lord will not disappoint!
Let us not behave as the lost people, wandering in a sea of turmoil, cast about by so many distractions, fears, and futile imaginations. We, Antiochians, with the apostolic vigor of a trans-cultural and multi-linguistic witness, hold the key of pastoral wisdom, more clearly than any other in the world. We cannot remain inactive after the example of our late Metropolitan. Where Metropolitan Philip opened the doors and made our holy, catholic and apostolic Faith known to many of our people here, so to, his successor, with a unified Archdiocese strong in faith, will adorn the house and continue the prophetical and apostolic labor, extending it to new people, so that “all may be one,” according to the prayer of our Lord. This is the spirit of Antioch, that “all may be one”!
Metropolitan Philip never allowed the status quo to freeze him into silence or passivity. He preached, he acted, he took big risks, all based upon the central ethos of apostolic love. History is not inscribed by clever minds or arm-chair thinkers, but rather, by energetic men and women of action! The deeds of this kind of leader will be trumpeted through the ages!
Such is the case with this apostolic man to whom we now give the last kiss of peace and whom we tenderly and lovingly and with all pious respect lay to rest. We invoke his heavenly intercessions before the Throne of Grace and on behalf of our widowed Archdiocese.
May the Great Mercy, guard that deposit unto us which the servant of God, Metropolitan Philip of thrice-blessed memory and eternal repose, has left in our hands! Let us take up the mantle which our new Elias has dropped upon us and achieve even greater accomplishments with the Lord in our midst, to Whom be the dominion and the kingdom and the power and the glory, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.