« On the day of the episcopal consecration, the Right Reverend Bishop Matthew of Sourozh served a moleben in the Cathedral of the City of London »

On November 15, 2018, on the day of the 3th anniversary of the episcopal consecration, His Grace Bishop Matthew of Sourozh  prayed during the Divine Liturgy and led a moleben at the Dormition Cathedral in the city of London.

At the end of the service, Vladyka Matthew was addressed with a congratulatory word, on behalf of the clergy, church council and parishioners, by priest Dimitry Nedostupenko, secretary of the Diocese of Sourozh. In his greeting Father Dimitri noted the difficult but gracious way of carrying the episcopal deed, the unceasing works of Vladyka for the benefit of the Church of Christ and the strengthening of Orthodoxy on the British Isles and prayfully wished him God's favor in his archpastoral service for many and good years.

The consecration took place on November 13, 2015, during the Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Kaliningrad, where His Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill headed the consecration of Archimandrite Matthew (Andreev) as Bishop of Skopino and Shatsk. At the end of the Liturgy, the Primate of the Russian Church, handing Vladyka Matthew the Archbishopal rod, instructed him to his service in these words:

"Reverend Bishop Matthew!

The Heavenly Comforter and the Spirit of Truth, by laying bishops hands on your head, has now descended upon you and elevated you to the highest level of hierarchical service. Now you are the Bishop of the Church of Christ, called to supervise tirelessly the welfare of the Lord’s inheritance entrusted to you.

We are not always given to comprehend the mysteries of the God’s destinies, for the Providence of the Almighty acts wonderfully and wisely. But now, standing before the archpastors who participated in your ordination, you have the opportunity to offer thanks to the Heavenly Lord, to comprehend the events of your life and try to see in them the hand of the Creator who led you to the Holy Table of the temple, by which you bowed your head today and accepted the grace of the bishopric .

Having received a secular pedagogical education, you have been working for some time in this field. However, the heart learner Christ predestinated you a different path. He called you to serve in the altar of the Lord, so that you would teach people to know the eternal Truth, and "may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers " (Titus 1: 9). By decision of the Hierarchy, you had the opportunity to carry obedience in the British Isles, where you nursed our compatriots, who, for various reasons, found themselves in a foreign land.

The path of your life testifies that you did not seek bishophood, but that the words of Christ the Savior said to the apostles, came true on you: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit” (John 16: 15). And now you are standing in the middle of the temple, clothed in saintly robes, and you are preparing to go to the ministry determined for you by God.

You will have to perform episcopal labors in the Skopino diocese, which is part of the Ryazan Metropolia, on the land glorified by the exploits of St. Theophan the Recluse. This marvelous saint of God, whose 200th anniversary of birth is celebrated this year by the Church, says in one of his works: “The bishop and presbyters are not dumb witnesses to the salvation of others and not unsubstantiated only preachers of the path of the salvation, but doers who cultivate their flocks like a wheat field.  For this, later, the collective mind of the Church accorded to them certain rights, with the aim of having in their hands the opportunity to save others, like from fire ”. (What is needed for those who repent and embark on the right path of salvation). Let these patristic words guide you in your forthcoming service.

Every man is called to give an answer before God and before his neighbors for his actions. Even greater requirements are placed on those who are rulers, who are charged with taking care of their subordinates. The bishop has immeasurably greater responsibility, since precious human souls are given to his care, eternal destinies of people for whom Christ died. Therefore, the greatness of the archpastoral duty becomes clear from understanding the price which the Heavenly Father Himself paid for the believers in His name, because, according to the Holy Scripture, “they are not redeemed by silver or gold from the vain life <...>, but by the precious blood of Christ as the immaculate and pure Lamb ”(1 Pet. 1: 18-19).

St. Theophan wisely points out that the bishop is charged “to save others from the like of fire.” These words are of particular relevance in the context of modernity, when the fire of lies, multiplicity, vanity and moral licentiousness consumes so many people who often don’t even want to see the plight of their position. You, as the first Apostle Paul says, “preach the word, be instant in season , out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4: 2). For the weak be <...> as the weak to acquire the weak. For all, be everything to save at least some (1 Cor. 9:22). Such is the mandate of the holy apostle.

Teach the flock, which is entrusted to you, to hold strongly to the true Gospel doctrine contained in the Church of Christ. Be yourself, both for the clergy and for the laity, a model of loyalty to Orthodoxy, showing an example of obedience to the Hierarchy. Stay in like-mindedness and constant good counseling with His Grace Mark, Head of the Ryazan metropolia.

When building churches and opening new parishes, remember that the most important thing is not the beautiful figures in the reports and not the number of buildings, but the creation of real, active liturgical life of communities in which people realize themselves as members of the one Body of Christ. Especially take care of the younger generation. Properly organized work with young people is a pledge of sustainable and prosperous development of church life, especially in our time.

You will have to establish working relations with representatives of the local authorities, non-governmental organizations, local intellectuals and business community. Never forget that for everybody  you are a living icon of Christ, the face of the Church, directed to the world. Both the faith and the Church will be judged looking at you. Therefore, be filled with a sense of responsibility for each word, for each gesture, for each movement of your soul, and act in harmony with the words of the apostle, testifying: “Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed” (2 Cor. 6 : 3).

St. Theophan the Recluse, whom I have quoted earlier, does not accidentally speak not only of the bishops, but also of the presbyters. A bishop without the support and cooperation of the clergy will not be able to gather abundant spiritual fruits in the Vineyard of God. This means that the care of finding worthy candidates for the clergy of the diocese - people with deep faith, having an obvious pastoral vocation, sufficiently educated to conduct a dialogue with modern society - should be an integral part of your archpastoral activities. At the same time, let the main content of your relations with presbyters, deacons and church employees be not severity and administrative rigidity, “but faith that acts in love” (Gal. 5: 6), with the indispensable concern for conscientious performance by subordinates of their responsibility, because without the latter, love turns into weakness and comes into conflict with justice.

The love of Christ does not manifest itself in words, but in real actions. Supporting the needy, alleviating the sufferings of the grieving and burdened with various ailments, caring for orphans, prisoners, the elderly and people with disabilities are the most vivid testimonies of loyalty to the words of the Lord: “By this everyone will know that you are My disciples if you have love for one another” (John 13 : 35). Let the fruit of this God-ordered love in your heart be caring for all who will need it.

It is unthinkable to adequately fulfill all of the above. Only God can bestow on man the ability to bear this immense burden of responsibility. Do not weaken in prayer, participate as often as possible in the congregational services, partaking the Holy Life Giving Mysteries of the Lord from one Cup with the clergy and flock, and you will find everything you need for following your  pastoral paths without difficulties. And I will tell you in the words of the Apostle from his Epistle to the Ephesians, which we read today at the Divine Liturgy: “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end” (Eph. 3: 20-21).Now, accept this episcopal rod and teach the blessing to the people who have participated today with their prayers in your episcopal consecration. Amen."