FR. EMMANUEL HATZIDAKIS
“This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:24)
This is a day of rejoicing for all of us, who came to know you and love you. On the very first day I met you, you described yourself as Orthodox at heart. With tears in your eyes you indicated you would have become formally Orthodox, but the time did not come until today, and we give glory to Christ our God for it.
Despite your best intentions and personal conviction, and your desire to belong to the true Church founded by Christ, you did not become her member until this blessed day. It was your dissatisfaction with your former church that convinced you it simply was not part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, but an imitation of it, having broken away from the Roman church that had already broken communion with the Church, being first schismatic, then heretical.
Your desire to be received through baptism indicates your conviction that the baptism you had received in your former church was not the true baptism, because it was not administered by an appointed minister of the Church nor was it in the prescribed form used by the Church of triple baptism, i.e. triple immersion, and in a word it was not administered within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church.
A baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity is the true baptism not because merely the names of our triune God are invoked, as if it were an incantation (it’s like saying anyone who can say this is my body and this is my blood magically transforms the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of the Lord), but because the Church convenes in accordance with the instructions of the Lord and the authority given to the ministers of His Church to perform the divine mysteries. This authority rests with the Church, not with the individual minister.
Your baptism was not a rebaptism. If it were we would all violate the Tradition of the Church.
Some of our colleagues, by a curious presumption, are led to suppose that those who have been dipped among the heretics ought not to be baptized when they join us; because, they say, there is “one baptism.” [Eph. 4.5] Yes, but that one baptism is in the Catholic Church. And if there is one Church, there can be no baptism outside of it. There cannot be two baptisms: if heretics really baptize, then baptism belongs to them. And anyone who on his own authority concedes them this privilege admits, by yielding their claim (that the enemy and adversary of Christ should appear to possess the power of washing, purifying, sanctifying a man). Our assertion is that those who come to us from heresy are baptized by us, not re-baptized. They do not receive anything there; there is nothing there for them to receive. They come to us that they may receive here, where there is all grace and truth; for grace and truth are one.
Whose words are these? Not mine, but the Church’s, through the mouth of her spokesman, inspired by the Holy Spirit, St. Cyprian of Carthage (Epistle 70.1, ca. A.D. 255).
The subject of how the Church receives those who profess faith in Jesus Christ and who have received a baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity is one that stirs the Church today and causes considerable friction among clergy and faithful. The confusion that exists concerning the baptism is due to the confusion that exists concerning the Church. Those who see the Church (at least in some form) even among the heretics, also see the baptism among them (in some form). Indeed, as Fr. George Metallinos has stated, “If one accepts a heretical baptism as valid in and of itself, he also accepts the priesthood of the clergyman who administers it, and ultimately the Eucharist that such a clergyman celebrates, too.” (Quoted by Orthodox Tradition, Vol. XIX, No. 4)
I want to congratulate you, for being moved by the Holy Spirit you came forth of your own free will asking to be received in the womb of the Holy Orthodox Church and thus become a member of the Body of Christ. You followed the Apostle Paul who emphasized that we need to maintain a strong and cohesive unity, “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles” (Eph. 4:14).
We must, however, say that your pious, Christian life outside the Church is neither dismissed and belittled nor called irrelevant. To the contrary. It is because of the exemplary life you have lived, as witnessed by your family and by all of us who had the blessing of knowing you, that we rejoice at your decision. Today you sealed the Christian life you have always lived as a sincere follower of the Lord, and made efficacious your faith and charismata received.
In stepping forward to receive the sacrament of regeneration you confess that you renege the heresies embraced by your former Protestant denomination, i.e. filioque, sola scriptura, sola gratia, ecumenism, created grace, and any other teachings contrary to the faith transmitted to us.
Today is the day of your spiritual birth and regeneration. You enlisted in the army of Christ. With the confirmation you have received, you were also given the weapons to fight the good fight and be victorious over the forces of evil. Not only do you bear the insignia of Christ’s army, you have now received in you the Lord Himself, so that you may be totally incorporated into His life, so that from now on you live His life, or let Christ live in you. The cup of the Lord is the great prize, full—not with blessings—but of the Bestower Himself of all blessings.
Thank you for wanting to follow the akriveia of the canons and not the oeconomia of those who are weak, uncertain and confused in faith. Shame to our ecumenical (read ecumenistic) patriarch, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and all its hierarchs who have capitulated to the heresy of ecumenism. Kudos to the Serbian Church that faithfully adheres to the sacred canons of the Church, to the hierarch heading this diocese… and the priest of this church… for making your dream come true on this blessed day.