Speech of St. Tikhon (Belavin) on Raising Fr. Sebastian (Dabovic) to Archimandrite

Follows my translation of St. Tikhon’s speech upon the awarding of Archimandrite Sebastian with a staff in Chicago in September 1905.

I congratulate you, all-honorable Archimandrite Sebastian, with your being raised to the rank of archimandrite and being named as the head of the Serbian mission in America. As a native Serbian you had already been charged by the diocese to care for one or another parish; now you are called to a greater service: the care of all Serbian churches in our large diocese and for the spiritual needs of all Serbs in America. You know how many are dispersed here, how these sheep go into unfamiliar folds; that is, having come here as hired laborers and for making money, some of them have become spiritually poor and lost in this heterodox land the great treasure of the old land: the holy faith of Orthodoxy, love for Slavic people and the affection for the ways of the motherland. Our caring holy hierarchy always takes care for the needs of our Slavic blood brothers, showing them mercy and calling you now to be the spiritual guide of the Serbs in America.

Lead them according to the commands of Christ with all diligence and zeal and usher them from corruption to incorruption, from earth to Heaven, as Moses, having taken the staff from God, led the people of Israel from the slavery of Egypt into the land of the promise. For you need to strengthen your brethren not with a staff of fury and discipline but with words of gentle instruction and the example of your holy life. Shepherd the flock, which has been given you by God, showing equal love to all as a father to his children, comforting the poor-in-spirit, strengthening and healing the feeble in a spirit of humility. As for those who do not obey the precepts of the Church, even going against its order and leading others into temptation, bring them into obedience and reasonableness.

This staff is given to you as a sign of spiritual power, not as a sign of worldly power to be prideful and arrogant towards those who have been given to you but as the ship’s wheel to the captain of a spiritual ship which is sailing in the ravaging sea of this life. The staff is given to you as to a true pastor not to one hired, not to strike the sheep but to protect and keep them from the wolves who steal in a spiritual sense. Take this staff with which you can strengthen your flock so that you can rule them as you will be answerable for them on the day of God’s Judgment.

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