By the mercy of God and by His Grace --
to all my children in God:
Easter Greetings, Joy and Peace!
CHRIST IS RISEN!
INDEED HE IS RISEN!
This is my last Easter message to all of you, my beloved, as after Easter the Providence of God leads me away from you.
It is my duty still as your Bishop to remind you as we part, of the fundamentals of our faith.
The Church of Christ, of which our Diocese is not only a part, but its fullness at every Eucharist in every parish, is His Risen Body: it is the Body which was born of the Virgin; the Body which grew into mature humanity; the Body which went through all our human needs and tests, struggles and temptations; the Body which suffered and was crucified; the Body which is Risen from the dead and ascended into Heaven, sitting at the right hand of the Father; the Body which was given to His disciples at His Last Supper under the form of bread and wine; the Body which is still there at every Altar and in every individual organism as a food and drink at our Holy Communion; the Body which is being energetically divinized by the unique Person -- His Personality -- of Christ penetrating each one of us with the "uncreated Divine Energies" by the descent of the Holy Spirit, transforming us into one and uniting us into the oneness of His Heavenly Life and into the uniqueness of His earthly organism in its cosmic dimensions, built up by His Holy Spirit, as the whole Church in every council, every choir, brotherhood, sisterhood, community of our entire Diocese.
All these various forms of His Body are "various" only in their earthly sense: eventually, existentially, they are identical. In a Heavenly and Divine sense, they are one and the same: the Body of Christ!
The Fullness of His Body is in the totality of my body, of your body, of every body of every man, every woman, every child and every elderly person within the Church, as a "temple of the Holy Spirit," sanctifying our human spirit, with our body and soul.
"It is a great mystery," writes the Apostle Paul.
This mystery is the very source of Orthodox mysticism, of Orthodox spirituality: of our mystical experience within the liturgical life of the Church as we know it, of Orthodoxy itself!
Without it -- we are all empty shells, a semblance, an appearance, an apparition that is not real, a lie and a falsehood, a deception of the world and a source of atheism and destruction.
Let us make no mistake: if our Church life is not the Body of Christ because of our falsehood and lies and unrepented sins, then it becomes the "net of the evil one"!
This is the teaching of Orthodoxy:
It is our own choice, by our God given free will: to be the Body of Christ, as described above, or gradually to fall into the destructive net of the "Prince of this world".
This danger is very real and very near!
Let us be aware of it!
To avoid this danger, we must build the "ground of our being" on the solid Rock of Christ Himself, on His unique Personality as expressed in His two natures: Divine and human.
His human nature reveals His divinity only if our human life in the Church: in the Church, is based on that Rock. And the basis of the Rock, as it is expressed in the ninth article of our Faith in the Creed, is:
"ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH"
1. "One" in the fullness of the Cosmic Eucharistic Communion of all.
2. "Holy" in the holiness of the Holy Spirit, in its Pentecostal, charismatic, Orthodox understanding.
3. "Catholic" in the original sense of the word: "catholiki", "cath-oly" -- not on my own, but with the whole, "according to the wisdom of the Church and its wholeness" -- THE WHOLE CHURCH"!
Each person, each family, each parish and each group in it, each monastic community, each sisterhood -- spiritual and parochial -- each brotherhood -- young and old -- council -- parish and diocesan -- Assembly or meeting, commission and committee . . . the whole of the Diocese, the whole of each national church -- each one of them not "on their own", but "according to the wisdom of the whole Church" -- from all ages and all peoples: "catholic", "soborny".
4. "Apostolic" -- bound historically, sacramentally, canonically in oneness of Faith and Teaching, with the Apostles to whom was given the power of the Holy Spirit "to bind and to loose"; that is to be bound directly, historically, sacramentally and canonically in oneness of Faith and Teaching to the local bishop, the successor to the Apostles -- in full obedience to him and in strict discipline, not "out of fear, but in conscience', and through him to the Assembly of Bishops both locally and throughout the world, from the past (the Ecumenical Councils) and in the present (the consensus of all bishops).
"Where the Bishop is, there is the Church," as it was formulated at the turn of the first and second centuries by St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch.
5. The word "Church, "Ecclesia" -- "the community called out of the world" denotes the other side of the picture of Church life: "the bishop without a diocese" is not "the Church". And the words "without a diocese" do not mean simply the absence of a territory of parishes under his rule, but "WITHOUT THE PEOPLE OF GOD IN HIM". That is: without his love for them, without his care for them, without their openly expressed wishes to him, without their requests to him, without their advice and constructive criticism expressed to him, without his consulting them, without their common discussions and dialogues with him, without his directing them and his ultimate and full responsibility for them!
When that direct relationship (which is without fear: for "love does not know fear") is broken, then the Church itself is broken on both sides!
And when the Church itself is thus broken, the Divine side is gone and the human side becomes then a source of demonic activity and "demonic aims", a nest of the "Legion", as described in the Gospel ("we are many") and a ready made home for any evil!
If we look upon the Church only as an earthly "corporation", an "organization" -- as distinct from "organism" -- a "political democracy" -- as distinct from "sobornost" -- or in terms of legalistic "by-laws" -- as distinct from the "power of the Holy Spirit" -- then we are lost!
There is no need to go any further: it is clear to everyone what I mean and everyone knows the history of the Diocese of the West: how it has developed over many years and in the course of these last few years and how this history has brought the Diocese to the edge of a precipice, to the point of terrible danger!
The decision to retire has not been an easy one, and it is painful for me as I know it is for many of you as well. This decision finally became definite only at the Holy Synod session.
All that I have said here is only a partial explanation and an answer to the question of why. I do think that if I am not there, it will be easier for the Diocese to come to its senses and to make a new start.
My official petition for retirement, as is clear to everyone, does not include all the reasons, and since I am still your Archpastor, my conscience compels me to tell you everything! That is why I have said to you openly and directly all that I have said. If I did not, I would be on a wrong path.
I cannot hide from you the fact that there were irreconcilable differences, as many of you know, on specific occasions and with particular people both in the Diocese and in the Church, which contributed to this decision, and were mainly on questions of: the basis of spiritual life, ecclesiological views, church order and structural patterns, discipline, liturgical practice, problems with the calendar and relations with other jurisdictions, homosexual permissiveness (only in the case of those people who insist on the right to remain full members of the Church with an official sanction, quite distinct from the purity of Christ and His Holy mercy and forgiveness), defense of the persecuted and the struggle for human rights, church administration and episcopal authority (with direct heresies of congregationalism and presbyterianism), the role of monasticism and relations between ethnic groups, and their languages -- particularly Russian -- and between various groups among both the clergy and laity. . .
All of this -- which is not Orthodox (in my view) -- entered into my decision, along with various unethical actions and dishonest slanderous methods on the part of certain individuals in their "struggle against the hierarchy" (as one of them openly told me), which has been a well known tradition in the history of the Diocese; but above all, their open rebellious disobedience against their Bishop!
May God forgive them all!
All of these differences remain irreconcilable to my conscience and the only solution to them is simply -- to leave! (Matt. 10:14; Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5)
As you already know from the message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius, all of this coincides with an unexpected Providence of God.
During the session of the Holy Synod in March, it became apparent that God is calling me to a new service in the Church.
The late Father Alexander Schmemann, not long before his illness, asked me to take over his broadcasting to Russia. Also, very recently, the Committee for the Defense of Persecuted Orthodox Christians asked me to be responsible for a new series of Orthodox religious broadcasts to Russia, "Life in Christ", organized by the Committee in cooperation with CREED, in Washington D.C. The BBC has also asked me to continue my catechism to Russia by radio, and the editor of the "Voice of Orthodoxy", religious broadcasting to Russia based in Paris, has also asked me to help with religious talks. And there have been requests from Russian listeners for the publication of my broadcasts.
Having in mind that I am approaching my 70th year of my life, and that it is simply not possible to combine these activities with the administration of such a Diocese at such a distance, I petitioned the Holy Synod to accept my retirement from administrative responsibilities effective April 25, 1984 -- following my celebration with you of Christ's Crucifixion and Resurrection at Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco.
The Holy Synod fully agreed with all of this and we parted in mutual forgiveness, prayer and peace.
I ask all of you to come to such mutual forgiveness, peace and unity in the powerful spirit of Christ's Resurrection, sharing in it and signifying the Resurrection and New Life of our Diocese. And I ask you to forgive me for everything!
I ask all of you, as you begin your new start in repentance and coming to your senses, to rally around my immediate successor, Bishop Boris, and the head of our Church, Metropolitan Theodosius, and then around the one whom you elect and who will eventually be appointed by the Holy Synod!
Rally around him with fullness of love and devotion, discipline and unreserved obedience, in the spirit and power of the true Faith of Christ, in her canonical foundations, order and structure -- in the POWER OF ORTHODOXY!
And remember that the Orthodox Church in America, in spite of its shortcomings and imperfections, sometimes serious (in the youth of her autocephalous state and with the complexity of jurisdictional problems in America), carries within herself the inexhaustible legacy of Russian Orthodoxy and the special mission of her saints -- Innocent, Herman, Peter, Juvenaly . . . THE MISSION OF ORTHODOXY IN AMERICA AND EUCHARISTIC UNITY WITH THE WHOLE ORTHODOX WORLD, with the WHOLE CHURCH, throughout the universe.
Be faithful to your Mother Church and do not depart from Her!
"THIS IS THE DAY OF RESURRECTION, LET US BE ILLUMINED BY THE FEAST, AND EMBRACE EACH OTHER, SAYING: BROTHERS! LET US FORGIVE ALL WHO HATE US BY THE RESURRECTION AND PROCLAIM:
CHRIST IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD, TRAMPLING DOWN DEATH BY DEATH AND TO THOSE IN THE TOMBS, BESTOWING LIFE!"
CHRIST IS RISEN! INDEED HE IS RISEN!
Bishop of San Francisco and the Western United States
My address after May 15, 1984:
Rt. Rev. Bishop Basil (Rodzianko)
Orthodox Church in America, Religious Broadcasting
Residence and Broadcasting Office
[address ommitted. -ed]