“Some Build Monuments With Their Words”
In his address to the General Assembly of the 2009 Antiochian Archdiocese Convention (in which he quoted his own poetry, cited in the title"), Metropolitan Philip said that he does not believe that Antiochian Archdiocesan priests are a part of the dissent currently sweeping the Archdiocese. He claimed that Antiochian priests could not possibly be part of this movement after having their education paid for by the Archdiocese. Then, in a seemingly contradictory affirmation, he noted that if any Antiochian priests were involved, the famous words of Mark Twain from Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar applied: “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.” This quote by +Philip reveals three things about his understanding and intentions in offering full scholarships for seminarians.
(1) For all of these years, we priests and seminarians thought that Metropolitan Philip sent us to seminary to learn the word of God and the teachings of Christ’s Church. Unfortunately, we have now learned that we were mistaken. +Philip expects that seminarians’ and priests’ loyalties must lie with him rather than with God, the teachings of Scripture, and the teachings of the Holy Orthodox Church.
(2) Metropolitan Philip’s “gift” of a “free” seminary education was not a gift after all. Now the so-called “gift” seems more like a bribe, for the “gift” is now revealed to be something to hold over our heads. Most of us have lived our lives with the belief that +Philip loved us and cared enough about us that he wanted to see us succeed in our ministries. Perhaps he does wish for that for us - but we can see from his speech that one of his reasons for helping us was to bribe us into submission to his will.
(3) Metropolitan Philip does not view studying at seminary and parish ministry as work. Most of us thought we were working hard to earn our paychecks from the Archdiocese. Most of us thought that our many years of service to the Archdiocese would “offset” the cost of seminary to the Archdiocese—just like any other employee’s service to a company offsets their cost to the company through the form of a salary. You see, we thought the scholarship was a mutually beneficial deal: we go to school and work hard to maintain the required GPA, go out and serve parishes (at a fraction of what many of us are worth on the “free market” in other jobs), help spread the Gospel, etc., and the Archdiocese receives the benefits of having parishioners who are educated in the faith and counseled by educated priests. We all thought this was a mutually beneficial relationship. We thought the Metropolitan wanted us to tend the rational flock of Christ, as shepherds. As he made it clear in his speech, he is the shepherd - we are the only his sheep dogs, it seems.
If what I say is not true, then our Metropolitan should put the Archdiocese website to good use by clarifying his statement . We all know from the Convention that the Metropolitan reads “Mark Stookey’s” website, even if he misquotes what appears here. Unless he offers such a clarification, we should all assume that what I say here is correct.
- An Antiochian Priest of the Midwest