Speech by Archimandrite Job (Bandmann) upon his nomination as Bishop of Stuttgart, Vicar of the German Diocese
From the Editors: On Thursday, December 9, 2021, the feast day of Holy Hierarch Innokenty of Irkutsk the Miracle-worker, the rite of nomination of Archimandrite Job (Bandmann) as Bishop of Stuttgart, Vicar of the German Diocese, took place at the Synodal Cathedral of Our Lady “of the Sign” in New York. The rite of nomination was led by His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, along with His Eminence Metropolitan Mark of Berlin and Germany, His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America, His Eminence Archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada, His Grace Bishop Irenei of London and Western Europe and His Grace Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan. During the rite of nomination, Archimandrite Job addressed the archpastors with his nomination speech.
Your Eminences, Your Graces, Divinely-Wise Archpastors:
I am grateful to God that I stand here before you!
Who could imagine that a German from a non-Orthodox family could be called today to archpastoral service in the Russian Church Abroad?
I am bewildered to see how miraculously the Lord works, calling me from my surroundings, in which I always felt somehow alien. God by His mercy led my mother and me to Orthodox Christianity, to the Church, to truth, to Christ, and specifically to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
My parents were not atheists, they believed in God but did not belong to any religion. Their daily way of life was something elemental, possessing a sort of child-like attitude towards God: prayer with the absence of appropriate words, moreover any theological understanding. It was they who instilled in me the recognition that God exists, that it was completely natural to believe in Him, that He is within reach and actively influences me and my life. From them I received the sense that He must be sought out: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7).
Thanking God for His protection, I must also eternally remember in my prayers all those who guided me and helped me upon this path. From among many I will only name two: Monk Joseph of St Catherine Monastery in Sinai is the first who illuminated me, revealing Orthodoxy to me; and of course my spiritual father and teacher, Abbot Vladyka Mark, who baptized me in the Jordan, opening me to the path to Orthodoxy, the path to salvation.
The grace of baptism sparked within me a feeling of love for God, and I made the decision to fully devote my life to Him. When I turned 21, I came to St Job Monastery in Munich, beginning my monastic road there, conducting my spiritual maturation and theological education in the Orthodox Institute of Munich University, where I later defended my doctoral theses on the topic “Theocide in the New Testament.” It took a fairly long time to write this work, since various labors in the monastery increased in recent years, and I was also invited to fulfill diocesan tasks.
Coming to the monastery, I thought of quiet, prayerful, calm life, and did not seek leadership. But the will of the Lord prepared another path for me. The priestly rank evoked and continues to evoke in me the greatest respect and fear, and I accepted it out of obedience and love and respect to my spiritual father.
I am thankful to Vladyka Mark and the entire Council of Bishops for having such great trust in me. And I understand how great and serious a responsibility is laid upon me, especially in these times.
We all see how polarized the world is: the West struggles against the East, Russia’s neighbors are against her, the Constantinople Patriarchate is against that of Moscow, progressive ideas against conservative ones, youth against adults. This epoch is one of change, and as Orthodox Christians we see everything moving towards the worst.
With God’s help we are faced with resisting the so-called “new social ethic” of the Western world. For confessing the commandments of the Gospel and the traditional way of Christian life, we are called extremists—enemies. Atheistic and cynical society considers itself better than Christian society, because it does not accept the moral framework of Christian relations between people, by propagandizing freedom, they hide their own moral decay. Moreover, it demands approval of their policies, considering the new ethic more progressive than the old moral principles, since it strives to grant equal rights to nature as to man, at the same time calling mankind a parasite of this planet.
Still, we as representatives of the Church condemn the sin, not the person, his behavior which first of all brings harm upon himself; at the same time we in the minority of contemporary pluralist society do not see the sense in the government forcing everyone, through legislation and prohibitions, to adhere to our Christian values. Without a doubt we deem mankind to be responsible for nature and creatures, since it was all created by God. They should not suffer because of human whims. We likewise do not support and never supported the cult of progress—whether capitalist or socialist—which destroys nature and human well-being.
In Germany, all these matters reach the families of our parishioners.
When Vladyka Mark inherited the German Diocese, in the early 1980’s, it was smaller by 5 or 6 times than today. But thanks to great effort, Vladyka and Archbishop Agapit, my predecessor, a great deal has been accomplished.
With the arrival of a new wave of Russian-speaking migrants, who comprise the majority of our parishes, these people today are much more subjected to the influence of the Western spirit and German culture. For the Church here it is one of the main challenges of our time.
Teaching the Law of God, I constantly encounter children who live in two separate worlds in a way, usually not realizing it. Within them are contained two parallel but unrelated world views. These are expressed depending on which language you speak to them in, or which topics and concepts you discuss with them. For example, these children or adolescents can calmly and with complete consent hear the word of the Gospel or the Holy Fathers, but when you point out a conflict with contemporary currents, they begin the repeat and even insist on what they hear every day in school, in the mass media, in social media, and relay the positions of their peers.
Our adult parishioners also fact this problem, but it may be more concealed. Primarily one notes the expression of prejudices of the contemporary Western man against the Church and the Bible. I see only one possibility of battling this: it is necessary to improve the education of our clerics. They must bear responsibility for the fact that Western mankind, much more than people in Russia, believes in contemporary scientific and philosophical explanations of the world, mankind and his history. In my opinion, the programs of Russian and Ukrainian seminaries with which we collaborate insufficiently prepare our candidates to what they should actually expect in our milieu.
Vladyka Mark always drew my attention to the danger of losing our youth. The following generations, by losing the Russian language, are deprived of their bonds with the Church, and as a result of their identity. The Diocese faces a dilemma: most parishioners did not know and wanted to know nothing except divine services in Church Slavonic, and in parish life and Sunday school they spoke Russian. But their children do not properly master the tongue, and not everyone attended Law of God lessons, only some elites, those who first spoke Russian at home.
This shows us that we must increase our efforts in working with children in all facets of life, including broadening and lifting the level of teaching.
As far as using the German language in divine services is concerned, it is necessary to follow the path begun by Metropolitan Mark: he always insisted that at each Liturgy there must be elements included in German, for instance, the reading of the Epistles and Gospel, one litany or another. Using such practices in divine services and the development of German liturgical language must happen organically. We are not talking about abolishing Church Slavonic in services, only of attracting young people, tending to their maturation in Church life and gradual growth of independent German-language Orthodoxy.
If we can widen our field of activity and be heard as a voice on the level of social discussion, it is necessary to reform relations with government authorities and representatives of mass media. Attention in the press, politics and social mass media is a two-edged sword, but remaining silent about our position leaves us vulnerable and helpless.
All this concerns not only contacts with the state and society, but relations between the Local Orthodox Churches. Each Church, each bishop and even every believer, whether lay or cleric, is called upon to actively tend to the unity of the Body of Christ. We watch as the “raiment of Christ” is being rent asunder. We cannot participate in this, and we must with all our strength resist such processes.
My wish, my hope, is not to lose the monastery and monastic life, as the center of life and the foundation of the labor of prayer. The monastery is the heart of the diocese. It generates its pulse, liturgical, prayerful and spiritual. Not only the archpastor but every person is in need of “hesychasm,” in silence, in the peace of Christ as the source of power and contemplation of God.
The rank of bishop, as the rank of presbyter, I accept as a call to become a worthy vessel of grace and an armament of God. The actual Head of the Church, her Chief and Manifester of all sacraments is only Christ Himself. As Hieromartyr Cyprian of Carthage wrote: “The Church is one throughout the world, divided by Christ into many members, and the episcopacy is one, branching out in unity of spirit in the face of many bishops.”
To become a member of this one and spiritually-united episcopacy fills me with the greatest humility and trepidation, but also joy and hope. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me!”
I ask Your Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, and you, Divinely-wise archpastors, to commemorate me the unworthy one in your holy prayers!