Today is the Feast of Saint Gregory of Nyssa, and since I personally know the current Bishop of Nyssa, today always plays a special reminder for me about our ancient unbroken history as Orthodox Christians. We speak about Apostolic Tradition, but we rarely take notice of it when it occurs in our presence.
If you’ve been Orthodox for any amount of time, you’ve surely heard of one bishop falling asleep in the Lord and another being elected to take his place. Sometimes these transitions are seamless while at other times, great controversy erupts. Both are known throughout history. Some transitions are even historical such as the election of St Photios, which caused great stress in the unity of the Church.
During each Divine Liturgy, and most other services of the Church, the clergy commemorate their Bishop (or Archbishop etc). This ancient custom is to remind us during worship that Bishops have a great responsibility to maintain the Holy Traditions of Doctrines of the Church. Those who worship with the Bishop, by virtue of their commemoration, declare their unity with him and the unbroken history of the Church. So today, “just because”, say an extra prayer for your bishop. Thank God for his devotion to the truth of the Church, and remember years from now the Church will remember him as an equal part of the history they teach in Sunday School.