From Aleksi Lehtonen’s Encyclical Letter, 1945

Finland’s great post-war Archbishop wrote this on his election.

The Church has no refuge in things external. Were the precious historical tradition of the Church to tumble down, the Church of Christ, sustained by word and sacraments, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail, would remain. The foundation of the Church is Christ, who holds it together. Yet at the same time we appreciate the valuable temporal orders God has given us. I repeat: form and essence, spirit and its temporal appearance are not against each other. Let us not slide into one-sided spiritualism. The soul has a body. And so the forms of our confessions; the poetic verse of our spiritual hymns; the richly decorated mementoes of our old churches; the high uplifting vaults of Turku Cathedral, for centuries sanctified by hymns of prayer and thanksgiving, are all dear to us. The same applies to the traditional order of our church. It is indeed especially valuable, because through it we are deeply bound to past Christian generations in the north, who prayed and fought, were joyful and gave thanks, and laid the Christian foundation for the future of generations yet unborn.

Translation by Mika Pajunen and Rupert Moreton


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