November 21/ December 4, 2013
On the Feast of the Entrance of our Lady the Theotokos
A Parenetic Encyclical for the Support of our Brethren in Greece
Beloved and cherished children in the Lord,
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit.
1. Ominous indeed are the days during which we live. We are informed on a daily basis of the occurrence of grave and frightful things in the world: upheavals, wars, slaughter, persecutions, disorders, revolutions, ecclesiastical trials, political trials, economic trials, social crises, spiritual crises, crises of values. “For nation shall rise against nation,” Scripture says, “and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
2. We feel deep sorrow and wrenching grief when we consider the damage which the nation of Orthodox Greeks has suffered on account of the misguided and harmful governing of its affairs by its political class and ecclesiastical leaders, who have taken to heart all things false and foreign to the tradition of the nation and the faith and have driven from their hearts the love of God and the love of country. The crisis, which we observe, is principally a spiritual crisis and as a moral decay, which was for more than a century borne in the womb of counterfeit progress, it has caused economic disintegration and social unrest. In consequence, our once-celebrated and bright nation finds itself again humiliated and subjected to foreign and dark interests on account of the waning of piety and patriotic sentiment.
3. The genuine Orthodox conscience is obliged to understand and meditate clearly on the nature of these things: that our native land, Greece, is embattled not only politically and economically, but chiefly spiritually by shadowy adversaries that have taken aim at most-holy Orthodoxy and at the sum total of Orthodox culture, which stems from the life of the Church. Indeed, the other Orthodox nations of Europe and the Middle East are alike embattled in various ways along with Greece. Nonetheless, we who dwell in this generous yet spiritually parched land; let us not live complacently in our momentary comfort. Already, the local enemies of our faith are on a war footing, yearning to destroy every relic of Christian culture. Observers of contemporary affairs in America write of “the lifting of the Edict of Milan after seventeen-hundred years” through the recent, ghastly and ill-omened sanction of immorality. The Christ-named people may once more become the prey of dark and baleful huntsmen. The coming battles will be in defense of the Orthodox soul.
4. Every Orthodox Christian laments, when he considers that the awful blows against our native land bring deprivation and poverty to the homes of our brethren there. The proselyte and each Orthodox nation mourn, watching the Christian family struck unto eradication in a cradle of Christian civilization. It is a common obligation, especially for the Orthodox Greeks of the Diaspora, to support in every way our much-suffering motherland, our brethren in need.
5. It, therefore, seemed good to the Holy Eparchial Synod for each diocese and metropolis to support the philanthropic work of our Mother Church in Greece, whose hierarchs, clergy, and holy monasteries work night and day ministering unto the poor and needy. For this reason the Holy Metropolis of America established a special fund and calls upon all of its parishes to contribute financially. We grant that such a contribution fulfill any past due parish contributions owed to the general fund of the Holy Metropolis.
6. Brethren, let us not forget that our Lord Jesus Christ “though He was rich, for [our] sake became poor, that [we] through His poverty might become rich,” according to the profoundly theological word of the Apostle to the Nations, St. Paul. In the same way, in benefacting we emulate Him, as our salvation lies in the emulation of Christ. Let us likewise contemplate with assurance the divine oracle, which says, “For as the body is one and hath many members and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body” so it is in the Church, the Body of Christ. Indeed, in the Church, “whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.”
7. Let this paraenetic encyclical be read from the ambo in Greek and English and copies be distributed to all the parish clergy and the members of the parish councils. We hereby instruct that all parish councils place this encyclical as their first item of business at their next parish council. I instruct all of you to work with my successor and the Metropolitan Council after my retirement unto the fulfillment of this philanthropic endeavor. Fare well in the Lord.
Fervent suppliant in Christ,
† Pavlos, Metropolitan of America
Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Tucson, AZ, is a beautiful mission parish near downtown Tucson, a city in southern Arizona. It was started in 1997 by Father John Bockman, who was a missionary priest formerly serving missions in Tennessee and Massachusetts since 1990. Read more...