From Athens on Holy Theophany
From Athens on Holy Theophany
I greet you from Greece on the Feast of Lights, Holy Theophany.
On this feast the light of God-knowledge flashed forth and, as we hear in the hymns of the Church, "The worship of the Trinity was made manifest." God became Man and was found at the River Jordan in order to be baptized by Saint John at the beginning of His public ministry. Through this feast, we, the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, are shown our inheritance; that is, each and every man, woman, and child is called, through Holy Baptism, to partake of the light of God-knowledge.
As our Savior said, "And this is life everlasting, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." (John 17:3) This knowledge is not limited to agreement with correct doctrine – it is a knowledge that includes participation and communion. Without Baptism in this life, we do not come to knowledge of God unto salvation. Our Savior commanded His Apostles and their successors saying, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of time." (Matt 28:19-20)
Sons and daughters of the Church, you should ever rejoice that you have been called, and through Baptism you have been sanctified. We are immersed in Baptism and we die unto sin so that we may live with Christ. If we live with Christ, we are guaranteed eternal life. The things of this age pass away; but if we live well, we will remain together with Christ for eternity. Let this be the subject of your conversations at home.
I made the long journey from Portland, Oregon, to Athens, that renowned city of great history, and I was prepared from aforetime to participate in the celebration of the Great Feast of Theophany by recollecting some important aspects of the history of our Mother Church.
During the days of turmoil, after the lawless change of the Calendar was imposed on the Church in Greece in 1924 by the revolutionary government of Eleftherios Venizelos and Archbisop Chrysostomos Papadopoulos (a secret member of the Masonic Lodge), many of the pious faithful perceived that a profound change, a veritable paradigm shift, was being forced on the Church of Christ, and they rejected it.
We can see very clearly now that this change in the Calendar was the tip of an iceberg that threatens the ship of the Church of Christ. The Calendar was implemented in order to unite with the heretical assemblies in the west for political purposes. It was the first step in a series of steps to deceive even the very elect into joining the World Council of Churches, which is the precursor of the one world church of the antichrist.
At the time of the change of the Church Calendar, certain bishops of the State Church of Greece understood that things were very wrong and were against the change; but they remained within the Synod of the Church of Greece, hoping that they would be able to correct things from within. Alas, through promises and threats, the evil forces that had infiltrated the State Church of Greece prevailed to keep the changes.
Yet despite this, many of the pious faithful remained steadfast in their struggles to keep the faith and remain faithful to the Tradition of the Church Calendar. Certain of the hierarchs of the state Church persecuted them. Others, about eleven in number, allowed them to exist and even secretly encouraged them.
Years passed, and then, on the feast of Theophany according to the Traditional Calendar, Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Florina was present at the procession of 20,000 of the Traditionalist Orthodox Christians – laity, monastics, and priests – that made its way to the Port in Piraeus for the Blessing of the Waters. It is said that on seeing the huge multitude of Christians, he was greatly moved and said within himself, "Behold, the flock of Christ as sheep without a shepherd." It was from this time that he resolved to work with other bishops who were willing to hazard their lives for the faith of Christ and form a Holy Synod that would struggle for the faith.
By May of 1935, Metropolitans Germanos of Demetrias, Chrysostom of Florina, and Chrysostom of Zakynthos formed the Holy Synod of the True Orthodox Christians of Greece in order to provide pastoral care to the right-believing Christians.
Thus, at that time and even until today, the celebration of the Feast of Theophany according to the Traditional Orthodox Calendar and the public procession on the way to the Port of Pireaeus is a witness to the true faith.
As we began the procession from the Church of the Apostle Philip, these thoughts filled my mind. And as we progressed in the procession and I saw many thousands of the pious faithful shouting out "Many years for the feast!" and "Your blessings!", I contemplated them as the beautiful flock of Christ. Here I am speaking of a spiritual beauty, a beauty that attracts the eye of God Who spoke by the Prophet, "But to this man will I look: even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at My word." (Esaias 66:2)
These are our brothers and sisters, the very members of the Body of Christ. And as I looked upon them, I brought you all to mind, our small flock in North America, our Metropolitan Pavlos, Bishop Christodoulos, and Bishop Sergios, and all of our priests, deacons, monastics, and laity, our families in Christ.
As I thought on these things, I was greatly moved in heart and considered the great responsibility we, the bishops and clergy, have in pasturing the rational flock of Christ.
Beloved, these are the days when many seek to offer the rational flock of Christ the strange herbage of subtle words and vain speculations. Remain steadfast, brothers and sisters in Christ! Restrict your spiritual food to the pastures of Christ and His Apostles and the Holy Fathers, and be strong in the faith "once delivered to the saints." (Jude 1:3)
In closing, I encourage you to remember that we are not alone in our struggle and to rejoice that we are united with our Mother Church in Greece. Yea, there is a great cloud of witnesses among those who have gone on before us in the hope of the resurrection, and those even today who witness for the truth each year in raising the banner for Christ in the port city of Piraeus, on the proper day for the celebration of the Feast of Theophany, according to God-knowledge.
May God bless you and your families and grant you every good thing.
Your fervent suppliant unto the Lord,
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