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6843Archbishop Demetrios Reflects on Security in This Age

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  • Rev Fr John Brian
    Feb 7, 2007
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      February, 2007
      Archpastoral Reflections


      Our consideration of the topic of security is a growing one in our
      contemporary age. Before elaborating upon this important topic, we should
      ask some fundamental questions: First, how do we understand the notion of
      security? Second, how do we work as communities to maintain it? In our
      contemporary world, the notion of security is understood by a variety of
      terms: economic security, personal security, national security, global
      security, and so on. In our country, the most recent addition to this list
      of terms is the term "homeland security." Throughout history, nations have
      maintained these various dimensions of security through a framework of laws,
      and they have addressed, through diplomatic or military alternatives,
      conflicts that have impeded upon their security. As Greek Orthodox
      Christians, we stand in a remarkable position to enhance the concept of
      security as it is understood today from an added perspective which is
      equally grounded, valuable, and informed. This perspective is the religious
      perspective, which understands notions of security from a theological
      vantage, and seeks to maintain levels of security by looking first to the
      Church as an unshakeable fortress of protection in times of need.

      One of the more explicit examples of this perspective is the manner by which
      our Orthodox Church to this day continues to look toward the protection of
      the saints as persons who offer us a very real and ever-present shelter in
      times of uncertainty and stress. Our theology teaches us that saints are
      persons who exhibited characteristics of holiness in their lives due to
      their unwavering faith in God and love for others. As such, they are
      persons who have opened their hearts and minds to the power of the Holy
      Spirit, serving as instruments of God's grace on earth. For this reason,
      the Church affords the saints a place of prominence in Her collective memory
      on specified dates whereupon we, the living faithful, pray for their
      intercessions before God.

      Many of the saints throughout the ages have been specifically accorded the
      role of "protector." One of these saints includes Saint George the Great
      Martyr, a Christian soldier of the Roman Empire in the late 3rd century, a
      time when Christians faced heavy persecution. Saint George died for his
      Christian faith and is venerated widely throughout the Christian Church as a
      Great Martyr. Another of these saints is Saint Demetrios of Thessaloniki, a
      Christian officer and teacher of the early 4th century Roman Empire who is
      venerated as a Great Martyr of the Church and who met death under similar
      circumstances. These two saints are venerated so widely throughout the
      Christian Church that some cities and nations have even declared them as
      their official patron saints, thus recognizing that some states have
      acknowledged, to some degree, the role of the saints as protectors of the
      homeland.

      Throughout history, Christians have asked these saints to intercede before
      God for protection from enemies of all kinds: protection in war, protection
      from invasion, protection from civil unrest, and protection from the spread
      of disease. In our modern world, we continue to face these threats, even
      though they may have altered in their form. Some of these threats include
      nuclear arms proliferation in the world, continued instability between rival
      nations, border and land disputes, the development of organized cells of
      terrorists, the continued rise of deadly diseases, crimes of genocide, and
      ongoing strife in the Middle East. Also included among these threats are
      some very troubling potential realities for the future, such as the
      widespread use of biological warfare, potential conflicts in developing
      nations over such fundamental life sources as water, and the frightening
      consequences of global warming and climate change.

      In the face of these alarming realities and potentials, it may be argued
      that what is needed now more than ever is, among other things, concentration
      in proper state action, wise diplomacy, and increased funding for sound
      scientific research. While this is certainly true, our faith as Greek
      Orthodox Christians informs us that what is also needed so urgently now is
      an intensification of our prayer to God by invoking the tremendously
      powerful interceding action of the saints for protection and security. This
      has always been a cornerstone of the teaching of our Church. Of course, no
      discussion of security would be complete without due reference to the
      Theotokos, the Mother of God, who is par excellence the invincible
      Protectress of us all. Also integral to any discussion of security from a
      theological vantage is the important role that the angels play as protectors
      in our lives. The role of the Theotokos and the angels warrants
      considerable attention in its own right, and therefore will be explored in
      separate reflection pieces.

      Our contemporary world is longing for a genuine and lasting security.
      Though the notion of security has been understood and maintained differently
      over time; the world has always longed for this security, and indeed we feel
      the need for it more palpably now than in previous days. It is my belief
      and prayer that, through the intercessions of the saints, this security will
      assuredly prevail and permeate our world. I ask as you read and share this
      reflection piece that you offer prayers to our God, asking in particular for
      the intercessions of the saints in your daily prayers so that our world may
      realize this very real, sacred, and permanent kind of security, which
      ultimately God grants and maintains in His wisdom and in His love for us.

      + DEMETRIOS
      Archbishop of America


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