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Catechetical Homily of the Ecumenical Patriarch for Holy and Great Lent

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  • Al Green
    GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF AMERICA 8-10 East 79th St. New York, NY 10075-0106 Tel: (212) 570-3530 Fax: (212) 774-0237 Web: http://www.goarch.org - Email:
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 28, 2009
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      8-10 East 79th St. New York, NY 10075-0106
      Tel: (212) 570-3530 Fax: (212) 774-0237
      Web: http://www.goarch.org - Email: communications@...

      Protocol No. 94

      For Holy and Great Lent

      + B A R T H O L O M E W
      By God's Grace Archbishop of Constantinople,
      New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch

      To the Plenitude of the Church,

      Grace and Peace from our Savior Jesus Christ
      And Prayers, Blessings and Forgiveness from Us

      "Come, all peoples, let us today welcome
      The gift of fasting
      The period of repentance granted to us by God"

      (Monday, First Week of Fasting)

      Brethren and beloved children in the Lord,

      The fast proposed to us by our Holy Church is not any deprivation,
      but a charisma. And the repentance to which it calls us is not any
      punishment, but a divine gift.

      When the Church urges us, through the words of Scripture, not to
      store up for ourselves treasures on earth "where most and rust
      consume" but instead to store up treasures in heaven, where there is
      no danger of corruption, it is telling us the truth. For the Church
      is not of this world, even though it lives in this world and knows
      it. It knows humanity: our real need and distress. It knows our time
      well: the time of great development and speed, the plethora of
      information and confusion, the time of many fears, threats and

      This is why - with calmness and steadiness - the Church invites
      everyone to repentance. This is why it discourages its children from
      taking the wrong path by treasuring their labors and basing their
      hopes on unstable foundations. Rather, it encourages them to store up
      treasure in heaven; for where our treasure lies, there also our heart

      The treasure that cannot be corrupted and the hope that does not
      shame is precisely God's love, the divine force that binds all things
      together. It is the incarnate Word of God, who stays with us forever.

      He is the sanctification of our souls and bodies. For, He did not
      come to judge but to save the world. He did not come to criticize but
      to heal. "He wounds with compassion and demonstrates compassion with

      He abolished he one who held the power of death, namely the devil. He
      annihilated the sorrow of death, namely the joyless form and dark
      presence of death, which darkens and poisons all of our life and joy.

      This is why, when our heart and love are directed toward the divine-
      human Lord, who has authority over the living and the dead, then
      everything is illumined and transformed.

      Indeed, when the Apostle exhorts us "not to set our hopes on the
      uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with
      everything for our enjoyment" (1 Tim. 6.17), he is assuring us that
      the true enjoyment of life is exactly what God offers us, while we
      simply receive it with gratitude and thanksgiving. Then, the little
      becomes abundant, because it is blessed; and the fleeting and
      momentary shine with the light of eternity.

      Then, not only do the joys of life contain something eternal; but the
      troubles and sufferings become occasions of divine comfort.

      The divine economy of salvation is certain. For, God is "the one who
      provides everything with depth of wisdom and loving-kindness." And
      the deposit of our labors is secure, for "we surrender all of our
      life and hope" to the incarnate Word.

      So when the Gospel refers us to heaven, it is speaking literally. It
      brings us down to the reality of the earth, which has become heaven.

      This is the certainty experienced and confessed by the Church.

      Through your Cross, O Christ, there is one flock and one church of
      angels and human beings. Heaven and earth rejoice together. Lord,
      glory to you."

      The Church grants us the opportunity to experience this miracle of
      earth-become-heaven. Our roots lie in heaven. Without the Church, we
      are uprooted and homeless.

      For the Church is our home. So long as we return to the Church, we
      are returning home; we come to ourselves. So long as we are estranged
      from the Church, we are lost and meaningless.

      So long as we approach the Church, we perceive the authenticity of
      what is true. We behold the heavenly Father awaiting us outside the

      We are convinced by the sense of goodness and beauty; we sense the
      presence of God's powerful love, which overcomes death; we no longer
      sense the corruption and doubt, which mock the world.

      Therefore, let us heed the divine invitation to enter the ocean of
      fasting in order to reach the harbor of light and resurrection with
      all the saints.

      Holy and Great Lent 2009

      Your fervent supplicant before God,

      +BARTHOLOMEW of Constantinople
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