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Messages at the Beginning of the Ecclesiastical Year

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan HERMAN at the Beginning of the Ecclesiastical Year September 1, 2002 To the Venerable Hierarchs, Reverend
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 2, 2002
      Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan HERMAN at the Beginning
      of the Ecclesiastical Year

      September 1, 2002

      To the Venerable Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, Monastics and Faithful of the
      Orthodox Church in America

      Dearly Beloved in Christ:

      The beginning of the new ecclesiastical year invites us to enter once again
      into the mystery of our redemption, for it is in the context of the
      Church's yearly liturgical cycle that God's saving interaction with
      humanity is both experienced and celebrated. Our liturgical year, with its
      own cycle of feasts and fasts and its own rhythm of jubilation and penance,
      is a prelude to the joy of eternity. In the liturgical year, time and
      eternity forge an inseparable bond, and we are united to the great and
      saving events of the past even as we are called to enter the fullness of
      that which is yet to come.

      United to both time and eternity, the liturgical worship of the Orthodox
      Church is a theological and therefore evangelical experience. It is also an
      evangelical tool to be utilized in bringing all people to the fullness of
      the Gospel. As the Church sojourning in North America, the greatest gift we
      have to offer the society in which we live is our theology. And our
      theology finds its fullest expression in our worship, for worship is a
      living theology that touches the minds and hearts of all who seek to come
      to the knowledge of the truth. Our worship manifests to us and to the world
      that the Kingdom that is to come is already upon us. The crucified and
      risen Lord is among us here and now. And here and now, by the Holy Spirit,
      He invites us to share eternal life with our Father before the ages.

      Our commemoration of the beginning of the ecclesiastical year must be more
      than a formality. Our observance of the new Church year must be joined to
      our love for the divine services. Celebrating the beginning of the
      ecclesiastical year, we are to discover yet again the gift of liturgical
      worship and the great responsibility that is ours in making this gift
      available to all. Entering upon a new year of salvation, and a new chapter
      in the history of our Church, let us share the gift of the Church's
      liturgical worship and through it offer to all the Gospel of new and
      eternal life.

      Expressing my gratitude for your prayers and kind expressions of support on
      the occasion of my election as Metropolitan of All America and Canada and
      invoking God's blessing upon you, I remain
      Sincerely yours in Christ,

      Archbishop of Washington
      Metropolitan of All America and Canada

      © 2002 Orthodox Church in America
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      Protocol 90/02

      September 1, 2002
      Beginning of the Ecclesiastical New Year

      To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons,
      the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of
      Greek Orthodox Communities, the Day and Afternoon Schools, the
      Philoptochos Sisterhood, the Young Adults and Youth, the Hellenic
      Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America

      Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

      It is with heartfelt joy in the Lord that I communicate with you
      at the beginning of a new ecclesiastical year.

      Much like our natural world, our Church follows a cycle of growth
      and renewal, setting aside one day out of each liturgical year where we
      as Orthodox Christians mark new beginnings and define new
      challenges. Our Orthodox faith is not static, but dynamic, with the power
      to transform our lives, our relationships with one another, and the
      society in which we live.

      Considering the importance of beginnings, it is not by accident
      that we also designate, under the direction of our Ecumenical
      Patriarch, September 1 as a Day for the Protection of the Natural
      Environment. We recognize this immediate connection in the very first
      words of the book of Genesis, "In the beginning God created the heavens
      and the earth" (Gen.
      1:1). Reading the creation account further, we encounter a God who
      creates all things good and who bestows with endless love the gift of the
      natural environment to us human beings. Such an offering inspired the
      Psalmist to ponder: "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your
      fingers, the moon and the stars, which You ordained, what is man that You
      are mindful of him?" (Psalm 8: 3-4)

      As members of a technologically advanced society and as
      Orthodox faithful, we bear a special obligation towards protecting the
      natural environment and raising ecological awareness. On a global
      level our Orthodox Church offers Her prophetic and redemptive voice
      towards this end. The many ecological initiatives of our Ecumenical
      speak to this contribution, the most recent being a seaborne symposium
      on the Adriatic Sea this past June where scientists, religious
      leaders, policy-makers, and journalists from around the world met in
      order to address growing environmental concerns affecting this body of water.

      The commitment of our Orthodox Church to protecting our
      environment must also be a part of the local ministry of our
      parishes. On this day, September 1, we are called as members of the Body
      of Christ to address the
      needs of our own communities concerning the environment. We are
      challenged to behold with sensitivity the state of the natural world
      around us, and to respond decisively when we witness the degradation of
      natural resources and the problems of increasing air and water pollution
      in our cities.

      In the face of these and other challenges, we remember on this
      day that the natural environment is a freely given gift from God, and
      we reaffirm our responsibility to act as stewards of His creation,
      offering back to God the same precious gifts which He has so lovingly
      given to us. In so doing, we pray that we may be imparted the Divine
      wisdom to behold how "the heavens declare the glory of God, and the
      firmament shows His
      handiwork." (Psalm 19: 1).

      May we mark the beginning of this ecclesiastical New Year with
      a renewed dedication to our natural environment, and may the
      infinite mercies of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with all of you.

      With paternal love in Christ,

      Archbishop of America
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