March 14, 2012
HIS EMINENCE METROPOLITAN ALEXIOS` REFLECTIONS ON THE SUNDAY OF THE HOLY CROSS
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This Sunday we will be almost at the middle of Great Lent. As we look back on the preceding weeks, we often feel that we have not accomplished very much. There may be a very loud insistent voice that speaks negatively in our inner souls, the voice of the devil, or an evil spirit of pessimism, helplessness and despair. My dear spiritual children, this is why I want to encourage you: there is still time. There is still time to do the things we must.
In our society today, we are often seeking the easy way out, avoiding pain, problems and difficulties. Like the priest and the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan, we try to pass by on the other side. But this is not the message of Great Lent. Great Lent helps us to understand that life is often hard, and as Orthodox Christians, we know that it is our responsibility to struggle against the passions, using the tools that our Church provides: prayer, fasting, worship and almsgiving.
Today we venerate the Cross of Christ not only to remind ourselves of the coming of His crucifixion and Resurrection, but to gather strength from it and to thank Jesus Christ for what He did for us on the Cross. It is through the Cross that we learn the truth. It is through the Holy and Life-giving Cross that we understand we are participants in that miracle of Divine Involvement and Love.
We are now almost halfway through our shared journey to Holy Pascha and His glorious Resurrection. On the Sunday of the Holy Cross, we realize that we are going to have to take up our own cross, struggle and strive to overcome the obstacles that the devil places in our path. We must struggle to resist evil and temptation, to do what is against our conscience. This is why our Church offers us more opportunities for worship and service in order to help us "fight the good fight."
On this Sunday, as we venerate the Most Holy and Life-Giving Cross, we will also understand the lesson of the day, that we cannot have results without struggle and without effort and without pain. We cannot enter into the joy of the Resurrection, without first enduring the suffering of Holy Friday – we cannot celebrate Easter without experiencing Golgotha and the Crucifixion.
My beloved, I encourage you to pray for each other and for myself, your humble co-worker in our Lord’s Vineyard, as indeed I pray for you. May Great Lent spiritually uplift and strengthen us, so that we may truly be partakers in His Passion, Crucifixion, and glorious Resurrection!
March 14, 2012
HIS EMINENCE METROPOLITAN ALEXIOS` REFLECTIONS ON THE ANNUNCIATION
“Rejoice, through you joy will shine forth,
Rejoice, through you bondage will cease…”
Akathist Hymn of St. Romanos
There is a special time in the holy season of Great Lent when we observe the Feast Day of the Annunciation. Although it is Great Lent, we celebrate this day with great joy, because it is the beginning of our salvation. This is why in Greek we call it “Evangelismos,” which may be translated as “Good tidings” or “Good News.” This is the feast of the Good News of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
The Annunciation of the Theotokos is one of the greatest and most ancient Feast Days of our Church, dedicated to the Mother of God, our most Holy Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. It is one of the twelve great Feast Days because on this day both heaven and earth were changed, when the Virgin Mary said yes to God`s astonishing revelation that God the Son should be born as a man into this world. According to the spiritual fathers and teachers, the Annunciation is the first and most important event in our salvation, because, as the hymn says, “Today is the beginning of our salvation, The revelation of the eternal mystery!” There would have been no Pentecost without the Ascension, no Ascension without the Resurrection, no Resurrection without crucifixion, no crucifixion without Palm Sunday, no Palm Sunday without the Transfiguration, no Transfiguration without the Nativity and no Nativity without the Annunciation.
With this, we see God’s plan to reconcile us with the Creator, the love He has for all of us, a love that is inconceivable to our minds. It is unthinkable that a Being who is the Alpha and Omega, the Creator, should have the desire to become human. Yet this is just what God did, by asking the assistance of a young girl, an innocent girl only in her teens, to participate in the miracle that enabled us to be saved. This is the miracle that we celebrate on March 25, the Feast Day of the Annunciation.
Often this miracle goes overlooked and unnoticed. How many of us in today’s society will give up our time to celebrate and commemorate such a great event? How many of us will even pause a moment to reflect on the Divine Love that resulted in our salvation? My brothers and sisters, are we too busy or too distracted with worldly things so that great miracles pass us by?
It is my hope that these thoughts will encourage your thinking and your participation in the means by which our Holy Orthodox Church assists us in our spiritual growth and renewal. Let us now resolve to celebrate the great Feast of the Annunciation, and add our “yes” to that young girl’s assent to the will of God, so that our salvation may be accomplished!
March 14, 2012
HIS EMINENCE METROPOLITAN ALEXIOS` MESSAGE ON GREEK INDEPENDENCE DAY
As March 25th approaches, we are preparing to celebrate Greek Independence Day and to pay tribute to the vision and sacrifices of those who dedicated their lives to the cause of freedom for the Greek people.
The celebration of Greek Independence Day on March 25th is also one of the great Feast Days of our Church, the Annunciation of the Theotokos, when the Archangel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bear the Savior of mankind. On this great day, as we honor and celebrate the Divine Mystery of the Incarnation and the beginning of our salvation, we remember Bishop Germanos of Patras, who raised the banner of revolution, in an act of defiance against the Turkish oppression, marking the beginning of the War of Independence.
As Greek Orthodox Christians and citizens of the United States of America, we are sustained and strengthened by our belief in individual rights, in the rule of law, in the free practice of our religion. Thus the celebration of this day is an opportunity to reflect on the ideals of our identity and our faith.
These are not only the ideals that inspire and motivate us, but more importantly they are the values that we have shared with all those who love freedom around the world, as steadfast allies in the great struggle for liberty.
May we never take for granted the freedoms we enjoy, and never forget to work for the good of our fellow man and in the service of our Lord. May Almighty God bless us and keep us free of the tyrannies of our times so that we might serve Him, as good citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. May God bless us and grant us liberty, prosperity, and peace, and may our celebration of Greek Independence Day be a beacon of hope for all enslaved peoples around the world.
Zeto e eleftheria!