September 1, 2011
A New Beginning
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the glad tidings to the poor, to heal the broken at heart, to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, to comfort all who mourn"… (Isaiah, 61:1-2)
These words of the Prophet Isaiah recorded also in the Gospel of St. Luke (4,18-19) compel us at the beginning of the Ecclesiastical Year to re-focus our personal lives and our ministries in our Metropolis and our Parishes. Let us ask ourselves, do we believe "the Spirit of the Lord is upon us (me)"? Sadly, it seems that everything we believe to be true and moral, whatever is pleasing to God and beneficial to our Parishes and our fellow human beings has fallen by the wayside. We seem to have lost our Christian Orthodox Phronema and our missionary spirit. Many of us are unaware of Orthodox Christian Ecclesiology, i.e., what is the Church, what is its purpose….what is our place in the Church as clergy and laity. Things aren’t what they used to be. Religion is looked upon by many as irrelevant. Our youth is growing up in a world that has totally rejected traditional ideals. Life, nourished in dignity, honesty, goodness and righteousness is, for many, passť. Orthodoxy, for many is inherent.
Jesus felt the Spirit of the Lord upon Him as He read from the Book of Isaiah in the Temple. It is this same Spirit which we receive when we are baptized and chrismated and when we pray. It is this spirit which distinguishes us as Orthodox Christians that must be engraved in our consciences and interwoven into a new understanding of Christian life and experience.
As we begin the new Ecclesiastical Year on September 1, I pray it be "a year acceptable of the Lord" (Luke 4.19) a year inspired with a fresh spirit, ennobled by new fervor. May it be a year of new commitment, written upon our hearts and souls and signed in our consciences. We need to be restored as individuals, as Parishes and a Metropolis. We must reject what is egotistical, hypocritical, clever-minded and dishonest, inconsistent and irrelevant.
The beginning of the new Ecclesiastical Year affords us the opportunity for an honest self-evaluation. We must examine the past and honestly assess our present and our future. Let’s be frank, do we have the courage to look into the mirror of reality, and take those decisions necessary to clearly define who we are as a Church and what our roles and responsibilities are in that Church? Do we have the courage to ask ourselves---clergy and laity---if, in fact, we see ourselves as individuals anointed to "preach the glad tidings to the poor and heal those who are broken hearted?" Do we dare ask whether we care for those in our neighborhoods and throughout the world that are mired in hopeless poverty, hunger and homelessness? Have we done anything to heal their hearts, broken by our indifference? Has our ministry in the Church helped those held in the bondage of sin to free themselves? If, the answer to these questions is no, then the next question must be, what are we going to do about it?
Let us resolve on September 1 to reach out and embrace all those who, for various reasons, have left our Parishes and are not active in the life of our Church. Let us rekindle the spark of Orthodox missionary fervor in our communities and throughout the world. May the new church year be blessed with much spiritual growth for our Parishes and Metropolis, its clergy and laity!
With Episcopal love,
M E T H O D I O S
Metropolitan of Boston
September 1, 2011