Encyclical of Archbishop Demetrios for the Feast of Saint Basil and the New Year
Dec 28, 2013
Protocol Number 01/14
January 1, 2014
Feast of Saint Basil and New Year
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)
To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
At the beginning of a new year the thoughts and expressions of many are filled with anticipation of what may come as the calendar changes from one year to the next. These hopes may be that the new year will bring new experiences, exciting opportunities, and blessings of health, happiness and security. For some, following a “good” year, are the hopes that the new year will be even better. For others who faced significant challenges, uncertainties, and even loss, the hopes are for peace and tranquility.
As Orthodox Christians we are guided by the words of the great Apostle Paul to know the true source of the hope that should fill our hearts and minds. Enduring hope that is fulfilled by the blessings of joy and peace comes from God. In the conclusion of his letter to the Romans the Apostle writes, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13). In his exhortation he also affirms that the hope that comes from God is the result of faith. We are filled with joy and peace, and we abound in hope in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit because we believe. Through our faith in the grace of God as revealed through Christ, we have hope in salvation from sin and death. As we receive by faith the Gospel of truth and believe in Christ, we have hope for today and tomorrow.
Thus, at the beginning of this new year and the beginning of each and every day, our hope must rest securely in Christ. We might anticipate what may come in the months ahead, but our anticipation should come from a foundation of hope in the will and power of God. This is a hope that cannot be quenched or extinguished. It is a hope that can withstand any struggle or challenge that may come. It is a hope that can carry our souls to great spiritual heights when the wondrous and marvelous work of God is revealed.
But this is not only our hope. It is hope that is offered to each and every person, a hope that should be shared. We are challenged at the beginning of the new year to think not only of ourselves but to consider the needs of others. As we are able to stand secure in the promises and power of God, we are able to offer a ministry of hope to others. We are equipped to go to those who are searching for hope and guide them to Jesus, the Lord of hope.
This emphasis on the hope that comes through faith is fitting on this day when we commemorate Saint Basil the Great and offer our support for our beloved Saint Basil Academy. Through his words and deeds, Saint Basil was a superb example of a person who dedicated his life to engendering hope. His sermons, letters, and theological writings are imbued with hope in the glorious fulfillment of the promises of God. His ministry in the name of Christ was constantly focused on bringing hope into the lives of the sick and suffering, the poor, orphans, and outcasts. Saint Basil Academy has honored this legacy of this great Saint, by building a ministry of hope to youth and children. For decades, many young people have experienced peace and joy at the Academy because they have come to this sacred place and experienced the love of God, the strength of faith, and the renewal of hope. They have seen that even in the most difficult circumstances of life, true hope can be found, and this hope can empower and nurture them in the life of faith, healing, and grace.
In the month of January each year, we are led by our Ladies Philoptochos Society and parish Philoptochos chapters in collecting special offerings for Saint Basil Academy. As you do this in your parishes and in the cutting of the Vasilopeta, I encourage you to give generously and to reflect on your support for this ministry of hope. I also ask you to prayerfully consider the source and focus of your hope in the new year. May the God of hope bring you peace and joy, and may you be blessed with His power as you share with all this blessed hope from above.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America