His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America
Homily for the Sunday of Orthodoxy
Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Cathedral
Astoria, New York
March 13, 2022
Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,
On this First Sunday of Holy and Great Lent, we gather as a community of Greek Orthodox Christians in one of the historic neighborhoods of our Archdiocese and its Cathedral Church of Saint Demetrios.
We gather in prayer and supplication on behalf of our Ukrainian brothers and sisters, who are suffering from the barbaric invasion of their country by a tyrant with no regard for the rule of law or moral decency.
We gather because we are united in a spiritual fraternity around the globe, with whom we celebrate the Faith of the Fathers, the Faith of the Orthodox, the faith that sustains the very universe itself!
We gather as well in order to turn a new page into a new chapter of the life of this blesséd community – the installation of your new Proïstamenos, the Reverend Protopresbyter Vasileios Tsourlis.
This new chapter in the life of Saint Demetrios also means that another chapter has closed – the decade long ministry of the Very Reverend Archimandrite Nektarios Papzafiropoulos.
He now serves the Archdiocese as our Chancellor, which is a weighty responsibility that he bears with grace and discipline. Clearly, his years at Saint Demetrios were an outstanding tutorial in the complexities of Church life. And he now brings to a national stage the lessons learned here in Astoria, and before that in West Babylon and in Greece. I am grateful for his service here in this wonderful Cathedral, as well as for his many talents that can now be shared across our Sacred Archdiocese.
Together with the departure of Fr. Nektarios, we also have the retirement of the Reverend Presbyter Anastasios Pourakis, who has been an integral part of the very fabric of Saint Demetrios, and whom I know you will always keep in your heart.
I am extremely pleased that we are all serving together here today as brothers in the Holy Priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We encircle the Holy Altar together as a visible symbol of the unity of the Faith, which is the very thing we celebrate on this Sunday of Orthodoxy.
My dear Christians,
In times like these:
Times of anxiety and worry,
Times of threats to world peace and to our friends and family overseas,
Times of stress,
Times of crisis and war – such as in Ukraine – which shake the very foundations of the entire world,
Let us always remember to remain faithful.
For it is the Lord and the Lord alone Who holds the entire world in His mighty hands.
He is the Παντοκράτωρ, Whose power is ineffable, Whose Kingdom is eternal, and Whose Church cannot be overcome, even by “the gates of hell.”1
On this Sunday of Orthodoxy – when we affirm our Faith with all those who have come before us,
With all those with whom we share our precious Faith,
With all those who will come after us,
Let us stand firm – as we say in the Divine Liturgy:
Let us stand aright, with perseverance and patience, with solidarity and solidity, with righteousness and in the name of the right and the good.
On this day, when Saint Demetrios celebrates its family and welcomes a new spiritual leader, let us lift up our minds and our hearts to the Spiritual Father of us all in Constantinople, and to our brothers and sisters in Ukraine, who are fighting for their freedom, and in Russia, where the people are being deceived by their leadership – both secular and religious.
Let us stand with them, and through our love and compassion, we will stand with each other ever stronger and ever more faithful Orthodox Christians. Amen.