Ecclesiastical New Year
Beginning of the Academic Year
“Whatever a man sows that he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)
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 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,
With a heart filled with steadfast hope, fervent prayers and warm wishes I am communicating with you at the very beginning of a new ecclesiastical and academic year.
It is not by chance that this beginning, September 1, coincides with the process of harvesting and preparing the tilled soil for a new cycle of cultivation, nurturing and production of the fruit of the earth. Throughout human history this vital, agrarian labor has been intertwined with religious belief and practice—a relationship that is often unrecognized by the people of a modern, technologically—advanced society. However, the challenge before us today is to see that the physical process of cultivating and harvesting is directly related to the nurture and growth of our spiritual lives. This is the time when we must resolve to cultivate our hearts and minds through the services, feasts, and fasts of the Church that will be observed in the coming year. In this endeavor we are admonished by the Apostle Paul to tend carefully, for “The one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully (2 Corinthians 9:6). He will reap the fruits of the Spirit which are joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23), and ultimately, everlasting life (Galatians 6:8).
Brothers and Sisters,
This time of our calendar also marks the beginning and continuation of another vital process of cultivation. Our children and youth are returning to their schools during these days to continue the nurturing of their minds, bodies, and souls through education. As parents and clergy we are acutely aware of the importance of proper education, so much so that throughout our Holy Archdiocese parishes are striving to establish, maintain, and /or expand day schools. This tremendous effort is being done with an understanding of the essential link between faith and learning, and with an awareness that a bountiful harvest will come from young lives that are offered both quality education and Orthodoxy.
Therefore, as Greek Orthodox communities facing the challenges and needs of 21st century America, we must give continuously and sacrificially to this effort. Where day schools are established, we must ensure their quality and their future; where new schools have just begun, we must increase their scope; and where schools are needed, we must plan wisely so that our efforts will bring honor and glory to God. For many of you a Greek Orthodox day school is not yet a reality. In these situations it is even more crucial that we continue to implement educational programs that will cultivate our children and youth, establishing them in the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God (Ephesians 4:13) and introducing them to the treasures of our Hellenic heritage.
As we nurture our spiritual lives through regular participation in the liturgical life of our parishes, and as we lovingly cultivate young hearts and minds, may we be encouraged again by the words of Saint Paul who wrote, “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9).
May God who is rich in His mercy and whose blessings are abundant strengthen you as you tend to the rich soil of life; and may the spiritual harvest that is reaped endure forever.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America