Protocol No. 151/16
August 15, 2016
Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos
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,
On this blessed feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary, we continue to give thanks to God for His blessings upon our gathering in Nashville for our 43rd Clergy-Laity Congress. Throughout the week in our worship, meetings, and deliberations we witnessed unity and commitment to the sacred work of the Church and dedication to faithful ministry in meeting tremendous needs.
We were inspired by the theme of our Congress, “You are the Voice of Christ in a Changing World,” and as we commemorate this holy day of August 15, we are also inspired by one who knew, followed and shared the voice of Christ. The Virgin Mary knew the voice of Christ because she shared a unique relationship with Him as His mother. She heard His voice from birth throughout His life and ministry; she heard His words as He grew; she marveled at His wisdom as a youth; she listened to His teaching; she was burdened with great sorrow when He cried out from the Cross; and she was filled with great joy following His resurrection and hearing His promises.
The Virgin Mary also followed the voice of Christ because of her commitment to the will of God. In her dedication to a life of holiness and purity, she was obedient to His calling to become the Theotokos and to carry the Son of God in her womb. In faithfulness she nurtured Jesus, trusting in the promises of God to fulfill His plan for our salvation. She followed in hope and faith as Christ proclaimed and revealed divine grace. She listened and found great strength in His words as His teaching offered assurance of abundant blessings and eternal life.
As she knew and followed the voice of Christ, the Theotokos also shared His voice. Through her life of holiness, many others found new life in Christ. Many were able to see the power of God’s presence and blessings through her witness. She shared His voice through her love of God and others, her sacrifice, and her faith. Generation after generation has called her blessed because the example of her life continues to lead people to God.
This witness of faith and sanctity of life was celebrated on her repose, a celebration we continue today as we cherish her life and witness. Through her life we see the power of knowing and following the voice of Christ. We affirm the need for a direct relationship with Him so that we hear His voice. Through worship, prayer, and reading the Holy Scriptures, we know His words, we commune with Him, and acknowledge His presence. From this foundation of knowing Christ we are able to share Him and His message of truth and love with others. We are able to be the voice of Christ in a changing world filled with challenges. Through our daily lives, our words and actions, and our parishes, we offer His invitation to grace and eternal life, to all that was known and experienced by our Most Holy Mother, the Theotokos and Ever Virgin Mary.
On this blessed day we give thanks to God for her holy life and repose, for her faithful intercessions for mercy and protection, and for her witness of our Lord. As she inspires us in our journey of faith, may we also be witnesses of Him so that all will hear His voice!
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America