February 6, 2012
Feast of Saint Photios
Saint Photios National Shrine Day
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,
As we celebrate this feast day of Saint Photios the Confessor and Patriarch of Constantinople, we are also at the beginning of a special time in our worship and in our daily prayers and reflection. We have begun the Triodion period, the three weeks before Great Lent, and a time when the services, readings, and hymns direct our attention toward our need to prepare for Holy Week, the week of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of our Lord. We are also called to reflect upon the challenges and struggles of living as Christians and to experience the power and blessings that come through the life of faith.
This theme of struggle and faith is also an attribute of our other observance on this day, our recognition and offering of support to our beloved Saint Photios National Shrine in Saint Augustine, Florida. Since its establishment more than four decades ago, the Shrine has offered a witness of the struggle and faith experienced by so many who journeyed to this country. This heritage of perseverance is marked by the location of the Shrine, at a place were early Greek immigrants met and worshipped. In 1768, they came to this country with hopes of freedom and opportunity. Instead, they initially endured slavery and tremendous hardship. Our Shrine is a tribute to these forbearers who showed amazing courage and faith and sacrificed so much.
The Saint Photios Shrine is also a place that preserves our history as Greek Americans and offers a witness of the role and significance of our Orthodox faith and Church. Through exhibits, publications, and special events the Shrine informs and reminds us of the challenges and opportunities we have had in the United States and of the contributions so many Greek Americans have made to the cultural, political, and religious life of this country. In addition, with its beautiful chapel and the resources offered on our Orthodox faith, the Shrine is a witness to thousands of visitors per year of how our faith continues to offer to every person the Gospel of love and salvation.
In support of this vital ministry of our Church in America, may we offer our prayers for the directors, board of trustees, staff, and benefactors of the Saint Photios National Shrine. May you also consider how you can connect with our heritage and this witness of faith through generous contributions and through participation in the programs and events of the Shrine. Through this support of the Shrine as a place of remembrance and prayer, we will always have a testimony of the lives and sacrifices of those who came before us and a witness of the hope and life that comes from our Lord Jesus Christ.
With paternal love in Him,
Archbishop of America