Protocol Number 129/10

November 1, 2010
Feast of the Holy Unmercenaries
Saints Cosmas and Damian

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 annual commemoration of the Feast of the Holy Unmercenaries, Saints Cosmas and Damian, we give recognition and support to both our beloved Ecumenical Patriarchate and our National Ladies Philoptochos Society for their ongoing and intensive efforts to minister in the name of Christ to those in need. The occasion of this Feast has become for us as the Greek Orthodox Church in America a day for special prayers and offerings on behalf of the philanthropic work of the Ecumenical Patriarchate through the Baloukli Hospital and elder center and other institutions and programs that assist orphans and the poor. We are led in this effort by the members of our National Ladies Philoptochos Society through the local chapters in the parishes of our Holy Archdiocese.

This Feast of the Holy Unmercenaries is also an occasion to reflect on the nature of ministry to those in need, a ministry that was exemplified by Saints Cosmas and Damian. As prayer was the means of their communion with God, it was also the means through which the power of God brought healing and peace to the lives of others. Second, while Saints Cosmas and Damian were concerned with the physical well-being of the people they encountered, their ministry of healing was ultimately directed at sharing the Gospel of Christ for spiritual healing. Third, the work of these two holy men of God was a life-long labor of complete sacrifice. They offered their gifts freely and served as vessels for the grace of God, seeking only His glory and the salvation of souls.

The philanthropic work of our Ecumenical Patriarchate is first and foremost a ministry of prayer. This work originates in the experience and witness of Christ’s presence in the divine services of our Church and in lives of prayer. In addition, it is a ministry that shares the Gospel of Christ. Many of the philanthropic programs are directed at care for the body or special physical needs; but it is also clear that the motivation for this offering is a firm faith in the truth of the Gospel and the desire to share it with others. Thus, much of this work is for the spiritual well-being of those who receive care. Finally, the ministries of the Ecumenical Patriarchate show us the true nature of offering and sacrifice for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. The nature and service to those in need that was exemplified by Saints Cosmas and Damian is also beautifully reflected in the work of our Ladies Philoptochos Society. This is a work strongly marked by love-motivated healing in imitation of the Lord Jesus Christ, by sharing the Gospel and by generosity and sacrifice.

On this sacred occasion of the Feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian, I ask all of our parishes to offer special prayers for the philanthropic ministries of our Ecumenical Patriarchate and for the ongoing programs of our Ladies Philoptochos Society at the local, metropolis, and national levels. I also ask our parishes to take a special collection on Sunday, October 31 for the National Ladies Philoptochos Ecumenical Patriarchate Fund. This is an opportunity for all of us to participate in this ministry, as well as a time for renewed commitment to prayer, sharing the Gospel, and sacrifice so that others may find healing, grace, and life in the presence of our Lord, the great and eternal Healer.

With paternal love in Christ,

†DEMETRIOS
Archbishop of America