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Exhortation of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Orthodox Young Professional Gathering

© GOA / D. Panagos

October 26, 2021
Hosted by Archon Nomophylax Reince (Hercules) Priebus
Washington, DC

Your Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros,
Honorable Archon Reince Priebus,
Beloved Children in the Lord,

We are grateful to the esteemed Archon Nomophylax, whose baptismal name is “Hercules,” for organizing this occasion to be with you all, this budding generation of leaders. We admire your success in the worlds of business, society, and even politics.

As Ecumenical Patriarch, and serving the Church on the Throne of Saints John Chrysostom, Gregory the Theologian and Photios the Great for these thirty years – longer than some of you have been alive – we have gained a depth and breadth of experience that we never anticipated, growing up on the lovely island of Imvros, my birthplace. We came from the small local community of village, Ἅγιοι Θεόδωροι, to serve the Universal Church with humility, and it is to humility that I call you today, ταπεινοφροσύνη.

All of you have seen greater technological change in the span of your young lives, than all the generations of human beings who have come before you. Think of it! We all take the conveniences for granted, becoming impatient when our phones and devices seem to stall even for a nanosecond.

At the Phanar, we also have seen how advantageous technology can be; the speed and free flow of information certainly have their uses. But there can also be a disassociation that comes from too much love of our own power, and not enough connection with the power of love.

That is precisely why the virtue of humility is really the strongest ally you can have in the course of your lives. As one of the great Desert Fathers affirms, the single virtue of humility is enough to open the gates of Paradise.[*]

We do know this, that the Lord indeed humbled Himself, took up our nature, and gave Himself up for the life of the world. [†]

Therefore, beloved spiritual children:

Infuse your minds and hearts with humility. Do not see it as self-abasement or low self-esteem. These are psychological states that are dependent on our ego. Instead, humble yourselves; which is keeping your feet on earth and your mind in Heaven. Then, as the accomplishments of life come your way, you will see them in a much greater context than your individual effort.

You will see them as means to a greater end, that is not dependent on money or earthly gain of any kind. You will behold in your achievements how the Lord has placed you in a particular nexus, where your gifts can be magnified, as the Lord said: “thirtyfold, and sixtyfold, and a hundredfold.”[‡]

Earlier, we noted that your generation has already seen more technological advancement than all prior generations, but that is only the beginning. The tsunami of information that is preparing to be downloaded during your lifetimes, will even outstrip what has come before.

Therefore, I commend to each and everyone of you to pursue wisdom with all humility. Wisdom, Σοφία, is God the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ. Through humility, Wisdom was made flesh for our sake, and through humility, our flesh, which is ultimately as the grass of the field, can be imbued with Wisdom from on High.

May the Lord grant to you all His grace and abundant love, that you may seek after wisdom in humility, and become the agents of change in the world that bring about the Kingdom of God.

May the Lord bless you all!

[*] Saint John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, 23:12.

[†] Cf. Philippians 2:6-11.

[‡] Mark 4:20.