His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros
HC/HC Paterexhortatory Graduation Address
May 20, 2023
Hellenic College Holy Cross
Your Eminences and Graces,
Members of the Board of Trustees,
Faculty and Administration, Clergy and Laity,
Graduates of 2023, your families and friends,
Sisters and Brothers in the Risen Lord,
Christ is Risen!
What a moment for all of you – to have come this far on your journey of knowledge and faith. This Commencement is much more than a reward for your past accomplishments. It is, in fact, a launch pad for the rest of your lives.
Their trajectory is not yet fully revealed, but you can take comfort that our Merciful God holds the course of your lives in His loving hands. He knows your beginning, and He knows your ending. This will always be of great comfort to you, if you hold to it.
Everything that you have learned and experienced here at our precious Σχολή is like rocket fuel for your lives. The glories of our Orthodox Faith and Culture are filled with the very Energy of God. They will propel you to amazing heights, heights that are unimaginable to you, as you sit here today for your Graduation Exercises.
But allow me to counsel you, as this is my paternal exhortation to you as your Archbishop: what you have learned here at Holy Cross is not the final infusion of this energy into your minds and souls. It is only the beginning. The training that you have received here, on this Hill of Hope, is designed to prepare you to absorb so much more. The tradition of the Church – liturgical, aesthetic, patristic, theological, homiletic, hagiographic – this is a vast ocean of grace and wisdom. You cannot possibly imbibe all the Church’s treasures in one lifetime, no matter how long you live and how much you study. Like the mediaeval story of the little child that the Blesséd Augustine met on the seashore of Africa.
The story goes that while Augustine was struggling on his book, De Trinitate, he took a walk by the seaside, meditating on the mystery of the Holy Trinity. Suddenly, he came upon a little child, who had dug a small hole in the sand, and with a seashell, was scooping water from the sea into the hole. Augustine watched him for a while and finally asked him what he was doing. The child answered that he was taking all the water from the sea and pouring it into the little hole in the sand. “What?” Augustine said. “That is impossible. The sea is too large and the hole too small.”
“Indeed,” said the child, “but I will sooner draw all the water from the sea and empty it into this hole, than you will succeed in penetrating the mystery of the Holy Trinity with your limited mind.” Augustine turned away in amazement, and when he looked back, the child was gone.
It is a wonderful tale, and the point is well taken. We cannot understand everything. We shall never be omniscient as God is. However, with the discipline you have received –at Hellenic College and Holy Cross – you have the ability to access the magnificent sources of our Orthodox Faith. You have the streams of faith, wisdom, and knowledge with which to water your minds and hearts.
Thus, I exhort you – paternally – do not think of this graduation as a final step. It is only the first. Use what you have learned and learn more! Always make time for spiritual reading and study. We know about ἀνάγνωσμα from our corporate worship and the reading of Scripture, but there is also διάβασμα, the close attention and meditation upon the words of our Lord, of the Saints, of the Fathers, of the Ascetics. Continue to refuel yourselves at every instance – in season and out of season!
Make of your educational success here at Hellenic College and Holy Cross the foundation for the rest of your lives. And build a spiritual library for your souls upon the traditions you have received here – from your teachers and spiritual fathers, from the staff and administration, and from one another.
You will find refreshment as from living waters from applying yourselves in this way. It will be as the Prophet Solomon says: “the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.”
Therefore, my beloved Graduates:
Let this day of your Commencement be a day of foundation. Let it be a groundswell of the wellspring of your spiritual energy – grace for your lifetime, and indeed, for eternity. For with our God is the fountain of life, and in His light shall we see light.
May the Lord always bless you, your families, and the stream of your individual lives, this day and always, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Christ is Risen!