Archepiscopal Encyclical on the Feast of the Three Hierarchs and the Day of Greek Letters


Prot. No. 17/2024

Archepiscopal Encyclical on the Feast of the Three Hierarchs

and the Day of Greek Letters

January 30, 2024

Unto the Most Reverend and Right Reverend Hierarchs, Pious Priests and Deacons, Monks and Nuns, Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils, Honorable Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Members of Leadership 100, Day and Afternoon Schools, Philoptochos Societies, Youth, Greek Orthodox Organizations, and entirety of the Christ-loving Plenitude of the Sacred Archdiocese of America:

The Great Basil, and the Theologian Gregory, together with the renowned John, Chrysostom of golden speech… (Dismissal Hymn of the Three Hierarchs)

Beloved brethren in Christ,

These three Saints and Fathers of the Fourth Century Church: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom, are celebrated today throughout the Orthodox Christian oikoumene as a symphony of faith and reason, of grace and the working of our own salvation. We pronounce their names with great reverence and in order to accentuate the values that each of these Shepherds and Teachers of the Universal Church brought to the expression of our Orthodox Faith in Christ.

They all shared in the manifold gifts of divine grace – the “charismata” of which Saint Paul speaks of in First Corinthians (12:8-10). From Basil the Great, we have learned most especially of compassion for others. His philanthropic transformation of Asia Minor during his episcopal tenure is truly awe-inspiring, particularly because what was lacking in the technologies of the day was more than equaled by the willingness of the Church as the Body of Christ to work together for the benefit of all. From Gregory the Theologian, in his Orthodox minority position among the controversies of his day as Archbishop of Constantinople, we have learned that theology is more than a way of thinking about God. It is the very life of God as experienced by the Faithful in the life of the Church. And from the Holy Chrysostom, we have learned that it is possible to articulate and teach the things of God in a way that is not only convincing to others, but in a way that engages them to find their own path of treading the truth of the Gospel.

Each of these Great Fathers was a person of extraordinary intellectual achievement in what we now call “Greek Letters.” They put into the service of the Gospel the secular learning of their time in ways that are still studied and admired today. For they saw the ultimate value of knowledge in the ministry of love, and the esteem of reason in the service of faith. They have never been equaled in their unique combination of mind and heart, and so it is “meet and right” that we celebrate them most fervently on their shared Feast.

Therefore, beloved Christians, let us take this day and every day to honor not only these three Great Hierarchs of the Church, but let us also honor the path they trod that leads heavenward – from the things of earthly science and its ways of knowing, to the mysteries of things divine, and the way of love; for it is love that will abide unto eternity.

With paternal blessings in the Lord,


Archbishop of America

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