October 28, 2008
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,
Our commemoration of OXI Day, October 28, provides our Greek Orthodox community with a special day to remember and affirm the unique relationship between our heritage and our faith. This day marks a brilliant moment in history when the nation of Greece responded through word and action to the forces of fascism and occupation during World War II. The response of “NO” (“OXI”) delivered by the Greek People to the demands of the Axis forces on October 28, 1940, echoed in the bravery and sacrifice of many, and it exemplified the deep Hellenic love of freedom and independence. It also demonstrated the stalwart commitment of our Hellenic forebears to their faith and their country.
Faced by the threat of a brutal aggressor, our fathers and mothers drew upon their rich heritage which provided them with courage and determination. They acted in accordance with this heritage as they strived to strengthen and sustain persons, families, communities, and even life itself in the terrible conditions of war. Further, this heritage enabled them to resist, and ultimately prevail over, the huge military machine and power of the Fascist aggressor.
It is with this example of the interrelationship of our faith and heritage that we commemorate this day known as “OXI Day.” Today, we look back to a significant moment in our history and the history of the world, and we remember those who embodied Hellenism and Orthodox Christianity in a definitive way, and heroically felt in the battlefields. As Greek Orthodox Christians in America we also commemorate this day in thankfulness to God for the blessings of our faith and heritage. We fully understand the depth and relevance of this relationship between faith and heritage. May we forever cherish this relationship; and may our remembrance of our heritage and our faith in God embolden us always to say “NO” to anything that threatens freedom, justice, and peace.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America