September 14, 2002
Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross
“Cross, the beauty of the Church”
(Exaposteilarion of the Day)
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 Day and Afternoon Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhood, the Young Adults and Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On the day of the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross we celebrate the power and victory of our Lord over sin and death. We rejoice in our reconciliation to God through the Cross, for now we have been made fellow citizens with the saints, we have become members of the household of God (Ephesians 2:16-19). Through the blood of Christ the covenant of promise has been restored, hope has been renewed; and as we were dead in our sins, now by the grace of God through faith we have been granted life (Ephesians 2:1, 8).
Since we are united by the power of the Sacred Cross “in the household of God” let us affirm our shared task as clergy and laity in nurturing within our communities of faith the divine calling and vocation of the Holy Priesthood, a priesthood serving the crucified Lord. We do this on a day when traditionally we have acknowledged our esteemed and beloved Holy Cross School of Theology. This relationship with our School is not merely one of recognizing its necessity for the preparation of the future clergy, teachers, and theologians of our Holy Archdiocese. Much more essential is the understanding that this process of preparation begins within each and every parish where the entire community is given the divine vocation to nurture our Orthodox faith in the lives of our children and youth and to confirm the call of God upon those young men He has chosen for priestly service. For those who are and will be priests a life-time of service to the Church of Christ may be shaped by the years of prayer and study at Holy Cross; however, an enduring and worthy ministry will be built upon the foundation of faith and love that is manifested and engendered by you, the Body of Christ.
This truly is a unique time in the history of our School and Archdiocese to strengthen our resolve in this sacred task. When the number of available clergy in various denominations is declining, our potential to provide for our parishes and ministries is tremendous. Such a potential is manifested in the fact that as we celebrate this sacred feast in the Chapel of the Holy Cross, we will welcome for the second consecutive year one of the largest in-coming classes in the history of the School. In addition, due to the generous gifts of parishes, families, and Leadership 100, scholarship resources are at their highest level. Also, the leadership of our Beloved School -the President, the Board of Trustees, the Faculty, and the Staff -continue to strive for excellence and achievement.
All of this is crucial for the continued growth of our sacred mission; but what is more critical are the lives that are being formed in the crucible of our parishes. The challenge before us is to nurture our youth in love and wisdom, to instill within them a deep reverence for the Church and her worship, and to teach them by our example the true meaning and extent of service. In so doing, by the power of the Cross, we will send out laborers into the Lord’s harvest (Matthew 9:38), we will fulfill the divine commission to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19), and we will be granted untold blessings through the lives and ministries of priests -our sacred offerings to God.
May our Lord who endured the Cross and is now reigning in glory and honor bless each of you with His holy and life-giving presence today and tomorrow and to the limitless future.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America
To be read from the pulpit at the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, September 15