Protocol No. 143/15
September 1, 2015
Beginning of the Ecclesiastical New Year
Day for the Protection of our Natural Environment
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,
On this Feast of the Indiction which marks the beginning of the New Ecclesiastical Year, we are led by our beloved Ecumenical Patriarchate in observing the Day for the Protection of our Natural Environment. The relationship of our commemoration and observance is significant due to the changing of the seasons, our agrarian heritage in relation to marking time, and the strong foundations of our worship and theology in the relationship of our Creator to His creation. We affirm this in the hymns of this day as we sing, “In wisdom You have wrought all things and have established proper times and seasons for our lives” (Praises of Orthros), and “Author and head of all creation, under whose power lie all times and seasons, O compassionate Lord: crown the cycle of this year with Your generous blessings” (Exapostilarion of Orthros).
It is in the divine act of our creation that our relationship to the created order is revealed. Through the power and grace of the Creator bringing all things into existence and in His creation of humankind in His image, we see our unique role as stewards of all that God has made. As Adam and Eve were created and placed in the garden to “tend and keep it” (Genesis 2:15), we have the responsibility to care for and protect His creation. As man and woman were directed by God to “be fruitful and multiply” and to “have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28), we have the authority to manage the created order prayerfully and respectfully to sustain life and to address human and environmental needs. We must also affirm in our relationship with God that through His wisdom and our creative potential, we are able to sustain and protect the natural environment while addressing the environmental challenges and stresses of technological innovation, economic forces, population growth, and natural disasters.
Created in God’s image as stewards of the natural order, we are witnesses of the goodness of creation. He saw that all He created was very good (Genesis 1:31), and He established and sanctified time through the order and process of creation (Genesis 2:3). Our awareness of this inherent goodness in all that God has made is known first in our relationship with Him. We also marvel at the beauty, complexity, and function of creation, recognizing divine origin, purpose, and goodness. We proclaim the Gospel, guiding all to the revelation of God’s grace through Christ. We offer a ministry of hope and transformation, as we help others find healing, assurance, and salvation in Him. Through the prayers and liturgical life of the Church, we journey through each day, each week, the full cycle of the year and our lives toward the glorious fulfillment of time and eternal life in communion with God.
As we commemorate this Feast may we commit our time to the feasts and observances of the Church, to a daily life of prayer and communion with God, and to sustaining our spiritual lives through the disciplines of our faith. May we also affirm that we are created and called as stewards of the created order. From our relationship and communion with God, may we offer a witness of the goodness of His creation and the sanctity of life.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America