November 1, 2013
Feast of the Holy Unmercenaries
Saints Cosmas and Damian
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,
The Feast of the Holy Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian is the occasion of our annual offering for the philanthropic ministries of our beloved Ecumenical Patriarchate. Led by our Ladies Philoptochos Society through the local chapters in our parishes, we are asked to contribute generously to services and programs for orphans, the elderly, the sick and the poor. Certainly, we respond to this appeal out of our love and support of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. We also respond through our love for the faithful Orthodox Christians in Turkey and in our commitment to offer the witness of Christ and the Gospel through compassionate service to anyone in need.
This commemoration of Saint Cosmas and Saint Damian and our offering of support to the philanthropic ministries of our Patriarchate represent the very meaning of philanthropy. In response to God’s grace in their lives, Cosmas and Damian used their skills to offer compassionate service to all. Their motivation to respond was not based on the worthiness of a person, nor was it dependent on the social or economic status of the one in need. Freely they had received the power of healing through the grace of God, and freely they gave as a witness of the true life that is found in Christ.
As Orthodox Christians our philanthropic ministry is twofold. First, we are called to care for those within our community of faith. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, and together we share both the joys and the burdens of those in our parishes, in our Church in America, and among our beloved faithful throughout the world. Knowing the needs and challenges of our Ecumenical Patriarchate should also lead us to give faithfully and generously.
Second, we are called to offer ministry and healing to any person in need. Our Lord who had compassion on the sick and the poor, who gave His disciples the power to preach and to heal, who blessed Cosmas and Damian and many other Saints with the ability to bring comfort and restoration, He sends us into our communities to seek and to save those who are lost in poverty, homelessness, hunger, and infirmity. He also calls us to support vital ministries that are accomplishing this mission around the world.
This is why we are asked by our Ladies Philoptochos Society to support the philanthropic ministries of our Ecumenical Patriarchate. On Sunday, November 3, our parishes are asked to have a special collection for this purpose, and I ask our faithful throughout the Holy Archdiocese to give generously. By supporting these ministries we not only bring encouragement and hope to many of our brothers and sisters in need, but we also strengthen the witness of Christ through the work of the hierarchs, clergy, and laity under the Archdiocese of Constantinople and the Metropolitanates in Turkey.
May we ask for the continued blessings of the Lord upon these sacred ministries and for His guidance in offering our resources and our lives so that others in need will find solace, hope, and salvation in Him.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America