Protocol No. 115/17
September 1, 2017
Beginning of the Ecclesiastical 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,
At the inception of a new Ecclesiastical Year, we are invited through our commemoration of the Feast of the Indiction to come before the Lord in worship and prayer. We are encouraged to renew our offering of our life to Him and to enhance our communication with Him through prayer and worship.
Today is a feast that leads us in the beauty and wisdom of our Orthodox Christian faith to contemplate all that we seek through our petitions and prayers. In addition to being a day of prayer in preparation for the months ahead and the cycle of services and observances that guide our worship and strengthen our faith, it is a feast that emphasizes the priority and purpose of prayer.
We pray to God for the provision of our daily needs, physical and spiritual, knowing that He cares for us and will supply every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19) We ask for protection, “to keep Your people in peace, safe and sound from all harm,” “to keep our city in peace,” and to “keep our rulers and all Your people in peace, O compassionate Lord!” (Hymns of the Feast) On this day and throughout the year, we seek the peace from above and the assurance of His grace and promises.
Today we pray for guidance for the year ahead. We ask for God’s wisdom and blessings as we face the complexity and challenges of our world. To do this, we need His grace, and we affirm this in our prayers for forgiveness and our prayers that proclaim our hope in salvation. We ask for deliverance from the ills and burdens of this life, and ultimately from death itself into glorious and eternal life with Him.
This Feast has also been designated by our beloved Ecumenical Patriarchate as the Day for the Protection of our Natural Environment. The focus of this day on prayer, renewal, and hope connects clearly with this observance and our reflection on our relationship with the created order. As we ask God for provision and protection, we acknowledge our responsibility to be good stewards of all that He has made. He has given us the resources, knowledge, and skill to address our physical needs and those of others, just as He is faithful to provide for our spiritual needs. In this proper relationship with our Creator and His creation, we work for peace. We seek balance between our genuine needs and our care for our natural environment and each other. We offer a witness of our faith and guidance to others as we share and sustain, motivated by God’s love and our love for all that He has made.
This divine love and our compassion for each other and God’s creation helps us forgive others just as He forgives us. In grace and truth we confront abuse, waste, and greed, inspiring transformation in the way people live in this world. We engage with the challenging environmental issues of our times and seek peace and deliverance for those who suffer. We work respectfully and creatively for solutions to challenging issues so that life is sustained. As our hope is in our salvation through Christ, we protect the natural environment knowing that creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Romans 8:21)
As we begin this Ecclesiastical Year, I pray that the blessings and mercy of Almighty God will be with you each and every day. I pray that you will witness the power of His grace throughout the year as you pray daily, seeking His will, living in His presence, and gathering to worship in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
With paternal love in Him,
Archbishop of America