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Archpastoral Message

Archpastoral message of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros to the Faithful of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

"...He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight..." This verse from the Book of Acts records the Ascension in a simple statement. Our Church celebrates Christ’s glorification forty days after Pascha. It commemorates all that Christ has done and accomplished for us! We sing on this day: "When you fulfilled the plan of salvation for us and united all things on earth to those in heaven, O Christ our God, You ascended in glory, never leaving us but remaining ever-present. For You proclaimed to those who love You: ‘I am with you and no one else has power over you’."

The icon of the Ascension is one of joy and celebration. On each side, the Apostles gaze towards Heaven as they watch the Lord ascending. Present, also, is the Mother of God, she who had once carried the Christ within her and was therefore the temple of the Incarnate Son of God. She is shown as the personification of the Church, the Body of Christ, whose Head is the ascending Savior. Uplifted in faith and prayer, she depicts the role of the Church, ceaselessly interceding for the salvation of the world. Everything in this icon is focused upward: toward the Source of the Life of the Church Who abides in Heaven.

Included in this icon is the Apostle Paul who historically would not have been present at the Lord’s Ascension. The iconographic purpose, however, is to show that the entire Church witnesses to this event through him.

Our commitment to the Church today is to be a witness of the Ascension of our Lord into Heaven: "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." We are the descendants of the Apostles and Saints of every generation. It is our responsibility to maintain the Faith into the new millennium pure and undefiled.

Christian STEWARDSHIP is the means by which we pass the gift of faith in Jesus Christ to the next generation. We must be faithful to the Lord’s commission to the Apostles: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

See: Mark 16:19-20; Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:9-11

To learn more, visit the Department of Stewardship.