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By God's Mercy
Archbishop of Constantinople the New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch
To the Plenitude of the Church
Grace and Peace be to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
Together with our Prayer, Blessing, and Forgiveness
Beloved brothers and sisters, children in the Lord,
Tomorrow, we enter the period of Holy and Great Lent. In the Lenten vespers of Forgiveness chanted this evening, we shall hear the sacred hymnographer urging us to "begin the time of fasting with joy, submitting ourselves to spiritual struggle" in preparing to welcome the great Passion and joyful Resurrection of our divine-human Lord.
Therefore, what is demanded is a joyful disposition in order to embrace fervently the spiritual struggle of this period of contrition in purification and prayerfulness. Fasting, abstinence, frugality, restriction of personal desires, intense prayer, confession, and similar ascetic elements are essential to the period of Great Lent and should not be considered burdensome obligations or unbearable duties that result in despondency or dejection. When doctors recommend diet or exercise as necessary prerequisites for psychosomatic health and vigor, the first advice they offer by way of a mandatory condition of success is a pleasant mental disposition, which includes smiling and positive thinking. The same also applies to the spiritual period of fasting that opens before us. Great Lent should be regarded as an invaluable divine gift. It is a sacred time of divine grace, which seeks to detach us from things material, lowly and corrupt in order to attract us toward things superior, wholesome and spiritual. It is a unique opportunity to remove from the soul every passion, to rid the body of everything superfluous, harmful and mortal. Accordingly, then, it is a time of immense rejoicing and gladness. A genuine feast and exhilaration!
Nevertheless, my beloved children, the fasting expected of us by the Church, as well as the abstinence, frugality, restriction of personal desires and unnecessary pleasures or expenses, literally constitute a prescription for salvation. This is especially true this year, when our world has experienced a global economic crisis, filled with imminent danger of bankruptcy not only for individuals and companies, but also for entire nations throughout the planet, with destructive consequences in skyrocketing unemployment, the creation of entire hosts of people plagued by poverty, depression, social turmoil, increase in crime, and other such tragedies. Great Lent instructs us to journey daily with a little less, without the arrogance of extravagance, waste and display. It encourages us to surrender all forms of greed and ignore the challenges of commercial advertising, which constantly promotes new and false necessities. It incites us to limit ourselves to what is absolutely essential and necessary in an attitude of dignified, deliberate simplicity. We are not to be a consuming or compulsive herd of thoughtless and heartless individuals, but a society of sensitive and caring persons, sharing with and supporting our "neighbor" that is in poverty or recession. Finally, Great Lent informs us about patience and tolerance in moments of smaller or larger deprivation, while simultaneously emphasizing the need to seek God's assistance and mercy, placing our complete trust in His affectionate providence. That is how Christ envisions Great Lent. That is how the Saints lived Great Lent. That is how the Church Fathers undertook the struggle of Great Lent. That is how our faith has traditionally understood Great Lent. That is how the Church of Constantinople, in its wide experience and unceasing vigilance, has always projected and proclaimed Great Lent, and particularly in the current global circumstances.
In sharing these pastoral thoughts and words from the historical and holy Phanar, we extend to all of you our paternal prayer and spiritual blessing for a fruitful journey through the period of Great Lent.
Holy and Great Lent 2010
Fervent supplicant before God
These past two weeks the whole world has been watching the tragedy unfolding in Haiti. The most vulnerable Country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world, has suffered one of the greatest disasters in its history. The earthquake of a 7.0 magnitude which hit Haiti has killed over a hundred thousand Haitians, while millions were injured and are now homeless.
Immediately upon learning of the earthquake, His Alll Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew issued a Patriarchal encyclical conveying his concern and prayers for the well being of our Haitian clergy and faithful, and for all the people of Haiti. In asking for the compassion and immediate response by the faithful, His All Holiness has "assigned His Eminence Metropolitian Athenagoras of Mexico, the responsibilty to coordinate all efforts in the collection of finanical and any and all other assistance for the Haitian disaster."
To read the rest of the release click here download.
1/29/2010, New York, NY - A delegation from the Order of St. Andrew, led by Archon and Ambassador George L. Argyros and National Commander Anthony J. Limberakis, MD, is currently participating in an 'Archon Religious Freedom Mission to the European Union' in pursuit of human and religious rights for the Ecumenical Patriarchate. National Commander Limberakis will be offering updates on important developments and status alerts via the social networking tool "Twitter". All Archons and interested persons who are connected to this network are encouraged to log onto
and become a follower, or visit
and click on the "Twitter" tab below the homepage image to read these updates.
The delegation will be traveling to Madrid, Spain--which currently holds the EU presidency, Brussels, Belgium, and Athens, Greece till February 7, 2010. They are being guided by His Eminence Metropolitan Emanuel of France. Together with Archons Argyros and Limberakis, the delegation also includes Archon Christopher Stratakis, Legal Counselor, Spiritual Advisor Fr. Alex Karloutsos, and Mr. Rob Lapsely, former Assistant Secretary of State for California. Coverage on the religious freedom mission will be available in the coming weeks on
and in the next issue of
The Order of St. Andrew the Apostle is comprised of Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate who have been honored for their outstanding service to The Orthodox Church by having a Patriarchal title, or "offikion," bestowed upon them by His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Those upon whom this title of the Mother Church has been conferred are known as "Archons of the Great Church of Christ," and the titles are personally conferred by the Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios.
The Order of St. Andrew's fundamental goal and mission is to promote the religious freedom, wellbeing and advancement of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is headquartered in Istanbul, Turkey.
The Hierarchs of the Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas
To the Most Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics and Devout Faithful of the Holy Orthodox Churches in the Americas.
Dearly Beloved in Christ Jesus:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ.
In 1955, the hierarchs leading the various Orthodox Christian Churches in our land came together to recognize and endorse the work of the Boy Scouts of America. This encounter prefigured the promising possibilities for witnessing our unity in Jesus Christ in this land and culture when we live and work in unity. Then and now, we believe that the Scout affirmation and Law are significant aids to our parishes and families in raising young men and women who “do their duty to God.” The methods of the Boy Scouts of America, the Girl Scouts USA, and the Camp Fire Boys and Girls programs are tremendous tools and we continue to fully endorse the work of these valued institutions.
We encourage each of our parishes to actively support the celebration of “Scout Sunday” on Sunday, February 7, 2010. We recognize our Orthodox Scouts every February but this year’s celebration is a particular joy to us as the Boy Scouts of America celebrates 100 years of vital service to the youth of our nation. We are grateful for the efforts of the first SCOBA endorsed agency, the Eastern Orthodox Committee on Scouting [EOCS], that has prepared materials for our parishes to assist in their celebration, available at www.eocs.org. We also call on the reverend pastors and faithful of our parishes to support and recognize their youth engaged in neighborhood units. Integrating a young person’s Scouting experience in the fullness of Church life and the Church’s youth ministry programs is a powerful witness to our conviction that Christ is all and in all(Colossians 3:11).
We prayerfully look forward to commemorating Scout Sunday with you on
February 7. We ask you to work with the EOCS (www.eocs.org) or with your Church’s Scouting representative to make this day a success for our youth ministry.
With paternal blessings and love in Christ,
Chairman, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Vice Chairman, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese Of North America
Secretary, Serbian Orthodox Church in North And South America
†Metropolitan NICHOLAS of Amissos
Treasurer, American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in the USA
Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese In the Americas
Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church
Orthodox Church in America
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
†Archpriest Alexander Abramov
Acting Representative of the Moscow Patriarchate in the USA
†Bishop ILIA of Philomelion
Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America
STANDING CONFERENCE of the CANONICAL ORTHODOX BISHOPS in the AMERICAS
8-10 East 79th Street, New York, NY 10075
NEW YORK – With great sadness, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios received the tragic news of the devastating destruction and the loss of human lives in Haiti following the earthquake in that country yesterday, January 12, 2010.
“Our thoughts and prayers are now with the people of Haiti,” said Archbishop Demetrios who immediately issued an encyclical calling upon the faithful of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America to pray for the safety, health and well being of all the people of Haiti and in particular the Greek Orthodox faithful there.
Read more: ARCHBISHOP ISSUES ENCYCLICAL CALLING FOR PRAYERS AND HELP FOR THE EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS IN HAITI
The SCOBA hierarchs have released an encyclical supporting Share the Light Sunday and the ongoing efforts of the Orthodox Christian Network to build an effective, Orthodox Media witness. The encyclical reads in part:
"It is also our responsibility to reach out to those who have left the embrace of the Church, as well as those who have never heard the saving message of Christ. It is precisely this commitment to mission and outreach that compels us, your spiritual shepherds, to support and endorse the outreach work in our communities of ministries like the Orthodox Christian Network (OCN)."
Click here to read the entire encyclical(PDF).
For more information on Share the Light Sunday and how you can help, please click here.