September 1, 2012
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,
We begin this new ecclesiastical year in worship of our Almighty God offering Him praise and thanksgiving for His great mercy. In our hymns and prayers on this day, we ask for all that we need for life and service, seeking to walk in communion with Him. Through our commitment to prayer, our participation in the commemorations and observances of the Church, and our offering for the promotion of His kingdom, we find renewed hope in an abundant life in Christ.
On this feast we ask our Lord, “Bless the crown of this year with Your goodness” (Psalm 65:11). We know that His goodness is true and enduring. His goodness is rooted in His love for us, and in this goodness He nurtures and sustains our lives. Through our trust in God, our lives are filled with His goodness, and consequently we become witnesses of the joy He has granted us.
We also ask Him to keep us in peace. While we know that peace is a cherished condition for tranquil and secure lives in this world, we also recognize that this peace is often temporary or frequently challenged. Certainly, we seek peaceful times, but we also affirm that true peace comes from Christ. Our Lord said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
It is in His goodness and peace that we also ask our Lord to bless all of our endeavors in the opening year and to “guide the work of our hands.” Following His direction in all that we do ensures that we will produce great spiritual fruit in our lives and the lives of others. Dedicating ourselves to Him keeps our hearts and minds in His will and fills our actions and words with His holiness and grace. When we acknowledge Christ in all our ways, our goals and intentions are pure, lives are transformed, and He is glorified.
It is also on this feast that we observe the Day for the Protection of our Natural Environment. This day has been established by our beloved Ecumenical Patriarchate in recognition that the goodness, peace, and guidance of God extend to all of the created order and to our stewardship of it. In goodness our Creator made everything and proclaimed that it was good (Genesis 1:31). Into a fallen world groaning under the burden of corruption, He has brought true peace. He has shown us the way of peace, so that we may live in proper relationship with our natural environment and with each other awaiting the deliverance into the “glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). Our Lord also gives us guidance in our stewardship and care of all that He has made. By His example and teaching, we know that the life of grace includes the natural world, and He directs us to protect and preserve it in love.
As we begin this ecclesiastical year together in worship and fellowship, I pray that the Lord will bless you, your families, and your parish with a year filled with His goodness and peace.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America