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Prot. No. 118

CATECHETICAL ENCYCLICAL
ON THE OPENING OF GREAT LENT
+ B A R T H O L O M E W
By God’s Mercy
Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch
To the Plenitude of the Church
May the Grace and Peace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
Together with our Prayer, Blessing and Forgiveness be with you
* * *

 

Beloved brothers and children in the Lord,

With the grace and loving kindness of God, tomorrow we enter the arena of Holy and Great Lent, the most suitable period for the soul—our own soul—to turn toward the Lord.

This period is one of constant contrition before the mystery of God that daily unfolds before us, the mystery of our salvation. This is why the opportunity granted to us with the Sacred Fast has a special characteristic: the renewal and vigilance of the soul that is called for during this time filled with divine exhortation and sanctity to become aware of the ephemeral and material, while gradually being transferred to the eternal and spiritual.

Symbolically and summarily, the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete addresses its author as well as every soul troubled and distressed by the temptations and distractions of this life. Conscious of the burden carried by a soul wounded by sin, St. Andrew cries out with anguish: “My soul, my soul, arise; why do you sleep?” This cry leads to the realization of vanity and the inexpressible fear of death: “The end is near and [my soul] will be troubled.” Before the unexpected end of life that comes “like a thief in the night,” the illumined Cretan poet invites himself and every soul suffering and consumed by the fear of insecurity to “awaken in order that Christ our God, who is ever present and fills all things, may take care of us.”

The Orthodox patristic teaching calls each of us, during this period of struggle, to recognize “who we are, where we are, and where we are headed.” We are called to realize the vanity of this temporary life and repent for all that we have hitherto done “in knowledge or in ignorance, in word or deed, in action and in all our senses” contrary to the Gospel of Christ and the law of grace. Only then shall we find mercy and grace; and only then will the Lord, who knows hearts and minds as well as the innermost secrets and thoughts of human beings, take care of us and forgive our unjust thoughts that lead us to vain and useless deeds.

The struggle that lies before us culminates in vigilance, renewal and repentance. Through repentance, namely by coming to know our condition, and through confession, our life is crowned with “forgiveness of sins, communion of the Holy Spirit, and fullness of the heavenly kingdom.” This renewal is identified with the conscience of the repentant soul (see 2 Cor. 1.12 and Rom. 2.15) and is a gift of God.

Brothers and children in the Lord,

We Orthodox Christians are called to live the period of Holy and Great Lent as a time of conscientious renewal and vigilance, as an eternal moment of our Orthodox identity. That is to say, we are called to live and experience Christ Himself, to love and experience ecclesiastically and spiritually. For it is only through our life in Christ that we have the possibility to renew our conscience and ascend to the level of true freedom and the infallible criteria for our consolation and salvation.

At the opening of this blessed period, the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Great Church of Christ spiritually visit every Orthodox Christian soul that labors without consolation and is laden by the values and pleasures of the flesh and this world; we travel with and pray to “the King of kings and Lord of lords, who comes to be slaughtered and given as food to the faithful”: O Lord, deem worthy all Orthodox faithful in peace and contrition of heart, that they may journey through this sacred period and the arena that opens up before us, “granting grace and strength to all, that they may reach their goal and courageously walk the way to the festive day of Your Resurrection in order that they may be crowned with joy and ceaselessly give praise.” (Poem of Theodore, Triodion)

We bless all of you paternally, beloved and faithful children of the Mother Church. And united with you in prayer and intercession, we invoke upon all the power of the precious and life-giving Cross, through the intercessions of our Lady Theotokos, the holy angels and all the saints, so that all of us may be worthy of our calling to live as Orthodox Christians and thus enjoy the delight and glory of our Lord’s Resurrection. To Him belong the might, thanksgiving, honor, power and glory, to the ages of ages. Amen.

Holy and Great Lent 2017
+ Bartholomew of Constantinople
Your fervent supplicant before God

 


 

 

 
 


Prot. No.: 314
PATRIARCHAL AND SYNODAL ENCYCLICAL
ON THE CONVOCATION OF THE HOLY AND GREAT SYNOD
THE ORTHODOX CHURCH

+ B A R T H O L O M E W
By God’s Mercy Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome
and Ecumenical Patriarch
To the Plenitude of the Church
Grace, Peace and Mercy from Christ, who has Risen in Glory



Our holy Orthodox Church,adorned in purple and fine linen by the blood of her martyrs, the tears of her Saints, and the struggles and sacrifices of her confessors of faith,celebrates today her nameday. Following a century-long struggle, this day was appropriately identified as the Sunday of Orthodoxy, marking the day in which truth shone and triumphed over falsehood through the veneration of holy icons as the bearers of the personal presence and divine grace of the incarnate Son and Logos of God and of His saints. In this way, it was acknowledged and proclaimed for all time that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14), honoring and sanctifying material creation and our body in order to render them partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter, 1:4), partakers in divine grace and life.

On the way to this great and salvific truth—which was attacked by those who refused to venerate holy icons—the triumph of truth over falsehood treaded along the same path followed by the Church from the beginning of her history, namely the truth of conciliarity. The distinction between truth and falsehood—orthodoxy and heresy—is not always easily discernible. Even heretics believed, and continue to believe, that they possessed the truth; moreover, there will always be some who shall consider those who do not agree with their position as “heretics.” The Orthodox Church, in this case, recognizes only one authority: the Council of her canonical hierarchs. Beyond a conciliar decision, the distinction between orthodoxy and heresy is not possible. The Church’s dogmas and holy canons bear the seal of conciliarity. Orthodoxy is the conciliar Church. 

The Orthodox Church has always emphasized this ecclesiological authority, and implements it faithfully on the local level. For centuries, this has also occurred on an ecumenical or pan-orthodox level; however, for historical circumstances, it has been interrupted for quite some time. Today, we find ourselves in a position to officially announce from our ecumenical throne that, by the grace of God, and with the consent of all the Primates of the Holy Orthodox Churches, that we will realize a decision taken more than fifty years ago and convene the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church on the island of Crete on June 18-27, 2016. The Council shall begin its work with a pan-Orthodox celebration of the Divine Liturgy in the Holy Church of Saint Menas, Heraklion, Crete, on the great and auspicious Feast of Pentecost. Deliberations shall proceed at the Orthodox Academy in Kolymbari, Chania. Our Modesty shall preside over the Holy and Great Council, with the other Primates of Orthodox Churches at our side; other hierarchs shall participate as members of the Council through the official delegation of these Churches.

The foremost and most important goal of this Pan-Orthodox Council shall be to teach that the Orthodox Church is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, united in the Sacraments—especially in the Holy Eucharist, in the Orthodox faith, but also in conciliarity. To this end, ongoing planning for the Council has occurred through a series of  Preparatory Committees and Pre-Conciliar Conferences, ensuring the unanimous spirit of the Council’s decisions and that her message is conveyed in one voice and in one heart. 

The issues—already delineated on a pan-orthodox level by the time the convocation of the Council was decided—that shall be reviewed by the Holy and Great Council primarily focus on matters relating to the internal operation and life of the Orthodox Church; for this reason, they must be immediately resolved. Moreover, there are issues pertaining to the relations of Orthodoxy with the rest of the Christian world, as well as the mission of the Church in our time. We certainly recognize that the world awaits to hear the voice of the Orthodox Church on many pressing problems that humanity faces today. However, it was deemed necessary that the Orthodox Church should first settle internal matters before speaking to or addressing the world, which is still considered her obligation. The fact that Orthodoxy will express its conciliarity on a global level after the passing of so many centuries constitutes a first and most decisive step that, by the grace of God, is expected to lead to the convening of further Pan-Orthodox Councils, soon thereafter. 

Beloved brethren and children in the Lord,

Great historic events are guided by the grace of God, Who, ultimately, is the Lord of History. We might sow and labor; however, only God multiplies (1 Cor. 3:8). The Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church indeed constitutes a historic event and we therefore place our hope in God for its realization. We call upon the Orthodox faithful in the world—clergy and laity—to pray to the Triune God that He may crown this event with His blessings, fortifying His Church to the glory of His name. We live in critical times and the unity of the Church must serve as the example of unity for a humanity torn apart by divisions and conflicts. The success of the Holy and Great Council concerns every member of the Church, who are invited to share their interests thereon. The texts that have been agreed upon on a pan-orthodox level and which have been submitted to the Holy and Great Council have already been made publicly available to every faithful of good will. These texts are not only intended to inform and update the faithful, but to also elicit their opinions and expectations of the Holy and Great Council.

Having announced this to the plenitude of the Orthodox Church throughout the world on this auspicious day, we pray that the lord God bestow upon His Church and all of you His abundant grace and blessing, and to the world peace at all times in all ways (2 Thes. 3:16). 

20 March, in the year of our Lord, 2016

†Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople
Your fervent supplicant to God
† Metropolitan John of Pergamon, supplicant in Christ
† Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver, supplicant in Christ
† Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta, supplicant in Christ
† Metropolitan Iakovos of the Prince Islands, supplicant in Christ
† Metropolitan Joseph of Prikonisos, supplicant in Christ
† Metropolitan Meliton of Philadelphia, supplicant in Christ
† Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, supplicant in Christ
† Metropolitan Nikitas of the Dardanelles, supplicant in Christ
† Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit, supplicant in Christ
† Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco, supplicant in Christ
† Metropolitan Maximos of Selymbria, supplicant in Christ
† Metropolitan Amphilochios of Adrianopolis, supplicant in Christ

 

 

 
 


SACRA ARCIDIOCESI ORTODOSSA D’ITALIA E MALTA
IX INCONTRO DEL CLERO DIOCESANO
BOLOGNA 30 MAGGIO – 2 GIUGNO
PROGRAMMA GENERALE



LUNEDÌ 30 MAGGIO

Arrivi previsti in giornata, sistemazione presso “Villa Imelda”
18.00: Preghiera vespertina – Interventi
Sua Eminenza Reverendissima il Metropolita Gennadios Arcivescovo Ortodosso d’Italia e Malta
Introduzione
Protopresbitero Anatolio Bitca, Rettore della Chiesa Ortodossa della Natività della Madre di Dio, Mestre di Venezia
I Sacramenti in generale
Protopresbitero Nicola Madaro, Parroco della Cattedrale Ortodossa di San Giorgio dei Greci, Venezia
La relazione di Dio come Creatore riguardo il mondo spirituale: Angeli e Spiriti maligni
Archimandrita Evangelos Yfantidis, Vicario Generale (Archimandrita del Trono Ecumenico), Venezia
I Sacramentali, «Λειτουργικαί - Ἁγιαστικαί Πράξεις», nella Chiesa Ortodossa
Archimandrita Dionisios Papavasiliou, Rettore della Chiesa Greco-Ortodossa di San Demetrio, Bologna (Vicario di Emilia - Romagna)
La sinergia delle Tre Persone della Ss. Trinità nell’opera della Santificazione
Archimandrita Nikolaos Papadopoulos, Rettore della Chiesa Greco-Ortodossa di San Jacopo, Firenze (Vicario di Toscana)
L’insegnamento della Chiesa Ortodossa sulla Grazia Divina (in generale)
Archimandrita Georgios Antonopulos, Rettore della Chiesa Greco-Ortodossa dei SS Pietro e Paolo, Napoli (Vicario di Campania)
La necessità della Grazia Divina per la santificazione dell’uomo
Archimandrita Theofilaktos Vitsos, Rettore della Chiesa Greco-Ortodossa dell’Inno Akathistos, Milano (Vicario di Lombardia e Piemonte)
La sostanza della Chiesa e le sue caratteristiche (particolarità)
20.00: Cena

MARTEDÌ 31 MAGGIO

09.00: Prima colazione
10.00: Preghiera mattutina – Interventi
Archimandrita Simeon Catsinas, Rettore della ChiesaGreco-Ortodossa di San Teodoro, Roma (Vicario d’Italia Centrale)
Il concetto sul Sacramento del Battesimo e la necessità del Sacerdote
Presbitero Catalin–Ioan Pavaloaia, Rettore della Chiesa Ortodossa di Santa Barbara, Alghero (Vicario di Sardegna)
Chi celebra il Battesimo e le esigenze per battezzarsi
Archimandrita Grigorios Miliaris, Rettore della ChiesaGreco-Ortodossa di San Nicolò, Trieste (Vicario di Trieste)
La parte visibile del Sacramento della Cresima e l’invisibile energia della Cresima o Miron
Madre Sevastiana Apostolaki, Igumena del Sacro Monastero Greco - Ortodosso di Santa Barbara, Montaner
Chi celebra il Sacramento della Cresima, per chi si celebra e quando
Protopresbitero Giorgio Khachidze, Rettore della Chiesa Ortodossa di San Gerasimo, Perugia
La parte visibile e la potenza invisibile del Sacramento dell’Eucaristia: la presenza reale del Gesù Cristo nel Sacramento
Archimandrita Atenagora Fasiolo (Archimandrita del Trono Ecumenico), Rettore del Sacro Monastero Greco - Ortodosso di Santa Barbara, Montaner (Vicario di Venezia terraferma e Tridentino)
Chi celebra il Sacramento dell’Eucaristia – la necessità della Comunione
Protopresbitero Dmitrii Doleanschii, Rettore dellaChiesa Greco-Ortodossa di San Nectario, Parma
La Divina Eucaristia come sacrificio e la sua relazione con il Sacrificio sulla Croce
Archimandrita Nettario Moioli, Rettore della Chiesa Greco-Ortodossa di Sant’Ambrogio, Pavia
Il Divino Amore nell’Eucarestia
Protopresbitero Iosif Restagno, Rettore della Chiesa Greco-Ortodossa della Natività di San Giovanni Battista, Torino
La Spiritualità Eucaristica del Sacerdote nella Tradizione Bizantina
12.00: Intervallo
12.30: Interventi
Protopresbitero Serafino Corallo (Protopresbitero del Trono Ecumenico), Rettore della Cattedrale Ortodossa dell’Ingresso della SS Madre di Dio al Tempio, Rimini (Vicario di San Marino e Medio Adriatico)
Il Sacramento della Penitenza (metanoia – Confessione): chi celebra il Sacramento, la parte visibile e la sua potenza e energia invisibile del Sacramento
Protopresbitero Vasile Sirbulet, Rettore della Chiesa Ortodossa di Sant’Anastasia Romana, Siena
Le penitenze (ἐπίτίμια): la costituzione e la loro potenza in esso
Protopresbitero Elia Iaria, Parroco del Sacro e Imperiale Monastero Greco - Ortodosso dei Santi Elia il Nuovo e Filareto l’Ortolano, in Seminara delle Saline
Come ti senti quando confessi? Che aspetti e che cosa fai per la salvezza di chi si confessa?
Protopresbitero Michele Notarangelos - Giannetos, Rettore della Chiesa Greco-Ortodossa di San Nicola e dell’Annunciazione, Genova (Vicario di Liguria)
Perché confessi? Conosci che la responsabilità è grande? Conosci le conseguenze?
13.30: Pranzo
16.30: Preghiera vespertina – Interventi
Protopresbitero Simeon Moraru, Parroco dellaParrocchia Ortodossa di San Demetrio, Mirandola
Il Sacramento del Matrimonio in generale
Protopresbitero Atanasio Marcacci, Rettore della Chiesa Ortodossa di San Fantino il Nuovo e di Santa Paraskevì la Nuova, Schiavonea (Vicario di Cosenza e dintorni)
L’istituzione divina del Sacramento del Matrimonio: la parte visibile e l’energia invisibile del Sacramento
Presbitero Vladimir Laiba, Sacerdote itinerante, Roma
Chi celebra il Sacramento del Matrimonio e quali sono le caratteristiche del Matrimonio Cristiano?
Protopresbitero Giovanni Giannoccolo, Rettore dellaChiesa Greco-Ortodossa di San Nicola, Lecce
Il Matrimonio dei Sacerdoti secondo i Sacri Canoni e i dati odierni
Dott.sa Elisabeta Fimiani Calampouka, Napoli
Pensieri di una Donna Ortodossa circa il Matrimonio civile
Protopresbitero Victor Ciloci, Rettore della Chiesa Ortodossa dei SS Antonio, Teodoro e Tatiana, Fano
L’istituzione divina del Sacramento dell’Olio Santo, la sua energia e il Suo uso nella Chiesa
Presbitero Gheorghe Badaluta, Rettore della Chiesa Ortodossa della Santa Protezione, Pesaro
La parte visibile del Sacramento dell’Olio Santo e le sue energie salvifiche
18.00: Intervallo
18.30: Interventi
Archimandrita Paolo Patricolo, Rettore della Chiesa Ortodossa di San Calogero, Caltanissetta
Il ministero Sacerdotale
Presbitero Dimitri Zhavko, Parrocco della Cattedrale Ortodossa dell’Ingresso della SS Madre di Dio al Tempio, Rimini
L’istituzione divina del Sacramento del Sacerdozio; chi celebra il Sacramento, il visibile e l’invisibile parte del Sacramento
Protopresbitero Anatoli Grytskiv, Rettore della Chiesa Ortodossa dei SS Costantino ed Elena, Chieti
Le esigenze di chi si avvicina all’Ordine Sacro e il divieto della ripetizione del Sacramento
Prresbitero Andriy Grygorash, Rettore della Chiesa Ortodossa di San Nicola e di San Gennadios, Tolentino
Capo della Chiesa è Gesù Cristo – il noto insegnamento di San Ignazio il Teoforo sul Vescovo
Archimandrita Arsenio Braile, Rettore della Chiesa Greco-Ortodossa di San Nicola, Brindisi (Vicario di Puglia)
Fuori della Chiesa non c’è salvezza
Madre Stefania, Igumena del Sacro e Imperiale Monastero Greco - Ortodosso dei Santi Elia il Nuovo e Filareto l’Ortolano, in Seminara delle Saline
Preghiera, Pace e Unità
20.00: Cena

MERCOLEDÌ 1 GIUGNO

08.00: Prima colazione
09.00: Partenza dalla struttura per il centro della città
10.00: Incontro con S. Ecc. l’Arcivescovo di Bologna
11.00: Visita guidata nella Cattedrale di Bologna (interno della Chiesa, Tesoro, Campanile)
12.30: Pranzo libero - Tempo libero
16.45: Partenza per il Santuario della Madonna di San Luca
17.30: Celebrazione della Paràklisis davanti all'Icona Miracolosa della Theotokos Odigitria
18.30: Ritorno
19.00: Cena
20.00: Incontro della Commissione per la traduzione in italiano della Divina Liturgia (solo i membri della Commissione)

GIOVEDÌ 2 GIUGNO

09.00: Partenza per la chiesa greco-ortodossa di san Demetrio in Bologna
09.30: Celebrazione Eucaristica, presieduta da Sua Eminenza Rev.ma il Metropolita Gennadios e Ordinazione Diaconale
12.00: Ritorno
13.00: Pranzo ufficiale e poi partenze
14.30: Incontro della Commissione per la traduzione in italiano della Divina Liturgia (solo i membri della Commissione)

 

 

 
 


B A R T H O L O M E W
By God’s Mercy Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome
and Ecumenical Patriarch
To the Plenitude of the Church
Grace, Peace and Mercy from Christ, who has Risen in Glory

***



Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord,

We wholeheartedly address you from the See of the Ecumenical Patriarchate with the joyous greeting “Christ is risen!” The resurrection of Christ is the center of our Orthodox faith. Without the resurrection, our faith is “in vain” (1 Cor. 15:14). Through His resurrection, the divine Word rendered humanity – created in the image of God but wounded and stained by sin – incorrupt and deified, granting us once again the possibility of achieving divine likeness, of which we were deprived through disobedience.

However, what does the feast of Pascha signify as the victory of life over death in a world of violence and war, especially in the name of religion and God?

Many philosophers endeavored to find a solution to the problem of death and to overcome death with various theories. We Orthodox Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ from the dead and boldly declare the destruction of death. We know that it is the Word of God who bestows life and in whom “was life” (John 1:4). We have the joyful experience of the Church, that death was conquered through the resurrection of Christ. “All things have been filled with joy, having received the experience of resurrection.” This faith brightens all expressions of church life and culminates in the divine Eucharist. The fact that, in the Christian world, it is especially the Orthodox Church that preserved the divine Eucharist as the center of its life and spirituality is inseparably related to the fact that the resurrection is the nucleus of our faith, worship and ecclesiastical ethos. For this reason, the Eucharistic liturgy is always festive, joyous, and primarily linked with the Lord’s day as the day of the resurrection.

The most striking expression and interpretation of the resurrection as well as of its regenerative power is the image of the descent of our Lord Jesus Christ to Hades, as this is wonderfully depicted at the Chora Monastery in Constantinople. The Lord of glory descends to the depths of Hades, destroying its gates, arising victorious and resurrecting Adam and Eve in Himself, and in so doing resurrects the entire human race from beginning to end. “Now, all things have been filled with light, heaven and earth and all things beneath the earth.” Creation rises from the dark realm of death to the heavenly kingdom, whose light has no evening. The faithful, as participants in the resurrection, are called to declare the Gospel of freedom in Christ “to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
The Mother Church, which lives the mystery of the cross and the resurrection simultaneously, today invites us “to approach with lit candles” “and together to celebrate the salvific Pascha of God.”

Through the resurrection of our Savior, all of humanity has become one people, united in one body. Through His cross and resurrection, Christ definitively destroyed all existing hatred. Thus, the Orthodox Church, as the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, is the Church of the reconciliation of all, the Church of love toward all, friends and enemies. Reconciled, filled with new life, filled with true life, we all become fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God (cf Eph. 2:15-20).

Unfortunately terrorism, war, and bloodshed continue to this day. The lament and agony of victims, particularly as these are rapidly disseminated through modern technological means, tear the world apart and break our heart. This is why the world’s leaders – political, religious and church – are obliged and compelled by love to do everything that is possible to avoid such unacceptable conditions.

In the midst of this modern “irrational world,” we Orthodox Christians are called to offer a positive witness of love and sacrifice to our fellow human beings.

For us as Orthodox faithful, Pascha is not a fleeting moment of escape from the ugly reality of evil in the world; it is the unwavering conviction that Christ, who trampled down death by death and rose from the dead, is with us “always, to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

Beloved brothers and sisters, such is once again this year the message of the resurrection from the most holy Apostolic and Patriarchal Ecumenical Throne, the sacred center of Orthodoxy, to all people: that Christ has risen and the power of death was abolished; the authority of the powerful over the weak has been destroyed. “Life reigns” and the nurturing love, profound mercy, and endless grace of the risen Christ cover the whole world, from one end to the other. It is sufficient for us to realize that Jesus Christ is the true light, that in Him is life, and that this life is the light of all people (cf John 1:3-4). This is our message to all political and religious leaders of the world.

Therefore, approach and receive the light from the unfading light of the Phanar, which as the light of Christ and the light of love shines upon all; in Him “there is no darkness” (cf 1 John 1:5). Let us hear this Gospel of joy and light; and let us Orthodox alleviate the pain of today’s world with our own love and sacrifice.

Glory be to Him who bestows life, who has shown the light and love and peace to the world as well as to each one of us. Glory to Jesus Christ, the king of glory, the conqueror of death and champion of life.

At the Phanar, Holy Pascha 2016
Your fervent supplicant before the risen Christ,
BARTHOLOMEW
Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome
and Ecumenical Patriarch

 


 

 

 
 


+ GENNADIOS
PER MISERICORDIA DI DIO
METROPOLITA D’ITALIA E MALTA
ED ESARCA PER L’EUROPA MERIDIONALE
A TUTTO IL CLERO E AL DEVOTO POPOLO
DELLA NOSTRA SACRA ARCIDIOCESI

Dilettissimi e amatissimi fratelli nel nome del nostro Dio Risorto,

Ricordiamo le parole meravigliose e di festa pronunciate dal salmista e riprese con spiritualità ed esultanza dall’Innografo San Giovanni Damasceno, il quale canta: “Questo è il giorno che il Signore ha creato, rallegriamoci ed esultiamo in esso”.

Sappiamo molto bene che, secondo Mosè, tutti i giorni della Creazione di Dio portarono sul proscenio della vita tutta la materia: furono giorni importanti e gloriosi. E’ un fatto indubitabile che il giorno santissimo e storico della Nascita in Betlemme da parte di nostro Signore Gesù e ad essa seguì “un pianto e un grande lamento”, a motivo della strage degli innocenti ordinata da Erode. Gloria a Dio, anche la prosecuzione dell’atmosfera celeste della Natività, che fu modificata in una situazione di assassinio, disumana e anomala, la spietata spada di Erode non tocca il cuore materno della Santissima Madre di Dio, poiché essa è avvertita profeticamente da San Simeone (Lc 2, 35). Naturalmente la Passione del suo Figlio Unigenito riempirà il suo dolcissimo cuore, come anche lo rallegrerà e lo riempirà di esultanza ineffabile l’insuperabile e gioioso evento della sua Resurrezione. “Ma vi vedrò di nuovo e il vostro cuore si rallegrerà e nessuno potrà togliervi la vostra gioia”(Gv 16, 22).

E’ una chiara verità che con “questo giorno, che il Signore ha creato”, abbiamo la “Nuova Creazione”, che ha portato la salvezza degli uomini e la nostra fraterna parentela in Cristo, la nostra divina adozione nel nostro cammino per la realizzazione della Volontà di Dio. Con la luce della Resurrezione sono stati illuminati i Santi della Chiesa, i Beati e i Giusti, come il Santo Megalomartire Giorgio il Tropeoforo e Taumaturgo, che festeggiamo durante il gioioso periodo della Santa Pasqua, come esempio di fede, di testimone e di sacrificio. Col passare del tempo, tutta la materia sarà cancellata perché le succeda una“Nuova Creazione”. Lasciamo parlare l’Apostolo Pietro nelle sue lettere: “Se poi doveste soffrire per la giustizia, beati voi! Non sgomentatevi per paura di loro e non turbatevi, ma adorate il Signore, Cristo, nei vostri cuori, pronti sempre a rispondere a chiunque vi domandi ragione della speranza che è in voi” (1 Pt 3, 14-15) “perché anche Cristo è morto una volta per sempre per i peccati, giusto per gli ingiusti, per ricondurvi a Dio; messo a morte nel corpo, ma reso vivo nello spirito” (1 Pt 3, 18),“Soprattutto conservate tra voi una carità fervente, perché la carità copre una moltitudine di peccati” (1 Pt 4, 7), “Sia benedetto Dio e Padre del Signore nostro Gesù Cristo, che nella sua grande misericordia ci ha rigenerati, mediante la risurrezione di Gesù Cristo dai morti, per una speranza viva, per un'eredità che non si corrompe, non si macchia e non marcisce. Essa è conservata nei cieli per voi, che dalla potenza di Dio siete custoditi mediante la fede, in vista della salvezza che sta per essere rivelata nell'ultimo tempo” (1 Pt 1, 3-5).

Per mezzo della Grazia di Cristo Risorto, come “Nuovi uomini”creeremo una “Nuova Creazione”. Immersi nel Mistero del Piano Divino del nostro Salvatore Gesù Cristo, ammiriamo ugualmente anche questi giorni, come quelli in Betlemme, nel Fiume Giordano, sul Tabor, creati per la nostra salvezza. Nonostante il significato sacro e l’importanza mistagogica, tutti questi splendidi momenti della nostra pura Fede, che hanno una strettissima relazione spirituale, teologica ed ecclesiastica con la nostra fede, tutti questi magnifici eventi divini non avrebbero il dovuto onore e sacralità, sarebbero, dunque, vani, se non seguisse la gloriosa Resurrezione di Cristo. Aggiungiamo inoltre anche ciò:“Ma se Cristo non è risorto, vuota allora è la nostra predicazione, vuota anche la vostra fede”. (1 Cor 15, 14) Non dimentichiamo, amati Fratelli in Cristo, che per noi che “crediamo in colui che ha risuscitato dai morti Gesù nostro Signore, il quale è stato consegnato alla morte a causa delle nostre colpe ed è stato risuscitato per la nostra giustificazione.”(Rm 4, 24-25).

Con la Resurrezione del Salvatore Gesù Cristo, da un lato è stata ristabilita l’immortalità dell’uomo: “Cristo è risorto dai morti, è divenuto primizia di coloro che erano morti” (1 Cor 15, 20),“dall’altro è stata assicurata la vita eterna: La morte è stata inghiottita nella vittoria. Dov'è, omorte, latuavittoria? Dov'è, o morte, il tuo pungiglione?” (1 Cor 15, 54-55) La vita di tutti coloro che “hanno collaborato con Cristo” continua ed essi“camminano in una vita nuova”, ma anche gli altri che“considerano se stessi morti al peccato, ma vivi per Dio in Cristo Gesù” (Col 3,1, Rom 6. 4, 11). Dall’altra parte “coloro che hanno agito male” e non si sono purificati in Cristo Risorto, attendono la “resurrezione per il giudizio”, come scrive in modo meraviglioso l’amato discepolo, apostolo ed evangelista San Giovanni il Teologo (Gv 5, 29). Perché si avverta pienamente la presenza di Cristo Risorto l’uomo fedele deve purificare il proprio cuore: “Beati i puri di cuore, poiché essi vedranno Dio”.

E’ richiesta la purezza del cuore perché l’uomo viva e riceva i beni della Resurrezione del Signore. Vita senza macchia, piena di amore e dedizione a lui, per sentirsi vicino a lui e dentro di lui, Cristo Risorto.

I fedeli puri di cuore sentono la voce della Resurrezione, i segni più sensibili della Resurrezione di Dio, hanno la Grazia, ricevono i beni della Resurrezione, l’Immortalità e la Vita Eterna. Insieme all’Altissimo cantiamo, amati fratelli con tutta l’assemblea di Pasqua: “Purifichiamo i sensi e vedremo nella luce inaccessibile della risurrezione il Cristo sfolgorante che ci dice: rallegratevi! Lo udremo chiaramente, cantando l’inno di vittoria”.


Venezia, Campo dei Greci, Santa Pasqua 2016

† Il Metropolita Gennadios
Arcivescovo Ortodosso d’Italia e Malta
ed Esarca per l’Europa Meridionale


 

 

 
 

 

† B A R T H O L O M E W

BY THE MERCY OF GOD ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE,
NEW-ROME, AND ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH,
TO THE PLENITUDE OF THE CHURCH, 
GRACE AND PEACE 
FROM OUR SAVIOR CHRIST, 
TOGETHER WITH OUR PRAYER, BLESSING AND FORGIVENESS


Beloved and blessed brethren and children in the Lord,


Yet again this year, through the God-inspired words, the holy Psalmist ushers the Orthodox faithful into the “mystery” of Holy and Great Lent, pointing out the benevolence of the Lord and the workings thereof as he cries out, the Lord works mercy and righteousness for all the oppressed (Psalm 102,6). For the Lord satisfies our desire with good things so that our youth is renewed like that of the eagle (c.f. .5).

As we all know, each person, created in the image and the likeness of God, constitutes a temple of the Lord. All the more, those of us who have been baptized in Christ, anointed with Holy Chrism, and grafted onto the olive tree of the Orthodox Church, are temples of the Holy Spirit Who resides in us. This is the case even as we distance ourselves from the Lord by committing sin—voluntary or involuntary—for if we are faithless, He remains faithful (2 Tim 2:13). 

Unfortunately, the stain of sin hinders the Grace of the Holy Spirit to work in us. For this reason, our Holy Orthodox Church established the forthcoming period of fasting during Holy and Great Lent to allow us to cleanse ourselves through repentance, and thereby becoming worthy to receive the life-giving Passion and the glorious Resurrection from the dead of our Lord Jesus Christ. The poet of the Great Canon, Saint Andreas of Crete, urges: Come, my wretched soul, and confess your sins in the flesh to the Creator of all. From this moment forsake your former foolishness and offer to God tears of repentance (Great Canon, Monday Ode 1). 

The Church, always concerned about our salvation and spiritual perfection, initiates her members into this period of repentance, urging them all to struggle against the materialistic and covetous way of life, which, as a “heavy yoke,” grounds the soul and drags it upon the earth, hindering its ability to spread its wings toward heaven and the kingdom of God.  

In this way, through repentance and purifying tears, we are clothed again with our original beauty and our God-spun shroud that we lost after the fall, covering ourselves, instead, with the coat of shame similar to the fig leaves worn by Adam. 

The fast and abstinence from food, idle talk, and deceitful thought represent the start of the correct, restrained, and temperate use of material goods, with the common good as its goal. In this way, we eliminate the negative impact that irrational use of goods may have upon society and the natural environment. This, therefore, allows for the prevailing of the philanthropic fast, which should not render judgment over the oppressed, but offer mercy, grace and comfort for them and for us on our journey toward the likeness of God (St. Basil Great).  

In this way, a temperate use of goods sanctifies both matter and our lives since perishable matter is not the goal per se of sanctification, but rather, its means. Therefore, according to the evangelical periscope, the fast should constitute a motive for restraint, with a final goal to abound in hope in the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:13), according to the word of the Great Apostle of the Nations Paul. This holds true even for today’s poor “Lazarus” and for those seeking refuge. 

Furthermore, the true spirit of the fast and of abstinence should not be forgotten, since this is what renders them acceptable to the Lord, as James the Apostles teaches: religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world (James 1, 27). For we shall not obtain grace—offered to us in abundance through the fast and through abstinence—simply by refusing and abstaining from food. The Prophet Isaiah wonders: Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists; is this the kind of fast I have chosen? (Isaiah 58: 4). The Lord declares, through the Prophet, I have not chosen such a fast, but one that asks you to share your food with the hungry, that encourages you to invite the homeless into your home, and to clothe the naked when you see them (Isaiah 58, 5-7). 

Especially in our times, the financial and refugee crises, as well as the multitude of hardships that plague the world today offer to us Orthodox Christians the possibility to cultivate the authentic spirit of the fast, linking abstinence from food with acts of charity and solidarity toward our brethren most in need—those who suffer, the poor, the homeless, the refugees, those who have no place to rest their head (Math. 8: 20), and those who are forced by the harsh conditions of war, challenges, and grief to abandon their paternal homes and to travel amid countless risks,  dangers, and sorrows.

When our fast is accompanied by an increase in philanthropy and love toward the least of our brethren in the Lord, regardless of their race, religion, language and origin, then the fast shall ascend to the throne of God as a fragrant incense, and angels shall stand by us while we fast, in the same way they ministered to the Lord in the desert. 

We offer our heartfelt fraternal and paternal prayers to all, that the imminent phase the Holy Fast will prove fruitful and sanctifying, replete of  grace and holiness, and that God will render us worthy and without tribulation to enter into the eternal and life-giving Chalice—the life-bearing Side of the Lord—from which sprang as the fountain of deliverance and wisdom (Great Canon, Wednesday, Ode 4)

May the Divine Grace and the abundant Mercy of the Lord be with you all, brethren and children, so that you may receive, through the evangelical ethos, the Gift of the Feast of feasts and the Celebration of celebrations—the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom all glory, dominion, honor, and thanksgiving now and to the endless ages. Amen. 

Holy and Great Lent, 2016
Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople
Your fervent supplicant to God

 

 

 
 

 

Prot. No.: 314

Patriarchal and Synodical Encyclical
on the Convocation of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church
(March 18, 2016)


† B A R T H O L O M E W 

BY THE MERCY OF GOD ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE,
NEW-ROME, AND ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH
TO THE PLENITUDE OF THE CHURCH,
GRACE AND PEACE FROM GOD 

 

Our holy Orthodox Church, adorned in purple and fine linen by the blood of her martyrs, the tears of her Saints, and the struggles and sacrifices of her confessors of faith, celebrates today her nameday. Following a century-long struggle, this day was appropriately identified as the Sunday of Orthodoxy, marking the day in which truth shone and triumphed over falsehood through the veneration of holy icons as the bearers of the personal presence and divine grace of the incarnate Son and Logos of God and of His saints. In this way, it was acknowledged and proclaimed for all time that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14), honoring and sanctifying material creation and our body in order to render them partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter, 1:4), partakers in divine grace and life.

On the way to this great and salvific truth—which was attacked by those who refused to venerate holy icons—the triumph of truth over falsehood treaded along the same path followed by the Church from the beginning of her history, namely the truth of conciliarity. The distinction between truth and falsehood—orthodoxy and heresy—is not always easily discernible. Even heretics believed, and continue to believe, that they possessed the truth; moreover, there will always be some who shall consider those who do not agree with their position as “heretics.” The Orthodox Church, in this case, recognizes only one authority: the Council of her canonical hierarchs. Beyond a conciliar decision, the distinction between orthodoxy and heresy is not possible. The Church’s dogmas and holy canons bear the seal of conciliarity. Orthodoxy is the conciliar Church. 

The Orthodox Church has always emphasized this ecclesiological authority, and implements it faithfully on the local level. For centuries, this has also occurred on an ecumenical or pan-orthodox level; however, for historical circumstances, it has been interrupted for quite some time. Today, we find ourselves in a position to officially announce from our ecumenical throne that, by the grace of God, and with the consent of all the Primates of the Holy Orthodox Churches, that we will realize a decision taken more than fifty years ago and convene the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church on the island of Crete on June 18-27, 2016. The Council shall begin its work with a pan-Orthodox celebration of the Divine Liturgy in the Holy Church of Saint Menas, Heraklion, Crete, on the great and auspicious Feast of Pentecost. Deliberations shall proceed at the Orthodox Academy in Kolymbari, Chania. Our Modesty shall preside over the Holy and Great Council, with the other Primates of Orthodox Churches at our side; other hierarchs shall participate as members of the Council through the official delegation of these Churches.

The foremost and most important goal of this Pan-Orthodox Council shall be to teach that the Orthodox Church is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, united in the Sacraments—especially in the Holy Eucharist, in the Orthodox faith, but also in conciliarity. To this end, ongoing planning for the Council has occurred through a series of Preparatory Committees and Pre-Conciliar Conferences, ensuring the unanimous spirit of the Council’s decisions and that her message is conveyed in one voice and in one heart. 

The issues—already delineated on a pan-orthodox level by the time the convocation of the Council was decided—that shall be reviewed by the Holy and Great Council primarily focus on matters relating to the internal operation and life of the Orthodox Church; for this reason, they must be immediately resolved. Moreover, there are issues pertaining to the relations of Orthodoxy with the rest of the Christian world, as well as the mission of the Church in our time. We certainly recognize that the world awaits to hear the voice of the Orthodox Church on many pressing problems that humanity faces today. However, it was deemed necessary that the Orthodox Church should first settle internal matters before speaking to or addressing the world, which is still considered her obligation. The fact that Orthodoxy will express its conciliarity on a global level after the passing of so many centuries constitutes a first and most decisive step that, by the grace of God, is expected to lead to the convening of further Pan-Orthodox Councils, soon thereafter.

Beloved brethren and children in the Lord,

Great historic events are guided by the grace of God, Who, ultimately, is the Lord of History. We might sow and labor; however, only God multiplies (1 Cor. 3:8). The Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church indeed constitutes a historic event and we therefore place our hope in God for its realization. We call upon the Orthodox faithful in the world—clergy and laity—to pray to the Triune God that He may crown this event with His blessings, fortifying His Church to the glory of His name. We live in critical times and the unity of the Church must serve as the example of unity for a humanity torn apart by divisions and conflicts. The success of the Holy and Great Council concerns every member of the Church, who are invited to share their interests thereon. The texts that have been agreed upon on a pan-orthodox level and which have been submitted to the Holy and Great Council have already been made publicly available to every faithful of good will. These texts are not only intended to inform and update the faithful, but to also elicit their opinions and expectations of the Holy and Great Council.

Having announced this to the plenitude of the Orthodox Church throughout the world on this auspicious day, we pray that the lord God bestow upon His Church and all of you His abundant grace and blessing, and to the world peace at all times in all ways (2 Thes. 3:16). 

20 March, in the year of our Lord, 2016

† Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople
Your fervent supplicant to God


† Metropolitan John of Pergamon, supplicant in Christ
† Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver, supplicant in Christ
† Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta, supplicant in Christ
† Metropolitan Iakovos of the Prince Islands, supplicant in Christ
† Metropolitan Joseph of Prikonisos, supplicant in Christ
† Metropolitan Meliton of Philadelphia, supplicant in Christ
† Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, supplicant in Christ
† Metropolitan Nikitas of the Dardanelles, supplicant in Christ
† Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit, supplicant in Christ
† Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco, supplicant in Christ
† Metropolitan Maximos of Selymbria, supplicant in Christ
† Metropolitan Amphilochios of Adrianopolis, supplicant in Christ

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

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Η Θεία Λειτουργία του Αγίου Ιωάννου του Χρυσοστόμου

La Divina Liturgia di San Giovanni Crisostomo

Divine Litourgy of Saint John Chrysostomos

 

 

 



   
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