31 August 2012

Encyclicals of Patriarch Batholomew & Archbishop Demetrios for the Indiction, the New Ecclesiastical Year, 7521

Prot. No. 718
By the Mercy of God
Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome
And Ecumenical Patriarch
To the Fullness of the Church
Grace and Peace from the Creator
and Sustainer of All Creation
Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ

*   *   *

Beloved brothers and children in the Lord,

Our God, who created the universe and formed the earth as a perfect dwelling place for humanity, granted us the commandment and possibility to increase, multiply and fulfill creation, with dominion over all animals and plants.

The world that surrounds us was thus offered to us as a gift by our Creator as an arena of social activity but also of spiritual sanctification in order that we might inherit the creation to be renewed in the future age. Such has always been the theological position of the Holy Great Church of Christ, which is the reason why we have pioneered an ecological effort on behalf of the sacred Ecumenical Throne for the protection of our planet, which has long suffered from us both knowingly and unknowingly.

Of course, biodiversity is the work of divine wisdom and was not granted to humanity for its unruly control. By the same token, dominion over the earth and its environs implies rational use and enjoyment of its benefits, and not destructive acquisition of its resources out of a sense of greed. Nevertheless, especially in our times, we observe an excessive abuse of natural resources, resulting in the destruction of the environmental balance of the planet’s ecosystems and generally of ecological conditions, so that the divinely-ordained regulations of human existence on earth are increasingly transgressed. For instance, all of us – scientists, as well as religious and political leaders, indeed all people – are witnessing a rise in the atmosphere’s temperature, extreme weather conditions, the pollution of ecosystems both on land and in the sea, and an overall disturbance – sometimes to the point of utter destruction – of the potential for life in some regions of the world.

Inasmuch as the Mother Church perceives and evaluates the ensuing dangers of such ecological conditions for humanity, already from the time of our blessed predecessor, Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios, established September 1st of each year as a day of prayer for the natural environment. Yet, we are obliged to admit that the causes of the aforementioned ecological changes are not inspired by God but initiated by humans. Thus, the invocation and supplication of the Church and us all to God as the Lord of lords and Ruler of all for the restoration of creation are essentially a petition of repentance for our sinfulness in destroying the world instead of working to preserve and sustain its ever-flourishing resources reasonably and carefully.

When we pray to and entreat God for the preservation of the natural environment, we are ultimately imploring God to change with mindset of the powerful in the world, enlightening them not to destroy the planet’s ecosystem for reasons of financial profit and ephemeral interest. This in turn, however, also concerns each one of us inasmuch as we all generate small ecological damage in our individual capacity and ignorance. Therefore, in praying for the natural environment, we are praying for personal repentance for our contribution – smaller or greater – to the disfigurement and destruction of creation, which we collectively experience regionally and occasionally through the immense phenomena of our time.

In addressing this appeal, petition and exhortation from the sacred Center of Orthodoxy to all people throughout the world, we pray that our gracious Lord, who granted this earthly paradise to all people dwelling on our planet, will speak to the hearts of everyone so that we may respect the ecological balance that He offered in His wisdom and goodness, so that both we and future generations will enjoy His gifts with thanksgiving and glorification.

May this divine wisdom, peace and power, which created and sustains and guides all creation in its hope for salvation in the kingdom, always maintain the beauty of the world and the welfare of humanity, leading all people of good will to produce fruitful works toward this purpose. And we invoke His grace and mercy on all of you, particularly those who respect and protect creation.


September 1, 2012

Protocol 109/12
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

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