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GOA - Feast of the Three Hierarchs and The Day of Greek Letters

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Date Wed, 22 Jan 2003 20:51:04 -0800

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Protocol Number 05/03

January 30, 2003
Feast of the Three Hierarchs and The Day of Greek Letters

"Finally,  brethren,  whatever	is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is
just,  whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there
is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these

St. Paul, To the Philippians 4:8

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  Day  and  Afternoon  Schools, the Philoptochos
Sisterhoods,  the  Youth,  the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek
Orthodox Family in America

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Characteristic	 of   the  Hellenic  mind  are	these  words  of  Aristotle
(Metaphysics  1.1):    "All men by nature desire to know.  An indication of
this  is  the  delight	we  take  in  our senses; for even apart from their
usefulness,  they  are loved for themselves; and above all others the sense
of  sight."   For from sight and the other senses, says Aristotle, memories
are  formed;  and  from  memory derives experience, and from experience the
ability to form judgments of universal truths, leading to true knowledge.

The  contemplation of the beautiful and the good, therefore, is an integral
task  of the lover of wisdom.  One views things of beauty, not for the mere
pleasure  they	give  to  the  senses,	nor  even  primarily  for aesthetic
satisfaction  of  the mind, but because of their power to educate the soul,
to  shape  the inner man according to the ideals of excellence. It was this
yearning for the higher life that gave impetus to the manifold achievements
of ancient Greek art and architecture.

We  find  precisely  this  idea of substantive education of the soul and of
growing  in inner excellence through the vision expressed by the Fathers of
our  Orthodox  Church,	and  preeminently in the thought of the Three Great
Hierarchs and Ecumenical Teachers, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian,
and  John  Chrysostom.	 Time  and  again,  these  Holy  Fathers repeat the
invitation  to observation, to close attention, and to contemplation of the
things	and the world that surround us, as a means for ascending the ladder
of   virtues   in  the	journey  to  godliness.   The  careful	viewing  of
particulars,  the  Three Hierarchs insist, is repaid handsomely in the coin
of spiritual advancement.

In  praise of the power of perception and the spiritual potential of sight,
Saint  John  Chrysostom  surpasses  even Aristotle in exuberance:  "For all
indeed that is in us is a manifestation of the wisdom of God, but much more
the  eye...  When [the eyes] are disabled, even knowledge is gone, since by
means  of  these  we  know  God.  'For the invisible things of Him from the
creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that
are made.' [Rom. 1:20.]  Wherefore the eye is not only a light to the body,
but beyond the body to the soul also. On which account it is established as
in a royal fortress, obtaining the higher condition, and presiding over the
other senses" (Homily on John 9: 1-5).

Saint  Gregory	the  Theologian  writes  in  concurrence in his theological
orations,  when  he  speaks of the longing of our rational natures for God,
which  is frustrated by the weakness of our bodily nature. "Faint therefore
with  the  desire," our minds strive to know God by another means, which is
to  scrutinize	the  created order, and so "through the beauty and order of
visible  things  to  attain to that which is above sight; but not to suffer
the  loss  of  God  through  the  magnificence	of visible things" (Oration

In  this  same	spirit	does  Saint  Basil  offer  a  prayerful  wish: "May
God...grant  you  the  knowledge  of  His  truth,  so  that  you  may raise
yourselves  from  visible  things  to  the  invisible  Being,  and that the
grandeur  and  beauty of creatures may give you a just idea of the Creator"
(Hexaemeron  2.10).  Such  joyous  delight  in	the sight of God's Creation
permeates the works of the Three Hierarchs.

We,  their  spiritual  children,  should  be  all  the more zealous for the
contemplation of "Ton kalon kagathon", "the beautiful and the good", in our
time   and  circumstance,  immersed  as  we  often  are  in  a	culture  of
tastelessness and tawdriness. Our homes, our schools, our holy churches and
our  institutions of Greek culture and learning, must be places of manifest
beauty	--  through  works  of art and nature, through balance and order in
arrangement,  and  through  the  dignity  of  moderation and holiness.	Our
Hellenic forebears made great sacrifices of talent and treasure in order to
surround  themselves  with models of the best, as inspirations to a life of
virtue.   As  heirs  of  the  rich  legacy of Greek Letters and culture, we
should strive likewise to keep before our eyes at all times those things of
excellence,  such as will inspire us to truth, wisdom, and the knowledge of
God.   Above  all,  we	must  educate our children, in the tradition of the
Orthodox  Faith  and  Hellenic	wisdom, to learn to appreciate and focus on
things	of  beauty,  which  lift  hearts  and  minds to God.  "For from the
greatness  and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of
their Creator" (Wisdom of Solomon 13:5).

May  this January 30, 2003, the Feast of the Three Hierarchs and the Day of
Greek Letters, be for all the faithful of our Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of
America  a  day  of  resolve,  to  invest  our	God--given resources in the
perpetuation  of  this	rich  inheritance  of  beauty and goodness, for the
benefit of the souls of our own selves, our children, and our world.

With paternal love in Christ,

Archbishop of America

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