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GOAA - Encyclical of Archbishop Demetrios on the Ecclesiastical

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Date Wed, 27 Aug 2003 11:26:00 -0700


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Protocol 81/03

September 1, 2003
Beginning of the Ecclesiastical New Year

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
Sisterhood, the Young Adults and Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the
entire Greek Orthodox Family in America

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The commencement of the Ecclesiastical New Year on September 1 is a welcome
occasion for us to consider the abundant blessings of God in our daily
lives.	In the liturgical calendar of the Orthodox Church this day
inaugurates an annual cycle of worship, which complements our lives with
order and structure, and reflects and informs the teaching of the Church
concerning the relationship of humanity to God, our Creator, and to the
natural world.

Our relationship with God and the natural world is at once a physical and
spiritual dynamic.  It is both an earthly and a sacred reality which
communicates that we are an integral part of the Creation; and, thus, we
bear a special responsibility to its protection, care, and wholesome
cultivation.  Appropriately in this regard, September 1 also coincides with
the beginning of the cycle of the agrarian harvest, a physical process with
a tremendous spiritual application, as reflected by the highly suggestive
saying of the Apostle Paul, Whatever a man sows that he will also reap
(Galatians 6:7).

Our act of sowing seeds of spiritual growth is an intense exercise, a
deeply personal and all-encompassing labor of love that is characterized by
a conscientious intensification of our prayer life, acts of philanthropy,
and personal devotion to the reading of the Holy Scriptures.  More than
this, it is a manifestation of the conscience of the royal priesthood (1
Peter 2:9) uniquely imparted to Christians, a conscience which is rooted in
service to others, responsibility for our natural environment, a thirst for
education and learning, and an awareness of our spiritual potential as
children created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Genesis 1:26).

Yet the task of sowing and reaping is a work that moves beyond the scope of
the personal.  Within parishes, the task of sowing seeds of growth takes on
a communal and social dimension.  More than a physical setting, the parish
is a space of sacred communication and unity, defined by the intersection
of the person, family, and community into a single body of worship and
ministry.  As such, the parish is foremost a spiritual entity, a microcosm
of the entirety of the Church, the Body of Christ.  It is in the parish
where we grow as persons and families through corporate prayer and worship,
through ministering to the physical and spiritual needs of one another, and
through the guided study of the Holy Scriptures.  The beginning of the
Ecclesiastical New Year accords our communities the opportunity to grow in
new, challenging, and ever-expanding directions.  This festal time is an
especially fitting occasion to examine more closely our immediate
surroundings, to raise environmental awareness within our communities, to
identify and attend to the specific needs of our neighbors, and to enhance
the ways in which we welcome strangers into our midst.	By these labors, we
may be assured of an abundant harvest of spiritual fruit, rightfully
honoring God's creation, and we may rest securely in the knowledge that he
who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully (2 Corinthians 9:6).

May the beginning of this ecclesiastical year mark a radiant beginning for
each of you as you continue to sow and reap the abundant blessings of God,
our Creator, and may your homes and your hearts be filled with His infinite
grace, mercy, and love throughout this and every ecclesiastical year.

With paternal love in Christ,

Archbishop of America


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