Originally published at GoArch.org
Encyclical of Archbishop Demetrios for the Feast of Saint Basil and the New Year
Dec 29, 2015
Protocol No. 01/16
January 1, 2016
Feast of Saint Basil and 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 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,
On this first day of the new year and the blessed Feast of our Father among the Saints, Basil the Great, we anticipate the abundant blessings and great works of God, and we continue to give Him honor and glory through our worship and faithful service to Him.
As we dedicate the year and our lives to the holy will of God, it also is fitting at the beginning of this year 2016 that we commemorate the 25th anniversary of the ministry of His All-Holiness our beloved Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. This is truly a significant event for our Holy Archdiocese and for Orthodox Christianity, as this time has included tremendous changes and challenges in our world. In the apostolic spirit of Saint Basil and many other Saints and Hierarchs, His All Holiness has provided spiritual guidance from a foundation of deep faith in God and a commitment to His will. He has offered compassionate pastoral leadership from his experience and understanding of the power of the grace of God. He has adeptly addressed critical issues using the great theological and liturgical heritage of our Orthodox Christian faith. Our Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has led and continues to lead faithful around the world in offering a true witness of the blessed life we have in Christ and of an enduring hope that rests on the promises of God.
We give glory and thanksgiving to God for the apostolic ministry of our Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. We also give thanks for all the offerings of our Hierarchs, Clergy, and Laity in addressing the needs and supporting the work of His All Holiness and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. This has been a great contribution in sharing the Gospel, advocating for religious freedom, offering spiritual guidance on environmental issues, and helping those who need urgent assistance.
The ministry and leadership of His All-Holiness reflects the compassion and faith that were exemplified by Saint Basil. This is also the witness of our beloved Saint Basil Academy. Led by our National Ladies Philoptochos Society and local chapters, it is our annual tradition on this day and during the month of January to offer prayers and support for this ministry. Each and every day of the year, the benefactors, directors, and staff of Saint Basil’s are serving the needs of children and youth who need love, guidance, and the healing power of faith. This vital ministry has been supported for over sixty years by the Ladies Philoptochos Society through the annual cutting of the Vasilopita, and I ask that you give generously together with your prayers for Saint Basil Academy.
In the cutting and sharing of the Vasilopita at the inception of this New Year, may we also offer our prayers and support for His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and wish him many more years of faithful and dedicated service to Christ and His Church. And may the blessings of our Lord be upon each of you and your families for peace, health, and opportunities to share His love and the power of faith throughout the year.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America