1 ANNUNCIATION GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH Monthly Bulletin October 2011 Inside this issue: Saint Demetrios From The Metropolis 2 From Father Anthony 4 Greek Message 6 Calendar 8 Philoptochos 9 Youth News 10 Sacraments Donations 12 Parish News 13 Ministries 16 Due Date for November Bulletin Saturday, October 15 Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church Rev. Presbyter Anthony Evangelatos 457 Oak Street Brockton, MA Tel Fax
2 Page 2 O ctober An nunciation Church M onthly Bulletin FROM THE METROPOLIS ARCHPASTORAL REFLECTIONS The story is told about a number of frogs which were placed by scientists in a tub of water whose temperature was exactly the same as the pond from which they were taken. The scientists slowly increased the temperature and were soon astonished to see that, even though the water gradually became warmer, the frogs did not react. It was only when the temperatures were increased to a boiling point that the frogs reacted. It was too late. Before they knew it, they burned to death. Had they realized the slow increase in the water temperature, they would have reacted and thus spared their lives. The frogs grew accustomed to the slow rise in temperature and adapted. The change in water temperature occurred slowly but deliberately, and because of this process, the frogs failed to pay attention. For us Orthodox Christians, the changes in the moral standards in our society have occurred so slowly that they have become imperceptible. We have adapted to the slow deterioration of moral life in society to the point where we have adapted to the moral decay in our midst and have taken it for granted. Sadly we live in a world of moral and ethical relativism, hedonism and selfishness; in a world in desperate need of spiritual renewal. Sunday is no longer the day that we worship Almighty God and then sit at our dinner table to enjoy fellowship. Rarely do we read the Bible. Prayers are no longer offered in our schools. The Ten Commandments have been removed from our civil courts. Lifestyles previously kept in the closet are now championed as reputable and worthy of emulation. The other day while driving to a liturgical service, a fellow priest pointed to a decal placed prominently on the bumper of the car in front of us. It was the symbol of a new atheist group in America. The admonition of Saint Paul addressed to the Ephesians should echo in our hearts, no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. (Eph.4:17) We need to re evaluate our lives and ask ourselves how the way we live differs from the way others live who have no faith. Do we differ as Orthodox Christians from our secular and oftentimes atheist neighbors? How do we live our Orthodox Faith? I am concerned that we have become so accustomed to sin and immoral behavior, that we do not notice it. We must not accept the prevailing permissive immoral and unethical standards of modern day society which are clearly at odds with the tenets of Holy Scripture and the teachings of the Fathers of the Church. Remember the frogs in the experiment, and be wary of their mistake of growing accustomed to an environment which eventually caused their demise. + Metropolitan Methodios of Boston ORTHODOX TRADITIONS (the following is taken from The Law of God, by Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy, Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY 1996) The Sign of the Cross We call ourselves Christians because we believe in God as we were taught to believe by the Son of God Himself, our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ not only taught us to believe in God correctly, but He also saved us from the power of sin and eternal death. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, out of love for us sinners came down from Heaven and, as a man, suffered instead of us for our sins: He was crucified, He died on the Cross, and on the third day He resurrected. As the sinless Son of God, by His Cross...He conquered not only sin but also death itself He arose from the dead, and He made the Cross the weapon of His victory over sin and death This is why, in order to express our faith in Jesus Christ our Saviour, we wear a Cross on our body, and during prayer we form the Cross over ourselves with our right hand For the sign of the Cross we put the fingers of our right hand together as follows. We bring the tips of the first three fingers together (the thumb, index and middle ones), and bend the last two (the ring and little fingers) against the palm. The first three fingers together express our faith in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, as the Trinity one in essence and indivisible, and the two fingers bent show how the Son of God, when He came down from heaven, being God, became man; that is, they signify His two natures divine and human. In order to make the sign of the Cross, with our fingers in this position, we touch our forehead, for the blessing of our mind, our stomach, for the blessing of our internal feelings, then our right and left shoulders, for the blessing of our bodily strength. The sign of the Cross gives us great strength to repel and conquer evil and to do good, but we must remember to make the sign of the Cross correctly and without haste, otherwise it will not be the sign of the Cross, but just waving our hand around, which only gladdens the demons. By making the sign of the Cross carelessly we show a lack of reverence for God. This is a sin. This sin is called sacrilege. We make the sign of the Cross, or cross ourselves, at the beginning of prayer, during prayer, at the end of prayer, and when we draw near to anything holy: when we enter the church, when we reverence the cross or an icon. We should cross ourselves at every important moment in our life: in danger, in sorrow, in joy, and so on. When we cross ourselves, mentally we say, In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Thus we express our faith in the All-holy Trinity and our desire to live and labor for the glory of God. The word amen means in truth, truly, let it be so, so be it
3 An nunciation Church M onthly Bulletin O ctober Page 3 FROM FATHER COSTIN POPESCU ~ DOVER, NH The True Pragmatism We live in the age of pragmatism. We value action, results, efficiency. There is not much time left for contemplation, and yet very few things are accepted without questioning. It is important therefore to address head-on a set of important issues that have to do with the very reason of existence of the Church: why do we need a church? What is the special role of the priest? Why isn t the local parish sufficient? Do we need a bishop? All these questions have clear, logical answers, and all these answers are closely connected, as we will presently see. We all value life. Unfortunately, our biological life is limited, and there is little we can do about it. Seventy, eighty years is all that these bodies can sustain (Ps. 89:10). If there is an alternative to the finality of death, it is definitely worth pursuing, even for the most pragmatic amongst ourselves. This alternative exists indeed, and has been called salvation from eternal death, redemption from the tyranny of sin. There can be no salvation without a Savior, no redemption without a Redeemer, and that Savior and Redeemer is our Lord Jesus Christ. Only the Son of God can defeat the power of death, and therefore only in Him can we, limited, mortal beings, attain to Immortality. To put this in the simplest way, we can only overcome death by being joined to Christ in one mystical Body. This Body is called the Church, and it extends both geographically and historically. It even extends beyond the earthly level of existence to include the saints that live with the Lord. We become members of this Body when we are baptized, and we are further joined to it whenever we eat the Body and drink the Blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Life in Christ is therefore a journey, and we cannot undertake it by ourselves. We need specialized guides that bring us into God s presence in the Mysteries of the Church. This is the role assigned by God to the priests. The priests have no special powers of their own: it is always the Power of God that is at work. Nevertheless, in His benevolence that surpasses all understanding, God has allowed humble human beings to have access to His unlimited power, for the benefit of the whole Body. It is essential to pause here and realize that it is God who elects His priests, and that they work for the benefit of the whole Body. The individual Christian, the Christian family and even the local parish, while being essential members of the Body, are not the whole Body. A priest therefore does not merely serve individuals, families, or even his parish, but always the Church as a whole. To make this reality concrete, the Holy Spirit has instructed the Apostolic Church to assign a bishop, or overseer (episkopos) for every area, as embodiment of the oneness of the church. The priests, or elders (presbyteroi), represent the variety of gifts, and function as a council to the bishop. There can be no Church without a bishop, just as there can be no Church without priests, and there can be no Church without the people of God. If we want to partake of the Eternal Life in Christ, we need to become familiar with this inner logic of the mystical Body, as designed by God, and take advantage (pragmatically speaking) of its inner workings. We need to rediscover the tremendous healing and transformational power of the Divine Mysteries of Repentance/Confession, Holy Unction and Holy Eucharist. We need to develop a close relationship with a spiritual guide (most often our parish priest, or any other priest who has received the special blessing to hear confessions), because the journey is long and arduous. We also need to experience the Church as a whole, beyond the limits of the parish. This is why we, the clergy, have regular meetings of the Brotherhood, where we become attuned to one another and receive the guidance of our bishop, His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios. It is our hope that we can speak to you as a Brotherhood through these monthly messages. The best way, however, to experience the Church as a whole is through direct participation in inter-church and Metropolis-wide activities: Choir Federation, Metropolis Philoptochos, DOXA Conferences, Young Professional gatherings would be a few examples. Those of you who want to take the next step and be fully immersed in the reality of the Church as a whole should take advantage of family camps and other retreats at St. Methodios Faith and Heritage Center, one of the best facilities of its kind in the country. Hundreds of families have already gone through such retreats, and they can share with you how incredible the experience of life in Christ can be when practiced thoroughly, even for a few days. Rejoice, therefore, for being joined to Christ for all eternity! Believe in Him, and you shall have everlasting life (John 3:16)! Become an active member of Christ s Mystical Body by exploring all that the Church has to offer. Then and only then you will be entitled to call yourself a true pragmatist. Amen! Fr. Costin Popescu Annunciation Church Dover, NH
4 Page 4 July/September O ctober An nunciation Church M onthly Bulletin FROM FATHER ANTHONY Beloved in Christ, it seems that in recent years we have seen a number of natural catastrophes. The magnitude of the destruction caused by these disasters is incomprehensible. The scenes we have all witnessed in the media seem surreal. To many, it is unthinkable that God would allow such things to happen. As Orthodox Christians, however, it is important for us to realize that He is not a cruel tyrant who periodically punishes mankind. Instead, it is necessary for us to be well grounded in our understanding of natural disasters and God s will, especially those of us raising children, so that they won t have misguided ideas about Him. First of all, we must remember that the earth is a living organism created by God. Human beings are the crown of creation, and have been given dominion over the earth and all living things. As a living organism, the earth is dynamic. Many of the great forces of nature such as earthquakes and volcanic activity, are part of the continuing growing pangs of our earth. The wisdom of the Creator is also responsible for the necessary and finely balanced conditions that affect the earth s climate. In short, nothing in Creation is evil since God can only create good. These various consequences of the dynamic forces of the earth, are responsible for what we call natural disasters. Recently, there seems to be more and more evidence, however, that mankind s activities may also have a direct bearing on climatic changes throughout the world, which may have an impact on violent weather. Some extremists, both Christian and non-christian, have taken the opportunity of recent natural events to point out that God is punishing us for a variety of reasons. This attitude was prevalent with the Jews of the Old Testament who didn t know God in a personal way. The Fathers of the Church have explained many of the destructive events of the Old Testament, as a means of bringing repentance and reunion with God into the heart of man. St. John of Damascus wrote the following: He (God) first schooled him (man) and exhorted him to conversion in many ways by groaning and trembling, by a flood of waters and the near destruction of the entire race, by the confusion and division of tongues, by the tutelage of angels, by the destruction of cities by fire, by prefigurative divine appearances, by war, victories and defeats, by signs and portents, by diverse influences, by the Law and the Prophets, all of which were directed to the destruction of that sin which had abounded under many forms and had enslaved man and heaped every sort of evil into his life, and to his return to the blessed existence. (The Fathers of the Church, Book 3, Chpt. 1). In the New Testament era, the first believers in Christ had a new understanding of God, for they had experienced Him in the flesh. Christians, therefore, have always believed in the unending mercy and love of God, as was clearly demonstrated through Christ s ministry on earth. One of the most poignant passages in the Gospel is from John (3:16-17): For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. These words of Christ clearly show us that the essence of the Gospel s message is salvation, not condemnation. What we also need to remember, is that God as Creator has ultimate authority over the universe. After all, He created everything that exists from nothing through His word alone. As a Church, we continually pray for fair weather, and for protection from natural disasters. Through the prayers of the righteous, God can intervene in human and natural events as demonstrated many times in the history of the Church. Therefore, it is important for us to pray for His mercy before and during these types of events. Of course, the pious Orthodox Christian always accepts God s will in all things, even when the outcome of such an event is devastating. God in His holy wisdom has a reason for all things that occur in our world, and we, His obedient servants, can never know nor understand His will, but only accept it. No matter what happens to us in this world, whether through our own actions, those of nature, or through bodily illness, we must always keep in mind that the message of salvation through faith in Christ remains intact. Our homes may be literally shaken from their foundations, but when the foundation of faith is sound, we can bear all things and never lose focus on the Kingdom of Heaven. Since the first coming of Christ, two thousand years have passed in which there have occurred myriad unfortunate events natural disasters, persecutions of the faith, wars, famines, holocausts, terrorist attacks, slavery and foreign occupation, epidemics, man-made disasters and the list can go on and on. Always remember that the saints of our Church and all pious believers lived through all these things and kept their faith. Generation after generation of Orthodox hierarchs have passed on the faith to future generations, and it has remained pristine and intact through the collective faith of the believers, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit even during the most trying times. Let us all take account of our own lives and strengthen our faith through prayer, and the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church. We never know when our own spiritual foundation will be shaken to the core, so please be prepared! In Christ s love, +Fr. Anthony The grace of God is the life of our souls. Our soul cannot be alive without the grace of God. For as our body lives by the soul, so our soul lives by the grace of God. Pray then always, and sigh unto God that He give you His grace, and that He preserve you in it. We need the grace of God every minute. For this reason, sigh often from the depths of your heart, Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy Presence, and take not the Holy Spirit from me (Psalm 50). St. Tikhon of Zadonsk Do not ask how a poor man can be selfindulgent when he lacks the material means. For it is possible to be self-indulgent in a yet more despicable way through one s thoughts. St. Kosmas Aitolos As our body becomes dead and full of stench when the soul leaves it, so a soul in which prayer is not active is dead and stenches. That to be deprived of prayer should be counted worse than death is clearly shown us by the Prophet Daniel, who was ready to die rather than be deprived of prayer at any hour. One should remember God more often than one breathes. St. Evagrios the Solitary
5 An nunciation Church M onthly Bulletin September Page 5 FROM THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS October 1 The Holy Protection of the Theotokos The feast of the Holy Protection of the Mother of God was established following a vision of our Holy Father Andrew the Fool-for- Christ, during the course of a vigil in the Church of Blachernae at Constantinople. At the fourth hour of the night, while deep in prayer, the Saint lifted up his eyes to heaven and beheld the holy Mother of God watching over the congregation as she covered the faithful with her Veil. Epiphanius, the disciple of Saint Andrew, who was also accounted worthy of looking upon this wonder, confirmed the truth of the vision. Whereupon the Saint hastened to the altar, opened the coffer containing the precious Veil of the Queen of the world and, standing in front of the royal doors, extended it above the worshippers. Upheld by an invisible power, the Veil hung in the air and was of such size as entirely to cover the great congregation. Then, amid a shattering burst of light, the Mother of God went up into heaven and out of sight, but leaving the Christian people in possession of her holy Veil as a pledge of her loving Protection. Many a time did the Mother of God give clear evidence of her protection of the imperial City and, by analogy, of the entire holy Church of Christ, which is the new Jerusalem. Indeed, everywhere and at every moment, the Sovereign Lady of the world casts her Veil mystically over Christians as she makes prayer and intercession for the salvation of the world to her son and Lord. October 1 St. Romanos the Melodist FROM FATHER ANTHONY Romanos had not been blessed with a well-modulated voice so was unable to glorify the Creator melodiously as he wanted to. One Christmas in the Church of Blachernae (in Constantinople) at the vigil of the Nativity, the Mother of God appeared to him holding in her hand a scroll which she gave him to eat. As soon as he tasted it, an indescribable sweetness filled his mouth and, going up into the ambo, he began to intone in an angelic voice the kontakion that has come down to us: Today the Virgin gives birth to Him who is above all being This gift remained with him for the rest of his life. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he adorned most of the feasts of the liturgical year with wonderful hymns. More than one thousand kontakia are ascribed to him. Some say that he also composed the renowned Akathist to the Mother of God. Saint Romanos died in peace some time after 555 to join the angelic choir that he so well represented on earth. October 17 Memory of the Translation of the Relics of the Holy and Just Lazarus The Emperor Leo VI the Wise ( ), inspired by godly zeal, built a magnificent church in Constantinople in honor of the Holy and Just Lazarus. When the church was completed, he sent to Cyprus for the Saint s body, that had lain for almost one thousand years in a marble sarcophagus with the inscription: Lazarus, the friend of Christ raised on the fourth day. After his resurrection, Lazarus lived for a further eighteen years, and the Apostle Peter instituted him Bishop of Kition in Cyprus. Many miracles were wrought by the relics of Lazarus after their translation to the imperial City. Through simple anointing with oil from the ever-burning lamp above his tomb, demons were expelled, a woman with an issue of blood was healed, and people with eye afflictions recovered their sight. IN APPRECIATION Once again, another festival has come and gone. As we do each year, we stop to express our extreme gratitude to all of our beloved parishioners involved with every aspect of the festival. Our biggest expression of gratitude needs to go to our Philoptochos women who put so much effort into the preparation of foods and pastries the heart of the festival. Secondly, the festival committee and entire parish council have put many hours into the background preparations. Besides them, our many seasoned gentlemen are instrumental in the proper grilling and roasting of meats and handling of gyros. Thanks to all who helped in general at the various booths and other activities under the tent, including our Goyans and dance troupe. Our parish is also very grateful to all of those who sponsored and/or solicited various forms of advertising, as well as those who generously donated product or funds toward the success of the festival. God bless all of you and our entire parish family! Adult Religious Education Resumes 10/5 Our annual program of Small Vespers and adult religious education will resume on Wednesday, 10/5 at 7:00 pm. Each year, on most Wednesday nights from fall through spring (except during Great Lent), we offer an evening of worship and spiritual reflection for adults both cradle Orthodox as well as non-orthodox who want to learn more about our Faith. We begin with the half-hour service of Small Vespers completely in English, then spend an hour in the conference room with Scriptural reflection, a short reflection on the life of a saint, an informal presentation on a particular topic, as well as an open forum for questions and answers. The atmosphere is casual and there is no continuity in subject matter, so one can drop in at any time. Please join us and enrich your knowledge of Orthodoxy, and enjoy the fellowship!
6 Page 6 O ctober An nunciation Church M onthly Bulletin GREEK MESSAGE Τέκνα ἐν Κυρίω ἀγαπητά, Ἡ Χάρις τοῦ Θεοῦ καταξιώνει ἡμᾶς σήμερον ὅπως ἐναρξώμεθα ἑνὸς εἰσέτι ἐκκλησιαστικοῦ ἔτους, ἑνὸς εἰσέτι ἑορτολογικοῦ κύκλου, ἐντὸς τῶν εὐλογημένων εὐκαιριῶν τοῦ ὁποίου καλούμεθα νὰ καταβάλλωμεν ἀγῶνα πνευματικὸν διὰ νὰ ἀξιοποιήσωμεν καλλίτερον τὴν δοθεῖσαν ἡμῖν δυνατότητα τοῦ γενέσθαι «καθ ὁμοίωσιν» Θεοῦ ὥστε νὰ καταστῶμεν καὶ ἡμεῖς ἅγιοι Αὐτοῦ. Ἡ σημερινὴ ὅμως ἡμέρα, ἡ 1η Σεπτεμβρίου, ἡ πρώτη τοῦ νέου ἐκκλησιαστικοῦ ἔτους, εἶναι ἀφιερωμένη, πρωτοβουλίᾳ τοῦ Οἰκουμενικοῦ Πατριαρχείου, καὶ εἰς τὴν προσευχὴν διὰ τὸ φυσικὸν περιβάλλον. Ἡ δὲ πρωτόβουλος αὕτη ἀπόφασις οὐδόλως τυγχάνει ἄσχετος πρὸς τὴν ἀνωτέρω σημειολογίαν τῆς σημερινῆς ἡμέρας, καθὼς ὁ πνευματικὸς ἀγὼν ὁ ὁποῖος ἐπιφέρει τὴν καλὴν ἀλλοίωσιν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου συμβάλλει καὶ εἰς τὴν βελτίωσιν τῶν σχέσεών του πρὸς τὸ περιβάλλον καὶ εἰς τὴν καλλιέργειαν τῆς εὐαισθησίας τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ὑπὲρ τῆς προστασίας καὶ διαφυλάξεως αὐτοῦ. Δοξολογοῦμεν, λοιπόν, σήμερον τὸ ἅγιον ὄνομα τοῦ Θεοῦ, διότι ἐχάρισεν εἰς τὴν ἀνθρωπότητα καὶ διατηρεῖ καὶ συνέχει τὴν φύσιν, ὡς τὸ καταλληλότατον περιβάλλον διὰ τὴν ἐν αὐτῷ ὑγιεινὴν ἀνάπτυξιν τοῦ σώματος καὶ τοῦ πνεύματος τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. Ταυτοχρόνως δὲν δυνάμεθα ὅμως νὰ παρασιωπήσωμεν καὶ τὸ γεγονός, ὅτι ὁ ἄνθρωπος δὲν τιμᾷ πρεπόντως τὴν δωρεὰν ταύτην τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ καταστρέφει τὸ περιβάλλον, ἐκ πλεονεξίας ἢ ἐξ ἄλλων ἐγωϊστικῶν ἐπιδιώξεων. Τὸ περιβάλλον ἡμῶν ἀποτελεῖται, ὡς γνωστόν, ἐκ τοῦ ἐδάφους, τῶν ὑδάτων, τοῦ ἡλίου, τοῦ ἀέρος ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐκ τῆς πανίδος καὶ τῆς χλωρίδος. Ὁ ἄνθρωπος δύναται νὰ ἐκμεταλλεύηται πρὸς ἴδιον ὄφελος τὴν φύσιν μέχρις ὅμως ἑνὸς ὁρίου, ὥστε νὰ διασφαλίζηται ἡ ἀειφορία, ἤτοι ἡ δυνατότης ἀναπαραγωγῆς τῶν καταναλωθέντων ἐνεργειακῶν πόρων ἀλλὰ καὶ τῶν ἐμβίων, ἀλόγων, κτισμάτων. Ἄλλωστε, ἡ καλῶς ἐννοουμένη ἐκμετάλλευσις τῆς φύσεως ἀποτελεῖ καὶ ἐντολὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ πρὸς τὸν ἄνθρωπον, πρὸ καὶ μετὰ τὴν πτῶσιν αὐτοῦ. Ἡ ὑπέρβασις ὅμως τοῦ ὁρίου τούτου, ἥτις δυστυχῶς ἀποτελεῖ φαινόμενον τῶν δύο τελευταίων αἰώνων εἰς τήν ἱστορίαν τοῦ ἀνθρωπίνου γένους, καταστρέφει τὴν ἁρμονίαν τῶν φυσικῶν συνισταμένων τοῦ περιβάλλοντος καὶ ὁδηγεῖ εἰς τὸν κορεσμὸν καὶ τὴν νέκρωσιν τῆς δημιουργίας, ἀλλὰ καὶ αὐτοῦ τούτου τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, ὁ ὁποῖος δὲν δύναται νὰ ἐπιβιώσῃ ἐντὸς ἀπερρυθμισμένων εἰς βαθμὸν μὴ ἀναστρέψιμον οἰκοσυστημάτων. Ἀποτέλεσμα δὲ τοῦ φαινομένου τούτου εἶναι ἡ ἐμφάνισις καὶ ἐξάπλωσις ἀσθενειῶν προκαλουμένων ὑπὸ τοῦ, ἀνθρωπίνῃ εὐθύνῃ, μολυσμοῦ τῶν διατροφικῶν ἀγαθῶν. Εἰς τὰς ἡμέρας μας, ὀρθῶς μὲν τονίζεται ἡ μεγάλη σημασία τῶν δασῶν καὶ ἐν γένει τῆς χλωρίδος διὰ τὴν ἀειφορίαν τοῦ γηΐνου οἰκοσυστήματος ὡς καὶ τὴν διασφάλισιν τῶν ὑδατίνων πόρων, ἀλλὰ δὲν πρέπει νὰ ὑποτιμᾶται καὶ ἡ μεγάλη συμβολὴ τῶν ζώων εἰς τὴν εὔρυθμον λειτουργίαν αὐτοῦ. Τὰ ζῷα ἀνέκαθεν ὑπῆρξαν φίλοι τοῦ ἀνθρώπου καὶ οἱ ὑπηρέται τῶν ἀνθρωπίνων ἀναγκῶν καθὼς παρεῖχον καὶ παρέχουν εἰς αὐτὸν τροφήν, ἔνδυσιν, μεταφορικὸν ἔργον ἀλλὰ καὶ προστασίαν καὶ συντροφικότητα. Στενωτάτη εἶναι ἡ σχέσις τοῦ ἀνθρώπου μὲ τὰ ζῷα, ὡς καταδεικνύεται ἐκ τοῦ γεγονότος ὅτι αὐτὰ ἐπλάσθησαν τὴν ἰδίαν ἡμέραν μὲ αὐτόν (Γεν. 1, 24-31) ἢ καὶ ἐκ τῆς δοθείσης ὑπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐντολῆς εἰς τὸν Νῶε ὅπως διασώσῃ ἕν ζεῦγος ἐξ ἑκάστου εἴδους ἀπὸ τὸν ἐπικείμενον κατακλυσμόν (Γεν. 6, 19). Τυγχάνει χαρακτηριστικὸν τὸ γεγονὸς ὅτι ὁ Θεὸς ἐπιδεικνύει ἰδιαιτέραν μέριμναν διὰ τὴν διάσωσιν τοῦ ζωϊκοῦ βασιλείου. Εἰς τοὺς βίους τῶν Ἁγίων ἀναφέρονται πολλαὶ διηγήσεις διὰ τὰς ἀρίστας σχέσεις μεταξὺ Ἁγίων καὶ ἀγρίων ζώων, τὰ ὁποῖα
7 An nunciation Church M onthly Bulletin O ctober Page 7 GREEK MESSAGE ὑπὸ ἄλλας συνθήκας δὲν διατηροῦν φιλικὰς σχέσεις πρὸς τὸν ἄνθρωπον. Βεβαίως αὐτὸ δὲν ὀφείλεται εἰς τὴν κακὴν φύσιν των, ἀλλὰ εἰς τὴν ἀντίστασιν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου πρὸς τὴν Χάριν τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ τὴν συνεπακόλουθον συγκρουσιακὴν σχέσιν αὐτοῦ μετὰ τῶν στοιχείων καὶ τῶν ἀλόγων ἐμβίων ὄντων τῆς φύσεως. Ἄλλωστε, συνέπεια τῆς διαταράξεως τῆς σχέσεως τῶν πρωτοπλάστων πρός τὸν Δημιουργόν των καὶ Θεὸν ἦτο καὶ ἡ διατάραξις τῶν σχέσεων αὐτῶν μετὰ τοῦ περιβάλλοντος: «ἐπικατάρατος ἡ γῆ ἐν τοῖς ἔργοις σου ἐν λύπαις φάγῃ αὐτὴν πάσας τὰς ἡμέρας τῆς ζωῆς σου ἀκάνθας καί τριβόλους ἀνατελεῖ σοι, καὶ φάγῃ τὸν χόρτον τοῦ ἀγροῦ. Ἐν ἱδρῶτι τοῦ προσώπου σου φάγῃ τὸν ἄρτον σου ἕως τοῦ ἀποστρέψαι σε εἰς τὴν γῆν, ἐξ ἧς ἐλήμφθης» (Γεν. 3, 17-19) Ἡ εἰρήνευσις τοῦ ἀνθρώπου μετὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ συνεπάγεται καὶ τὴν εἰρήνευσιν αὐτοῦ μετὰ τῶν στοιχείων τῆς φύσεως. Εἶναι φανερόν, κατόπιν τούτων, ὅτι ἡ ἀγαθὴ σχέσις τοῦ ἀνθρώπου πρὸς τὸ περιβάλλον ἀναπτύσσεται ὅταν παραλλήλως ἀναπτύσσηται ἀγαθὴ σχέσις αὐτοῦ πρὸς τὸν Θεόν. Τυγχάνει γνωστὴ ἡ ἀφήγησις τοῦ Συναξαριστοῦ περὶ τῆς ἐμπειρίας τοῦ Μεγάλου Ἀντωνίου, ὁ ὁποῖος εἰς ἡλικίαν ἐνενήκοντα ἐτῶν ἀπεφάσισεν, καθοδηγηθείς ὑπό Ἀγγέλου Κυρίου, νὰ πορευθῇ ἐνδότερον τῆς ἐρήμου πρὸς ἀναζήτησιν καὶ ἄλλου ἀναχωρητοῦ, τοῦ Ὁσίου Παύλου τοῦ Θηβαίου, ἵνα λάβῃ παρ αὐτοῦ ὠφέλειαν πνευματικήν. Πορευθεὶς ἐπὶ τριήμερον εἰς ἀναζήτησιν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἰχνηλατήσας σημεῖα θηρίων ἀγρίων συνήντησε λέοντα, ὁ ὁποῖος ὑπεκλίθη ἤρεμος ἔμπροσθέν του καὶ ποιήσας μεταβολὴν ὡδήγησε τὸν Μέγαν Ἀντώνιον εἰς τὸ σπήλαιον τοῦ Ὁσίου Παύλου, ἔνθα εὗρεν αὐτὸν διακονούμενον ὑπὸ θηρίων. Κόραξ ἐκόμιζεν αὐτῷ τὸν ἐπιούσιον ἄρτον! Τὴν ἡμέραν μάλιστα τῆς ἐπισκέψεως τοῦ Μεγάλου Ἀντωνίου ἐκόμισεν εἰς αὐτὸν διπλῆν μερίδα μεριμνήσας καὶ διὰ τὸν ἐπισκέπτην αὐτοῦ! Οἱ Ἅγιοι οὗτοι εἶχον ἀναπτύξει ἀγαθὴν σχέσιν μετὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ, διὸ καὶ εἶχον φιλικὰς σχέσεις πρὸς πάντα τὰ ζῷα τῆς φύσεως. Ἡ δημιουργία αὐτῆς τῆς ἀγαθῆς σχέσεως πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν πρέπει νὰ προτάσσηται ὡς τὸ κύριον μέλημά μας, καὶ ὑπηρέτης αὐτῆς τῆς προοπτικῆς πρέπει νὰ εἶναι ἡ ἀγαθὴ σχέσις μας πρὸς τὸ ζωϊκόν, τὸ φυτικὸν καὶ τὸ ἄψυχον περιβάλλον μας. Ὑπὸ τὴν προοπτικὴν αὐτὴν ἡ ζωοφιλία δὲν θὰ ἀποτελῇ στεῖραν κοινωνικὴν ἐκδήλωσιν συμπαθείας πρὸς τὰ προσφιλῆ μας ζῷα, πολλάκις συνοδευομένην δυστυχῶς καὶ ὑπὸ ἀναλγησίας διὰ τὸν πάσχοντα συνάνθρωπον, τὴν εἰκόνα τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἀλλὰ θὰ εἶναι ἀποτέλεσμα τῆς ἀγαθῆς σχέσεώς μας πρὸς τὸν Δημιουργὸν τοῦ παντός. Εἴθε ὁ Δημιουργός τοῦ καλοῦ λίαν σύμπαντος καὶ τοῦ καλοῦ λίαν γηΐνου οἰκοσυστήματος νὰ ἐμπνεύσῃ ὅλους ἡμᾶς νὰ συμπεριφερώμεθα εὐσπλάχνως πρὸς ἅπαντα τὰ στοιχεῖα τῆς φύσεως, μὲ καρδίαν ἐλεήμονα ὑπὲρ πάντων αὐτῶν, ἀνθρώπων, ζώων καὶ φυτῶν, ὡς καὶ ὁ Ἀββᾶς Ἰσαὰκ ὁ Σύρος λέγει, ἀπαντῶν εἰς τὴν ἐρώτησιν: Τί ἐστι καρδία ἐλεήμων;. Καρδία ἐλεήμων ἐστί, καῦσις καρδίας ὑπὲρ πάσης τῆς κτίσεως, ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, καὶ τῶν ὀρνέων, καὶ τῶν ζῴων, καὶ ὑπὲρ παντὸς κτίσματος. Καὶ ἐκ τῆς μνήμης αὐτῶν, καὶ τῆς θεωρίας αὐτῶν ρέουσιν οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ δάκρυα. Ἐκ τῆς πολλῆς καὶ σφοδρᾶς ἐλεημοσύνης τῆς συνεχούσης τὴν καρδίαν, καὶ ἐκ τῆς πολλῆς καρτερίας σμικρύνεται ἡ καρδία αὐτοῦ, καὶ οὐ δύναται βαστάξαι, ἢ ἀκοῦσαι, ἢ ἰδεῖν βλάβην τινά, ἢ λύπην μικρὰν ἐν τῇ κτίσει γενομένην (Ἀββᾶ Ἰσαὰκ τοῦ Σύρου, Ἅπαντα τὰ εὑρεθέντα σχετικά, Λόγος ΠΑ ). Διὰ τῆς τοιαύτης εὐσπλαχνίας ἡμῶν πρὸς ἅπασαν τὴν κτίσιν θὰ τιμήσωμεν τὸ θεόσδοτον ἀξίωμα ἡμῶν ὡς ἀρχηγῶν τῆς Κτίσεως, ἐνδιαφερομένων μετὰ πατρικῆς στοργῆς ὑπὲρ πάντων τῶν στοιχείων αὐτῆς, τὰ ὁποῖα οὕτω θὰ μᾶς ὑπακούουν αἰσθανόμενα τὴν ἀγαθοεργὸν διάθεσίν μας, καὶ θὰ πειθαρχοῦν εἰς τὴν ἐπιτέλεσιν τῆς φιλανθρώπου καὶ ὑπηρετικῆς τῶν ἀναγκῶν μας ἀποστολῆς των. 1 η Σεπτεμβρίου Ο ΚΩΝΣΤΑΝΤΙΝΟΥΠΟΛΕΩΣ ΒΑΡΘΟΛΟΜΑΙΟΣ