Prot. No. 582
+ B A R T H O L O M E W
By God’s Mercy
Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch
To All the Plenitude of the Church
Grace, Peace and Mercy from the Maker of All Creation
Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ
Dearest brother Hierarchs and beloved children in the Lord,
With the goodness and grace of the all-bountiful God, today marks the 30th anniversary since the Holy Great Church of Christ established the feast of Indiction and first day of the ecclesiastical year as “the day of environmental protection.” We did not only address our Orthodox faithful, nor again just Christian believer or even representatives of other religions, but also political leaders, environmentalists and other scientists, as well as intellectuals and all people of good will, seeking their contribution.
The ecological activities of the Ecumenical Patriarchate served as the inspiration for theology to advance prominently the truth of Christian anthropology and cosmology, the Eucharistic worldview and treatment of creation, along with the spirit of Orthodox asceticism as the basis for understanding the reason for and response to the ecological crisis. The bibliography related to theological ecology or ecological theology is extensive and on the whole constitutes an admirable Orthodox witness before the major challenges of contemporary humanity and earthly life. Concern for the ecological crisis and for the global dimensions and consequences of sin – of this alienating internal “reversal of values” in humankind – brought to the surface
the connection between ecological and social issues as well as for the need to address them jointly. Mobilizing forces for the protection of the integrity of creation and for social justice are interconnected and inseparable actions.
The interest of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the protection of creation did not arise as a reaction to or as a result of the contemporary ecological crisis. The latter was simply the motivation and occasion for the Church to express, develop, proclaim and promote its environmentally-friendly principles. The foundation of the Church’s undiminished concern for the natural environment lies in its ecclesiological identity and theology. Respect and care for creation are a dimension of our faith, the content of our life in the Church and as the Church. The very life of the Church is “an experienced ecology,” an applied respect and care for creation, and the source of its environmental activities. In essence, the interest of the Church for the protection of the environment is the extension of the Holy Eucharist in all dimensions of its relationship to the world. The liturgical life of the Church, the ascetic ethos, pastoral service and experience of the cross and resurrection by the faithful, the unquenchable desire for eternity: all of these comprise a communion of persons for which the natural reality cannot be reduced to an object or useful matter to meet the needs of an individual or humanity; by contrast, this reality is considered as an act, deed the handiwork of a personal God, who calls us to respect and protect it, thereby rendering us His “coworkers,” “stewards,” “guardians,” and “priests” of creation in order to cultivate a Eucharistic relationship with it.
Care for the natural environment is not an added activity, but an essential expression of church life. It does not have a secular, but rather a purely ecclesiastical character. It is a “liturgical ministry.” All of the initiatives and activities of the Church are “applied ecclesiology.” In this sense, theological
ecology does not merely refer to the development of an ecological awareness or the response to ecological problems on the basis of the principles of Christian anthropology and cosmology. On the contrary, it involves the renewal of the whole creation in Christ, just as this is realized and experienced in the Holy Eucharist, which is an image and foretaste of the eschatological fullness of the Divine Economy in the doxological wholeness and luminous splendor of the heavenly kingdom.
Most honorable brothers and most precious children in the Lord,
The ecological crisis reveals that our world comprises an integral whole, that our problems are global and shared. In order to meet these challenges, we require a multilayered mobilization, a common accord, direction and action. It is inconceivable for humankind to recognize the severity of the problem and yet continue to behave in oblivion. While in recent decades the dominant model of economic development in the context of globalization – highlighting the fetishism of financial markers and magnification of financial profit – has exacerbated ecological and economic problems, the notion still prevails widely that “there is no other alternative” and that not conforming to the rigid validity logic of the world’s economy will lead to unbridled social and financial situations. Thus, any alternative forms of development, along with the power of social solidarity and justice, are overlooked and undermined.
For our part, however, we are obliged to assume greater measures for the application of the ecological and social consequences of our faith. It is extremely vital that our archdioceses and metropolises, as well as many of our parishes and sacred monasteries, have fostered initiatives and activities for the protection of the environment, but also various programs of ecological
education. We should pay special attention to the Christian formation of our youth, so that it may function as an area of cultivation and development of an ecological ethos and solidarity. Childhood and adolescence are particularly susceptible life phases for ecological and social responsiveness. Aware of the urgency of environmental education, the Ecumenical Patriarchate devoted the Third in its series of international Halki Summits to the subject of “Theological Education and Ecological Awareness” (Istanbul, May 31st to June 4th, 2019) with a view to incorporating ecology and environmental awareness into programs and curricula of theological schools and seminaries. The solution to the great challenges of our world is unattainable without spiritual orientation.
In conclusion, then, we wish all of you a favorable and blessed ecclesiastical year, filled with works pleasing to God. We invite the radiant children of the Mother Church throughout the world to pray for the integrity of creation, to be sustainable and charitable in every aspect of their lives, to strive for the protection of the natural environment, as well as the promotion of peace and justice. And we proclaim once more the truth that there can be no genuine progress, when the “very good” creation and the human person made in the image and likeness of God suffer. Finally, through the intercession of the first-among-the-saints Theotokos Pammakaristos, we invoke upon you the life-giving grace and boundless mercy of the Creator and Provider of all.
September 1, 2019
+Bartholomew of Constantinople
Your fervent supplicant before God
We welcome you to join us on Thursday evening, October 3rd, at 7 pm, for a talk by noted author and speaker, Frederica Mathewes-Green. Frederica will give a talk about the Jesus Prayer, the ancient desert prayer that tunes the heart to God. There is no cost to attend but space is limited so please RSVP by calling 541-683-3519 or by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please click on the attached flyer for more information: FMG_JesusPrayerPoster_HR
Many thanks to Journey to Orthodoxy for sharing this great video about Orthodox Christians converting to Protestantism and returning back! To acquire unity in the future, Christians must turn to the experience of the past. If you are a Protestant or Catholic Christian, and you wonder about where the unity is that Christ speaks about in John 17:21-23, then I encourage you to watch this video.
Click on the link to view the video: https://youtu.be/BtJy_rLPbsg
I had the blessing to see this movie last night in Portland, and I highly recommend you watch it when it gets picked up by Netflix and/or Amazon. Here’s a little teaser from the website:
‘Parallel Love: The Story of a Band Called Luxury’ follows the path of Luxury, a band from small-town Georgia, who, on the cusp of success, suffer a devastating touring wreck with long-term consequences. In the intervening years, they continue to make records and three members of the band become Eastern Orthodox priests. Through interviews and archival footage, ‘Parallel Love’ tells the gripping and poignant story of Luxury and documents the making of a new record, now as priests.
Here is the link to the movie’s trailer: https://www.parallel-love.com/#trailer
The Orthodox Church is constantly in prayer and in worship of the Holy Trinity and each parish participates in these to the best of their ability. Here at St George you can count on these worship services happening on a regular basis:
Great Vespers every Saturday evening at 6 pm:
The word “vespers” comes from the Greek ἑσπέρα (hespera) meaning “evening”, because it is the evening service of the Church. Christians are to pray to God not just on Sunday mornings, but constantly, sanctifying time by offering prayer throughout the day. The three main components of the Vespers service are the lamp-lighting prayer “Gladsome Light”, and the offering of incense, the chanting of psalmody. The service of Vespers provides a fit conclusion to the day but it also prepares us to greet the coming day, since the day begins not with morning, but with evening. Since Sunday is the “Great and Holy Day”, the “Lord’s Day”, Vespers on Saturday evening is called “Great”.
Orthros or Matins every Sunday morning at approximately 9 am:
The morning service of the Church is called Orthros or Matins. The Matins service of the Church unites the elements of morning psalmody and prayer with meditation on the Biblical canticles, the Gospel reading, and the particular theme of the day in the given verses and hymns. The themes of God’s revelation and light are also always central to the morning service of the Church. There is no break between the end of Matins and the beginning of Liturgy, one flows directly into the other, so when you arrive for Divine Liturgy at, or a little before, 10:00 am, it may seem like you’re late but you’re not. You’re probably catching the end of the Matins service.
Divine Liturgy every Sunday morning at approximately 10:00 am:
The word liturgy means common work or common action. The Divine Liturgy is the common work of the Orthodox Church. It is the official action of the Church formally gathered together as the chosen People of God. The word church, as we remember, means a gathering or assembly of people specifically chosen and called apart to perform a particular task. The Divine Liturgy is the common action of Orthodox Christians officially gathered to constitute the Orthodox Church. It is the action of the Church assembled by God in order to be together in one community to worship, to pray, to sing, to hear God’s Word, to be instructed in God’s commandments, to offer itself with thanksgiving in Christ to God the Father, and to have the living experience of God’s eternal kingdom through communion with the same Christ Who is present in his people by the Holy Spirit.
There are service books that will help you to follow along with the Divine Liturgy. There will be greeters to meet you to assist and answer any questions you may have. They will be able to assist you in getting seated and provide you with a service book to follow along in.
An Orthodox service can be overwhelming on your first visit. Vibrant images of biblical events and saints cover the walls. You will see people lighting candles and venerating icons. The smell of incense fills the air. People will not only be using their voices to worship, but also their bodies. They will be crossing themselves and bowing or prostrating. It may seem strange at first, but this is how Christians have worshiped God for 2,000 years.
All are welcome!