On Sunday, the delegate of His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the International Orthodox Youth Meeting in Iaşi, His Eminence Andreas, Metropolitan of Arkalochori, Kastelli and Viannos, read out the patriarchal address to the participating young people. In his message, His Holiness urged Orthodox youth to become communicants of the spiritual tradition of our Orthodox Church.
Your Eminence Teofan, Archbishop of Iaşi and Metropolitan of Moldavia and Bukovina,
Your Eminences and Your Graces,
Much honoured central and state officials,
Reverent fathers and beloved young people,
Brothers in Christ
I find myself in the historical city of Iaşi with the blessing of His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew who, by the grace of God, has taken care for over a quarter of a century and has served Orthodox Christianity under heaven, carrying the good struggle and guiding the ship of Christ’s Church to good harbors.
On this occasion, I convey to you all, the sacred clergy and the devout people of this Archdiocese and Metropolis of the Romanian Orthodox Church protected by God, the paternal prayer and the blessings of the Primate of the Church of Constantinople.
By the grace of the Triune God, together with the Apostolic Church of Crete, which is within the canonical jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, I visit the city of Iasi, also known as a cultural capital of Romania. Iasi represents a symbol in the history of the Romanian people. It played a very important role in the history of the Romanian Principalities, representing a significant Hellenistic cultural centre during the rule of the Ottoman Empire. It also hosted at the beginning of the nineteenth century the headquarters of the Eteria Society, which has contributed fundamentally to the liberation of Greece from the Ottoman yoke.
The festive meeting of Orthodox Christian youth, organized by the Romanian Orthodox Church, represents an important church event, even more so as it was pointed out in the Message of the Holy and Great Council, “the Orthodox Church addresses herself to young people who seek for a plenitude of life replete with freedom, justice, creativity and also love. She invites them to join themselves consciously with the Church of Him who is Truth and Life. To come, offering to the ecclesial body their vitality, their anxieties, their concerns and their expectations. Young people are not only the future but also the dynamic and creative present of the Church, both on a local and on a worldwide level.”
It was also noted that “to young people, the Church offers not simply “help” but “truth,” the truth of the new divine-human life in Christ. Orthodox youth should become aware that they are bearers of the centuries-old and blessed tradition of the Orthodox Church and also the continuers of this tradition who will courageously preserve and will cultivate in a dynamic way the eternal values of Orthodoxy in order to give life-giving Christian witness. From among them will come the future ministers of the Church of Christ. The young people thus are not simply the “future” of the Church, but also the active expression of her God-loving and human-loving life in the present.”
Beloved young people,
Being a communion of love in the likeness of the Trinitarian perichoresis, our Church can but only partake of the suffering and come to support “the most little brother of the Lord”, the sick, the poor, the stranger, the orphan, the old, the solitary, the grieved, the betrayed, the persecuted, the refugee, the homeless, the immigrant, the unemployed, the detainee, the addicted and the slave, the different, the unborn child, the mistreated family, the victim of any kind of exploitation and war crimes.
In a world in which interior and exterior peace are threatened in many ways, the Church comes like a compass indicating the direction to inspire young people with friendship, collaboration, understanding, and mutual trust.
Christ’s Bride raises up, heals and helps the young man promote sincerity in his interpersonal relationships, respect towards human rights, noble competition, honesty, purity, renunciation of personal interest, volunteering. She also helps young people respect the natural environment as a tabernacle of the mystery of life and an adornment of the Creator.
The Church strives to help you, young people, through the gracious treasuries of the Holy Mysteries and through the experiences of the ascetic tradition. It is natural to be vulnerable for your first steps, to need more support, and to look for models. The witness of Orthodox monasticism and of the parish life experience, with the varied activities they involve, offer constant and unshakable landmarks to young people.
A capital event among the activities of the young Christian is represented by the attendance at the divine services of the Church and the communication of the Holy Eucharist, by which we as Orthodox overcome any differences of language, nationality, colour or race, and become members of Christ’s body. In this regard, Father Dumitru Staniloae notes:
“Orthodox understand the Church in the light of the Holy Eucharist. The entire life of the Church, the word and the mysteries, emanate from the Holy Eucharist and find their fulfillment in it. Therefore, the Eucharist is not only a Sacrament, but the great mystery of the participation in the life of the Holy Trinity, the recapitulation of the whole history of salvation in Christ and the anticipation of the future Kingdom” (Fr. Dumitru Staniloae, Dio e Amore, Indagine Storico-Teologico nella Prospettiva Ortodossa, Cita Nuova, Rome, 1986).
Dear Orthodox Christian young people, living in the midst of the current problems raised by the secularized multicultural society, you are called to be communicants of the spiritual tradition of our Orthodox Church. Any differences of national identity or of the capacity for knowledge, human passions, and any weaknesses whatever they may be are overcome in the Church in the mystery of the spiritual experience offered by the Orthodox faith that unites heaven and earth.
I conclude this speech by putting in your hearts the paternal words of Patriarch Bartholomew delivered at the second International Orthodox Youth Conference, gathered in Constantinople in 2007:
As members, then, of the Church, my young friends, you are also members of the Body of Christ. Each one of you has – irrespective of gender – a personal and a personal role in the divine-human Body, in proportion to the grace and talent that God has already given you, or that He is going to entrust to you in the future. What is needful is that you become aware in a timely fashion of your talent and your spiritual gifts.
Thus, you will be able to fulfill your personal role and your obligations that God expects of you as members of the Body of the Church. And there is a way to be certain of these things – as you respond willingly to your feelings of responsibility by saying from the depths of your heart: “Behold! Here am I, Lord! Speak Lord! Thy servant hearkens!”
As members of the Church, you too dear friends, young men and women, are members of Christ’s Body and every one of you, boy or girl, without distinction, have your own place and role in this divine-human Body, in accordance with the grace and the talent that God bestowed upon you or will entrust to you in the future.
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all!
Photograph: Oana Nechifor/Doxologia
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