Patriarch Daniel has sent a message to the Romanian diaspora marking the Romanian Migrants’ Sunday on August 21, 2022. His Beatitude urges those who left Romania to remain united through continuous prayer with God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and, simultaneously, with their loved ones who remained in Romania.
At the same time, the Patriarch urges the servants of the Romanian Orthodox Holy Shrines outside of Romania to intensify prayer and multiply missionary-pastoral activities, to preserve and cultivate the Orthodox Christian faith and the Romanian spiritual and cultural values.
Prayer, the Holy Spirit’s presence and action in the human being
The Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church proclaimed 2022 as the Solemn Year of prayer in the Church’s life and the Christian’s life.
Also, in the context of the 1000th anniversary of the repose in the Lord of Saint Symeon the New Theologian († 1022) and the 300th birth anniversary of Saint Paisius of Neamț († 1722), the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church proclaimed 2022 as a Commemorative Year of the Hesychast Saints Symeon the New Theologian, Gregory Palamas and Paisius (Velichkovsky) of Neamț.
Prayer is the foundation of human life and spiritual growth. It is salvific and sanctifying because it fills us with the presence of the All-Merciful God.
Holy Scripture is rich in countless exhortations to pray. In the Old Testament, in the book of Ecclesiasticus, the wise Yeshua Ben Sirach says about the praying person: “They set their hearts to rise early to seek the Lord who made them to petition the Most High; they open their mouths in prayer ask pardon for their sins.” (Sirach 39: 5)
In the New Testament, we see the Lord Jesus Christ participating both in synagogue services (Mark 1: 21) and also praying in solitude (Luke 5: 16). The Saviour taught His disciples the Our Father prayer, the source of inspiration for all other prayers.
In the Pauline epistles, one can find numerous pieces of advice and requests for the intensification of prayer. Thus, the Holy Apostle Paul urged the Christian community in Ephesus: “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6: 19), while to the Christians in Thessalonica he wrote: “We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers” (1 Thessalonians 1: 2).
Prayer, as the Holy Spirit’s presence and action in the human being, brings comfort, peace and joy; it unites us with the Most Holy Trinity, the source of joy and eternal life, as well as with the Church of Christ from all times and all places.
Without prayer, there is no Church and no Christian life. When we lose the joy and peace of the soul, it is a sure sign that we no longer pray as we should or as much as we should.
The Orthodox Christian must pray as much as possible because prayer helps us face life’s hardships and taste the power and joy of the Resurrection and eternal life even in this world.
Prayer is the victory over man’s alienation from God, himself, and his peers. It is a source of communion and becomes the life of our lives.
In the context of the restrictions caused by the global pandemic in recent years, as well as the problems resulting from the war in Ukraine, it was considered necessary to emphasize the practice of prayer in the life of the Church and believers and to intensify the fulfilment of good deeds.
The faithful, as members of the mystical Body of Christ, are united by grace to each other, the suffering of one being borne by the entire ecclesial community, according to the apostolic exhortation: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfil the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2), as well as according to the spiritual advice: “Pray for each other” (James 5: 16).
In this sense, Rev. Professor Dumitru Stăniloae notes that prayer “can also be considered as a means of transcending people from the life closed in selfishness and the world to the life of communication in God, as His Kingdom. The prayers indicate such a transcendence or an exit of man closed in selfishness towards the Triune God, or the God of love, even when the goods necessary for earthly life are requested in prayers, as conditions of preparation for the Kingdom of God.”
Starting from the appeal of the Holy Apostle Paul: “Pray without ceasing!” (1 Thessalonians 5: 17), under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and through the spiritual practice of the Holy Fathers, the prayer: “Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” called both the “prayer of the mind” and the “prayer of the heart,” has become the best way to enlighten the soul and sanctify the Christian’s life.
Also, by practising unceasing prayer, the Church gave birth to hesychasm, the longing for stillness and vigilance, or the state of peace and spiritual joy in contrast to the hectic world.
That is why, with much fatherly love, we urge all Romanians who live far from the country to remain united through continuous prayer with God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and, at the same time, with their loved ones staying in Romania.
Romanian migrants in different areas of the world are called to value and cultivate prayer in the ecclesial community, as well as in the family, prayer being the source of pure love towards God, loved ones and fellow human beings.
At the same time, we urge the servants of the Romanian Orthodox Holy Altars outside Romania to intensify their prayer and multiply their missionary-pastoral activities, to preserve and cultivate the Orthodox Christian faith and the Romanian spiritual and cultural values.
We pray to the Most Merciful God to bless all Romanians, from Romania and abroad, and to give them peace and good health, help and joy, for many happy years!
With high esteem and paternal blessing,
Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church
Photography courtesy of Basilica.ro / Mircea Florescu
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