Patriarch Daniel’s name day: Religious freedom is the freedom to seek eternal life

His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel celebrated his name day last Thursday, on the feast day of the Holy Prophet Daniel, holding a festive moment at the Europa Christiana Hall of the Patriarchate’s Palace.

His Beatitude spoke about the service of the Church as a loving response to God’s unique calling. The Patriarch also stressed that religious freedom means the freedom to seek eternal life.

Participants included Monica Anisie, Minister of Education and Research, Victor Opaschi, State Secretary for Religious Affairs, coordinators of the sectors of the Patriarchal Administration and the Archdiocese of Bucharest, representatives of the Basilica Media Centre of the Romanian Patriarchate.

“We congratulate you for the activity dedicated to the educational and social projects that the Romanian Orthodox Church carries out in support of our peers, families and children, contributing to the promotion of Christian values in our society,” the Minister of Education said.

“We want to appreciate, chiefly this year that was very special for the educational system, the activity carried out in support of Religious Education, which has adapted and diversified in its forms and ways of implementation”, added Minister Monica Anisie.

“Activities such as Religion Hour on Trinitas Television and 3 Minutes of Religious Education on Romanian Television and Radio Romania Actualitati were a real support for Religion teachers, but also a creative and accessible way of information for parents and students,” said the minister.

Victor Opaschi: Patriarch Daniel, exemplary devotion to the country

State Secretary for Religious Education Victor Opaschi congratulated Patriarch Daniel “for his efforts (…) to establish the relationship between the state and the Church in a democratic way, focused on the free exercise of religious faith, autonomy of religious denominations and cooperation with the state in a spirit of mutual respect.”

Victor Opaschi specified that “the restrictions that were adopted by the authorities do not refer to the freedom of faith but to the forms of manifestation of faith in the public space, and are in accordance with the protection measures adopted everywhere in the civilized world.”

The Secretary of State for Religious Affairs stressed that, in the regulations adopted to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, “the Romanian Government did not include religious activities in the category of public assemblies. This means that, in the case of religious activities, we are not dealing with a ban, but only with rules of physical distancing.”

“The number of participants in religious activities is limited only by the sanitary norms of physical distance, depending on the specific space of that activity,” he added.

Victor Opaschi wished the Patriarch “the same power of work and exemplary devotion to the country, to the Romanian people, to the Romanian Orthodox Church and to the high values of humanity.”

In the second part of the event, Patriarch Daniel bestowed diplomas and medals of the Solemn Year of the Pastoral Care of Parents and Children to the Minister of Education and Research, Secretary of State for Religious Affairs, Holy Synod Chancellery, Romanian Patriarchate Archives, Library, The Patriarchal Office, the Patriarchate Palace, the representatives of the Basilica Media Centre and the heads of sectors from the Patriarchal Administration and the Archdiocese of Bucharest.

Church workers, missionaries who respond to God’s unique calling

“As you can see, these diplomas and medals were offered to each sector, not just the coordinating counsellors, because the emphasis was on team work,” Patriarch Daniel noted December 17.

“We congratulate now, towards the end of the year, all those who, faithfully and diligently, have worked in various institutions of the Church – not only for salary but also for salvation, not only for retribution but also for vocation, calling because someone else could have been called in our place to serve the Church.”

“But if God preferred us, it was not because we are better than others, but because He preferred us. And then we must also prefer God to any created reality in this world, as Saint Maximus the Confessor teaches us when he formulates the definition of love,” Patriarch Daniel explained.

“What is love? That state of mind which prefers the Creator to any creature. So on this is based the activity in the Church: on the answer to a unique and unrepeatable call.”

The state and the Church have a responsibility for the lives of the faithful

Regarding the provocation of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Patriarch of Romania stated:

“We always need humility accompanied by prayer, for God to help us better understand that both life and health are first and foremost gifts of God, that they must be defended, cultivated, and we must thank God for the gift of life and for the gift of health and contribute to the help of those who are ill, who are in a state of suffering, despair, depression.”

“In the state-Church relations there is still a need for more consultation and cooperation because our faithful are also citizens of the state, so we have co-responsibility for their life and health,” added the Romanian Patriarch.

“The Church is also thinking about the fact that it has the mission to understand the limited, transient earthly life, as the only chance to prepare for an imperishable life, eternal life,” His Beatitude continued.

“This religious approach to existence comes from the fact that the faithful is not satisfied only with this transient and limited life, they are not content to be only a biological being, who ends up in the grave, but desire eternal life.”

“So this religious freedom is the freedom not to limit human freedom; it is the freedom to live not only biologically to the grave, but it is the freedom to seek the path of endless life in the love, light and joy of the Holy Trinity,” Patriarch Daniel underscored.

“If we do not understand the essence of the spiritual life, we are tempted to believe that spiritual life is not as necessary for man as biological life, that prayer is not as necessary as the food of the soul, such as material food, supermarket or hypermarket food. Hence the difficulty of considering material things to be sometimes more important than spiritual ones.”

Photography courtesy of Basilica.ro / Mircea Florescu

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