Everything depends on Christ
To the Holy Clergy and the people
of our Holy Metropolis of Kythira and Antikythira
“God's Providence is inexplicable,
His guardianship incomprehensible,
His goodness is unspeakable
and His charity unfathomable”
(Saint John Chrysostom, E.P.E 33,538)
My dear Brethren and Co-celebrants,
My Christian brothers, my beloved children in the Lord.
May the holy and solemn period of the Holy Forty Day fast of Christmas be blessed, peaceful and joyous. From God, the Thrice-Holy Triune Lord and our God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, we begin the spiritual struggle of the forty- day fast of the Lord’s Feast of the Nativity of Christ. Blessed be God!
In the midst of difficulties and strained situations from the prolonged ordeal of the mutant virus, the ongoing military conflicts and operations in the North between Orthodox peoples, the threatening calamity from the observed climate change and energy crisis, the expected economic hardship of the peoples from the daily rise in the prices of basic necessities with its consequences, and increasing unemployment, in the midst of all these unbearable and intractable problems, the faithful Christian does not waver in his Faith, is not disappointed, is not discouraged, but trusts his life to his Almighty, Divine Creator, and to His all-wise Divine Providence. He repeats with fervent faith and devotion the proffered discourse of our holy Father John, Archbishop of Constantinople the Chrysostom, which says: “God’s Providence is inexplicable, His guardianship incomprehensible, His goodness unspeakable and His charity unfathomable.”
The faithful servant of God will derive great spiritual profit if he entrusts his life and surrenders himself and his future to the all-powerful and benevolent Providence of the Most-high. In this regard Saint Chrysostom says:
“We must certainly entrust everything to the Providence of God, but at the same time, let us believers also cooperate with our labors and struggles” (E.P.E. 23,90).
On another point, the Golden-mouthed Father observes:
“Since God feeds us, there is no need for us to be anxious. If a king promised to provide you with daily food from his stores, you would be filled with courage. Much more now you must be free from every care, when God provides everything and everything runs before you as from a spring...” (E.P.E. 11, 230).
“The existence of everything depends on Christ. Not only did He bring all things from non-existence into existence, but He also holds them together now. He did not say that He has them under His authority, which would have been more intense, but He said it most subtly, that everything depends on Him. And just by turning toward Him is enough to hold them back and to clutch them” (E.P.E. 22, 134).
And the divine Chrysostom further adds:
“It is not possible, at a time when there is so much order, that there is no providence. Nevertheless, if there was no God, how did all these things come about? And since He exists, how is it possible for Him to overlook His creations?” (E.P.E. 34, 608).
At this point, I consider it useful to quote the divinely enlightened answer of the newly-declared Saint of our Church, Metropolitan of Edessa Kallinikos, who rests among the Saints, to the question: How shall we deal with the uncertainty of the new year?
“Simply,” replies the holy Bishop, “with the certainty that God exists. And this God, the true God, is our own. Maker, Creator, our Father. A loving father. A father full of love to the point of sacrifice. ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son (to die on the cross), so that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life’ (John 3:16).
“There is God the Ruler and the Forerunner,” continues Saint Kallinikos. “He governs the world and provides for it. Our heavenly Father feeds ‘the birds of the air’ and takes care of ‘the grass of the field, today being and tomorrow being thrown into the furnace’, and much more for man, created ‘in his image and likeness’...”
My beloved Brothers,
My discourse so far has been about Divine Providence, about vigilant and benevolent Divine Providence. More than any other time, this message is necessary and indispensable today.
The problems, which we mentioned at the beginning of this Encyclical – pertaining to our life and the economy (virus tests, protracted war, energy crisis and climate change, economic hardship, even hunger, increasing unemployment), are not the only ones. In recent years, I have been referring to serious spiritual issues with heartache and a sorrowful soul, such as:
- The distance of people from the Divine Creator
- The violation of the Divine Laws and the Divine Will
- The removal of our fellow human beings from the holy Sheepfold of our Orthodox Catholic Church and from its liturgical and sacramental life
- The lack of Christian upbringing and education, but also the lack of adequate Orthodox Catechism for our youth to apply themselves to and study
- The falsification and destruction of the moral and spiritual laws and principles of the Orthodox Christian life through the introduction of new ideas and ways of life contrary to good morals and the moral-spiritual teachings of our Holy Church of Christ
- The re-evangelization of the People of God and its consolidation in the Holy Orthodox Faith
- The protection and safeguarding of the Christ-named Redeemer of our Holy Church from the flood of schisms, bad dogmas and heresies, and especially from the heresy of ecumenism, which succeeds and fiercely fights Orthodox Ecclesiology, its Divine Doctrines and Dogmatic Teaching of our Orthodox Faith, as well as the Divine and Holy Canons of our Orthodox Catholic Church, and promotes the impermissible association and co-prayer with heretics, schismatics and miscreants, which is condemned by the Holy Canons of the Church. Ecumenism “baptizes” as churches the heretical and malicious confessions and considers them together with the existing different religions “as paths of salvation”.
You see, that apart from the biological and economic problems, there are also the aforementioned serious spiritual, ecclesiological and soteriological issues, which seriously concern our Holy Orthodox Catholic Church and Orthodox Christians.
For them to be addressed properly, God-pleasing prayer and supplications to the Lord are necessary, especially during the holy and penitent period of the forty days preceding Christmas, and the strengthening of our Faith in Divine Providence. Our recourse with faith and hope to our Lord and God and our trust in God’s Providence will renew our morale and grant us the coveted peace, the Grace of God and the God-taught patience in the sorrows and trials of life, banishing sadness, agitation, depression and despair.
Wishing from the bottom of my heart for the Lord’s blessing and grace in the spiritual struggle of our life, and especially in the struggle of the Holy Forty days, of the double fast, spiritual and physical, of repentance and God-taught prayer, I remain,
With paternal wishes and love
The Metropolitan of Kythira & Antikythira Seraphim