January 1, 2012
Feast of Saint Basil and New Year
Abide in Me, and I in you. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit.
To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we begin this new year, with the blessings of our Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Church, we give thanks to Him for His abiding presence with us. It is in Christ’s presence that we find the grace to transform our lives and restore our communion with God. In His presence we know the truth of the Gospel and the endurance of hope, and we experience the forgiveness and mercy that sets us free from the bondage of sin and death. In Christ, we find enduring joy in the assurance of His eternal promises and peace in the comfort of His love. As His people and His servants, we are granted wisdom and strength to offer a witness of hope and ministries of compassion and healing.
All of these blessings of the presence of Christ in our lives are the fruit that we bear when our hearts, minds and souls are connected to the True Vine, Christ. In addition, our connection to Him, to His presence and words, to His guidance and power, and to His love is essential for our ministry. To touch and transform lives and to bear fruit that leads others to a real new life, every effort, action, and word must reveal the presence of Christ.
Our daily awareness of His presence and our commitment to bear fruit that brings honor and glory to God in this new year is so vital in our contemporary world. Around us are many conflicting messages that are disconnected from Christ, and thus disconnected from truth and from the Source of life and love. We have to be consistently the voice and witness of Christ, calling those around us to come to Him and experience a beautiful and fulfilling grace that will bring assurance and peace to their souls and meaning to their lives. This is why we must always remain united to Him.
On this New Year’s Day as we consider the priority and necessity of living in Christ, we also commemorate the Feast of Saint Basil the Great and give thanks to God for the blessed ministry of Saint Basil Academy. This center of philanthropic ministry continues to provide a loving and Christian environment where children are nurtured in the ways of the Lord and guided into adulthood as young men and women of God. This sacred work, strengthened by the grace and power of Christ, is possible because the directors, staff, and donors abide in Christ. They know that this is a ministry of love. It is a spiritual service that will produce beautiful fruit in young lives. It is an offering of faith that brings honor and glory to God. Thus, they know that they need the presence and power of Christ to guide children and youth to Him and give them the spiritual resources to remain connected to the True Vine for the rest of their lives.
In support of Saint Basil Academy, our National Ladies Philoptochos Society and the local chapters in our parishes lead us on this feast day and during the month of January in collecting a special offering. This is a way which in conjunction with our prayers will connect us to this very critical and highly specialized work of creating a bright future for young people.
May I wish you and your families a blessed new year filled with the presence and joy of Christ. In this new year of 2012, may we find renewed strength and abundant grace in our service to Him. Each day let us seek to abide in Him through prayer, worship, and service, and as we live in His presence, may our lives be filled with great blessings and our offering to others lead them to His saving and unfailing love.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America