by His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America
at the Divine Liturgy
Holy Trinity Archdiocesan Cathedral
New York, NY
July 3, 2022
Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,
We see before us today the fullness of the Church:
Representatives of our Mother Church of Constantinople: in the persons of Elder-Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon and Metropolitan Metropolitan Prodromos of Rethymnon and Avlopotamos.
Our two former Archbishops of America: Spyridon and Demetrios, who will be with us all these days.
The Metropolitans of the Holy Eparchial Synod and the Auxilliary Bishops from all around the country.
The clergy who represent both active and retired priests, together with the Holy Order of the deacons.
Monastic Fathers from the Holy Mountain of Athos.
And, of the greatest significance, all of you – the faithful who have come from every corner of our Nation to celebrate this Centennial Clergy-Laity Congress, in recognition of our establishment as the First Eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne outside the immediate borders of the Mother Church of Constantinople.
In truth, the plenitude of the Church is always present at every Divine Service – for even when the Church is visibly empty, it is full of the Glory of God and the Angelic Hosts, as witnessed by the Holy and Sacred Icons that adorn every Sanctuary across the Archdiocese.
In the midst of this bounty, with which God has graced us, we are celebrating a truly historic milestone – the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. As I look upon the Archepiscopal Throne, I think of the great and ever-memorable Archbishop Iakovos, who reigned for thirty-seven of those one hundred years, right here in this Cathedral. Let us all bow our heads for a moment in remembrance of his tremendous offering to Orthodoxy in America, for his was a tenure that I do not believe we shall ever see again. (PAUSE)
However, I have yet to mention the late Patriarch Athenagoras and the blesséd Archbishop Michael, whose ministries brought forth some of the most enduring Institutions of our Church. The vibrancy and energy of these great hierarchs is still with us today, as many among us are their spiritual children, who possess memories and stories of the beneficial influence they had in their lives.
And as dramatic as these Archepiscopal personalities are, there are thousands and tens of thousands of laymen and laywomen who led by their deeds, as well as their words. Deeds of vision. Deeds of generosity. Deeds of toils and labors for the benefit of future generations. They are all heroes of our Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America!
Their power and spirit are still among us; for our Church is not a hundred years old, but a hundred years young! As it says in the Prophet Isaiah, in his revelatory message about the restoration of all things by our Merciful God:
Ἔσται γὰρ ὁ νέος ἑκατὸν ἐτῶν…
For the young man shall be one hundred years old… (Isaiah 65:20)
You see, my friends? We are still a very young person, a very young Body of Christ and a very young Archdiocese, full of vitality and even intensity, that is pouring forth from every corner of our Sacred Archdiocese.
We have come together in this Clergy-Laity Congress in order to harness this energy and put it to good and positive use for the benefit of every parishioner – old and young, cradle and convert, alike – no matter where they live and who they are.
Our Divine Liturgy today affirms our past, engages our present and is a promise for our future.
Indeed, we are blessed by the presence of our Mother Church’s venerable representatives. But standing behind them is the historic figure of the longest serving Ecumenical Patriarch in the Seventeen continuous Centuries of the Church of Constantinople: our Spiritual Father, His All-Holiness, the Great Archbishop of Constantinople - New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew. It is a tremendous blessing for our Church in America to have had him as Ecumenical Patriarch for nearly a third of our history.
We are part of the fruit of the Great Church of Christ, which is our connection to the True Vine Himself, our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ.
This Eucharist, and every Eucharist, presses out the same Divine “Blood of Grapes” (Genesis 49:11) that is our inheritance through Apostolic Succession leading back to the First-Called Disciple, the Holy Apostle Andrew, Founder of the See that our Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew holds today as his 270th Successor.
We are united more closely than any physical bond that exists in this world; for the communion of the Blood of God far exceeds the kinship of the blood of man. Our spiritual DNA is eternal and destined for life everlasting.
This is why our unity in Christ is not perceived in numbers, or in mass quantities. It is known in the fullness of the Church, established by the Head of the Church, which is His Body. And we are all that Body, as Saint Paul reminds us: “Now you are the Body of Christ, and each member, a part.” (I Corinthians 12:27)
Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, who are truly the plenitude of the Church in this very moment: Let us rejoice in the knowledge of our unity in Christ. Let us give thanks for the giants who have come before us and upon whose shoulder we stand – so that we can see a little farther with an even greater vision.
And let us engage these coming days with a sense of immediacy – and even a sense of urgency – for the sake of our Church, our Ecumenical Patriarchate and our Sacred Archdiocese of America.
We have the energy, the vitality and the dynamism. We are One Hundred Years young!
Together, let us go forward for the next hundred years, One Body, One Family, One Archdiocese.
Through the prayers of the Most Holy Theotokos and All the Saints, let us offer this Clergy-Laity Congress to the glory and praise and worship of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and forever.