In an optimistic address filled with warmth and genuine affection Archbishop Spyridon, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, spoke to more than 2,000 members of the Greek Orthodox Young Adult League Sunday evening, urging them to guard their tradition and assuring them of his personal commitment to forge a bright future together.
The Lord is with the young adults of the Church, His Eminence said, referring to them as "the heart of Orthodoxy’s future" as they gathered for their sixteenth annual national conference.
The young adults are the vital link, the definitive bridge, between the Church’s glorious past and even more glorious future, His Eminence added, and the Lord has come to help them become, to transform them into, shining examples for Orthodox and non-orthodox alike:
"I want to tell you, and I mean this with all my heart, that Christ has already come for you. He has come, and He desires that each of you be a lamp to others… Christ Himself calls you to guide a needy and lost generation of this nation to joy in Christ’s love and victory over evil."
The only way to do this, His Eminence reminded them, is to preserve the integrity of the faith they inherited from their forebears, as difficult as it is to do in a multi-faceted society like America:
"You are in a position to renew the hopes of those who have come before you, those who gave you life and nurtured you. You honor your mothers and fathers, your families and friends, through the courage you show in proclaiming the word of God to the world… I know that the world pretends to disdain your faith… but you can change the world by showing your love for God in everything that you do… and the Bread of Life will sustain you; guard you against evil; and guide your footsteps along a holy path toward righteousness."
His Eminence warned the young adults present against those "who seek to lead them down a false path, a path which contends that the traditions of the Church, our worship and practices, are impediments to truly knowing the Lord." They are "dressed in sheep’s clothing" and seek to "ensnare the searching souls of our complex society."But young adults can avoid secular lures, the Archbishop said. The tradition of the Church provides the means for escape, He added, encouraging them to be vigilant. "I have confidence in the strength of your character and the courage of your faith in Christ… You can change the world, my children," His Eminence concluded.