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Encyclical of the Archbishop August 2005



Once again, my dearly beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord, we have arrived at the compunctious and gladsome period of the first fifteen days of August. The Church, our Mother, prepares us to celebrate, in all piety, the Dormition of the Mother of God. This Feast, as all Christian Feasts, is a time and opportunity for the spiritual replenishing of humanity, of Christian people who have entrusted their life and future to the love and philanthropy and mercy of God. The Dormition of the Mother of God is a most significant event. Every death and departure from this world is a celebration, an occasion for both joy and sorrow. We encounter that sorrow and perceive that reality in days such as those we experienced in London on Thursday, 7th July, the feast day of the Great Martyr, Saint Kyriaki, when acts of terrorism took place in various parts of Central London as large numbers of people made their way to work, with tragic results: the violent death of many innocent people, the ,spiritual grief of these who saw and experienced those events, and those  who lost friends and loved ones.

These events will continue to echo for a long time in the lives and thoughts of millions of people. Yet, at the same time, we  experience daily the consolation of mutual solidarity, of collective empathy for this grief and tragedy. We have seen people in prayer,  contemplating and turning to God for refuge, seeking comfort and solace, hoping to find a logical explanation for the sorrowful and horrid and terrible incidents that take place in our society and in our lives and through out the world.

Prayer is the fitting and potent remedy for such extreme and deplorable instances in human life. The Apostle James, the Brother of the Lord, rightly and characteristically writes: "Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise". [James 5:13] It is very appropriate that the Church, our Mother, during this period from the beginning of August until 15th of the month, chants those wonderful and inspired hymns -the Services of the Small and the Great Paraclesis- and calls the Faithful to common prayer and worship.  

The Church invites us to raise our voices and oHer up our prayers to our Heavenly Father, in order that we may receive His grace and protection. In our prayerful journey to 15th August we have as a companion, praying with us, the Most Holy Mother of Christ, who is to be found at the head of the myriad of God's friends, and who prays "for the peace of the whole world" and for the "welfare of the holy Churches of God". 

The Virgin Mary and the host of the saints offer up prayers and intercede "for those who travel by land, air or water, for the sick, the suffering, for those in captivity". In the heart and thoughts of the saints are all the 
creatures of God, whether they are on the earth, in the depths beneath the earth or wandering in the firmament of creation. This is the reason that the Psalmist, confident of the divine love, prays and sings: "Lord I can upon you, hear me. Hear me, 0 Lord"; and the author of the Paraclesis chants,

"By many temptations I am held fast, and seeking salvation come for refuge in flight to you, 0 Mother of God's own Word and Virgin, from my dread dangers and troubles now rescue me". 

Elsewhere, the worshipping and praying Church reminds us that the Mother of God is for humans "a fervent intercessor and an unassailable fortress, a fountain of mercy and the refuge of the world" for she is the Mother of the God-man, Christ, Who is the joy and hope of the world, as the following prayer characteristically underlines: "The Father is my hope, the Son my refuge, the Holy Spirit my protection. Holy Trinity, glory to you".

This season is a time of joy, or rather, of joyful sorrow -our joy is mingled with our sorrow. Unfolded before us is the Virgin Mary's life, death and passage to Heaven where, before the throne of her Son, she ceaselessly prays and intercedes for the world, for all Creation. Therefore, let us also renew our hope in the Triune God. Let us increase our prayers and supplications and the sighs of our heart to the Merciful God Who loves mankind. Every day, in public and in private, at home and in Church, let us pray from the depths of our heart, and with all the strength of our soul let us ask for God's protection and mercy. Let us not forget that God hears us and accepts the tears of repentance, our obedience and humility, even though we live and move in a world filled with many troubles, with confusion, problems, pain, temptations and sorrows of all kinds, as the hymn-writer so expressively sings: 

"Storms of grief batter my poor soul and clouds of disasters obscure my heart, 0 Bride of God; but you who gave birth to the divine and pre-eternal light, kindle for me the joyful light".

Our prayer to God and our refuge in His Most Holy other surpasses all of these sorrows and conquers then and, by the grace of Christ our Saviour, sanctifies them and transforms them into the glory of His Holy Name and to the spilr~1:ual benefit of us all and of all the world. To Him belongs the glory, the Kingdom and boundless mercy to the ages. Amen.

+ Gregorios

Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain.

 1 August 2005.


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