The celebration of Theophany in the Phanar is dignified
With all dignity and splendor, Holy Theophany was celebrated at the Ecumenical Patriarchate today, Monday, January 6.
His All-Holiness, after Orthros, during which he presided in Chorostasia, performed the Great Blessing of the Waters, and then presided over the Divine Liturgy, assisted by the Metropolitans Meliton of Philadelphia, Chrysostomos of Myra, Makarios of Lviv, Theoleptos of Iconium, Stefanos of Kallioupolis and Madytos, Chrysostomos of Kyrenia, Athenagoras of Kydonia, and Amphilochios of Adrianopolis.
During the celebration, he performed the priestly ordination of the deacon Georgios Christodoulou, a cleric of the Church of Cyprus and an educator.
Before the ordination, His All-Holiness addressed paternal words to Fr. Georgios.
“In the beautiful display of lights of the manifestation of God, the ‘Light of Light,’ in the crowded All-Holy Patriarchal Church of the Holy Great Martyr George the Triumphant, today we perform your ordination to the priesthood. You are flesh of the flesh of the Great Island, a son of historical Karpasia, a devoted and good-hearted son of the Church of Cyprus, ordained to the first degree of holy orders, as a deacon, by our brother His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus,” said the Ecumenical Patriarch, and elsewhere in his address he said: “You are receiving the second degree of holy orders, Deacon Georgios, in order to give good witness to the Orthodox faith, hope and love, in the Christian European south, in the Great Island Cyprus, and especially in the reverential and all-holy pilgrimage of the Apostle Andrew, which Father Zacharias has served sacrificially since 1958, present and praising God with us and celebrating the Liturgy with us in the Phanar today.
“The Church of Cyprus belongs to the choir of the ancient Churches, with internal administrative autonomy recognized by the Third Ecumenical Council (Canon VII). It is a privilege for you to belong to this ancient Church, which is distinguished both for its steadfast faithfulness to Orthodox tradition, and for its interest and concern for the world and for history, always fighting the good fight for protection of the divine and sacred things of the Nation.
“At the far north end of the Great Island, where you will guard the place and the way of life of those who are free in Christ, you will experience strongly the presence of those who are different. There were always different religions, different cultures. The great challenge of our time is to emphasize specificity with particular emphasis as well as the coexistence of different contemporary multicultural societies. The fact of the proximity of those who are different invites us, on the one hand, to a creative encounter and to the cultural knowledge of the other, and on the other hand it requires a more consistent daily effort and cultivation of our identity and culture.”
The Ecumenical Patriarch then advised Fr. Georgios:
“You will minister to the Church of Christ in a place of a particular character and needs, with its problems, but also with many opportunities for witness and giving, always with ‘love from a pure heart’ (1 Tim. 1:5), perpetually as ‘God’s fellow worker,’ wanting ‘all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth’ (1 Tim. 2:4). And you will meet people who do not belong to the Church but who are God-fearing, pious and respectful of our pilgrimages and traditions.
“Hold the candle in the holy sanctuary of the Apostle Andrew, whom you will guard and serve for the rest of your life, just as we here at the Crucified and Resurrected Phanar guard the never-extinguished light above the Synthronon, which our Fathers always kept glowing and shining, and they will also guard the coming generations of Romans. You will pray without ceasing, not to an impersonal and ‘immovable’ God, viewing the adventures of man from a long distance, but to the God who loves mankind, who is always ‘for us,’ who is nearer to us than we are to ourselves.
“The Church is called at all times and under all circumstances to be ‘the world of the world’ (Origen, VEPES 12, 63), the ‘beautiful love’ (Song of Songs 6:7). The priest completes the Divine Eucharist, always referring to his Bishop, receiving all things from God in thanksgiving, and referring all things with thanks to the Lord. In the Divine Eucharist, the divine and human hypostasis of the Church is concentrated. Ecclesiastical life is nourished from this, which shows its eschatological and doxological character and orientation.”
His All-Holiness pointed out that the extensive learning and education of Fr. Georgios, as a theologian and researcher, his maturity and modesty, his industriousness and his zealous love for Cyprus guarantee a wonderful and fruitful ministry.
“Today most people are primarily concerned with the ‘beloved ego,’ with self-realization, not in the sense of man’s spiritual purpose, but for the satisfaction of individual needs, which goes along with the pervasive ‘existential vacuum,’ the so-called ‘end of modesty’ and moral anarchy, with the identification of sacrificial love and humility with weakness and bondage, you choose the ‘here is what you need,’ dedicated with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength and all your mind to the Lord and to the brethren. The existence of the cleric is a gift of the grace of God, which we ought to offer to our fellow men, for whom Christ died and rose again. As the Forerunner of Our Humility on the Apostolic Throne of Constantinople, John Chrysostom, says, ‘He therefore offers a sacred blessing to others, as for the good of the people before him, he prays and beseeches God’ (PG 62, 491). Orthodox piety honors the priest above all, simple and humble, mild and philanthropic. It is difficult to accept the so-called ‘virtual priest,’ with an employee mentality, who performs the rituals without any internal relationship with his high office. The life of the priest must be a continuous relationship with the Other, the Great High Priest, and with the brethren. Priesthood is the eternal experience and fulfillment of the double commandment of love for God and love for one’s neighbor.”
In his response, Fr. Georgios expressed his gratitude to the Ecumenical Patriarch, “for example, the great and good and patriarchal condescension fills my heart with joy and serenity and greatly strengthens me in this struggle.”
“I bow to the mission of the Mother Church, whether through fame or dishonor, through bad report and good report, sometimes acting ignorant and sometimes unaware, as dead, and here I am alive [...] The history of the Holy Great Church of Christ encompasses within itself three dimensions of time: past, present and future. None of the three dimensions should be overlooked. Within this divine palace of the Word of God, the brilliant order, which reaches us over time and does not fall into mere exaggeration or over-exuberance, must not be overlooked.”
Present were the Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece Konstantinos Vlassis, the Ambassador of Greece to Ankara, Michael Diamesis, the Consulates General of Greece and Ukraine in Istanbul, Ms. Georgia Sultanopoulou and Mr. Oleksandr Gaman, the Consul of Greece, Ms. Danae Vasilakis, Archons Offikion of the Holy Great Church of Christ and many of the faithful from Istanbul, as well as from Greece, Cyprus, and many other countries.
After the end of the Divine Liturgy, the Ecumenical Patriarch, the Hierarchs, the officials and the faithful in procession moved to the waterfront of the Phanar, where His All-Holiness presided over the ceremony of blessing of the water and the diving for the Holy Cross in the Golden Horn.
In the frigid waters of the Golden Horn, and despite the adverse weather conditions, more than 20 young people dived, from Istanbul, Greece and abroad, and the Holy Cross was captured for the fourth time by Nicolas Solis from Agrinio, to whom the Ecumenical Patriarch gave a golden cross as a blessing, and blessed all the other swimmers and gave them an image of St. Nektarios.