It was the first divine service of the Ecumenical Patriarch in a Church of Istanbul after the precautionary measures for the pandemic were lifted.
His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew spoke about the difficult period of quarantine due to the pandemic in his sermon as he presided in Chorostasia at the Divine Liturgy which took place on Monday of the Holy Spirit, June 8, celebrated at the sacred Church of the Holy Trinity, in the renowned Community of Satvrodromi. It was the first pastoral visit of His All-Holiness to a Community in Istanbul following the measures taken by the Ecumenical Patriarchate last March in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“We celebrated behind closed doors the greatest and happiest feast of our faith, the Resurrection of the Lord, but with the certainty, of course, that the Risen Lord was with us. He promised us, when He was still on earth, that He would be with us all days until the end of the age. Indeed, we felt Him close to us, in our hearts we had the joy of His Resurrection and His grace. It invisibly entered through the doors of our homes and churches, as it entered through the closed doors where the disciples were gathered for fear of the Jews, we for the fear of the coronavirus,” His All-Holiness said, describing the coronavirus as “an unexpected and definitely undesirable visitor,” who “isolated us, separated us from each other, and forced us to close our churches.”
He expressed desire and hope that with God’s help this crisis will finally pass and congratulated the faithful who followed the instructions and urgings of the competent health authorities and took all the protection measures they recommended.
Elsewhere in his address, he referred to today’s commemoration of the Holy Fathers of the Second Ecumenical Council, which took place at the Church of the Holy Peace in Constantinople in 381 AD.
“Today we honor the Fathers of the Second Ecumenical Council, 150 in number, and we are proud and boast in the Lord because all the Ecumenical Councils, which ratified, established, formulated the doctrines of the Church, were convened either in our City, here, in Chalcedon, or in the surrounding area, or farther away in Ephesus, where the Third Ecumenical Council met. That is why Constantinople was honored with the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils in terms of leadership and was given a rank equal to the rank of the Bishop of Rome (“being second to it”), and had this special blessing to become the center of the doctrines of our Faith, of monasticism, of theological writing, of sacred arts, and if you can imagine anything else sacred and great, everything was created, cultivated, promoted here in Constantinople, in the capital of the Christian Empire for 1100 years, the spiritual capital of Romiosini, the capital of our Genos, in which we have the privilege of living around the sacred cathedral of our Ecumenical Patriarchate.”
Concluding his address, the Ecumenical Patriarch urged the faithful to continue to take self-defense measures regarding the pandemic of the novel coronavirus.
“May God protect us from every evil, from the coronavirus and from every other evil, because there are always those who attempt to destroy the Romiosini and the Mother Church, arising also from afar. That is why we should always be careful, alert, praying and understanding and empathizing with each other.”
His All-Holiness cordially thanked His Eminence Germanos, Metropolitan of Tranoupolis, Hierarchical Head of the Community of Stavrodromi, for his diverse activity, the work he has performed for many years in Pera, but also for the inexhaustible love he shows to everyone and especially to the schoolchildren of the Omogeneia. He also congratulated the active President of the Community Supervisory Committee Mr. Georgios Papaliaris and his associates, for their creative and multidimensional work, and also for their promotion of innovative ideas in the context of Community activities.
Previously, His Holiness was welcomed by His Eminence the Metropolitan of Tranoupolis, Germanos, and by the Chairman of the Community Supervisory Committee, Mr. Georgios Papaliaris.
During the Divine Liturgy, the sermon was preached by the godly Ecclesiarch Aetios.
Present were the Metropolitans Irenaios of Myriophytos and Peristasis and Stephanos of Kallioupolis and Madytos; Benjamin, the God-loving Bishop of Tralles; the Honorable Mrs. Georgia Sultanopoulou, Consul General of Greece in Istanbul, with the Consul Mr. Georgios Gaitanis, Archons Offikion, and teachers and faithful from the City.