Orthodox Observer - February 5, 1999



Following is His Eminence's exhortation to the audience at the Celebration of Greek Letters and Arts Luncheon held Jan. 31 in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.

I want to thank Dr. Duffy for his excellent presentation and for the dedicated scholarship that he has invested in his work. It is obvious, Professor Duffy, that your research is a labor of love, and all of us thank you for sharing your work with us today.

Dr. Duffy has told us of many books that traveled far and wide, books that enjoyed attention in countries far removed from their place of origin. Which of the authors of these wondrous works could have foreseen that their writings would have such a rich and extensive life?

Not one of them anticipated this result, I'm sure. And yet these books which we discuss today prove once again the truth of the saying of St. Basil --that in human affairs, the real nature of things is revealed by their end, by their destiny and conclusion.

The true value of these books could not be determined at the time of their writing. The full impact of these authors could not be reckoned in their own day and age.

Indeed, even today we cannot say that we have fully comprehended the value of the literature that Dr. Duffy discussed.

This is the power of ideas! This is the power of the human imagination! There is an inherent restlessness in the intellectual and spiritual life of man, and the journeys of those medieval Greek books are an icon --if I may be so bold to say-- an icon of the vitality of the human soul, formed in the image of God. Our humanity cannot find true satisfaction in the accomplishments of the past, cannot find true rest on the laurels of our ancestors.

So it is the works of the Three Hierarchs, whose accomplishments and writings we still celebrate today. These Fathers of the Church were not content to rest on the achievements of their predecessors. They faithfully received the Tradition of the Apostles from their own teachers. But then, using the intellectual tools and vocabulary of Greek philosophy and rhetoric, they proclaimed and defended the truth to their own generation.

They were not content simply to repeat the kerygma of the saints who had gone before them; they declared afresh the unchanging truth of God in new ways, with new words and images and arguments. And today we still harvest the fruits of their spiritual labors, we are still blessed by their genius.

The words that they spoke and wrote were neither static sayings nor dead letters. They were, and are, and will continue to be ... living, dynamic, powerful voices, whose "sound has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world" (Psalm 19:4).

Their spiritual restlessness, their yearning to know the ultimate end and goal of things, their thirst to realize the divine destiny of Hellenic letters and learning --these characteristics of the Three Hierarchs are the legacy of all Greek Orthodox Christians.

And yet we as Hellenes and Phil-hellenes of the 21st century cannot remain satisfied simply to receive this legacy from the past. We cannot be content to rest on the laurels of our forerunners in the faith.

On Jan. 29, I addressed some of our Greek School children at the Liturgy. In their faces, I saw the future of our Church and our society. Our children are our living books.
We need to fill them with the best of our Hellenic tradition.
We need to instill in them the spiritual and intellectual restlessness of their ancestors.
We need to send them abroad, so to speak, as ambassadors for the future of our faith and our heritage.

Just as their grandparents and great-grandparents crossed the sea and traveled far and wide, bearing with them the seeds of their faith and culture, so we too should seek to enrich our children with the language and letters of their ancestry, that they too may continue to build on the timeless Hellenic heritage.

Let us not be content with the past. Let us not be content with what we have done already for the cause of Greek education. Let us never be satisfied with the mileage that our books, our ideas, our aspirations, have already achieved.
Imagine what our children will achieve!
Imagine the scholars and theologians and philosophers that they will become!
Imagine the influence of their achievements in history.

All because of the seed we plant in them today, all because of the legacy of Hellenic letters and learning that we bestow on them today.

For our children, for our heritage, and for our future, let us press ahead with the task of disseminating Greek Letters, as God gives us time and opportunity.

[ Orthodox Observer - February 5, 1999 - p. 8 ]