“The Phanar is always a source of light and hope. And it does not blow out, nor with the winds blowing from East and West, nor with the winds blowing ice today from the steppes of the North” said the Ecumenical Patriarch at Vespers while celebrated his name’s day at the Monastery of Baloukli, in the presence of the Archbishop of Athens and all Greece and the Metropolitan of Kiev and all Ukraine.
“The truth for Ukraine, for her Church, for all that happen for her, will shine through and prevail,” underlined the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who on Monday afternoon presided from the throne the Great Vespers for the feast the Holy Apostles Bartholomew and Barnabas. The service was held in the Monastery of Life-bearing Spring of Baloukli, in the presence of His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, His Beatitude Metropolitan Epiphanios of Kyiv and all Ukraine, a multitude of hierarchs, clergymen, archons, headed by their President Gerasimos Fokas, the General Consul of Greece in the City Mrs. Georgia Sultanopoulou accompanied by the Consul George Gaitani, the General Consul of Ukraine Mr. Oleksandr Gaman, and the faithful from the City and abroad. Mr. Hasan Baltaci and Mr. Ismet Tokdemir, members of the Republican People’s Party, were also present.
In his speech, His All-Holiness thanked God for the celebration of his name’s day for the 28th time as Archbishop of the Queen of the Cities and Ecumenical Patriarch, in the historic and ancient Monastery of Life-bearing Spring. He addressed a special greeting to the present Archbishop of Athens and all of Greece, Ieronymos, and then to the Metropolitan of Kiev and to all Ukraine, Epiphanios.
“And we have the joy and honor of the presence of His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and all Greece, who wanted to add another link to the chain linking our two Churches and to enrich the jubilation of our celebrations. Your Beatitude, I thank you and your suite gratefully for the honor, that despite the high duties that you have at the same time which impose upon you to return to your see, we address you with most honor and fraternal love, wishing that we meet quickly again. You have allowed us to greet you and to say goodbye to you with the epigraphic words of Maximus of the Confessor: “Seize which is becoming old and bloom which is new”.
“And in turn, we address You, Your Beatitude of Kyiv and all Ukraine, Metropolitan Epiphanios, who likewise wanted to honor in person the celebration of our name’s day. We are grateful to you. Lastly, you and us are at the center of processes, decisions, changes, of a new order in Orthodoxy, but also of disputes, attacks, slanders, great distortions of truth and reality. We answer: ‘Know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’ ‘Lie do not crawl to old age’, so do not be afraid, Your Beatitude and brother. “False is insignificant and truth is much stronger”, as Chrysostomos would say in this case. The truth about Ukraine, for her Church, for all that happen for her, will shine through and prevail. To those who unjustly defame us and our other predecessors, we respond with the words of Gregory the Theologian: ‘These are of the things below, we are of the angels; these are of anger, we are of faith; these are threatening us, we are praying for them; these are of gold and silver, we are purified’. So, ‘do not trouble your heart, never be tempted’.”
“You have received autocephaly and freedom of self-government from your Mother Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which, according to Professor Phidas, is the time-honored guarantor of the canonical order in the Orthodox Church, and according to Professor Tarnanidis, the continuator, the spokesman and the interpreter of the pure Orthodox tradition. Therefore, you know what you have been asking for, that which you have wished for centuries, and this Church which is the first throne of Orthodoxy knows what she gave you and why she gave it to you: that which was your right to acquire and which was her right, and indeed her exclusive right, to grant; and they all sought it and received it from her, and nowadays all of them are refusing to recognize it and act against their benefactor.”
“Thank you for your presence and your participation in our joy and we congratulate you for your steadiness and gratitude to your benefactor, the Mother Church, from whom you have received previously baptism.”
The Ecumenical Patriarch also welcomed all those who traveled from abroad to honor him on his onomastic feast. “Yes, brothers and friends, children and co-workers! The Phanar is always a source of light and hope. And it does not blow out, nor with the winds blowing from East and West, nor with the winds blowing ice today from the steppes of the North, but it remains bright, solid and immovable! It is tempered on the stone of faith. Its power is accomplished through suffering. Christ is interceding. And ‘now redeemed from all outside privilege and secular power’, it pours forth through the story, ‘being a benefactor and imminent’.”
Subsequently, the Metropolitan of Kyiv and all Ukraine took the floor to greet His All-Holiness, and pointed out that his visit to the City “encloses the willingness to express once again the gratitude of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and myself personally for all the beneficial actions of Your All-Holiness to the pious Ukrainian people”.
“Without your actions, your loving care, your great love,” continued the Head of the Autocephalous Church of Ukraine, “we would still live in division. And yet! Today we all enjoy the common worship of the One and Only God glorified in the Trinity, the God of our Fathers.”
Then, turning to the Archbishop of Athens and all of Greece, the Metropolitan of Kyiv, speaking in Greek, said:
“Your Beatitude, I was delighted to learn that you will be here tonight and I expected to come to Istanbul tonight to meet your venerable person. The person of the Pastor of Athens, the Hierarch who loves and respects the institution of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and who is the pillar of his righteousness. Through your person I greet all the Hierarchy of the Orthodox Church of Greece and I look forward to the honor and joy of our concelebration in the future.”
At the end of the Vespers, the Ecumenical Patriarch celebrated a memorial service for the monk Bartholomew of Koutloumous from Imbros (1772-1851), whose name he bears, and then, in the courtyard of the Monastery, a reception took place during which the Patriarch received the respect and congratulations from the clergy and the people.
It is worth noting that the Archbishop of Athens and all Greece was accompanied by the Metropolitans Nikolaos of Mesogaia and Lavreotiki, and David of Grevena, his Chancellor Bishop Symeon of Thespia, and by the Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece Archimandrite Philotheos Theocharis, while the Metropolitan of Kyiv and all Ukraine was accompanied by Archbishop Eustratios and his ordained and lay collaborators.