Tuesday, March 25, 2008

On the Annunciation of the Theotokos

Today we celebrate one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Church right "smack dab" in the middle of the Great Fast. The Feast is so great that Fish and Oil are allowed today, and as we break the fast I begin to ponder about the Church in America. For Greek Orthodox Christians, today is a double Feast - Greek Independance Day is an occasion throughout America and the world for celebrations, parades and special speeches. As Greeks many of us, I am Greek by birth, in our American Orthodox environment are slightly shunned by our brother and sister Orthodox Christians because we seem to place such a great emphasis on the celebration of Greek Independance Day. This is where I ponder....

It is our obligation, vocation really, as Orthodox Christians to bring all of creation back to the Lord for salvation and to participate in the saving ministry of Christ in ALL OF CREATION and that means society. When faced with defeating the Ottoman Empire, the Greeks called upon their Faith in Christ and the protection of His Mother to keep them safe as they defended freedom so they could worship Christ without persecution. For Greeks, no matter if you try to say otherwise, there is just no separating the two. And that is not a bad thing in my mind. If we are going to sanctify all of creation, doesn't that mean making the Faith relevant in EVERY aspect of our daily lives including the civic realm? Can the civic realm somehow not be worthy of salvation? Society may not accept the call of the Lord, but that does not mean we don't keep calling.

So my point is this.......Let us find ways to incorporate the Faith into the everyday lives of our American brethren. Why not celebrate Cinco de Mayo for our Mexican Orthodox families, or don't they deserve to have the Faith in their everyday lives too? Orthodox Christianity has always been incorporated into a culture for the salvation of the culture. Let today's celebration of March 25th - The Annuncation of the Theotokos AND Greek Independance Day - be a source of joy for all people that Orthodox Christianty can and will be a part of their daily lives if they accept the call.

Long Live Freedom!


Anonymous said...

Very Nice Job!!!!
God Bless
Fr. Costas

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that the feast of the Annunciation was chosen by The Heirarch Gregory for the day of the declaration of Independence becasue of the issue of freedom from the world and it was done at the time also to inspire the people spiritually perhaps knowing that many would be martyred for their faith. It is interesting that with Pascha so near, that they didn't use Holy Pascha as the symbolic day. It is as if they knew it would parallel the beginning of our liberation like Christ's Incarnation was the beginning of our salvation and that there would indeed be much sufferring at hand before the final liberation ie Resurrection....like a pastoral thing for the entire culture. While I'm all for Orthodoxy embracing people of many cultures, the connection between the Annunciation and Greek Independence was chosen before our ancestors won that war. There was every risk that it would be our final war. Because of that I don't think that it compares to Bastille Day or Cinco de Mayo or American Independence. All of them were real and in need of Providence, but as far as I know neither of those cultures were inspired to protect and defend the truth of their faith and the people of that faith in their independence, only their civil rights and their resolve to oppose evil. Yes they prayed for victory and held fast to the Lord and His mother, but most of their struggles were about class and land and government. Perhaps if Orthodoxy were here in 1776, or in Mexico in the 1800's or in France, these celebration would now be a little more similar, but to reach into the past and give meaning to a struggle that was not in the thought of the people at the time seems awkard. 1821 gave a whole new meaning to being Greek that the world has yet to learn. Just a thought.

Fr. Athanasios Haros said...

You seem to have missed my point. I do not suggest that we impose meaning to an event in history. That would be dishonest. In my recognition that for many Greeks, Greek Independence Day has little to do with religious freedom and more to do with defeating the Turks, I also suggest that by embracing other ethnic celebrations such as Cinco de Mayo, we as the Orthodox Church are making a statement that our faith is for everyone and we will celebrate freedom, whether economic or religious, for our people where ever there is freedom to celebrate. Of course we could never make Cinco de Mayo an Orthodox Feast if that is what you thought I meant.

Father Athanasios