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Address of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Vasilopeta Service for the Benefactors of the Visit

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Jan 5, 2006

Most Reverend Archbishop of America and
Beloved brother in Christ, Demetrios,
Most Reverend and Beloved Brother Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta,
Esteemed and Gracious Benefactors,
Brothers and Sisters, Reverend fathers and beloved and blessed Children in the Lord,

Today, the Holy Mother and Great Church of Christ proudly honors some of Her most worthy children, whose generosity extends not only to Her but to her weakest and most needy members.

The Holy Church of Christ, our True God Who was born and made manifest in the flesh, possesses countless opportunities to preach the Truth - that all of us who are baptized in the Name of the All-Holy Trinity are spiritual brethren and what is more, members of the Body of Christ. And this is because all of us have been spiritually born from the same "delphus" which means a mother's womb. Hence the "adelphia" are those born from the same womb, which in this case is the Holy Baptismal Font.

Therefore, as we gather today in this time of festive joy, let us allow this Service of the Vasilopita to refresh our sense of brother- and sisterhood in Christ. Let us exchange heartfelt prayers that this New Year may be fruitful and blessed for everyone. Let the year be replete with works of love for the brethren, filled with health, love, peace and joy.

This time, Brothers and Sisters, this "chronos", if I might use the Greek word, what indeed is it? Is it not the span of life in which God graces us, time for us to conduct ourselves with sacrifice, with generosity, with love for our fellow human being and love for God. Thus, when we have successfully met the challenges of this life, God will reward us with Eternal Life!

The Greek word, "kairos" shares a common root with the Greek word "chronos." Philologists state that the root is "ker," -- kappa, ita, rho. The root word has a nuance, a meaning of corruption. Both words share this meaning, that time, either word, "kairos" or "chronos", leads us inexorably one step closer to corruption, closer to the physical death of the body. Saint Paul, understanding the dizzying descent of the human being through the passing of corruptible time calls us to redeem the time (Eph. 5:16). Therefore, we ought to exhaust every moment of our presence on this earth, so that if we find ourselves in the midst of festivity, we might spend ourselves on those things that are good and needful, before our departure hence.

Let us then spend ourselves in this moment, doing and acting those very things now that are expedient for the future. Because in the future life. All our worldly goods shall benefit us nothing. Before the Throne of the Righteous Judge, only good deeds and the virtues of Gospel abide.

Beloved and precious Children in the Lord, all you who are present today, through the abundance of your generous acts, each of you has supported and continues to support our witness-bearing and crucified Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Holy Mother and Great Church of Christ is fundamentally a spiritual institution. But She is also a human institution, for she ministers to the human family from one end of the world to the other.

For this cause, we express our deepest thanks to all of you, for each one of you, in accordance with your own strength and resources, and united with us through prayer and good works unto the fulfillment of the goals of our Venerable Ecumenical Patriarchate. As the Holy Scripture says: "He who is merciful to a poor man lends to God" (Proverbs 19:17).

My spiritual children, blessed of God, may the All Good One increase and multiply your material blessings making you fruitful with virtues, that you may possess every sufficiency and abound in every good work. And may you and your beloved families be partakers of the sweetness of Paradise, and enjoy the rich and incorruptible grace of Heaven.

May the Saintly Basil the Great, that lover of mercy, be your guardian and protector this New Year of 2006.

Unto many, blessed, fruitful years filled with the love of God. Amen!

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