This year, we celebrate again – with various events in our churches and schools – the memory of the Three Great Hierarchs and Ecumenical Teachers, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom, who were at their apex in the firmament of the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church during the fourth century and at the beginning of the fifth.
Although many centuries have passed since then, nevertheless their life, thought, ethos and faith in the One True God and the “one He has sent forth, Jesus Christ” are still topical. They speak to us within our soul and our being, because their works, their theology, their footsteps and their actions have indelibly made their mark on culture, both Christian and beyond. The great Fathers of the Church have pointed out that Man, i.e. the human being, is at the centre of Creation. Man who was created “in the image and likeness” of God for whose sake Our Lord Jesus Christ bore flesh, became a man Himself, preached the Gospel of God’s charity and love for humankind, and through His sacrifice on the Cross has sealed this Love, redeemed Man from the curse of the Law, and restored him to the Kingdom of God. The Fathers of the Church placed great importance on teachings about the redemption of the human race, through Christ, as the Great and Eternal High Priest, who saves the human race though his blood filled sacrifice. The Fathers organized Divine Worship and identified it with the Church of Christ. The Church whom Hades cannot conquer, for Christ has conquered Hades and illumined the whole world with the light and the victory of His Resurrection from the Dead. For this reason, faith in Christ, unceasing prayer, participation in the Mystery of the Divine Eucharist existentially unites Man with Christ, as Saviour and Redeemer and Benefactor of the human race.
The very epicentre of the Three Hierarchs’ teaching was the Gospel, and the Holy Scriptures, both the Old and the New Testament. Through the centuries this has been the spiritual food, which like Manna from heaven was offered by Christ as the Divine Law on which people found the road to justice, friendship, love and communion between themselves and with God who is worshipped and glorified in Trinity. That is why, the teachings and faith of the Great Fathers of the Church have Man at their very centre – as a steward of Creation – but also constantly remind Man of heaven, of the heavenly and eternal Kingdom of God, which was made for all those remain faithful to the Gospel of Salvation; which Christ, who descended from heaven, brought down as an eternal and perfect gift to lead us from earth to the heavens. This is why the Great Fathers and Teachers of the Church, whose long-standing memory we celebrate today, have endured as everlasting models of the Orthodox Faith. They are true fighters for virtue and righteousness. They are guiding lights and teachers of the rich and poor, the weak, sinners, and modest and humble people of every age and class, who have experienced the mystery of salvation in Christ. Even as children they have given their life over, both this present life and the eternal one, imitating Christ as the Teacher and Paedagogue and Physician of our souls and bodies and of the Human Race until the end of the world.
This year we celebrate again the memory of Three Holy Hierarchs and all the Fathers and Teachers of the Church and we call upon their sacred intercessions, not only for the salvation of our souls, but also to enlighten our youth, our children, our families, mothers and fathers, who bear the burden of bringing up children and their development according to God. Clergy and laity, together with teachers, both men and women, are called to impart the timeless messages of Christianity, the virtue of the Saints and their lessons for us about the reconciliation of the Human Race, peace for the whole world, and respect for the human person. We join our prayer together with that of the Three Hierarchs for the prevalence of the Kingdom of God, on earth as it is in heaven, in honour and glory of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and always and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
London, January 2018
Archbishop of Thyateira
and Great Britain Gregorios