By Archbishop Anastasios of Albania*
Their belief was ardent, overcoming the impossible with the power of God was burning the souls of the fighters of 1821.
It is characteristic and symbolic that they chose to start the Greek uprising on the feast of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, the announcement of the Incarnation of the Son and Word of God, which assures that “for with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37).
The uneven and hard struggle was also imbued by bravery, generosity, philanthropy, heroism, self-sacrifice, these virtues that the Christian faith has instilled in the souls of slaves through the centuries.
Usually, when it comes to the Church’s contribution to the struggle, attention is limited to the participation of its leaders in the national uprising. Indeed, it is historically certain that out of the 200 archpriests in the Ottoman Empire, 73 hierarchs took an active part in the struggle.
The number of presbyters and deacons was similar. In general, however, all those who fought were members of the Church, ready to sacrifice their lives “for their holy faith in Christ and the freedom of the homeland.”
During the four hundred years of the Ottoman rule, the Church comforted the people in the cities and villages, strengthened them in various ways, teaching, traditions, hymnology, worship.
Especially with the feasts of the Passion, the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ, the Church nurtured the “virtue and courage,” patience, solidarity, love, hope, the spirit of sacrifice, influencing, I would dare say, the DNA, the thought and the consciousness of the people that one day what they “desired,” the resurrection, would come.
At the same time, however, let us not forget that during the Revolution there were also the dark sides that compromised independence: the selfishness that put the ego before collectivity, the stubbornness, the envy, the “the perfidious disunity,” in a word, egocentrism, which poisoned and often destroyed important achievements.
In the 200 years of freedom, virtues and passions have often gone hand in hand with disastrous consequences.
For the history of peoples, the struggle for freedom continues under new conditions: liberation from various forms of injustice, fraud, illusions and the tendencies of division with its various mutations.
An essential celebration of the great anniversary of Liberation, then, will be to decide to renew our enthusiasm; so by the inspiration and power of God, we can overcome what seems to be humanly impossible, that is, to liberate ourselves from the passions, to cure our weakness, and to strengthen the unity, accord and creativity for the sake of the homeland.
*The article was originally published in the newspaper “Kathimerini”