Sunday, July 21, 2024

Archbishop of America: This is your Spiritual Home created by first Greeks here in Danbury

Archbishop Elpidophoros of America delivered a homily at the Divine Liturgy of Consecration at the Assumption of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Church, Danbury, Connecticut, on October 1, 2023.

The Archbishop addressed all those present and said that this was their Spiritual Home, incarnated through their labors and “through the generous acts of giving and kindness that were commenced by the first Greeks here in Danbury”.

“You have certainly advanced as a community of believers,” he stressed.

Then, the Archbishop said: “Under the watchful gaze of your loving priests, you have indeed journeyed far as a community of Greek Orthodox Christians.”

“And this House of the Lord, consecrated to the worship of the One True God Who is worshipped in Holy Trinity, will abide for the generations to come, who have yet to be born. Your sacrifices, which have made this truly sublime edifice a reality, will reap harvests that none of us alive to today can even imagine,” he pointed out.

Finally, the Archbishop wished: “And may the Lord, through the intercessions of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary – whose Holy Dormition and Assumption you honor – always bestow upon you, your families, and loved ones, His Heavenly benediction and the grace of this Consecration – from this day forward, and unto the ages of ages.”

Read the full homily of Archbishop Elpidophoros of America:

When the Holy Prophet and King Solomon – a direct ancestor of our Lord Jesus Christ – completed the building of the Temple in Jerusalem, he stood before the magnificent structure on Temple Mount, and uttered these words:

Εἰ ἀληθῶς κατοικήσει θεὸς μετὰ ἀνθρώπων ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς; Εἰ ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ὁ οὐρανὸς τοῦ οὐρανοῦ οὐκ ἀρκέσουσίν σοι καὶ τίς ὁ οἶκος οὗτος ὃν ᾠκοδόμησα.

But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You; how much less this house which I have built! *

Such was the astonishment of King Solomon, the Great and Wise, as he considered how God could ever be contained, even in the grand and palatial Temple he had built for His Glory.

Yet now, as we gaze into the Apse of this magnificent Temple, and we see the icon of the Virgin – and all the other icons that we have chrismated with the Precious Myron that comes from the Mother Church of Constantinople – we see her outstretched arms that encompass us all. She is Πλατυτέρα τῶν Οὐρανῶν, the “One Who is More Spacious than the Heavens,” for God willed to dwell within her ever-virgin womb, as we chant on the Feast of Her Κοίμησις: “ὁ μήτραν οἰκήσας ἀειπάρθενον.”† And because God dwelt within her, and made of her body a Temple for His Incarnate Tabernacle, our Lord Jesus Christ, we behold in this Temple that we have consecrated this day, a living Tabernacle, the place where God lives and meets His People.

This is your Spiritual Home, incarnated through your labors and through the generous acts of giving and kindness that were commenced by the first Greeks here in Danbury, and have been perfected by you. They named their first, small institution, which was a School, “Πρόοδος,” a loaded word in the original Greek. Yes, it was “progress” for this young community of Greek immigrants, but it was so much more, for there is straight line that leads to this very day.

“Πρόοδος” also means “advancement,” and you have certainly advanced as a community of believers. It also means “procession,” and every liturgical procession – whether on the Feasts of the Church or during Holy Week – are manifestations of the hopes of the founders of “Πρόοδος.”

It can even mean “emanation,” and this is most appropriate, because the flow of this community through time has been a stream of living spiritual journeys, that now culminate on the happy day of this Consecration.

Moses built the first Tabernacle to the Living God in the Deserts of Sinai. And this Sacred Tent, the Σκηνή τῆς Δόξης τοῦ Κυρίου, journeyed through many centuries, until Solomon secured it upon Mount Moriah and raised up the First Temple.

This precious community of Assumption has also journeyed. You have traveled for generations, carried by your forefathers and foremothers, and ministered to by the Priests of the Karloutsos Family for more than half of your eighty-five year history. This Levitical Family – as they are most worthily called, is an awesome blessing to all of you and to the Church, especially Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Throne, Peter. He is not only the son of the late and blesséd Father Michael and Presvytera Olga, and father of your current priest, Father Nikoloas, but is also the brother to the remarkable Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Throne, Alexander – whom we all know as “Fr. Alex,” has had an amazing ministry to our National Church, and his own Κοίμησις parish in Southampton, New York.

Under the watchful gaze of your loving priests, you have indeed journeyed far as a community of Greek Orthodox Christians. And now you have arrived at your own Temple Mount, where, like Solomon, you constructed this magnificent edifice, which has been consecrated unto eternity unto the glory of God for all eternity.

Our prayers today bring full circle all those who have come before you, and we honor their sacrifices. Now, the achievement of this Consecration has taken place before your eyes. Relics have been enshrined in the Holy Altar. Icons received Holy Chrism. Prayer and praise are filling the House of the Lord, and we can answer the question posed by Solomon so many centuries ago:But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth?Indeed, my beloved Christians – the answer is a resounding “Yes!” The Lord is with us; God is with us – Μεθ’ ἡμῶν ὁ Θεός.

And this House of the Lord, consecrated to the worship of the One True God Who is worshipped in Holy Trinity, will abide for the generations to come, who have yet to be born. Your sacrifices, which have made this truly sublime edifice a reality, will reap harvests that none of us alive to today can even imagine. There will be many sacraments, many candles to light and many prayers piously offered. There will be moments of joy and sorrow, and gatherings of community and fellowship.

And in all of your endeavors, God will be with you. That is the essence of this Consecration today. May you never forget what you have seen and heard this day. May you always cherish this special blessing.

And may the Lord, through the intercessions of the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary – whose Holy Dormition and Assumption you honor – always bestow upon you, your families, and loved ones, His Heavenly benediction and the grace of this Consecration – from this day forward, and unto the ages of ages. Amen!

* II Chronicles 6:18.

† Kontakion of the Feast of the Dormition.

Photos: Yannis Malevitis

Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

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