Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, as part of his official visit to the Patriarchate of Antioch, which ends today, presided over the service of the Great Compline, on Wednesday, at the Balamand Monastery in Lebanon.
After the end of the service, Patriarch John X of Antioch and All East thanked the Archbishop of Athens and the members of his entourage for their presence in the area.
“This mountain of Balamand is an oasis of teaching, a spiritual oasis for our entire Patriarchate”, said Patriarch Ioannis during his address to Archbishop Ieronymos. “Here in this monastery, since 1832, priests are being prepared for our Patriarchate. Since then the priestly school of the Patriarchate of Antioch was here in this monastery. And then, year after year, this school ended up becoming the Theological School of Saint John of Damascus. And then the blessed Patriarch Ignatius, who was the abbot of this monastery, got permission from the state and founded the university of Balamad”, he said characteristically.
“Today you bless this whole place, the University, the Theological Faculty, the school, and all the institutions of Balamand and you bless not only the students, not only the workers in these institutions only, but also these faithful people who are standing and praying today with us”, noted the Patriarch of Antioch.
We are an Orthodox Church with the Church of Greece, and our relationship with the Church of Greece is historical. That is why His Holiness gave this approval to gather humanitarian aid to help the earthquake victims in the area.
That is why his presence here today and yesterday in Damascus expresses the love of the Church of Greece, the Greek state, and the Greek people toward the Church in Syria.
For this Blessed Holy Brother, we thank you for this visit and on behalf of all the Hierarchs of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Antioch and all the Bishops of our Apostolic Throne and on behalf of the faithful people of our Patriarchate, we thank you very much, and please convey our love and appreciation to the Church of Greece and the Greek people”.
For his part, Archbishop Ieronymos emphasized that he will convey the wishes of the Patriarch to the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece. “My entourage and I have not been near you for a long time, two days or so, but I think there was such an internal upheaval that these days will be written in our souls”, underlined the Archbishop.
And he continued by saying: “when these earthquakes happened that afflicted all of you in this region, you should also have another image, the image of Greece, that the people shocked, motivated by our Church, the Holy Synod of our Church, the Priests, the people, the world, the authorities, the state, mobilized all their strength to show that we are by your side”.
“In the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, which will convey the experiences of this visit, we will especially emphasize that you understood our soul, and our relationships, you inspired us, you gave us a lot of courage and we leave loaded with these feelings that are all covered by his love God”, Archbishop Ieronymos continued.
“I will conclude my speech with an image and I want it to be the most dominant of our visit. In the agricultural regions, in the places where the waters run from the mountain to the plains, if we do not curb this water and let it flow in whatever way it finds, not only does the land not produce fruit in the passage of this water flow, but is damaged.
We could compare the rush of the waters of this water, the excitement, to the excitement of the children who are here and will assume a great role in the Churches tomorrow.
But in order for the current waters to yield enthusiasm, they need channels, they need spaces that will take this water and direct it to good and responsible situations.
Here, in your Patriarchate, we found that the enthusiasm is great and the faith is strong but you, the Shepherd of the Church of Antioch, manage with these works the enthusiasm and faith of the faithful to direct them to where it will lead fruits.
There are many suggestions, and prompts, on how to move forward. I would like to say as I leave with my entourage that we need the enthusiasm of the people, the children, and the faith of our believers, but we also need those channels, those works that will help to bring to fruition what we are waiting for.
We will convey these feelings and these thoughts to the Church of Greece. We will also express our thanks from there, but above all, we will emphasize that we left your province, from your Patriarchate, much richer and more cultured from what we experienced by your side these days”.