The memory of the Three Hierarchs was celebrated with great splendor on Tuesday, January 30, 2024, at the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
In his address, the Ecumenical Patriarch referred to the Three Hierarchs of the Church and their contribution, stating: “The life and the theological, ecclesiastical and social work of the Three Hierarchs is admirable and beyond human measure. We admire them for their total devotion to Christ and the service of His Holy Church, for their theological education, for their unyielding fight against heresy, for their contribution to literature and culture, for their contribution to the fusion of Hellenism and Christianity, for their charitable and social activities, for their lively interest in youth, in its true progress and advancement”.
The Ecumenical Patriarch underlined that “the greatest honor for the Three Hierarchs is to highlight their spiritual and cultural heritage in the modern world” and referred to the importance of today’s celebration, emphasizing that “it is an opportunity to highlight their contribution to literature, at a time when education has become a field of constant reform and endless experiments, due to social developments and, more recently, due to technological achievements that directly affect the field of education”.
In another part of his speech, he described the education of the new generation as a persistent problem. “To the inherent difficulties of pedagogical work are added today new historical and occasional difficulties. The dizzying pace of change, the widening gap between generations, the disintegration of values, the spectacular progress of science and the technological revolution, the “information society” and artificial intelligence, all confront education with unprecedented problems. Radical changes are being imposed with a sense of inevitability. The refusal to adapt oneself to these developments is a condemnation to marginalization, if not to oblivion.
Today it is impossible to talk about the future of education without referring to the role of new technologies and the decisive breakthrough they represent for our present and our future. Technology has a catalytic effect on our social relations, our work, our private and everyday life, our psyche and our moral sense, our entire culture…It is written that our experience of how technology is transforming and shaping our world to an unprecedented degree justifies the warning that “for the coming years, the message is clear: “You ain’t seen nothing yet”.
The Ecumenical Patriarch referred to the potential contribution of the Orthodox tradition to contemporary educational challenges. “Given that the future of human education will be a future of constant struggle for its identity, our Orthodox tradition is called to contribute, as it has done in the past and continues to do today. Of course, in the spiritual treasury of Orthodoxy, there are no ready answers and solutions to the contemporary problems of education. But there are the basic principles, fundamental values, and theological criteria upon which solutions to contemporary educational challenges can be built. Here we have an inexhaustible source from which we can draw inspiration and direction for our efforts. Certainly, fidelity to Tradition does not imply “museum-like fossilization.” The great Fathers of the Church engaged with their times and managed to influence and shape culture.
Addressing the attending students of Athoniada and of the Greek community schools, as well as all young people, the Ecumenical Patriarch said “In the face of the dominance of economy and machinery, the Patriarch urges you: Resist objectified life and the instrumentalization of the human person. Orienting towards oneself and satisfying individual needs leads to the contraction of our existence. Then, like King Midas, a person turns everything they touch into lifeless and cold objects. Share life, and have love, without which, as the Apostle Paul says, a person self-destructs. If I have no love, “I am nothing,” says the Apostle to the Nations (1 Cor. 13:2). Saint John Chrysostom adds, condemning the “non-culture” of possessing: “For where there is “mine” and “yours”, there lies every idea of conflict and rivalry” (PG 53, 309). Only by following God’s commandments can a person develop their creative forces in their worldly life. True progress is never achieved without respect for spiritual values, anywhere and at any time. These truths embody and express the spirit of the Three Hierarchs, whom we thank for what they truthfully and commendably taught us.
Previously, speeches were addressed by the Deputy Minister of Education and Religious Affairs of Greece, Zetta Makri, and the President of the Patriarchal Great School of the Nation Alumni Association, Pantelis Panagiotidis.
Earlier, the Ecumenical Patriarch presided over the Divine Liturgy held at the Patriarchal Church of St. George, accompanied by the Metropolitans Emmanuel of Chalcedon, Apostle of Derkoi, Eirinaios of Myriophyton and Peristasis, Stefanos of Kallioupolis and Madytos, Athenagoras of Kydonia, Maximos of Selyvria, Andreas of Saranta Ekklisies, and Joachim of Bursa.
The festive speech of the day was delivered by Metropolitan Theodore of Selefkia, Professor of the Patriarchal Higher Ecclesiastical Academy of Crete.
After the Divine Liturgy, the Ecumenical Patriarch performed a Trisagion for the repose of the souls of the ever-memorable Founders, Benefactors, Trustees, Deans, Professors, Teachers, Supervisors, and students of the Great School of the Nation.
Photos: Nikos Papachristou
Translated by Ioanna Georgakopoulou