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We are called to pray and support our Church fathers as they gather for the historic Holy and Great Council this week. Please note that the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Press Office website, www.orthodoxcouncil.org, has updated information on some of the questions that have been appearing in news media and on social media. We are also happy to share this article from Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis, director of the press office for the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
MANY MEMBERS, ONE BODY
Fr. John Chryssavgis
“Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ . . . The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ . . . Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” That is the image advanced by St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12, where he develops the concept of many gifts showered by the Holy Spirit on the church as the body of Christ.
Perhaps the best analogy for the contemporary context of the Churches as they anticipate the convocation of the Holy and Great Council in just a few days is the image of estranged members of a family. When family members have been isolated for a long time – in the case of the autocephalous Orthodox Churches, for entire centuries – it is natural for fear and uncertainty to overshadow the possibility of conversation. The Holy and Great Council provides a unique moment and opportunity for such an encounter and conversation among the Orthodox sister churches.
It is important to remember that so much has already taken place in the fifty years of planning and preparation for the Holy and Great Council. In fact, were it not for this objective, we Orthodox would not even have imagined that we should assemble and talk together. Part of allowing the breath of God and Holy Spirit to blow where it wills involves letting go of our own interests and concerns in faith and trust. Then we are assured that the word of God and freedom of the Spirit will prevail. And when that happens, the bishops of our Church can truly confess: “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.” Then the whole world will stoop to listen to what they have to say.
By convening the Holy and Great Council, the primates and bishops of the Orthodox Churches are saying, to quote Archbishop Anastasios of Albania at the 6th Synaxis, in January 2016: “We care about the suffering in the world. We are not silent before the pain of our people. And we have a word of hope and light to convey to the world.”
More information on the Holy and Great Council
For more information on the Holy and Great Council go to the official website holycouncil.org. You can also visit the Ecumenical Patriarchate Press Office at www.orthodoxcouncil.org.
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