Your Eminence, beloved brother in Christ,
Archbishop Spyridon of America,
Your Grace, beloved brother in Christ,
Bishop Anthony of San Francisco,
Beloved children in the Lord,
Earlier today, we had the privilege of visiting the beautiful city of Santa Barbara. It was an opportunity for spiritual reflection, attending the environmental symposium and a sacred doxology. Tonight, we have the pleasure of rejoicing in all of you, and the opportunity to exchange greetings and felicitations, here at this wonderful banquet that you have so lovingly prepared.
We spoke in Santa Barbara of the creation as the gift of God to humanity. And we receive the delicacies you have prepared and set forth at this feast as another gift of the Lord’s abundance. We give thanks to God for all of these material and spiritual blessings, for this joyous visit to California. Therefore we glorify the Lord and we express our deepest thanks from the depths of our heart.
The natural beauty of this extraordinary landscape demonstrates the Lord’s majesty. My beloved children, you are richly blessed to live in so beautiful an environment. We acknowledge with pride and joy, the commitment that our Orthodox Communities have made to the well being of the environment. The fellowship between God’s creation and you, His beautiful children, is a sign of the Lord’s presence in our midst. We exhort you with a father’s love, to cherish this wonderful gift of God.
Tonight we bless, give thanks and rejoice for the bread which strengthens and the wine which gladdens our hearts. We embrace one another in Christian fellowship. We celebrate the Greek Orthodox Community of Los Angeles and her many activities and accomplishments. We are strengthened in the ministry we conduct in our own City, when we see the love and devotion you have for the Mother Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
We have seen the large numbers of faithful Orthodox Christians who live on the shores of this Pacific Ocean, in this, the City of Angels. You have confirmed once again, our faith in your love, for we behold your struggles to fight the good fight. Your dedication to the Church is proof of the power of a life in Christ. We witness how you have carefully preserved your unbreakable bonds with the Mother Church and the pure traditions of our pious people. Your faith not only encourages us as we continue our struggles in our own City, but you are an inspiration for Orthodox Christians throughout the oikoumene. For this, we heartily thank and bless you all.
As we consider your life in the contemporary secular culture, we recognize the many temptations that you face, which are often in conflict with our Greek Orthodox beliefs. We urge you to stand fast in the faith, in the traditions of your spiritual ancestors. Remember the martyrs, who spared not even their own bodies in their love for Christ and His Holy Church. Our task is to keep the treasure of our Orthodox Faith pure and untainted for future generations. We are called to be a light unto the whole world. Let the light of your faith shine for all of your neighbors, that they may see your good works, and glorify the Heavenly Father. As you strive to live such a life, we assure you, as your spiritual father, of our prayers and support. You have not only our prayers, but the prayers of all the faithful members of the Mother Church.
In closing, we pray that our Lord, through the intercessions of His All-Holy Mother the Theotokos, may grant unto you his mercies and compassion. May He guide this Holy Flock in the spiritual contest. May He direct you in his ways of salvation. And so, we lift our cup to your health and length of days, blessing all of you, our most beloved spiritual children in the Lord.
May His grace and infinite mercy be with you all. Amen.