We often celebrate anniversaries. There are understandably many types of anniversaries for us to commemorate throughout the year, and this can often be a worthwhile custom and practice in society. In the month of October, we are called to celebrate the anniversary of ‘OXI,’ which literally marks the ‘NO’ that Greece provided as an answer to the ultimatum of the Axis forces to be allowed to enter Greece in 1940.
Here in Canada, we would always celebrate ‘OXI’ day. We would do so with liturgies, doxologies, school celebrations, commemorative speeches, dinners, and reception banquets. Of course, during the period of the coronavirus pandemic, we were not able to organize such activities. This year however, it is time to make plans for such events as best we can, and with as much enthusiasm as possible. We need to do this. This is what is required in order to justly honour our homeland and the heroes of the Second World War. We ask everyone to fulfill this sacred duty as comprehensively as possible.
All this is good and beneficial because we live in an era where our Greek homeland faces so many perils. Positively reinforcing the national sentiment has become essential. We must all be on the ramparts, that is on the front line of our defensive fortifications. But Greece’s fortifications are not only located on its geographical borders.
Greece, Orthodoxy, and Hellenism need to be defended throughout the world. In addition, they also need to be preserved and guarded within each person identifying as Greek Orthodox. In order to protect our homeland and heritage, we must first look within ourselves, within our own minds, our own hearts, our own thoughts, our own feelings. We must succeed in completely exercising control over our minds, our thoughts, our feelings, the inner desires of our hearts. We will defend our homeland and faith not by superficially celebrating the national holiday, or by having fun and enjoying ourselves as much as possible. We will truly stand on guard for Greece and our faith only when we are able to experience the true and deeper meaning of the holiday, for us and those around us.
The deeper meaning of ‘OXI’ Day is to not give up on our ideals. It is to preserve our freedom at all costs. To maintain our national, religious, and individual freedom. To preserve that freedom that makes us who we are, that makes us human persons, and distinguishes us from the animal kingdom. Our freedom makes us feel equal to everyone in society. And while we respect the heritage of others as well as their freedom, we do not compromise our own heritage and freedom.
Let us try to make all this as clear as possible for everyone to understand. Practically speaking, celebrating ‘OXI’ Day means, wherever we are, to remain Greek Orthodox and to become better every day. To become persons, as Christ wants us to be. To speak Greek everywhere and especially at home. To support the rights of Greece, not once a year on a national holiday, but every day of our life. To live an Orthodox life, not at Christmas and Easter, but every hour of our life. To become a singular example of an honest citizen and an Orthodox Christian for all to see. To say ‘No’ to every temptation that seeks to unsettle us. To always act positively and never negatively. To be good and never bad. To do what is just and never what is unjust.
Let us commemorate the national holiday with all our heart and soul. Let us celebrate every such anniversary, but think about its deeper meaning. Especially on the anniversary of ‘OXI’ Day, let us think about Greece and Orthodoxy. Let us keep in mind what we said above and try to apply as much of it as we can. Let us make every effort for Greece and Orthodoxy to always permeate our thoughts and actions.