CONSTANTINOPLE – His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in his sermon during the feast of St. Paraskevi in the Pikridi neighborhood said that “the Orthodox Christians of Constantinople whoever we are, whatever we are, we are a family.”
The Patriarch said that, “the Great Virgin-Martyr Saint Paraskevi, who is especially revered by devout Christians not only in Constantinople, but also in Romania, became – along with the later Saint Paraskevi Epivatini – a link between the Mother Church of Constantinople with the Romanian faithful here.”
The church of St. Paraskevi has been granted by the Patriarchate to serve the Romanian-speaking community of Constantinople.
The Patriarch emphasized that “the normal tradition of the Orthodox Church stipulates that in every city there should be only one ruling Bishop, who is the spiritual father of all the faithful, of all the Orthodox who live in this city, regardless of ethnic origin.” He continued saying that “consistent adherents of the Orthodox canonical order and ecclesiology, all of us Orthodox Christians of Constantinople, whoever we are, whatever we are, we are a family, which is under the Archbishop of Constantinople, the Shepherd of the Romans, Romanians, Russians, Ukrainians, Georgians here. You are all beloved children of your Ecumenical Patriarch.”
He also said that “in the middle of the heat of summer, the feast of Saint Paraskevi comes ‘as the dew of Hermon’ to offer refreshment and to be added to the chorus of the feasts of all those Holy Women, whose memory we celebrated during the current month of July. And they are many, about twenty, so that it is possible to call July ‘the month of the Holy Women,’ from whose life and spiritual effort we are taught what can be accomplished by Christian women, when their hearts are full of warmth and living faith in Christ and sincere love of neighbor. As some of them bore witness to Christ, others acted in the mission field and others became educators in Christ, inspiring and founding virtuous institutions and reforming society in the spirit of Christ. In the same way, modern Christian women, according to the conditions, requirements and needs of our time, can offer a great deal in the fields of ecclesiastical education, charity, and social solidarity.”
The Ecumenical Patriarch then referred to the life of Saint Paraskevi, saying:
“The life of the celebrated Saint Paraskevi is not only a shining example for women, but for each of us. In the New Testament, expressions are often found that characterize our lives as a race and a struggle, and remind us of the duty of spiritual effort, of struggle, of competition. Our goal is the Lord and eternal life in Him: ‘Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
“And the reward for those who exercise well is the crown of righteousness, which the righteous Lord will render on that day.
“It is not a coincidence that the holy hymn writer in the ‘apolytikion’ of Saint Paraskevi uses two expressions, ‘readiness’ and the name ‘champion,’ to show that this saint labored rightfully and well, since she was crowned and has been honored for centuries now, by all generations of Christians.
“If athletes who compete in the Olympics, such as these days in Tokyo, compete so diligently to win a gold medal, you realize, much-beloved children, how much greater should be our own zeal and how much higher our own determination to run the race, in order to win the praise and the crown of God himself.
“Saint Paraskevi with her life enables us to live and know the mystery of the infinite love of God, Who in every moment, in all of our pain, fear and need, comes as our helper and supporter. This love of God is shown by the fact that we are here today and we perform the bloodless divine worship, here in this place of our ancestors, where for centuries God has been glorified and Saint Paraskevi has been honored.”
Afterwards, the Honorable Gherman Iulian, Consul of Romania in the City, spoke. Present in the church were the God-loving Bishops Irineos of Rigi and Maximos of Melitini. The sermon was preached by the Patriarchal Deacon Oikumenios Amanatidis.