Every Divine Liturgy is a synopsis of the Life of Christ. A synopsis that is not symbolic but real. What we have seen, what we have touched, we receive it. It is the Body of Jesus Christ. Thus, through the Divine Liturgy, we participate in the Life of Christ, which for all of us is called Church Life, while partaking of the Body and the Blood of the Lord, we are integral members of the heavenly One, Holy, Indivisible, Catholic Orthodox Church.
The earthly Life of Christ ends with His promise to the Apostles to go to the ends of the world to preach the Gospel to all nations baptizing them in the name of the Holy Trinity. At the dismissal of the Eucharist Gathering Rite, the last words of the priest give us “Blessing of the Lord and Mercy”, since we have tasted the Heavenly Bread. We come out of the Church filled with the overflowing blessing of God, undeniable witnesses to His Mercy.
It is the “Blessing of the Lord and Mercy” that we carry on with the Mission to our African brothers. We came to their hospitable land and established local Churches by the Grace of God and with the support of the Greek brothers so that the Holy Spirit comes down and enlightens this thirsty for Eternal Life land and the Light of Truth shines for every man who comes into this world whether that place be Greece, Russia, Ecuador, the distant countries of Congo-Brazzaville and Gabon, Central and West – Equatorial Africa…
There is no Orthodox church in the center of Congo-Brazzaville. Yet, the state has already offered a large plot of land to the Orthodox Diocese, requesting in the most formal way the establishment of a place of worship of the Triune God! “Come over into Macedonia and help us!” Brothers, help build a Church, ring other orthodox bells on the continent of the future and dissolve evil darkness. “Let the light of Christ shine before men so that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”!
A similar problem exists in Gabon, even though Orthodoxy was officially recognized there a year ago, an act necessary for our Church to operate freely in that place. The absence of a sacred church prevents the establishment of an Orthodox parish community, which will be the nucleus for spreading the message of the Resurrection across this country. Gabon is particularly plagued by emerging religious movements and neo-Protestant organizations of American origin, by heresy and fallacy, by superstition and fears cultivated by the spiritual leaders of traditional religions with the aim of manipulating people through their subjugation to them. The necessity of establishing an Orthodox parish in the country of Gabon raises a spiritual alarm for everyone. Without the worship of God, everything is done in vain, precisely because every work has value when it is sanctified. Besides, from the earliest Christian years we see that the place of worship of the Triune God and the celebration of the Divine Liturgy was a fixed point of reference among early Christians. It was in those holy places that the Apostles performed the Divine Liturgy and the faithful communion partook of the Body and Blood of Christ. This is the heritage of Orthodoxy.
If the purpose of the Church is the sanctification of man, then there are roads that lead to it, which our Lord Himself has inaugurated. Therefore, no one can claim that he was saved by Christ, that he is in the Church, that he has lived his personal resurrection, and turn his back on those whom Christ called the least of His brothers. The more humble one is in this world, the more elevated he is in the eyes of God, and this is something that the Church of Christ never forgets. If the purpose of the Church is the sanctification of man, then the path to sanctification is the healing of the fellow human being who is suffering. “Church” cannot possibly be understood without practical love!
The protection and care of orphans is not alien to Orthodox tradition. From the age of the Holy Apostles and the later period of the Great Fathers of our Church to this day, the Church of Christ has covered spiritually as well as materially the children without a family not only by helping them survive, but by bringing them up with spiritual values so as to make them useful Christian citizens in the society, equal to the rest.
This is the Church tradition, which we, the contemporary, cannot possibly leave in oblivion. Since 2007, when with the blessing of our Patriarch Theodore II the “Saint Eustathius” Orthodox Orphanage opened its doors, it has embraced “the little brothers of Jesus”, children without a family, becoming itself a large orthodox family so that these children grow up like all the rest of the world, with safety, proper nutrition, orthodox upbringing, equal education, decent living.
It is said that “the soul of a man is more valuable than the whole world.” This is the worldview of our Holy Church. Thus, she stands separately to each one since she is responsible for the Salvation of everyone. I appeal to your loving heart for help, brothers! The joy on our children’s faces is the greatest promise that the word of Savior Christ on this land bears fruit. We are all responsible for this joy and the continuity of the great work that is taking place. Let us struggle on this road, aiming not at the earthly but at the heavenly.
After all, the Homeland is one and the same for all of us. This is theso-called heavenly Jerusalem, which the Lord promised to us. Indeed, on world maps the Congo and Gabon are quite far away from us. And yet, Christ brought us all together, made us a family. How can I watch my brother suffering without feeling for him since we are parts of the same Body? Let us respond to this question through the attitude we are going to observe in life.
† Panteleimon of Brazzaville and Gabon