2018 SYNOD OF BISHOPS ON YOUNG PEOPLE
ADDRESS OF HIS EMINENCE NIKITAS
Metropolitan of Dardanelles (United States of America)
I am most pleased to be present and participate in this important gathering, as the Fraternal Delegate of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and to serve as the personal representative of His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. I come to bring the embrace of solidarity from the Church of the New Rome to the elder sister of the Old Rome, as the Holy Father, the Holy See, her ordained and lay ministers, and the invited guests, discuss and debate the challenges facing young people, especially in their relationships to Christ, His Church, and their callings.
The noted author Robert Payne writes the following in his book The Holy Fire, when writing about the Church and her Saints in the late Byzantine period – “Religions are like men: they grow old and die unless the seed perishes and is born again. There was need of a new wind, a wave of freshness, a sudden flare of the spirit. . . There was need once more of a simple faith, as simple as the prayer of an old peasant in his dying days.” It is, perhaps, this same message that the universal Church needs to hear, especially in these days and times, when young people are in need of the refreshing and healing power of the Holy Spirit. It is a time when many of the values and expressions of the past have lost their meaning and seem to be disappearing with each generation. It is a time when church and religious leaders must find the way to present the truth, love, and forgiveness of Christ without the rigid formulas, intricate lines, and well-developed restrictions that seemed to have meaning centuries ago. We live in a day and time when we, Church leaders, must take risks, explore new avenues, dispel fear from our hearts, and make the Gospel message real and alive – a message that touches the heart and not just the mind.
We live in times when spiritual soldiers are needed, individuals who can continue the centuries-old battle against evil and sin, using new means, models and contemporary language. It is a time when the old wine of Truth must be poured into the new skins of a changing world. The Church is need of young people who will join the ranks of clergy and various religious orders, women and men who can and will take up their crosses and follow Christ and help guide others to the Kingdom of God.
To be a minister of the Lord, as a priest, a monastic, a simple person, is not an abstract or mysterious appointment; rather, is a consecration with a commission and commitment to serve God and His creation and, especially, “the other”. And while there are various charismata, diverse gifts, and different ministries, the same God calls, invites, consecrates and appoints each and every one in a special manner for the building of the body of Christ, His holy Church, and fullness of His creation.
We live in a world of pain and sorrow and the only solution and answer is the unconditional love of God. Workers and laborers are needed, who can go out and share the healing message of the Resurrection of Christ. May this noble and scared gathering help finds the means for such.
In closing, I once again extend the prayers and best wishes of His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for the success of this Synod.