February 8, 2022

2022 Pastoral Encyclical for the New Year (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

A New Year Message of 
Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
Happy and blessed new year! May we have peace and love between us, but mainly in the new year to bring us that which is "desired", as Saint Kosmas the Aitolos would say about the liberation of this country, saying that may God grant us that which is "desired". And that which is "desired" now for all of us is to get rid of the coronavirus, in the new year to get rid of this scourge that has taken over not only our country, but all of humanity.

I remember that, when we were little children, and I think children still do it, we sang a song that said, "the old year has gone away ..." and so on, and then "a new one has come with its gifts". Indeed, the previous year is gone, 2021, and we are in the new year of 2022. And of course we rejoice in everything that is new. Everything new creates great joy; it is the phenomenon of "neophilia", we always love the new every time. And so begins this year with hopes, with optimism.

I repeat, this year we have to end the coronavirus and its mutations, because we have suffered a lot, two whole years there are now where we are tormented by this pandemic, by the coronavirus.

And what did we not face! There was no freedom of movement, almost every family in almost every local community mourned the victims, the sick in the hospitals, the doctors who were tired and the nursing staff tired to help. In fact we have a great war, we could say that we have a World War on the coronavirus. And science, as well as all those of interest, try to find the right means and measures to deal with it, whether it is an aggressive weapon or a defensive weapon, in order to preserve our lives that we may offer them for the love of God and our fellow people.

But I think that this year and the previous one, two whole years, apart from the pandemic of the virus, which caused a lot of pain and disease and death, it showed the pathogenesis that exists in our society, sometimes in our Church. The coronavirus also highlighted paranoia, pathogenesis, psychopathy and the problems that exist in society. It also pointed out the lack of composure, sobriety and the lack of education in general, and ecclesiastical education in particular.

That is why we do not have to wait mechanically for the new year that we are waiting for, that something will happen abroad, even though science is working in this direction. Each of us must contribute, as much as possible, to the treatment of this great problem and, above all, to get rid of the internal insecurities, the internal psychopathy, I would say, and the pathogenesis that is observed in our societies.

This pathogenesis is fanaticism, the religiosity of ecclesiastical life. We know very well that Christ came into the world to deliver us from the sickness of religion. Religions existed before Christ; Christ came to establish the Church and the Church is the Body of Christ and Christ is the head of the Church.

Religion is distinguished by three features:

First, it is distinguished by magic, that there is a god, a supreme being who is angry, and people perform various rituals to atone him.

Secondly, it is distinguished by superstition, that there is an identification between the created and the uncreated, which is essentially pantheism.

But also, third, it is distinguished by mysticism, that the soul of man must be liberated from the body that is evil, in order to return to the pre-birth world of ideas.

These three traits - magic, superstition and mysticism - are the hallmarks of religion. They have nothing to do with the Church and the ecclesiastical life. This is because Christ was incarnated, became a man, with Holy Baptism we were united with Christ, we became members of the Body of Christ and we have communion and unity with Christ. Thus, living in the Church in reality we must strive to be healed from the sickness of religion.

The new year has begun and we hope that everything will be new, a new creation. The word "new" in Greek is kainos (with "ai"). There is also the the word kenos (with "e"). The kainos (with "ai") means new, the kenos (with "e") means void of the meaning of life, empty, hollow.

Therefore, if I want to wish something for all of you - and of course for myself - from the kenos (with "e"), which means lack of meaning for life, may you acquire the kainos, to become new.

Hence, in this sense, the coronavirus will help us to change our mentality, to change sick minds and sick hearts, to become new people and so the new year will be indeed be new.

I wish you a good, blessed, new year, to be new people.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.