Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Virtue raises up a nation ( Elder Philotheos Zervakos )

My dear Christian brothers and fellow Greeks: May our sufferings become lessons for us. Let us correctly consider what Greece once was, and what it is today. It used to be a great and powerful empire, and today it has ended up a small, poor, weak nation that can barely subsist.
If the Greeks have been diminished and humbled, if they are enduring hardships, this happened to them an account of their many sins, as the Holy Spirit states through the wise Solomon:
“sins diminish peoples; righteousness exalts a nation” (Pr. 14:34).
They have suffered because they have distanced themselves from God. They have suffered on account of their pride, jealousy, hatred, divisions, and their other sins.
“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation” (Mat. 12:25).
As soon as divisions and jealousy emerged within the Byzantine Empire, the beginning of its
downfall commenced.
The Christians were segregated into two different armies that despised and persecuted each other, especially during the iconoclastic period. The heretical iconoclasts would imprison, exile, and execute the Orthodox Christians.
Jealousy and hatred similarly infiltrated into the political rulers.
In order to rise to power or to secure their safety in the royal palace, many emperors would assassinate
their rivals, gouge out their eyes, cut their nose and ears, castrate them, confine them by force in monasteries and tonsure them monks, so that they would no longer have the right to seize the kingdom. These and other innumerable evils and improprieties committed by the civil and
ecclesiastical leaders, as well as the people and the clergy, induced God to wrath,and He handed them over to foreign nations. Consequently, on account of their sins, the formerly vast and powerful Byzantine Empire came to an end.
My fellow Greeks: May our sufferings become lessons for us. “Virtue raises up a nation!”(Pr. 14:34).
When Byzantine emperors such as Constantine the Great, Theodosius, Leo, Justinian, Heraclius, and more importantly the people and the clergy lived with piety, and were united with God and one another through sincere and genuine love, their
kingdom flourished, they became firmly
established, and they would defeat their  enemies; because they had help from God, Who aids and protects them  who love Him, and Who destroys all the sinners. Even during recent historical
times, during the Greek Revolution, the Balkan War, and World War II against Italy, when all the Greeks were united with God, they achieved miracles. When, however, they would distance themselves from God and alienated themselves from one another, they were vanquished.
“Sins diminish peoples!”(Pr. 14:34).
Fellow Greeks: let us stand well; let us stand with fear! Let us be careful; otherwise we will be utterly destroyed—not so much by our enemies, but more so by our own selves. If we continue to fight with each other, we will unavoidably devour each other. God has also become angry with us because we do not listen to Him; instead we curse Him, blaspheme Him, and disregard Him.
When we repent and return to God, when we become united, then we will be saved, and our nation will not only live, but it will also prosper,
be honored, glorified, strengthened, exalted, and magnified.
I promise and guarantee this. I believe it and hope for it. I confess and proclaim it, because I know such is the case from the aforementioned examples and many other examples witnessed by history. Truly, “Virtue raises up a nation!” 

An appeal to the Greek nation by Elder Philotheos Zervakos


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