By Metropolitan Methodios

This past week I had occasion to attend a joint meeting of the Metropolis Council and Faith & Heritage Center Committee, and the monthly dinner of the Alpha Omega Council, where Michael Sintros and I were invited to made a presentation about the Youth Ministries of the Metropolis.  Following these events, I was spiritually uplifted and thankful to God that the Omogeneia is blessed with men and women who are dedicated to passing on the unwaning light of our Faith and cultural heritage to the future generations.   These dedicated leaders truly care about our Greek Orthodox Faith and Heritage.  They volunteer their time and invest their resources to generously support our parishes, our Metropolis, the Archdiocese, and a score of philanthropic institutions.  Their greatest contribution is their concern for our young people.  The Alpha Omega Council has helped hundreds of young men and women with scholarship aid to further their studies in the finest universities throughout America.  The members of the Metropolis Council and Faith & Heritage Center Committee concern themselves with all the ministries of our Metropolis, especially our outreach to young people through spiritual retreats and various athletic and year-round camp programs.

In both meetings, I thanked everyone for their generous support and discussed not only what has been achieved, but how necessary it is for all of us to recognize that we CAN and MUST do much more.  We must always emphasize the positive and challenge ourselves to greater achievements for the benefit of our Faith and Cultural Heritage.  We must never rest on our laurels, but have the courage to be visionary, dreaming bolder dreams for the future.  To achieve this we must all be united in purpose, never allowing negativism to sap our enthusiasm.

I confess that I am growing increasingly weary and intolerant of those amongst us who have nothing better to do than to criticize everyone, and be negative about everything.  Enough already of gossip and innuendo, of envy and jealousy, of mud slinging and character assassination. 

We are about to embark upon the Great Lent whose most characteristic prayer is that of St. Ephraim:

Lord and Master of my life, give me not a spirit of sloth, vain curiosity, lust for power, and idle talk.

But give to me Your servant a spirit of prudence, humility, patience, and love.

Lord and King, grant me to see my own faults and not to condemn my brother: for You are blessed to the ages of ages.

How blessed we would be if each of us comprehended the meaning of this text and practiced its admonitions!  Individuals who have an over inflated opinion of themselves, and an exceedingly exaggerated estimation of their importance should not opine about matters about which they are pitifully ignorant.  The only thing that they accomplish is--to quote St. Paul-- expose themselves as nothing other than “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor. 13.1).

Unquestionably, constructive criticism is beneficial to us as individuals and as institutions.  A true friend is one who mentors us by pointing out our shortcomings to help us grow spiritually in God’s image.  A constructive critic will point out what, in his opinion, a Church or organization is doing wrong and offer his expertise to bring about change.  It is one thing to offer criticism which is meant to point out ways in which an individual, an organization or a church (a Metropolis, an Archdiocese) can improve in order to be more effective; it is quite another to regurgitate time and again the same emetic attacks which resonate only with other gossips and chatter boxes who have never offered anything positive to advance the Greek American Community.  If you want to know why many of our young people, (including the children and grandchildren of the above mentioned vain narcissists), are not involved in our parishes and organizations, it is because they don’t want to be associated with negative individuals who revel in hearing themselves talk.

We have much to do.  UNITED we can accomplish nothing less than miracles.  Parochial schools need to be built. Camps, Retreat Centers, philanthropic institutions, museums, academic chairs in leading universities, hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, all need to be supported.  Let us stop pontificating and start doing. 

May God bless all of us with “a spirit of prudence, humility, patience and love” so that we may “see our own faults and not condemn our brethren.”

May the Lord God truly be the master of our lives.  May He remove from our hearts and souls that “ugly spirit of sloth, vain curiosity, jealousy, lust for power and idle talk”.

May the Great Lent be an uplifting spiritual journey for all of us.  

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