Pastoral Healthcare

One of the most important ministries of the Church throughout its history has been providing spiritual care to the sick. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has always being sensitive to the needs of this ministry from the years of the Byzantine Empire up until now. Its clergy are active in providing pastoral care to the ill, both on a parish level and in specialized facilities.  read more...

Pastoral Thought of the Week

March 28, 2020

Prayer during pandemic illness
(of the new Coronavirus that has fallen upon us)

Knowing God in a time of sorrows 

Job always conceived God in relation to the gifts he had received from the Lord and how people related to him as a righteous man. In his sufferings, he began to come to ‘know’ God beyond the gifts he had received. He recognized Him as the Giver of everything. In order to gain knowledge of this, he had to lose all his processions. “He lost the respect of others, he lost his health, his wealth – all thing – in order to see God in all His greatness and wisdom and marvelous nature. In losing all things, he did not doubt God and thus he came to see the apophatic, inexpressible character of God who is beyond all human understanding. He saw God in a higher way than is possible merely through his gifts. He saw God immediately through his suffering.

The believer continually needs to make abstraction of  the  things  of  this world, needs to  put the  things  of this world  into brackets of forgetfulness,  in order  to  think  of God  who  is above all human  understanding.  But sometimes  it  is  necessary  that  God  himself should  intervene in order  to throw  into relief the   little  value  of the  things  of this  world   in  comparison   with  God,  their transitory,  passing  nature in contrast to the eternity  of God, in order to show us  more   clearly  God's  infinite  transcendence  of  his  gifts  and  his  ineffable presence  with  us.  In such cases it seems to us that God himself abandons us. This is because sometimes we become so attached  to  things  that  we  can no longer  see God.  Sometimes we  make  so  close  a  link  between  God  and  the things  which   he  gives,  that   we  identify  God  with  these  things  and  totally forget  God  in himself,  and  then  if God  no  longer  shows his interest in us by giving  us gifts  it  seems  to  us that  he has abandoned us.

 For this reason, the cross often seems to us a sign of our being abandoned by God.  But it can also happen that God does really withdraw himself from our vision in order to prove and strengthen the tenacity of our love for him.   Even our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross had this  feeling  of complete abandonment by God. But even the Lord Jesus never weakened in his love for God.

In reality, God never abandons us in whatever situation we find ourselves. It is possible that he may disappear  for  a  time,   for  a moment,  from  our horizon,  from  our  understanding.  But the God  whom  we habitually  think  of in terms  of creation will then  appear  to  us in  the  true  greatness  of his glory which  is indefinable and  inexpressible in human  thoughts and  words.

Fr. Dumitru Staniloae
“The Victory of the Cross”
Fairacres Publication