My beloved Faithful Clergy and Laity of our God-Protected Diocese:
It is hard to believe that this month marks the third anniversary of my Consecration and Enthronement as your Bishop. I have enjoyed travelling throughout the Diocese and visiting your parishes and getting to know you. I have been encouraged that while the majority of our Diocesan parishes are small in size, the clergy and faithful who labor in the Vineyard of the Lord are doing much to further the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.
As you have heard me preach, I am deeply concerned about the state of affairs in the world. There is strife and conflict in every corner of the globe, including our own country, our local communities and even our families. I am also deeply saddened and troubled by the moral decline in society that is causing chaos and confusion for our youth and young adults. This lack of peace brings unrest to our hearts, and instability in the world. It is, as I have shared with you, the direct result of an increase of selfishness and hatred and the decrease of humility and love. It has become a vicious cycle that can only be broken by a radical metanoia or change of mind and heart on the part of all of the inhabitants of the earth.
As we enter into the Season of the Nativity Fast, I ask you, the good faithful and clergy of the Diocese, to join me on a journey of peace and repentance which will begin in our hearts and end at the manger in Bethlehem. During this time, let us increase our efforts in church attendance, in prayer, in fasting, in scriptural reading, in almsgiving, in repentance and confession, and in receiving the Holy Eucharist.
This year, to further focus our journey of peace and love this Nativity season, I am offering a challenge to all of the clergy and faithful and especially the youth and young adults of the Diocese. Let us not just talk about making the world a more peaceful place, but let us actually do something about it. And the challenge is:
To assist with this challenge, a special web page has been created on the Diocesan Website, Praying For Peace, which contains downloadable texts of the special prayers. Other postings will be made on various social media outlets to encourage maximal exposure and participation.
With all of us united in prayer and laboring for peace this Nativity Fasting Season, I am convinced that we will help, even if only in a small way, to make our lives and that of the world more peaceful.
Praying that this Nativity Fasting Season is a spiritually uplifting experience for all of us, I remain,
Working in His Vineyard with much love,
+ BISHOP GREGORY OF NYSSA