Thursday, September 9, 2021

A Letter from the Archbishop of Cyprus to All the Youth and Students of Cyprus

With an encyclical that will be read during the first days of classes in the schools of Cyprus, Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus urges young people to take advantage of the opportunity given to them during their school years, in order to reap the greatest possible benefit from what will be taught, but also to complete themselves as personalities within the society, which will welcome them upon the completion of their studies. Though not everything here will apply to a general audience, it certainly forms a good foundation and model upon which pastoral advice for the youth at the beginning of the school year could be based on anywhere in these times.

My dear students,

Today you are facing the beginning of another school year, which, like the previous one, is characterized by the presence of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, which left its sad marks in our lives.

Nevertheless, with the youthful enthusiasm and the dynamic pulse that distinguishes you, you have the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful journey of knowledge, so that the new year is fruitful for you in the epistemological field and especially in the spiritual one.

It is enough to remain committed to your noble goals, in order to fulfill both your own visions and the high expectations of your Parents and Teachers.

Conscientious observance of the sanitary measures, which with so much responsibility and respect is recommended by the scientific advisory team set up for this purpose, is the only way that will enable us to spend the year smoothly and creatively.

Faithful observance of their advice exercises at the same time the virtue of self-respect and respect for others. This is a virtue that must characterize your life in all matters, because on this principle is based our democratic state.

Our Lord Jesus Christ exhorts us: "Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves" (Matthew 10:16).

He uses examples from the animal kingdom and advises us how, in the face of great danger, we take care to be prudent like snakes and not to expose ourselves to useless dangers, and at the same time to be harmless and upright in our behavior like doves.

The above advice reminds us that in the struggle to acquire knowledge and various useful skills, which the modern reality of technological progress and globalization require, we must not miss the need to acquire morality and virtue.

The ancient philosopher Plato emphasizes that "All  knowledge separated  from  justice and all other virtues is trickery, and it does not appear to be wisdom" (Plato, Menexenus, 347a).

The temptations that lurk are many and the ones projected by various sources as living standards are not the best, instead they lead artificially to the alienation of our personality.

Therefore, let us draw on examples and models from our history, tradition and Church.

Let the struggles and sacrifices of the martyrs of our faith, the self-sacrificing heroism of the fighters of our freedom and democracy, become models of imitation for ourselves as well.

The eternal and life-giving spring of the Holy Gospel written in the Greek language, the incomparable works of the Fathers of our Church in faith and piety, and finally, the inexhaustible literary and musical tradition of the Greeks, let them become the supplies for our spiritual perfection and completion.

My dear children,

The difficult times we are going through do not offer us the luxury of living indifferently and casually, without purpose and high ideals.

The dangers that lurk for our Homeland from the occupying power, Turkey, are constantly before us.

The danger of the final fragmentation of our island and the consequent Turkification of our occupied land must keep us on constant national and spiritual vigilance.

Our homeland will be saved and will prosper, only if you, the new generation, remain united and constantly committed to our great historical debt for its liberation from the conquering forces of Attila.

Struggles for freedom are always difficult but not impossible for young people, who are inspired by these noble ideals and believe in them. Our sturdy young people proved it to us during our Liberation Struggle of 1955-1959.

In closing, we call on you with much love to remain committed to our Lord, the God-man Jesus Christ, who sacrificed Himself for the salvation of man and who with His divine teaching lays the healthiest foundations for success, joy and happiness in our lives.

Therefore, always ask for the help of our Lord, through your fervent prayers, and He will surely strengthen you in your personal visions and in your spiritual struggles. He himself, after all, exhorted us with paternal love: "Ask, and it will be given to you" (Matt. 7:7).

A happy and fruitful school year to all of you. God bless your work.

With paternal wishes

† Chrysostomos of Cyprus 

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.