On Wednesday afternoon, 18 January 2023, at the Holy Cathedral of the Annunciation of Our Lady, in Redfern, Sydney, with great splendour, the Great Hierarchical Vespers on the occasion of the feast of Saint Makarios the Great, took place, marking the beginning of the celebrations of the Patronal Feast Day of His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia.
At the service of the Vespers, which were officiated by His Eminence Archbishop Makarios, present also in prayer were Metropolitan Seraphim of Sevasteia and Metropolitan Myron of New Zealand, as well as Their Graces, Bishop Iakovos of Miletoupolis, Bishop Emilianos of Meloa, Bishop Elpidios of Kyanea, Bishop Silouan of Sinope, Bishop Kyriakos of Sozopolis, Bishop Christodoulos of Magnesia, Bishop Evmenios of Kerasounta and Bishop Bartholomew of Charioupolis, Chancellor of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia, Archimandrite of the Ecumenical Throne Christophoros Krikelis, clergy from the city of Sydney and from other cities of Australia, the Consul General of Greece in Sydney Mr. Yannis Mallikourtis, Presidents and other representatives of Parishes – Communities, Organisations of the Archdiocese and Greek Associations, as well as principals, teachers and students of Greek Orthodox schools.
At the end of the Great Vespers, Archbishop Makarios briefly presented to the congregation the life, personality, multifaceted work and miracles performed by the honoured Saint, who is among the most prominent ascetics of the first centuries of Christianity. Attempting to summarise the theology, the spiritual teaching and legacy of Saint Makarios, His Eminence focused on His characteristic phrase: “There is no other way to be saved if not through one’s neighbour”.
“I dare to say that this phrase expresses the quintessence of Orthodox theology,” the Archbishop pointed out, explaining that in the Orthodox Church one cannot be saved if one believes and loves only God. “We love God, but we also love our neighbour,” he added emphatically, “because in the face of our neighbour we see the face of God.”
After all, in order to create a personal relationship with Christ, it is not enough to go to church, to know the Holy Bible, to pray, to fast or to give alms. This personal relationship with Christ, as His Eminence underlined, also depends on the relationship we have established with the people who surround us, whether it is people who belong to our family and relatives, or “foreign” people, as Saint Makarios said, or even for hostile persons. “Even our relationship with the enemy must be tested and withstand the criteria of orthodox theology and orthodox spirituality or, to put it differently, it must withstand the test of the teaching of the great ascetic of our Church, Saint Makarios”.
Finally, Archbishop Makarios thanked from the bottom of his heart all the Hierarchs, clergy and laity who attended the Great Vespers Service, many of whom have travelled to Sydney to attend the local Church celebrations and to wish His Eminence well on his name day.
It is noted that on the morning of Thursday, 19 January 2023, the main day of the feast of St. Makarios the Great, in the Holy Cathedral of the Annunciation of Our Lady, Redfern, from 6:30am, Matins and a Poly-hierarchical Divine Liturgy will take place, presided over by His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia, while a reception will follow in the Great Hall of Saint Andrew’s Theological College.