Encyclical Letter from Archbishop Nikitas for the Great Fast 2020

Beloved in the Lord:

Each year, in the cycle of time and seasons, Holy and Great Lent leads us to the great and salvific Feast of Pascha.  It is during this time that the Church invites all of her children to seriously reflect on many aspects of their lives, and most especially about one’s own relationship with Christ and neighbour.

On the Sunday before the beginning of Holy and Great Lent, also known as Cheesefare Sunday, the chanters sing the following: “The stadium of the virtues has opened; let all those who wish to compete enter.”  It is an open invitation to the people of God to enter into a spiritual stadium, that is, Great Lent, in order to participate in an ascetic struggle against the sins of pride, anger, hatred and so many more.  Through fasting, elevated vigilance and contrite prayer, we are clothed with the spiritual armour needed to face the evil habits and weaknesses that many times overtake us, and simultaneously, we are strengthened by the visitation of God’s Divine Grace and are filled with a certainty and joy that only come from Him.

Generally, Great Lent is understood as a time when we recall Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God’s commandment which ordered them to fast and not partake of the forbidden fruit. Due to their disobedience, they fell from grace and were removed from the Garden.  As a result of their original failure, all of creation was corrupted, although it was created to be inherently good, and all their human descendants until today, have a disposition towards sin.  It is through holy baptism that we are all born anew and given the faculties by the Holy Spirit to combat and overcome sin. Therefore, as Orthodox Christians, we are also called to repent and keep a new fast, so we too can once again gain Paradise.  We do so – as one of the hymns directs us – by wearing the armor of abstinence – abstinence from sin and evil.

Too often in our lives, when we think of the Lenten period our thoughts are immediately taken to food and dietary restrictions.  Fasting, is not the goal in and of itself, but assists us in attaining virtue and holiness. In other words, fasting leads us to an end: that is, the purging of sin and vices from our souls, and communion with God. Fasting without spiritual struggle is useless.  In order to stress this principle, the sacred forty-day period is introduced with words taken from the writings concerning fasting of Saint Basil the Great.  The hymn, based on the words of the Cappadocian Father, says – “The fast has arrived, the mother of prudence, the accuser of sin, and the advocate of repentance, the state of the angels, and the salvation of people” (Idiomelon from Clean Monday).

The ascetics and teachers usually only spoke of food in two ways.  They wrote about the food that has become an idol for us, just as they wrote about foods that may cause us to sin.  While they saw that food could become a temptation and cause us to lose sight of the path of righteousness, they also understood that food was and is a necessary part of our lives.  They even remind us not to fast so strictly that we cannot do the good works of God.  They speak to our hearts and instruct us that food does not save us.  Only Jesus Christ saves the human being and He alone can restore the fallen icon of God.

It is appropriate to acknowledge that the hymnographers and many Fathers of the Church teach us that, the fast is a time of celebration and liberation.  Their words reflect the instruction of the Savior, who says – “when you fast, do not be sombre.”  Rather, He teaches us and instructs us, saying – “wash your face, anoint your head” (Matthew 6:17).  Christ tells us to be joyful and glad in all we do, including when we fast. Great Lent is also known as a period of “joyful-sorrow” where we increase our ascetic practices and repent for our wrongdoings to God and neighbour, while simultaneously retaining in our hearts an explosive anticipation of forgiveness, healing, and life in the Light of Pascha.

The time has come that we perceive the Lenten period correctly.  It is a period of metanoia, that is, repentance, a turning away from sin, fuelled by our hope of eternal life.  It is a period of deep self-reflection concerning our words and actions.  It is a period of correction, spiritual growth, and transformation in Christ, personally and communally. Let us not overlook the ultimate goal by foolishly wasting our time evaluating ingredients.  In our lived experience, we know quite well what is considered as a fasting food and appropriate for consumption in the “stadium of the virtues.”

Indeed, fasting is an aid given to us for Great Lent. It is a practice that leads us to ponder upon the more important issues of Christian life. Fasting should propel us to do good works and fuel our love for God and neighbour. Certainly, we need to fast, so we can feed the poor and needy.  Surely, we need to fast, so that we can guard our tongue from evil words and idle talk.   Most definitely, we need to fast, so that we can pray with a “pure and humbled heart.”  We need to fast, so that it can lead us to the direction of repentance.  We need to fast, so that we can gain the strength needed to ask for forgiveness from those we have wronged.  As a wise desert Father once said, “Our life and our death are with our neighbour.  If we do good to our neighbour, we do good to God; if we cause our neighbour to stumble, we sin against Christ” (St. Anthony the Great).

Let us replace our cruelty, hatred, meanness and anger with compassion, love, charity and love.  The time has come to change our way of thinking and make it more Christ-centred. Let us not foolishly spend this season legalistically ticking boxes on the long list of spiritual chores and mechanical expressions of “piety”, but rather stride for and live with a deep desire for conversion and transfiguration in Christ.  Let us take advantage of this most holy period of our ecclesiastical calendar, so that by fasting from foods, we may be strengthened in our struggle against sin, and we may become true participants in the glory, light, and Life granted to us on Pascha.

As we look to the approaching days of Lent, we might reflect on the words of St. Romanos, the great author of the Kontakia, who wrote the following concerning the Prodigal Son:

O Son and Word of God, Creator of all things,
we your unworthy servants ask and implore you:
have mercy on all who call upon you.
As you did the prodigal, spare those who have sinned.
Accept and save through compassion
those who in repentance run to you, O King, crying “We have sinned.”
Give us tears, as you did the harlot,
and pardon for the sins we have committed.
And, as you did the publican, take pity on us all,
at the intercessions of the Mother of God.
Make us partakers of your supper, as you did the prodigal,
Master and Lord of the ages.

With paternal love and in hope of the glorious Resurrection,

Holy and Great Lent 2020

+Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain

Catechetical Homily for the Great Fast from Patriarch Bartholomew




We offer hymns of thanks to the God of love as once again we enter Holy and Great Lent, the arena of ascetic struggle, fasting and abstinence, of vigilance and spiritual awareness, of guarding our senses and prayer, of humility and self-knowledge. We are commencing a new and blessed pilgrimage toward Holy Pascha, which has “opened for us the gates of paradise.” In Church and as Church, as we behold the Risen Lord of glory, we all journey together along the way of deification by grace that leads to the heavenly goods “prepared by God for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9).

In the Church, where “the eternal mystery” of divine Economy is realized, all things have their unwavering theological foundation and pure soteriological reference. The incarnation of God and the deification of man are the pillars of the Orthodox faith. We move toward our eternal destination in the love of Christ. Our God, Who is “always for us,” can never be reduced to some “higher power” enclosed in transcendence and the grandeur of almightiness or its holiness. Instead, He is the pre-eternal Word of God, Who “assumed our form” in order to invite humankind to the communion of His holiness, of the genuine freedom. Man, who from the beginning “has been honored with freedom,” is invited to freely accept this divine gift. In the divine-human mystery of salvation, our synergy also functions as a witness in the world of the blessing that we have experienced—“what do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7)—through the love for the ‘brother.”

Holy and Great Lent is par excellence a period of experiencing this freedom bestowed by Christ. Fasting and ascesis do not comprise a discipline imposed externally, but a voluntary respect of ecclesiastical practice, obedience to Church Tradition that is not a sterile letter but a living and life-giving presence, a permanent expression of the unity, sanctity, catholicity and apostolicity of the Church. The language of theology and hymnography speaks of “joyful sorrow” and “the spring of fasting.” This is because authentic asceticism is always joyful, springful and bright. It knows no dualism or division; it does not undermine life or the world. “Depressive ascesis” that leads to an “aridity of human nature” has nothing to do with the spirit of Orthodoxy, where the ascetic life and spirituality are nurtured by resurrectional joy. In this sense, fasting and ascesis contain an alternative proposal for life before the promised false paradise of eudemonism and nihilistic pessimism.

Another essential element of Orthodox ascetic spirituality is its social character. The God of our faith is “the most social God,” “a God of relations.” It has rightly been said that the Holy Trinity is “the negation of loneliness.” The individualization of salvation and piety, the transformation of ascesis into an individual achievement, overlook the Trinity-centered essence of the ecclesial event. When we fast for ourselves and according to our whim, then fasting does not express the spirit of the Orthodox tradition. Spirituality is the life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit, Which is always “a spirit of communion.” The genuine Orthodox spiritual life always refers to the ecclesial dimension of our existence and not to some “spiritual self-realization.”

In adhering to the dedication of this year by the Holy Great Church of Christ to “the pastoral renewal and due concern for our youth,” we call upon our Orthodox young men and women to participate in the spiritual struggle of Great Lent in order to experience its anthropological depth and liberating spirit, to understand that Orthodox asceticism is a way of freedom and existential fulfilment in the context of the blessed life in the Church, whose core is to “speak the truth in love.” Our Orthodox youth is called to discover the holistic character of fasting, which is praised in the Triodion as “the commencement of spiritual struggles,” as “food for the soul,” as “mother of all good things and all virtues.” It is not simply an abstinence from certain foods, but a struggle against self-love and self-sufficiency, a sensitivity toward our suffering neighbor, and a tangible response of support. It is a Eucharistic use of creation, existential fulfilment, communion of life and solidarity. Ascesis, fasting, prayer and humility convey the fragrance and light of the Resurrection, from which they receive meaning and direction. As the quintessence of ecclesial life and its eschatological orientation, the Resurrection inseparably links the ascetic life with the Divine Eucharist, the sacrament of foretaste of the ineffable joy of the Kingdom of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. The fact that the Divine Eucharist is preserved as the center of the life in the Orthodox Church is associated with the fact that the Resurrection is the foundation of our faith and the bright horizon of our ascetic spirituality as well as of our good witness in the world.

With these thoughts, we humbly invoke upon all of you the mercy and blessing of the God of love, so that we may pursue the race of Holy and Great Lent with devout heart, reach the saving Passion of Christ our God and, glorifying His ineffable forbearance, shine brightly for the feast of His splendid Resurrection that leads us from death to endless life.

Holy and Great Lent 2020
✠ BARTHOLOMEW of Constantinople
Fervent supplicant for all before God

Encyclical Letter from Patriarch Bartholomew for The Church New Year 1/9/18

+ B a r t h o l o m e w
By God’s Mercy Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome
and Ecumenical Patriarch
To the Plenitude of the Church: Grace, peace and mercy
From the Creator of All, our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ

Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord,

Twenty-nine years have now passed since the Mother Church established the Feast of Indiction as the “Day of Protection of the Environment.” Throughout this time, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has inspired and pioneered various activities, which have borne much fruit and highlighted the spiritual and ecological resources of our Orthodox tradition.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate’s ecological initiatives provided a stimulus for theology to showcase the environmentally-friendly principles of Christian anthropology and cosmology as well as to promote the truth that no vision for humanity’s journey through history has any value if it does not also include the expectation of a world that functions as a real “home” (oikos) for humanity, particularly at a time when the ongoing and increasing threat against the natural environment is fraught with the possibility of worldwide ecological destruction. This evolution is a consequence of a specific choice of economic, technological and social development that respects neither the value of the human being nor the sanctity of nature. It is impossible to truly care for human beings while at the same time destroying the natural environment as the very foundation of life, essentially undermining the future of humanity.

Although we do not consider it appropriate to judge modern civilization on the grounds of criteria related to sin, we wish to underscore that the destruction of the natural environment in our age is associated with human arrogance against nature and our domineering relationship toward the environment, as well as with the model of eudemonism or disposition of greed as a general attitude in life. As incorrect as it is to believe that things were better in the past, it is equally unfitting to shut eyes to what is happening today. The future does not belong to humanity, when it persistently pursues artificial pleasure and novel satisfaction – living in selfish and provocative wastefulness while ignoring others, or unjustly exploiting the vulnerable. The future belongs to righteous justice and compassionate love, to a culture of solidarity and respect for the integrity of creation.

This ethos and culture are preserved in Orthodoxy’s divine and human ecclesial tradition. The sacramental and devotional life of the Church experiences and expresses a Eucharistic vision, approach and use of creation. Such a relationship with the world is incompatible with every form of introversion and indifference to creation – with every form of dualism that separates matter from spirit and undermines material creation. On the contrary, the Eucharistic experience sensitizes and mobilizes the believer toward environmentally-friendly action in the world. In this spirit, the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church emphasized that “in the sacraments of the Church, creation is affirmed and human beings are encouraged to act as stewards, protectors and ‘priests’ of creation, offering it in doxology to the Creator” (Encyclical, par. 14). Every form of abuse and destruction of creation, along with its transformation into an object of exploitation, constitutes a distortion of the spirit of the Christian gospel. It is hardly coincidental that the Orthodox Church has been characterized as the ecological expression of Christianity inasmuch as it is the Church that has preserved the Holy Eucharist at the core of its being.

Consequently, the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s ecological initiatives were not simply developed in response or in reaction to the modern unprecedented ecological crisis, but as an expression of the Church’s life, an extension of the Eucharistic ethos in the believer’s relationship to nature. This innate ecological conscience of the Church was boldly and successfully declared in the face of the contemporary threat to the natural environment. The life of the Orthodox Church is applied ecology, a tangible and inviolable respect for the natural environment. The Church is an event of communion, a victory over sin and death, as well as over self-righteousness and self-centeredness – all of which constitute the very cause of ecological devastation. The Orthodox believer cannot remain indifferent to the ecological crisis. Creation care and environmental protection are the ramification and articulation of our Orthodox faith and Eucharistic ethos.

It is clear, then, that in order to contribute and respond effectively to the ecological challenge that we face, the Church recognize and research the relevant issues. We all know that the greatest threat to our world today is climate change and its destructive consequences even for our survival on the planet. This topic was paramount in the 9th Ecological Symposium, entitled “Toward a Greener Attica: Preserving the planet and protecting its people,” organized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate last June on the Saronic Islands of Spetses and Hydra. Unfortunately, the recent devastating fires in Attica and the impending consequences of this immense environmental destruction constitute tragic proof of the views shared by the symposium participants on the severity of the ecological threat.

Venerable hierarchs and beloved children in the Lord,

The ecological culture of the Orthodox faith is the realization of its Eucharistic vision of creation, summarized and expressed in its church life and practice. This is the Orthodox Church’s eternal message on the issue of ecology. The Church preaches and proclaims “the same things” “at all times” in accordance with the unassailable words of its Founder and Leader, that “heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Lk. 21:33). Adhering to this tradition, the Mother Church calls upon its Archdioceses and Metropolises, as well as its parishes and monasteries throughout the world, to develop initiatives, coordinate projects, organize conferences and activities that foster environmental awareness and sensitivity, so that our faithful may realize that the protection of the natural environment is the spiritual responsibility of each and every one of us. The burning issue of climate change, along with its causes and consequences for our planet and everyday life, offer an opportunity to engage in dialogue based on principles of theological ecology, but also an occasion for specific practical endeavors. It is vitally important that you emphasize action at the local level. The parish constitutes the cell of church life as the place of personal presence and witness, communication and collaboration—a living community of worship and service.

Special attention must also be directed to the organization of Christ-centered educational programs for our youth in order to cultivate an ecological ethos. Ecclesiastical instruction must instill in their souls a respect for creation as “very good” (Gen. 1:26), encouraging them to advocate and advance creation care and protection, the liberating truth of simplicity and frugality, as well as the Eucharistic and ascetic ethos of sharing and sacrifice. It is imperative that young men and women recognize their responsibility for the practical implementation of the ecological consequences of our faith, while at the same time becoming acquainted with and promulgating the definitive contribution of the Ecumenical Throne in the preservation of the natural environment.

In conclusion, we wish you all a blessed ecclesiastical year and abundant benefit in your spiritual struggles, invoking upon you the life-giving grace and boundless mercy of the Giver of all good things, our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith, through the intercessions of Panaghia Pammakaristos, whose honorable icon, the sacred heirloom of all Orthodox people, we reverently and humbly venerate today.

September 1, 2018
+ Bartholomew of Constantinople
Your fervent supplicant before God.

(Reprinted from http://www.thyateira.org.uk/new-ecclesiastical-year18/)


Patriarchate Logo

Prot. No. 582

+ B A R T H O L O M E W
By God’s Mercy
Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch
To All the Plenitude of the Church
Grace, Peace and Mercy from the Maker of All Creation
Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ

Dearest brother Hierarchs and beloved children in the Lord,

With the goodness and grace of the all-bountiful God, today marks the 30th anniversary since the Holy Great Church of Christ established the feast of Indiction and first day of the ecclesiastical year as “the day of environmental protection.” We did not only address our Orthodox faithful, nor again just Christian believer or even representatives of other religions, but also political leaders, environmentalists and other scientists, as well as intellectuals and all people of good will, seeking their contribution.

The ecological activities of the Ecumenical Patriarchate served as the inspiration for theology to advance prominently the truth of Christian anthropology and cosmology, the Eucharistic worldview and treatment of creation, along with the spirit of Orthodox asceticism as the basis for understanding the reason for and response to the ecological crisis. The bibliography related to theological ecology or ecological theology is extensive and on the whole constitutes an admirable Orthodox witness before the major challenges of contemporary humanity and earthly life. Concern for the ecological crisis and for the global dimensions and consequences of sin – of this alienating internal “reversal of values” in humankind – brought to the surface the connection between ecological and social issues as well as for the need to address them jointly. Mobilizing forces for the protection of the integrity of creation and for social justice are interconnected and inseparable actions.

The interest of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the protection of creation did not arise as a reaction to or as a result of the contemporary ecological crisis. The latter was simply the motivation and occasion for the Church to express, develop, proclaim and promote its environmentally-friendly principles. The foundation of the Church’s undiminished concern for the natural environment lies in its ecclesiological identity and theology. Respect and care for creation are a dimension of our faith, the content of our life in the Church and as the Church. The very life of the Church is “an experienced ecology,” an applied respect and care for creation, and the source of its environmental activities. In essence, the interest of the Church for the protection of the environment is the extension of the Holy Eucharist in all dimensions of its relationship to the world. The liturgical life of the Church, the ascetic ethos, pastoral service and experience of the cross and resurrection by the faithful, the unquenchable desire for eternity: all of these comprise a communion of persons for which the natural reality cannot be reduced to an object or useful matter to meet the needs of an individual or humanity; by contrast, this reality is considered as an act, deed the handiwork of a personal God, who calls us to respect and protect it, thereby rendering us His “coworkers,” “stewards,” “guardians,” and “priests” of creation in order to cultivate a Eucharistic relationship with it.

Care for the natural environment is not an added activity, but an essential expression of church life. It does not have a secular, but rather a purely ecclesiastical character. It is a “liturgical ministry.” All of the initiatives and activities of the Church are “applied ecclesiology.” In this sense, theological ecology does not merely refer to the development of an ecological awareness or the response to ecological problems on the basis of the principles of Christian anthropology and cosmology. On the contrary, it involves the renewal of the whole creation in Christ, just as this is realized and experienced in the Holy Eucharist, which is an image and foretaste of the eschatological fullness of the Divine Economy in the doxological wholeness and luminous splendor of the heavenly kingdom.

Most honorable brothers and most precious children in the Lord,

The ecological crisis reveals that our world comprises an integral whole, that our problems are global and shared. In order to meet these challenges, we require a multilayered mobilization, a common accord, direction and action. It is inconceivable for humankind to recognize the severity of the problem and yet continue to behave in oblivion. While in recent decades the dominant model of economic development in the context of globalization – highlighting the fetishism of financial markers and magnification of financial profit – has exacerbated ecological and economic problems, the notion still prevails widely that “there is no other alternative” and that not conforming to the rigid validity logic of the world’s economy will lead to unbridled social and financial situations. Thus, any alternative forms of development, along with the power of social solidarity and justice, are overlooked and undermined.

For our part, however, we are obliged to assume greater measures for the application of the ecological and social consequences of our faith. It is extremely vital that our archdioceses and metropolises, as well as many of our parishes and sacred monasteries, have fostered initiatives and activities for the protection of the environment, but also various programs of ecological education. We should pay special attention to the Christian formation of our youth, so that it may function as an area of cultivation and development of an ecological ethos and solidarity. Childhood and adolescence are particularly susceptible life phases for ecological and social responsiveness. Aware of the urgency of environmental education, the Ecumenical Patriarchate devoted the Third in its series of international Halki Summits to the subject of “Theological Education and Ecological Awareness” (Istanbul, May 31st to June 4th, 2019) with a view to incorporating ecology and environmental awareness into programs and curricula of theological schools and seminaries. The solution to the great challenges of our world is unattainable without spiritual orientation.

In conclusion, then, we wish all of you a favorable and blessed ecclesiastical year, filled with works pleasing to God. We invite the radiant children of the Mother Church throughout the world to pray for the integrity of creation, to be sustainable and charitable in every aspect of their lives, to strive for the protection of the natural environment, as well as the promotion of peace and justice. And we proclaim once more the truth that there can be no genuine progress, when the “very good” creation and the human person made in the image and likeness of God suffer. Finally, through the intercession of the first-among-the-saints Theotokos Pammakaristos, we invoke upon you the life-giving grace and boundless mercy of the Creator and Provider of all.

September 1, 2019
+Bartholomew of Constantinople
Your fervent supplicant before God

Mesajul de Crăciun al Înaltpreasfințitului Arhiepiscop Nikitas

Mesajul de Crăciun
al Înaltpreasfințitului Arhiepiscop Nikitas din Thyateira și Marea Britanie

Un colind traditional de Crăciun începe cu următoarele cuvintele „O Vino, O Vino, Emanuel” și exprimă durerea și provocările lui Israel, în timp ce poporul aștepta și se ruga ca Dumnezeu să-L trimită pe Mesia să-i răscumpere din tirania sclaviei. Rugaciunile lor nu erau pentru libertatea din sclavie umană, ci pentru răscumpărarea lor din păcat și din captivitatea celui rău. La vremea potrivită, Dumnezeu L-a trimis pe Fiul Său, Domnul nostru Iisus Hristos, pentru a ne mantui si elibera pe toți de păcat. Fapta Lui iubitoare nu a fost numai pentru poporul Israel. A fost un act de dragoste pentru întreaga lume, pentru toți oamenii, pentru fiecare aspect al creației.

În fiecare an, ca Biserică, ne adunăm pentru a sărbători acest moment unic. Ne reamintim de profețiile din vechime și cum s-au împlinit odată cu nașterea Copilului nevinovat. Ne uităm la tradiția iconografică, in timp ce contemplăm acest mister uimitor. De asemenea, tradiția himnologică a Bisericii noastre ne educă despre acest eveniment mântuitor. Imnurile spun pământului și cerurilor să se bucure și noi toti suntem invitați să participăm la sărbătoare. Este o invitație pentru toți oamenii, pentru cei sfinți și păcătoși deopotrivă, să călătorească spiritual în orașul Betleem și să-L caute pe Hristosul nou-născut, Care a împlinit marea profeție a lui Isaia, care a scris: ‘Căci un Copil ni S-a născut, un Fiu ni s-a dat și domnia va fi pe umărul Lui; Îl vor numi: Minunat, Sfetnic, Dumnezeu tare, Părintele veșniciilor, Domn al păcii.’ Acest Hristos este cel care s-a nascut pentru mântuirea lumii. El trebuie să se nască în inimile tuturor oamenilor indiferrent de timpul sau spațiul geografic. El ne umple golul din suflet și transformă suferinta într-o oază de pace.

Deși sărbătoarea propriu-zisă a Crăciunului, Sărbătoarea Nașterii Domnului, este sărbatorită, o dată pe an, semnificația și mesajul sărbătorii ar trebui să fie trăite în fiecare zi de toți oamenii. Crăciunul este momentul dăruirii și împărtășirii cu cei care au nevoie. Este anotimpul în care spiritul împăcării umple aerul și inimile umanității. Acesta este momentul în care căile vechi sunt puse deoparte și privim lumea într-o manieră diferită. Crăciunul este ziua unui nou început când Soarele Neprihănirii risipește întunericul trecutului și speranța ne este daruita odata cu nașterea lui Hristos.

Pe măsură ce întâmpinăm Sărbătoarea Crăciunului, să ne reamintim de iubirea pe care Hristos o are pentru lume. Fie ca toti să sărbătorim in Biserica, salutându-ne cu salutul tradițional de Craciun și amintindu-ne de cei care suferă. Fie ca toți să aibă un Crăciun FERICIT si binecuvântat.

Cu binecuvântări și iubire paternă,

Londra, Decembrie, 2019

Arhiepiscop Nikitas din
Thyateira și Marea Britanie

GDPR Data Privacy Notice

Orthodox Parish of the Nativity of the Mother of God, Bristol


1. Your personal data what is it?

Personal data relates to a living individual who can be identified from that data. Identification can be by the information alone or in conjunction with any other information in the data controller’s possession or likely to come into such possession. The processing of personal data is governed by the General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 (the “GDPR”).

2. Who are we?

The Orthodox Parish of the Nativity of the Mother of God is the Data Controller and gives responsibility to the Data Control Officer (contact details below). This means that s/he, in consultation with the Parish Council, decides how your personal data is processed and for what purposes.

3. How do we process your personal data?

The Orthodox Parish of the Nativity of the Mother of God, Bristol complies with its obligations under the GDPR and any subsequent legislation. In particular, the relevant parts of Articles 6 & 9 of the GDPR. We do this by keeping personal data up to date; by storing and destroying it securely; by not collecting or retaining excessive amounts of data; by protecting personal data from loss, misuse, unauthorised access and disclosure and by ensuring that appropriate technical measures are in place to protect personal data. We use your personal data for the following purposes: –

For members of the clergy to provide pastoral care to parishioners;

To enable us to provide a voluntary service for the benefit of the public as specified in our constitution;

To administer membership records;

To raise funds and promote the interests of the charity;

To manage any employees and volunteers;

To maintain our own accounts and records, including processing gift aid applications.

To operate the Orthodox Church of the Nativity of the Mother of God, Bristol web site and deliver the services that individuals have requested.

To inform individuals of news, events, activities or services running at the Orthodox Church of the Nativity of the Mother of God, Bristol and to contact individuals to ask about their opinions of current services or of any new services that may be offered.

To contact parents about Sunday Schools and adults about catechetical and similar activities.

4. Sharing your personal data

Your personal data will be treated as strictly confidential, and will be shared only with the Parish Priest and members of the Parish Council, or those delegated by the Council, in order that they can carry out their office or role. We will not share your data with third parties outside the parish without your consent.

5. How long do we keep your personal data?

Parish Council members and those deputed by them, other than those maintaining ongoing parish records, will only hold your data for the length of time necessary to complete a task or function.

We keep your personal data for no longer than reasonably necessary for the purposes listed above. We will seek to update your data at least every five years in order to maintain an accurate record and to ensure we maintain mutual contact between members of the parish and the parish administration. We also keep a historic record of parish members, but otherwise once a member leaves the parish, and they notify the Secretary or Data Controller, their data will be deleted, unless they ask otherwise. By a ‘member’ we include those who have paid their membership subscription, plus those others who attend the church and who give their data to us.

6. Your rights and your personal data

Unless subject to a legal exemption, you have the following rights with respect to your personal data: –

The right to request a copy of your personal data which the Orthodox Parish of the Nativity of the Mother of God holds about you;

The right to request that the data controller of the The Orthodox Parish of the Nativity of the Mother of God corrects any personal data if it is found to be inaccurate or out of date;

The right to request your personal data is erased where it is no longer necessary for The Orthodox Parish of the Nativity of the Mother of God to retain such data;

The right to withdraw your consent to the processing at any time.

The right, where there is a dispute in relation to the accuracy or processing of your personal data, to request a restriction is placed on further processing;

The right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioners Office.

7. Further processing

If we wish to use your personal data for a new purpose, not covered by this Data Protection Notice, then we will provide you with a new notice explaining this new use prior to commencing the processing and setting out the relevant purposes and processing conditions. Where and whenever necessary, we will seek your prior consent to the new processing.

8. Contact Details

To exercise all relevant rights, queries of complaints please in the first instance contact the Parish Secretary / Parish Administrator at

secretary@bristol-orthodox-church.org.uk or


You can contact the Information Commissioners Office on 0303 123 1113 or via email https://ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/email/

or at the Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House,

Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire. SK9 5AF.

9. Consent Form

The following is the Consent form we are using.  If you want to register with us, either copy this form and paste it into and email, or just email us and we will send you one: info@bristol-orthodox-church.co.uk

Please fill this in. Keep a copy for yourself. Send the completed form back to us.


Your privacy is important to us, and we want to communicate with church members in a way which has their consent, and which is in line with UK law on data protection. As a result of a change in UK Regulation (GDPR, 25/5/18), we now need your consent to how we contact you. Please fill in the contact details you want us to use to communicate with you:

Name _____________________________________________________

Address: ___________________________________________________


Email Address: ________________________________________________

Phone Number: ________________________________________________

By signing this form (by email please type yes/no and your name and date as appropriate) you are confirming that you are consenting to the Parish Priest and the Parish Council of the Orthodox Parish of the Nativity of the Mother of God, Bristol, to hold and process your personal data for the following purposes (please tick the boxes where you grant consent ):

I consent to the church contacting me by post (……) phone (……) email (……)

I consent to the church’s keeping me informed about news, events, activities and services (……..) (Note: you can unsubscribe from the church e-bulletin at any time as per info at the end of this form or on the Newsletter.)

I consent to the church’s keeping my data as required for processing financial processing and Gift Aid (…..)

I consent to the church’s keeping my data in a spreadsheet as part of a record of parish members, including: my name (….. ) postal address (…..) phone numbers (….. ) email addresses (…..) and relevant data (i.e. Orthodox Christian/date of marriage, baptism etc.) (…..)

I consent to allowing photographs and videos of me (…….) and which include me (…….) to appear in Parish Publications (…..) and online platforms (…..)


NOTE: This means children under 13 years old. Separate regulation covers children of 13 and over and we will give a copy of the appropriate form to children and parents.

I give permission for the relevant data above to be kept and processed for my children:

Please List your children’s names and date of birth that you wish to be included:

1……………… 3………………………..

2……………… 4………………………..

PLEASE DO TELL US when your data (e.g. address, phone number, personal status) changes. We will then notify you that we have updated it.

We will update your records no later than every five years and will contact you then for this purpose.

Signed: ______________________________ Dated: _______________________________

You can grant consent to all the purposes; one of the purposes or none of the purposes. Where you do not grant consent we will not be able to use your personal data; (so for example we may not be able to let you know about forthcoming services and events); except in certain limited situations, such as where required to do so by law or to protect members of the public from serious harm. You can find out more about how we use your data from our “Privacy Notice” which is available from our website or from the Parish Secretary.

You can withdraw or change your consent at any time by contacting the The Parish Secretary, Orthodox Parish of the Nativity of the Mother of God, University Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1SP or by emailing : info@bristol-orthodox-church.co.uk. Please note that all processing of your personal data will cease once you have withdrawn consent, other than where this is required by law, but this will not affect any personal data that has already been processed prior to this point.

The Orthodox Church of the Nativity of the Mother of God, Bristol, is a Registered Charity, No. 290747



+ B A R T H O L O M E W
By God’s Mercy
Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch
To the Plenitude of the Church
May the Grace and Peace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
Together with our Prayer, Blessing and Forgiveness be with You
* * *

We offer a hymn of thanksgiving to the Triune God, who has rendered us worthy once more to reach Holy and Great Fast (Lent) in order to fight the good fight of ascesis and turn towards the “one thing that is needful” (Luke 10:42).

In a world averse to asceticism, in the presence of contemporary de-sanctification of life and domination of self-centred and self-indulgent ideals, the Orthodox Church insists on a Lenten period of spiritual struggle and “venerable abstinence” for its children in preparation for Holy Week, the Passion and Cross of Christ, so that we may become witnesses and partakers of His glorious Resurrection.

During the Great Fast (Lent) we are called to experience the creative and salvific economy of the Trinitarian God more deeply and to partake in the eschatological inclination, direction and progression of ecclesiastical and spiritual life more tangibly. We become conscious of the tragic impasse of the self-serving arrogance of the Pharisee, the hard-heartedness of the elder son in the Parable of the Prodigal, the callous disregard for hunger, thirst, nakedness, sickness and abandonment of our neighbour, according to the gospel account of the future judgement. We are encouraged to imitate the repentance and humility of the Publican, the return of the Prodigal to the household of the Father, in whose Grace he trusts, as well as those who show mercy to the needy, (Gregory Palamas’ life of prayer, John the Sinaite’s and Mary of Egypt’s life of ascesis), so that strengthened through the veneration of the holy icons and the precious Cross we may arrive at a personal encounter with Christ the life-giver who arose from the tomb.

During this blessed period, the communal and social character of spiritual life is revealed with particular emphasis. We are not alone; we do not stand alone before God. We are not a sum of individuals but a community of persons, for whom “existence” means “coexistence”. Ascesis is not individualistic but an ecclesiastical event and achievement—our participation as believers in the mystery and sacraments of the Church, a struggle against selfishness, a practice of philanthropy, a Eucharistic use of creation and a contribution to the transfiguration of the world. It is common freedom, common virtue, common good and common adherence to the rule of the Church. We fast as defined by the Church and not as we individually please. Our ascetic effort functions within the framework of our relations with other members of the ecclesial body, as participation in events, initiatives and actions, which constitute the Church as a community of life and of “truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Orthodox spirituality is inextricably bound to participation in the entire life of the Church, which culminates in the Divine Eucharist; it is a piety that is nurtured by the Church and expressed as Church.

The period of the Great Fast (Lent) is not a period to highlight religious or emotional extremes or superficial sentimentalities. From an Orthodox perspective, spirituality does not mean turning towards the spirit and the soul, which fosters a dualistic reduction of matter and body. Spirituality is the permeation of our entire existence—spirit, mind and will, soul and body, our entire life—by the Holy Spirit, which is a spirit of communion. Accordingly, then, spirituality means transforming our lives into church, a life inspired and guided by the Comforter, a genuine bearing of spiritual gifts, which presupposes our own free cooperation and participation in the sacramental life of the Church, a godly way of life.

Venerable Brothers and beloved faithful in the Lord,

When spirituality is authentic, it cannot also be fruitless. Whoever truly loves God also loves their neighbour everywhere as well as creation in its entirety. This sacrificial love that “never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8) is a Eucharistic act, the fullness of life on earth, the foretaste and truth of the last times. Our Orthodox faith is an inexhaustible source of empowerment, enabling us in spiritual struggle, God-loving and philanthropic action, and generous bearing of fruit in the world for the benefit of all. Faith and love constitute a uniform and uninterrupted experience of life in the Church. The practice of ascesis, fasting and philanthropy in the Holy Spirit and communion of the Church comprises a barrier preventing ecclesial piety from becoming a religious idol and barren introversion or individualistic feat.

The Spirit of God blows unceasingly in the Church, where God is forever “with us”. In these holy days of the Great fast (Lent), we are called to intensify our ascetic struggle against selfish attitudes, to be in “constantly waiting in prayer” (Romans 12:12), “living in humility and practising acts of mercy” (Abba Poemen), living virtuously and mercifully, forgiving others and exercising love toward one another, glorifying God as the Giver of all that is good, and thanking Him for His abundant gifts. “Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Therefore, we invoke on all of you the strength from above so that we may all, with a burning and cheerful desire, welcome this Holy and Great Lent. We wish you “a smooth journey through the fast” and bestow our Patriarchal blessing to our venerable brother hierarchs in Christ, as well as the beloved spiritual children of the Holy and Great Church of Christ throughout the world.

Holy and Great Lent 2018
† Bartholomew of Constantinople
Your fervent supplicant before God