Message to the Pilgrims of His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, addressed on the occasion of the pilgrimage organized at the feast of Holy Pious Demetrius the New, Protector of Bucharest, 24-27 October 2014. This Message will be included in the brochure edited on the occasion of the The Path of the Saints procession of 2014 and will also be posted online, on 24 October 2014, at the following website address: www.basilica.ro
„For see, through the Cross,
Joy has come to all the world”
The life of each Christian can be compared to a spiritual journey to the Kingdom of Heaven, since this is the main purpose of our existence on the earth, as St Paul the Apostle teaches us by saying: “For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Hebrews 13:14). Gradual spiritual growth in attaining the Christian virtues, feeding of the soul with the spiritual meaning of the words of the Holy Scriptures, partaking of the Holy Sacraments and performing good deeds are works through which our soul advances always in the communion of love towards God and fellow human beings. In this regard, the saints are a perfect example of spiritual growth and of pursuit of the Kingdom of God, since they were counted worthy to follow Christ in every deed of their life, devoting to Him their whole existence, steadfastly keeping the true faith and fostering the right way of Christian living. That is why the saints are teachers and intercessors for us on our path to salvation, to sanctification of life and to achieving of the Kingdom of Heaven.
For every Christian, pilgrimage to the relics of the saints represents an offering of veneration brought to the work of God’s grace in humans and a great blessing in order to enhance their spiritual life. The relics of the saints are a witness of their life purified through repentance and fasting, of the unceasing prayer, the sanctification of the soul and body through the grace of the Holy Spirit, in order to become enlighteners for the salvation of people.
This year, we spiritually see at the feast of the Holy Pious Demetrius the New, Protector of Bucharest, the signs of the divine providence and of the work of the grace of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church, having the spiritual joy to bow down before the Venerated Wood of the Holy and Life-Giving Cross, the relics of the Holy Ruler Prince Martyr Constantin Brâncoveanu, and the relics of the Holy Pious Demetrius the New, Protector of Bucharest.
The Venerated Wood of the Holy Cross is now brought from Jerusalem, from the holy place where our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified and risen from the dead. With much joy, goodwill and fraternal love in our Lord, His Beatitude Theophilos III, Patriarch of Jerusalem, brings this holy gift to Romania as a token of blessing and appreciation for the pilgrims that arrived this year in Bucharest at the feast of the Holy Pious Demetrius the New, Protector of Bucharest.
The Orthodox Christian piety is based on the faith in the holy and sanctifying power of the Holy and Life-Giving Cross. A holy sign of our faith in the Crucified and Risen Christ, the Holy Cross shows us how great the love of God towards people is and exhorts us to enlighten with this humble and merciful love of the sacrifice of our Saviour Jesus Christ and to nourish with the Holy Eucharist, bowing down in these days of celebration before the icon of the Holy Emperors Constantine and Helen, which contains a fragment of the Wood of the Holy Cross on which our Saviour Jesus Christ was crucified for the salvation of the world.
On the Hill of Joy, together with the Holy Cross are venerated the relics of the Holy Ruler Prince Martyr Constantin Brâncoveanu,as a crowning of the Commemorative Year of the Holy Brâncoveanu Martyrs, for this year we celebrate 300 years from their death as martyrs, that took place in Constantinople on the 15th of August 1714. Through the foundation of holy places of worship, the love of Church and nation, the rich donations offered to all Christians who were under Ottoman rule, as well as through the brancovenesque artistic style that was engrafted over the period of his time, Holy Ruler Prince Constantine Brâncoveanu followed entirely the example of the Holy Emperor Constantine the Great, who in the year 312 saw the sign of the Holy Cross in the sky, while the following year (313) gave religious freedom to Christians, greatly cherishing them afterwards, as well as the example of his mother – Saint Helen – who discovered in Jerusalem in the year 326 the Wood of the Holy Cross and founded numerous churches for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ and for the veneration of saints.
The placing of the relics of the Holy Ruler Prince Constantin Brâncoveanu in a golden silver reliquary took place in the spring of this year (2014), thus offering for the first time the possibility of undertaking an extensive procession with his holy relics throughout the entire Romanian Patriarchate, in order to give witness of his sacrificial love for Christ, for the Church and the Romanian people, thus becoming the measure of the Romanian dignity in those times of trial.
The placing of the holy relics of the Holy Ruler Prince Martyr Constantin Brâncoveanu and of the Holy Pious Demetrius the New, Protector of Bucharest, next to the Wood of the Holy and Life‑Giving Cross shows us today that during their earthly lifetime the saints fulfil the path of the Holy Cross as the Path to sanctification and of the holiness of the Christian life.
Christ’s Cross has been a source of light and sacrificial love for Saint Constantin Brâncoveanu, who, right from the beginning of his rule, in a rather prophetic way, predicted that he would have to suffer many tribulations and even death for Christ: “My service is to endure the needs and to suffer the hardships and even to shed my blood in the name of Christ and of God our Lord, for faith” (Letter to Czar Peter the Great of Russia).
For Holy Pious Demetrius the New, the Holy Cross represented a source of light and sacrificial love too, because, by the power of the Holy Cross, by severe fasting and much prayer, he overcame every temptation and tribulation, in order to achieve the purity and the holiness of life, that is “he carried his cross and followed Christ”, as his troparion expresses.
With paternal and fraternal love in Christ, we appreciate the zeal, the humbleness and the devotedness that you give proof of now, as it was also the case in previous years, and we pray to our Lord Jesus Christ that, by the power of the Holy Cross and through the prayers of all saints, He bless you and fulfil all your proper needs, enriching you in good deeds and guiding yourselves continuously towards the holy goal of every pilgrim: attaining of the Kingdom of Heaven, in the love, peace and joy of the Most Holy Trinity and in the light of God’s saints. Amen.
Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church