September 1, 2019
Beloved Clergy, Monastic Brotherhoods and Sisterhoods, and faithful of the Holy Metropolis of Chicago, and all people of goodwill:
I greet you with joy in the good news of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Aware of both the opportunity and responsibility to rightly teach the word of His truth (2 Tim. 2:15), I offer the following Encyclical at the start of the Ecclesiastical Year 2019. Our inspiration stems from the beautiful petition found in the Fervent Litany of our divine services: "Further we pray for mercy, life, peace, health, salvation, visitation, forgiveness and remission of the sins of the servants of God …." This year, we are offering a reflection on the first of the divine gifts referenced in this prayer, “mercy / eleos,” and in subsequent years we plan to consider the rest in order.
The attached document explores the meaning of mercy within our Orthodox theological and spiritual tradition. It draws from the Bible, the writings of the Church Fathers, the divine services, and the lives of the saints in order to present multiple aspects and examples of mercy that we are all called to follow. Additionally, it offers a variety of practical suggestions for ways to weave the theme of mercy into our everyday lives.
Our hope is that the Encyclical will be used by the faithful throughout our Holy Metropolis as a resource not only for personal spiritual growth, but also as a call to action. We envision that our clergy and ministry leaders can draw insights from the Encyclical and then actively apply the theme of mercy within our family, youth, and young adult programs, Philoptochos and evangelism ministries, religious education and Bible studies, retreats, camps, and sermons. In this way, we will all be encouraged to “do mercy,” to develop mercy-grounded ministries, and to become truly a “Metropolis of Mercy,” united in our pursuit of Christian mercy as a way of life.
May this shared effort strengthen our relationship with God and neighbor, deepen our understanding of God’s gifts, and inspire us to practice our faith more fully amidst the challenges and opportunities we encounter each day.
Metropolitan of Chicago