Daily Reading Programme on the Care for Creation

A Daily Reading Program on the Christian Theology of Creation
The Unified Vision and Spiritual Direction of the Orthodox Patriarchs as they
call us into care for God’s Creation
A Program of Theological Reflections on Christian Responsibility for
the Care and Keeping of God’s Creation

The Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration

June 1-30, 2021

Christ is risen! Greetings in of Lord Jesus Christ! Throughout 2020 the Orthodox
Fellowship of the Transfiguration every month published a set of readings from the
patriarchs and top hierarchs of the Orthodox Church across all jurisdictions that
featured their statements on the proper care of God’s creation.
Now, after several requests that the OFT resume this service, yes, we will
restart this service with a new set of readings from the Patriarchs and Hierarchs of
the Church. These statements are united in that they all call for the care of creation
so that Orthodox parishes may engage the pressing issues of our time. Besides, care
for the creation is more than concern for the environment. This is because care of
the earth serves as a “doorway” to an Orthodox way of life. It provides a gateway to
a genuine Orthodox lifestyle that at once is in harmony with the commandments,
with theology and creation as a visible icon of the divine economia.
As a further consideration, in past centuries humans could not alter the face
of the planet or unleash massive destruction upon the earth. It was not necessary in
those times to emphasize the biblical mandates to respect the earth. In our day with
new and expanding capabilities our top hierarchs are reacquainting us with our
ancient God inspired responsibility to connect our vision of Christ and the Holy
Spirit in all things to respect for creation as worthy of reverence and all care.
As our patriarchs and bishops restore awareness of our duty to respect creation,
we should give special thanks as they restore a vision of holy regard for all things. In
this way, they are laying out an inspired pathway to help us overcome the
secularism and individualism that are diametrically opposed to Orthodox
Thus it is not insignificant that the Orthodox patriarchs across jurisdictions
have become virtually unanimous in a common unified calling for our Church to
awaken to its biblical responsibility and theological vision to assume and restore
responsibility for the planet and the way we relate to the earth.
As you read these statements from our top bishops, an unusual opportunity
emerges. You can let the inspiration upon our holy patriarchs become your teachers
in the faith and instructors in how Orthodox Christians can reshape our lives
despite the deepening secularism which surrounds us.
Yours in service to God’s good earth,
MR – ERC – FK The reading-a-day editorial team

1 Tuesday June 1, 2021 Reuniting the Universe Under Jesus Christ
Cosmology is a form of knowledge which is given to us in Christ by the Holy
Spirit. “The mystery of the Incarnation of the Word,” wrote St. Maximos the
Confessor, “contains within itself the whole meaning of the created world. He
who understands the mystery of the Cross and the Tomb knows the meaning
of all things, and he who is initiated into the hidden meaning of the
Resurrection understands the purpose for which God created everything from
the very beginning.” If this is so, it means that everything has been created by and for the
Word, as the Apostle says in Colossians 1:16-17, and that the meaning of this
creation is revealed to us in the re-creation effected by the same Word taking
flesh, by the Son of God becoming the son of the earth….
In this perspective the Fathers maintain that the historical Bible gives us
the key to the cosmic Bible. In this they are faithful to the Hebrew notion of
the Word, which not only speaks, but creates: God is “true” in the sense that
his word is the source of all reality, not only historical, but also cosmic
reality…. That is why, as St. Maximos says, we discover, or rather the Gospel
discovers for us, that on the one hand, the Word “hides himself mysteriously
in created things like so many letters,” and on the other hand, “he… expresses
himself in the letters, symbols and sounds of Scripture.”
HB Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch, Zurich, Switzerland,
March 10, 1989
What does the term ‘cosmology’ mean?
How much can you explain what is called ‘the Incarnation of the Word’?
How does this relate to the created world?

2 Wednesday June 2, 2021
A Call to Protect God’s Creation

The Orthodox Church appreciates these efforts to overcome the ecological
crisis and calls people to intensive co-operation in actions aimed to protect
God’s creation. At the same time, she notes that these efforts will be more
fruitful if the basis on which man’s relations with nature are built will be
not purely humanistic, but also Christian.
One of the main principles of the Church’s stand on ecological issues
is the unity and integrity of the world created by God. Orthodoxy does not
view nature as an isolated and self-enclosed structure. The plant, animal and
human worlds are interconnected.
In the Christian view, nature is not a repository of resources intended
for egotistical and irresponsible consumption. Rather, it is a house in which
man is not the master, but a housekeeper. It is a temple in which he is the
priest serving not nature, but the one Creator. The conception of nature as a
temple is based on the principle of theocentrism: God Who gives to all “life,
and breath, and all things” (Acts 17:25) is the Source of being. Therefore,
life itself in its various manifestations is sacred, being a gift of God. Any
encroachment on it is a challenge not only to God’s creation, but also to the
Lord Himself.
HB Patriarch Kyrill, Archbishop of Moscow and Patriarch of All-Russia,
Statement of the Russian Orthodox Church on Ecological programs, #4, June 1, 2012. Q
What are the Orthodox Christian foundations for action to heal God’s earth?
How might a person help protect the earth? List the different ways.
What is the practical meaning of each person as a priest of creation?

3 Thursday June 3, 2021
An Awakening to our Problems is Essential

Unless everyone is made sensitive to the harmful character of [polluting]
actions, it is almost impossible for any endeavor for the improvement of the
[environmental] situation to succeed.
Religion can inspire the behavior of every individual or even mass
movements; and it is able to transmit and spread the necessity and benefit of
these behaviors.
This sense of a common fate, which is the polar opposite of the
widespread individualistic and self-interested perception which is short-sighted
in its appreciation of the world, is a basic teaching of the Christian faith, and
especially of Orthodoxy.
Let us seek … to energize the feelings of inertia about responsibility for
the common good which we find in individuals and in whole peoples.
We call on every conscience to awaken! We invite you to a virtual
apostolic commission to spread the word about the necessity for a common
confrontation of these problems. The grace of God be with you all.
HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Trabzon, Turkey,
September 20, 1997
How do people awaken to the seriousness of ecological problems?
Why should every Christian become sensitive to these issues?
What does it mean to have an apostolic commission to spread the word?

4 Friday June 4, 2021
The Human Role in the Cosmos

Man is a mediator. He is poised between two realities – God and the world.
He shares in both, he is united to both. He cannot live apart from either.
That is the meaning of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. The only humanity
that can survive is the new humanity, the humanity that has now been
inseparably, indivisibly united with God in Jesus Christ.
The new humanity is a mediating humanity – a humanity that
reconciles and unites God and the world. It is an incarnate humanity – a
humanity that is an inseparable part of the whole creation and inseparably
united to the Creator.
This is the meaning of the human presence in the cosmos. To be with
the one who unites. To be in Christ, uniting the divine and the human, the
Creator and the creation, the transcendent and the immanent, the spiritual
and the scientific-technological. To enter the mystery of “Christ in us,” yes, in
us Christians, but also in us human beings, and in us as an integral part of the
whole creation.
The subtle art of image making for the future needs skilled craftsmen
as well as the gift of the Spirit. The various crises of our time should be used
neither as occasions for doom-saying pessimism nor as a chance to peddle
empty-hope optimism. Every crisis is a judgement, a call to see where things
have gone wrong and to seek to set matters right, both within our
consciousness and in society.
The environmental crisis, the economic crisis, the crisis of justice, the
crisis of faith…, the crisis of militarism – of all of these are symptoms not only
that humanity has yet to become what it has to be, but also that it is on the
wrong track.
HE Metropolitan Mar Paulos Gregorios,
Syrian Orthodox Church of India,
New Delhi, India, 1987
What does it mean that humans are mediators?
How is a mediating humanity akin to humans as priests of creation?
Why are crises messages to society?

5 Saturday June 5, 2021
Modernity and Global Climate Change

Modernity confronts us with many dilemmas. Man must answer challenges, and
not only those for which his teachers prepared him, but also totally new and
different problems that life places before us. And it has always been so.
The technological progress and social innovations of the 20th century have
transformed the world much faster than, for instance, the entire process of
technological development during medieval times.
Respected theologians of the Serbian Orthodox Church are [now] raising
serious concerns about the environmental crisis and the urgent problems of global
warming, floods, forest fires, sea pollution from plastics, climate changes, etc. …
What is expected of contemporary Christians, as responsible members
of Christ’s Church, is neither aloof diagnosing of spiritual “illness” nor
pronouncements of the “ruination of the world,” nor panicked anathematizing
of “this world” and its modernity, but a responsible witnessing of the Truth of
God-Man Christ, and an unmasking of all falsities, misconceptions and injustices
through the love of Christ.
We have a crucial role as Orthodox Church in encouraging the world’s
response to the climate and ecological crisis through Church as Body of Christ….
Let us all recall the commands of God regarding our use of the earth…. Let us
respond to the divine commandments so that the blessings of God may be
abundantly upon us in Liturgy and prayers. And let us responsibly discern the
right, holy and proper way to live in this time of change and challenge, as a life in
Church as a Body of Christ.
HB Patriarch +Irinej, Serbian Orthodox Church,
Belgrade, September, 2020,
Why is climate change happening?
What role might the Church play in addressing this issue?
What is the call of Scripture in caring for the earth?

6 Monday June 7, 2021
Why Ecology is a Spiritual Issue

The ecological problem is, at root, a spiritual issue. Many people dealing with
it tend to overlook its spiritual aspects. And yet both historically and from
the practical point of view it is impossible to address it without reference to
religion and ethics. …
A human is the Priest of creation as he or she freely turns it into a
vehicle of communion with God and fellow human beings. This means that
material creation is not treated as a means of obtaining pleasure and
happiness for the individual, but as a sacred gift from God which is meant to
foster and promote communion with God and with others.
Such a ‘liturgical’ use of nature by human beings leads to forms of
culture which are deeply respectful of the material world while keeping the
human person at the centre.
HE Metropolitan John of Pergamon, “Production and Consumption,”
April, 1996
Why is the ecological problem a spiritual issue?
Can you explain what are the duties of a ‘priest of creation’?
How does a sense of the sacred in nature lead to a liturgical sense about nature?

7 Tuesday June 8, 2020
Energy Conservation and Climate Justice

In light and wind, in land and water, energy resources are abundant gifts for
human well-being from our Creator God. Because we are called to “till and to
tend the garden” (Gen 2:15), we have a moral obligation to choose the safest,
cleanest and most sustainable sources of energy to protect and preserve God’s
creation. Energy conservation is faithful stewardship.
Humans have a choice of priorities for the future. By depleting energy
sources, causing global warming, fouling the air with pollution, and poisoning the
land with radioactive waste, a policy of increased reliance on fossil fuels and
nuclear power jeopardizes health and well-being for life on Earth.
On the other hand, by investing in clean technology, renewable energy,
greater vehicle fuel efficiency and safer power plants, we help assure sustainability
for God’s creation and God’s justice. Energy conservation is intergenerational
Energy policy must be an instrument of social and economic justice here
and abroad. The first beneficiaries of a new energy policy should be “the least
among us,” the low-income, the vulnerable, and the sick to whom we can provide
assistance with high energy bills, inexpensive mobility through expanded mass
transit, cleaner air by reducing pollution from power plants, and lower gasoline
prices through strict monitoring of oil companies for price-gouging. Energy
conservation is justice for all peoples and nations.
There is no single solution to the energy challenge. We do not have to
sacrifice economic security to assure ecological health. Prudence – the application
of moral principle in service to the common good — should guide us to meet
immediate needs in such a way as to enhance, not diminish future sustainability.
HE Archbishop Demitrios, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America;
HE Metropolitan Philip, Archdiocese of North America, Antiocian Orthodox Church;
HE Metro. Christopher, President, Episcopal Council of SCOBA, Serbian Orthodox Church;
HE Archbishop Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim, Patriarchal, Syrian Orthodox (Malankara) Church of Antioch;
HB Metropolitan Theodosius, primate, Orthodox Church in America (OCA);
“Moral Reflection on Energy Policy and Global Warming,” Joint declaration, February, 2002
Why should Orthodox Christians be concerned about global climate change?
How does Christianity shape our attitude toward energy use?
How is there a connection between energy conservation and justice?

8 Wednesday June 9, 2021 Creation as an Integrated Whole
Orthodoxy’s rich creation theology rests on the assumption that the entire
cosmos is an integrated whole….
Orthodoxy’s understanding of the human being as person, and as a
microcosm of the cosmos, assumes that humanity is existentially meaningful
only through the free and conscious engagement in relation with others. The
Ecumenical Patriarchate is committed to transforming the human condition.
Our vision of freedom and relationality is consistent with U.N. efforts
at transforming post-conflict situations, by restoring the torn fabric of
individual and community life.
The Orthodox Church transcends linguistic, ethnic and national
divisions. Our Holy Orthodox Church is modeled on the Trinitarian
principle of unity in diversity, whereby heterogeneity and uniqueness are
fundamental aspects of our humanity. …
We exhort you, to take up the responsibility which has been given to
us by God, our Creator, to collectively renew our commitment to restoring
the peace, justice and integrity of all creation. We ask you to consider the
creative gifts of the Orthodox Christian community as a resource for change.
HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, United Nations Luncheon,
New York City, NY, October 27, 1997
What does it mean that the human is a microcosm of the cosmos?
How does the term “unity in diversity” reflect the Orthodox Church?
How may we play a role in restoring justice, peace and integrity within creation?

9 Thursday June 10, 2020
Respect for the Animals

From time to time we realize that everything is from God, the animals, the
plants, the earth, the celestial planets, and we are humbled before God and
thankful for his creation….
It is traditional for us as Orthodox to have a good relationship with
the animals. Our theology is favorable to the animals. We have never
tolerated violence, but we have never said anything because I think it
was not seen as necessary. Now, however, we see more and more the ill
treatment of animals and it is true, it is time that we in the Church said
something. Before there did not seem the need, but it is different now.
In the context of Cyprus we can do more and we should do more.
Now when we see instances of violence or people bring us information, we
must do something about it.
It is true that many of our teachings do not get through to the
people, but this is true of many other things as well as the animals. It
has to do with the nature of the individual person; some will listen
and understand, while others will go their own way, against the teachings.
If you are a good Christian, you will love the animals and they will love you
back. There are many books showing this through the lives of the early saints.
You cannot find a holy man who has mistreated animals….
Let me be clear. Animals are the creation of God. We should treat
them with respect and not be cruel to them. What kind of soul they may
have has no part of that discussion. We should not be involved in this
type of argument as it only serves to confuse what should be very clear.
We should not be cruel to animals. We should treat them with love.
HE Metropolitan Isaias of Tamasou and Orinis, Orthodox Church of Cyprus,
Interview with Presbytera Christina Nellist, March 4, 2014
Why should Christians respect animals?
How would you describe an Orthodox Christian attitude toward animals?
Do you know how the saints treated animals? What does that teach us?

10 Friday June 11, 2020
The Continuing Work of the Church

From my heart I pray for all the workers and Missionaries of the love of
Christ, the Metropolitans and Bishops of the Patriarchate of Alexandria and
All Africa, the Priests throughout Africa and our blessed children, Greeks,
Arabs, Africans, Serbs, Russians and Romanians, Bulgarians, Ukrainians and
all other nationalities, that the Grace of the Most Holy God will strengthen
your lives always.
Now that a new period of Missionary and Catechetical work is about
to start, we are all geared towards sowing and harvesting of the Word of God
in the hearts of the people. The evangelization of the nations, the teaching of
the people of God regarding the important issues of faith and Christian life,
the great problems of the world and society, joblessness, narcotics, diseases,
wars, the ecological problem, destruction and pollution of the environment
and many others, create in us all a huge problem and an internal need for
prayer, strong prayer, so that solutions can be found for all levels.
Having our faith in Christ as a rule, the joy and optimism which stem
from this perspective, we will continue with the “good fight,” we will remain
in the battlements and we will all be humble Missionaries of the good and the
beautiful, that which our Orthodox Church teaches us, applying the
exhortations of St Paul, which is beneficial for us all.
I send to you all the heartfelt Patriarchal blessing of the Apostle Mark
and my Paternal prayer, that the Almighty God “who holds the times and the
seasons in His own authority,” may protect and bless the whole world, the
blessed and suffering land of Africa, the continent of the future, the crossroads
of civilizations, granting health and happiness to all.
His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa,
In the Great City of Alexandria, September 1, 2009
What is the work of the Church?
How can you participate in this great work?
Do you know what the exhortations of Saint Paul involve?

11 Saturday June 12, 2020
The Experience of an Explosion of Love

Saint Isaac the Syrian and the Russian writer Fyodor Doestoyevskiy share
a common focus on love. Both declare that love is truth. St. Isaac is widely
respected because he speaks the truth bluntly and leaves his message to
work within us. St. Isaac speaks to anyone who is genuinely struggling.
He writes with a respect for those who are small and humble. His message
is that man can learn to enjoy stillness while living on earth. His goal is to
liberate each person from the cycle of corruption, to break down the
barriers that block spiritual progress. In this way Orthodoxy leads to a
glorious experience of theophany. …
This is also a message that Doestoyevskiy imparts. There is a deep,
indisputable connection, a spiritual kinship, between St. Isaac and Fyodor
Doestoyevsky. We might say that Doestoyevskiy is a St. Isaac in the
world.… Love and truth are connected. Out of silence, a radiation of
spirit, of consciousness, takes place. … The denying of one’s self leads to
In prayer monks can sometimes experience an explosion of love.
This opens and reveals a vision that God is present everywhere and in all
things. When we experience how God fills all things with his life and love,
a ministry of service to the whole world comes into focus.…
His Eminence Archimandrite Vasileios, former abbot, Iveron Monastery,
Mount Athos, Greece, June 28, 2013
Why is love also truth?
How is love related to God?
Why is service to creation also a form of service to God?

12 Monday June 14, 2020
The Creation as a Living Gift from God

The creation is a living gift from God to all, a marvelous expression of divine
love and wisdom.
Through the human encounter with nature, a realization of the divine
becomes manifest. In our own personal life, the vast wilderness of the Egyptian
desert and its beauty have long been a cherished place for prayer and
contemplation. For this reason we continue to spend one-half of each week at
our residence at the Monastery of Saint Bishoy in Wadi El-Natrun.
The life of our Church not only encourages an appreciation of nature,
but places a duty upon all people to protect the environment and to prevent its
ever increasing destruction.
His Holiness Pope Shenuda III, Coptic Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria,
Monastery of Saint Bishoy, Wadi El-Natrun, January, 2003

Why Ecology is a Spiritual Concern
The ecological problem is one of exhaustion in nature, pollution of natural
resources, annihilation of forests, utilization of dangerous natural forces
such as nuclear energy, and the production of new synthetic substances
which do not exist in nature and cannot be decomposed biologically.
On the basis of this, I have come to the conclusion that the
ecological problem is, actually, theological and religious in nature; that it is a
problem of faith and religious activity – of orthodoxy and orthopraxis. There
must be a radical change in the practical lives of all humanity, a new
environmental ethic which seeks the integrity of creation in all its forms.
HE Metropolitan Damaskinos of Switzerland, “The Ecological Problem,”
Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, March, 1990
How would you define the right treatment of God’s creation?
Why do moral and spiritual principles underlie right treatment of the world?
How should the Church teach a right relationship to God’s world?

13 Tuesday June 15, 2020
Reintegrating Science and Religion

By the end of the 20th century, science and technology have acquired such
influence that it has become the decisive force in the life of civilization. At the
same time, despite Christianity’s initial impact on the formation of scientific
activity, under secular influences, they have led to serious fears and real
problems. The ecological crises which have hit the modern world challenge the
path forward. The scientific and technological level of civilization is such that
criminal actions of a small group can cause a global disaster in which even the
highest forms of life will perish irrevocably.
From a Christian perspective, these consequences arise because of the
false principle underlying contemporary scientific and technological
development. This principle requires that technological development should
not be restricted by ethical or religious requirements. With this freedom
scientific development finds itself at the mercy of human passions, including
vanity, pride and thirst for the greatest possible comfort. This frustrates the
spiritual harmony of life with negative consequences. Therefore, to ensure
normal human life it is now necessary as never before to restore the lost link
between scientific knowledge and religious, spiritual and moral values. The
need for this link is conditioned by the fact that a considerable number of
people believe in the omnipotence of scientific knowledge….
Mikhailo Lomonosov rightly wrote that science and religion “cannot
come into conflict… unless someone excites strife in them….”
St. Philaret of Moscow expressed a similar idea: “Faith in Christ is not in
conflict with true knowledge, because it is not in union with ignorance.”
Noteworthy is the incorrectness of opposing religion to a scientific worldview.
Only religion and philosophy can fulfill the function of worldview, which
no scientific knowledge is capable of assuming.
HB Patriarch Kyrill, Archbishop of Moscow and Patriarch of All-Russia,
“Russian Orthodox Church on Ecological programs,” June 1, 2012
How do ecological crises challenge the path forward?
How can religion and science be in harmony?
What is “the lost link” between scientific knowledge and moral values?

14 Wednesday June 16, 2020
A Bridge-Building Pathway

Nobody, not a religion, not a nation, not a state, not science and technology,
can face the contemporary world’s unforeseen challenges alone. In our present
day and age, we must promote cooperation and mutual trust. Building bridges
is the way to our common future.
Religions are diminishing their capacity to contribute to the precious
culture of solidarity because of their antagonism and wide-spread
fundamentalistic tendencies. The way to overcome these difficulties is the
unwavering commitment of religions to peace in the world and to interreligious
dialogue. To succeed in this task, together with the sensibilization of
consciences, a stronger mobilization on the action-level is needed.
The credibility of religions today depends on their attitude towards the
protection of human freedom and dignity, as well as on their contribution to
peace. Peace between cultures and nations cannot be reached without the
efforts of religions and without dialogue and peace between religions. It was in
this spirit that our Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, established a sincere
dialogue with Judaism and Islam nearly three decades ago, with remarkable
results in mutual understanding, peaceful coexistence and cooperation.
Religions can fanaticize people, they can divide and foster hatred and
violence. But, they are also able to humanize people and support and empower
their struggle for freedom, justice and reconciliation. We must work constantly
and consciously, so that the contemporary, yet ambiguous, “return of God”
and “renaissance of religion” will not become a return of war, conflict and
violence in the name of God and of religion, but a return of the “God of peace”
and the rebirth of the “culture of solidarity.”
HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew,, Eurasian Economic Summit,
April 5, 2017
Why in our contemporary world must we cultivate cooperation and mutual trust?
Why do some religions cause a fanaticism in their believers?
How should different religions relate to each other?

15 Thursday June 17, 2020
Globalization and Economic Inequality

The problem of social and economic inequality is one of the most pressing
and at the same time one of the most complex problems of the modern world.
Millions of people eke out a pitiful existence, suffering from malnutrition,
disease, various forms of discrimination and the degradation caused to the
environment. These problems become more acute as the world economy and
technological growth become globalized.
Globalization creates advantages for a small number of people and
risks for a huge part of the earth’s population. Economists admit that the
opening of markets in developing countries has mainly benefitted wealthy
countries and has brought about an increase, not a reduction, of the gap
between the wealthy and the poor countries.
The overriding principle of modern economic culture is profiteering,
the resolution of one’s objectives and the realization of one’s interests at the
expense of others. Humanistic values, which have at their root Christian
principles, have been devalued. An economy built on the cultivation of
hedonism is by definition immoral. Immoral too is humanity’s rapacious
attitude towards the natural environment, which suffers from the insatiable
appetite of a man of the consumer world.
We must remember that material benefits by themselves do not make
us happy. Moreover, a concentration solely upon material well-being leads to
moral degradation. Christ warns us: “Take care! Be on guard against all kinds
of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions”
(Luke 12:15). The Church calls us to treat wealth as God’s gift which is given
to humans not so much for themselves, but for the benefit of one’s neighbors.
Those who obtain profit should be made aware that a great responsibility rests
upon them – to be attentive to the needs of other people, to help eradicate
economic injustice in society, and thus fulfill the will of God.
HE Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Russian Orthodox Church,
Budapest Forum for Christian Communicators, September 6, 2019
What is globalization?
Why is it that material wealth cannot satisfy?
How does material wealth become a test of one’s spiritual life?

16 Friday June 18, 2020
Prayers Are Solicited for Peace

In the Church of Antioch, we are currently experiencing ecological and social
problems in a very urgent manner. At the heart of the Arab world there seems
now, more than ever before, a searching for more democratic social structures
together with issues related to freedom and human dignity. These goals now
challenge our conscience and compel us to ever deeper reflection.
In this highly confrontational context, we commit ourselves to a more
eloquent testimony to the power of the Gospel of Jesus, the comforter…. It is
in this humble fidelity to the life-giving spirit, stronger than the death that
surrounds us, we pray the Lord to bless your meeting.
In addition, we ask you to offer prayers more fervently for a Middle
East that is shaken by devastating waves of violence, so that the resurrected
Lord may teach the way of the future, the ways of peace, in which love
triumphs over hate, freedom over slavery, and dignity over humiliation.
HB Ignatius IV, Patriarch, The Church of Antioch
Damascus, Syria, September 8, 2012
How do prayers help to reduce violence and suffering?
Why does love triumph over hate in the end?
What are the qualities which bring peace to society?


17 Saturday June 19, 2021
The Challenges of the Future

When we focus on what the church is doing about a particular problem,
we must always remember that the church is not just the bishops, priests,
deacons and those with a leadership role. The church is all those who
participate in the eucharistic community. There already is a growing
sensitivity towards these issues among many lay people in the church.
Furthermore, we began to discuss this issue of the integration of creation
many years ago. Lay people played a decisive role in this. Scientists on the
frontiers of environmental research and those who make decisions in political
and economic life have been spokesmen for the Church just as much as
Church leaders….
The Book of Revelation has a strong element of realism when it puts
emphasis on the battle with demonic powers. This is not an easy story, it is a
real battle with victims, martyrs and heroes.
God is the Alpha and the Omega, the One who is, who was, and who is
to come. This is what gives us hope. God is not the God of the past, but the
God of eternity. This idea is repeated again and again. At the end of the Book
[of Revelation] there is victory, and the song of the new creation. The message
is one of hope, but only after going through all these battles, tragedies
and difficulties. I believe that keeping these eschatological and universal
perspectives in mind is the key to understanding our present in a realistic
way. It is most important in order to maintain this hope, to act in the local
situation while at the same time keeping the eschatological and the universal
perspectives in mind. In doing so we will be taking part in the concrete battle
of the century.
HB Archbishop Anastasios of Albania,
Patriarchal Symposium on The Book of Revelation, September 27, 1995
How does dealing with principalities and powers relate to ecological problems?
Why do you think His Eminence calls the Book of revelation a message of hope?
Why is hope in the promises of God part of our ecological remembrance?

18 Monday June 21, 2021
The Ecological Problem is A Spiritual Problem

I have many times expressed the opinion that the discussions and demonstrations
on the environment are reminiscent of dialogues of the deaf. While in theory,
all of us perceive the critical state of the [ecological] issue and many do take
initiatives or strive eagerly to contribute to its resolution, the problem remains
and has not been corrected.
The world is not the result of coincidences or accidental events, but it
was conceived by the Creator as a springboard for salvation. We human beings
have, or at least say we have, a regulatory role in creation, as its crowning.
However, we often forget our relationship with God and our place in creation.
We become autonomous, guided by dominating concepts and behaviors, which
are oppressive towards our fellow beings and the environment.
The saints of the Orthodox Church, having accomplished the purpose of
their existence as human beings and participating in the divine glory, show and
teach us the ecological ideal. Thus St. Isaac the Syrian defines the merciful
heart as “a heart burning for the whole creation, for people, for birds, for
animals, for demons, and for all creatures.” As for St. Cosmas of Aetolia, he
prophesied that “people will become poor because they will not love trees.”
The ecological problem is fundamentally a spiritual problem, with
enormous moral implications. If we do not free ourselves from egocentrism and
eudemonism (the belief that happiness is the test of right behavior), if we do
not have an ascetic vision of creation and of our rational and conscious use of
material goods and wealth, the ecological problem will spread, instead of being
stopped. This is why the fundamental challenge of World Environment Day is
for all of us to repent, to return to God the Creator, and to reintegrate ourselves
in the perspective of the divine plan for creation and the environment.
HE Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, Greece,
On the occasion of World Environment Day, June 4, 2019
Why is care for the environment a spiritual problem?
How may we correct our relationship and interactions with God’s creation?
What is the ideal relationship that we as Christians should have with creation?

19 Tuesday June 22, 2020
The Challenge of Our Generation

We all recognize that we can no longer desecrate God’s creation, whose origin
and destiny are inseparably identified with ourselves. What we refuse to do is
take the next step that is required of us as priests of creation, which entails
consecrating creation to the Creator. Avoiding desecration is only a partial
response to the ecological crisis; accepting and advocating consecration is the
fulfillment of our divine mandate to “serve and preserve the earth” (Gen. 2:15).
Such a sanctification and offering to God of “His own of His own, on behalf of
all and for the sake of all” (From the Divine Liturgy) unleashes the transformative
potential and restorative capacity of all creation for healing and wholeness.
However, in order to heal the earth, we must purify our hearts and
transform our habits. Every act of defilement on the body of creation is ultimately
contempt for the Body of Christ. Whereas when we demonstrate respectful
consideration for the earth’s natural resources, then we can also begin to discern
the perspective of the kingdom “on earth as in heaven” (From the Lord’s Prayer).
As Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has written: “Climate change
affects everyone. Unless we take radical and immediate measures to reduce
emissions stemming from unsustainable excesses in the demands of our
lifestyle, the impact will be both immediate and alarming.”
Therefore, each parish and every individual should seek out ways of
practicing prayer and care for God’s creation by applying the fundamental
principles of scripture, theology and tradition with regard to our relationship with the natural environment by considering changes in our attitudes
and habits with regard to food and travel, by reducing consumption of fossil
fuels and choosing alternative sources of energy with regard to lighting and heating,
as well as by raising and promoting awareness with regard to the divine gifts of
water and air. Every parish and community is invited and encouraged to
open a fruitful dialogue on this challenge of our generation.
HE Archbishop Elpidophorus, Protocol No. 22/19,
New York City, NY, September 1, 2019
Why is it wrong and a sin to desecrate God’s creation?
How can members of a parish work together to address climate change?
Why is climate change an important issue for Orthodox parishes?

20 Wednesday June 23, 2020
Avoid the Evil of Environmental Pollution

We know that pollution of the environment can have repercussions far away
from the point at which the pollution takes place….
Allow me to remind you of the ancient Greek philosopher Herodotus
according to whom there was once a people which considered the rivers to be
sacred and polluting them to be a sacrilege. Perhaps those who demythologize
ancient beliefs may regard such a concept as superstition. However, this belief
is preferable to the unscrupulous and irresponsible dumping of harmful
substances into the rivers, temporarily relieving those who selfishly pollute the
river, but harming their fellow humans who will use it.
Therefore, we must acquire a moral code higher than the one used by
such crude people and learn to respect humanity, accepting as a basic principle
that it is morally unacceptable to burden others with our wastes. This is the
only way to ensure that the Danube, the longest river of this region, becomes a
road of life for all….
This is the deeper reason why our humble person, whose mission is
the Christian education and sanctification of the Orthodox faithful, has
wholeheartedly sponsored the present series of ecological symposia. As the
Church Fathers teach, the root of all evils is selfishness and the highest
expression of virtue is selfless love. It is not permitted for faithful Christians
who are seeking sanctification to remain indifferent to the effects of their acts
on their fellow humans. The sensitivity of their conscience must be increased
so that they are not indifferent even to the indirect consequences of their acts.
HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, “The Danube,
A River of Life,” Passau, Germany, October 17, 1999
Why is pollution of the environment harmful?
What are some consequences of pollution?
How may a person increase the sensitivity of his or her conscience?

21 Thursday June 24, 2021
Climate Change as an Urgent Christian Issue

As a theologian who has spent his life serving God and striving to make the
world a better place, I am deeply committed to do everything I can to stop the
crisis that is global climate change.
The United Nations summit on climate change, COP-24 [in Poland],
brings us to a crossroads in our striving to build a better world for our children
and future generations. As the meetings in Katowice will show, we are failing in
our climate change efforts. We are on a bus without brakes, traveling towards a
major destination. But we keep arguing about how to get there.
Whilst there is almost unanimous belief that the world is warming,
there are different opinions about how to address it. There is an ongoing
presumption that one view is better than the other? Some of us are very
familiar with this debate. The reality is, all beliefs are legitimate.
If we have any hope of protecting humankind and the planet, we need
to examine and test every solution. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is an
obvious solution. Proven by science, commercial application and common
sense, CCS must form a vital part in our climate change response because it
removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Just as the UN Security Council is working with member states to
ensure the survival of humankind, we all need to work together – countries,
industry, organisations and individuals – using everything at our disposal to
protect our planet by reducing how much carbon dioxide we release.
Climate change success will only come when everyone is working
together and everything is embraced.

HE Archbishop Serafim (Kykotis), Archbishop of Zimbabwe and Angola,
Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa,
Harare, Zimbabwe, November 29, 2018
Can you name some solutions to the global challenge of climate change?
What does the idea of carbon capture and sequestration mean?
What is your parish doing to address climate change? Why?

22 Friday June 25 2021
Compassion for Animals

Compassion for animals is vividly expressed in the writings of a recent Athonite
Saint, the Russian monk Silouan (1866-1938). “The Lord,” he says, “bestows
such rich grace on his chosen ones that they embrace the whole earth, the
whole world within their love. …”
“One day I saw a dead snake on my path… and I was filled with pity for
every living creature, every suffering thing in creation, and I wept bitterly
before God.” Such is in truth the compassionate love that we are called to
express towards the animals.
All too often they are innocent sufferers, and we should view this
undeserved suffering with compunction and sympathy. What harm have they
done to us, that we should inflict pain and distress upon them?
As living beings, sensitive and easily hurt, they are to be viewed as a ‘Thou’,
not an ‘It,’ to use Martin Buber’s terminology: not as objects to be exploited and
manipulated but as subjects, capable of joy and sorrow, of happiness and
affliction. They are to be approached with gentleness and tenderness; and,
more than that, with respect and reverence, for they are precious in God’s
sight. As William Blake affirmed, “Every thing that lives is holy.”
HE Metropolitan Kallistos [Ware] of Diokleia,
Intl Orthodox Theological Association Conference, “Compassion for Animals,”
Iasi, Romania, January, 2019 Q
Why do you think it is that every thing that lives is holy?
What would it mean to embrace a sense of compassion for animals?
How would your life change if it included a sense of respect for all living things?

23 Saturday June 26, 2020
Ecological Asceticism

The ecological problem, at root, is a spiritual issue. Many people dealing with it
[the environment] tend to overlook its spiritual aspects. Yet both historically and
practically it is impossible to address it without reference to religion and ethics.
What motivation can religion offer people facing the ecological crisis? Here are
some suggestions:
Stressing and promoting the idea of the sacredness of creation in all its
aspects, spiritual as well as material….
A human is the Priest of creation as he or she freely turns it into a vehicle
of communion with God and fellow human beings. This means that the material
creation is… a sacred gift from God which is meant to foster and promote
communion with God and with others. Such a ‘liturgical’ use of nature by human
beings leads to forms of culture which are deeply respectful of the material world
while keeping the human person at the centre.
A spirit of asceticism. An ‘ecological asceticism,’ if we may coin such a
term, begins with deep respect for the material creation, including the human
body, and builds upon the view that we are not masters and possessors of
creation, but are called to turn it into a vehicle of communion…. This last point is
of paramount importance. Human beings must realize that natural resources are
not unlimited. Creation is finite and so are the resources that nature provides for
our needs. The consumerist philosophy of life seems to ignore this truth.
Reconsider our concept of quality of life. Quality does not need quantity to
exist. A restriction in our use of natural resources can lead to a happier life than
the endless competition of spending and acquiring more and more.
Qualitative growth must replace the concept of economic development…
Asceticism must cease to be a notion referring to a class of religious eccentrics
and become synonymous with qualitative – instead of quantitative – progress.
HE Metropolitan John of Pergamon, “Ecological Asceticism:
A Cultural Revolution,” April, 1996 Q
What does it mean that God’s creation is sacred in terms of human behavior?
How would you define ecological asceticism?
What does it mean to be a priest of creation?

24 Monday June 28, 2021
On the Edge of Global Ecological Disaster

The Orthodox Church, aware of her responsibility for the fate of the world, is
deeply concerned about the problems generated by contemporary civilization.
Ecological problems occupy a prominent place among them. Today the face of
the Earth has been distorted on a global scale. Its bowels are being damaged as
are its soil, water, air, fauna and flora. Nature which surrounds us serves as the
life support system for humanity. Man however is no longer satisfied with its
diverse gifts, but exploits whole ecosystems without restraint.
Human activity has acquired an ability to affect global processes and
these powers increase constantly due to the accelerated development of
science and technology. Industrial wastes which pollute the environment,
bad agricultural technology, the destruction of forests and topsoil — these
suppress biological activity and cause a steady shrinking of the biological and
genetic diversity of life. Limited and irreplenishable mineral resources are being
exhausted; drinking water supplies are being reduced. A great many harmful
toxic substances have become present in the biosphere, which are not naturally
part of the earth’s circulation and accumulating. The ecological balance has
been violated. Man now has to face the emergence of pernicious processes in
nature, including the failure of its natural reproductive power.
All this happens against a background of unprecedented and unjustified
growth of public consumption, especially in the most highly developed
countries, where the search for wealth and luxury has become a norm of life.
This situation obstructs a just and fair distribution of natural resources, which
are common human property. The consequences of the ecological crisis are
proving painful, not only for nature, but also for man. As a result, the entire
Earth finds itself on the verge of global ecological disaster.
HB Patriarch Alexiy II of Moscow and All-Russia, “Declaration on the
Social Policy of the Russian Orthodox Church,” Nr. 13, 2000 Q
Why do humans allow the pollution and degradation of the earth?
How can we join together to stop pollution and defilement of the land?
What are the consequences of failure to stop pollution?

25 Tuesday June 29, 2021
Avoiding Greed and Exceeding Our Need

St. John Chrysostom, urges: “In all things, we should avoid greed and exceeding
our need” (Homily 37 on Genesis) for “this ultimately trains us to become crude
and inhumane” (Homily 83 on Matthew), “no longer allowing people to be
people, but instead transforming them into beasts and demons” (Homily 39 on
1 Corinthians).
Therefore, convinced that Orthodox Christianity implies discarding
everything superfluous and that Orthodox Christians are “good stewards of
the grace of God” (1 Peter 4.10), we conclude with a message from a classic
story, from which everyone can reasonably deduce how uneducated, yet
faithful and respectful people perceived the natural environment and how it
should be retained pure and prosperous:
In the Sayings of the Desert Fathers of the Sinai, it is said about a monk
that eight hungry Saracens once approached him for food, but he had nothing
to offer them because he survived on raw, wild capers, whose bitterness could
kill even a camel. However, upon seeing them dying of extreme hunger, he said
to one of them: “Take your bow and cross this mountain. There, you will find a
herd of wild goats. Shoot one of them, whichever one you desire, but do not
shoot another.” The Saracen departed and, as the old man advised, shot one of
the animals. But when he tried to shoot another, his bow immediately snapped.
So he returned with the meat and related the story to his friends.
HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, June 5, 2010 Q
Why does greed condition a person toward becoming crude and inhumane?
In what ways does consumerism encourage us to acquire more than we need?
What does the story of the monk in the Sinai desert teach us?

26 Wednesday June 30, 2021
Christians Must Become Sensitive to Ecological Issues

It is important that [Orthodox] Church members become increasingly
sensitive about environmental issues…. That will be challenging for the
people of the Church, but I think that we have already begun the process.
We have identified one problem as being indifference towards God’s
One of our tasks is to help the people who come to church become
more aware that a passive attitude or indifference towards ecological issues is
wrong, and that they should become more appreciative of the integrity of
creation, in other words the integrity of God’s work.
Although it is not reasonable to expect results immediately, at least
we have made a start. Fortunately in the Church we live in hope, and
therefore we have the hope that we shall be more effective in the future.
HB Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, Symposium on The Book of Revelation,
Reflections, September 27, 1995 Q
Why is sensitivity to ecological issues important?
What is insensitivity to ecological issues? Why might this condition arise?
How does a person overcome this sort of insensitivity?

27 Thursday July 1, 2021
Discerning Beauty in Nature and Every Person

According to the sixth century theologian Dionysius the Areopagite, the most
fundamental name of God is ‘good.’ This essential good, by the fact of its
existence, extends goodness into all things. For Dionysius, what exists is good,
and what is good is beautiful.
Dionysius gives us a picture of the universe in which God is the
source of all that is. For Dionysius, perceptible beauty is a dim reflection of the
unutterable Beauty of the Creator. It lifts our minds and hearts to its source….
The inanimate world and the world of plants and animals conforms to models
that express the will of God, divine paradigms we are unable to perceive
directly, but whose mediated presence, we can intuitively perceive.
Mankind alone does not conform to the divine paradigm… and therefore
does not conform to the image of God within. That image is not confined
to his conscience, or his reason…. It is found in the whole of his being. Each
individual human being is a hologram of the universe: everything that is ‘out
there’ is also ‘in here.’ Each of us is a microcosm of the whole. That is why we
can experience plants and animals as our sisters and brothers, because their
existence is implicit in the deeper levels of our being.
Thus our ecological task is to find ourselves in the universe, and find the
universe in us. Our understanding will never reach the depths that are within
us. However, we do not have to know everything before we begin to act. The
truth of our actions will depend on our conforming to the deep structure of our
own nature, and thereby bring our mode of behavior, into conformity with the
will of God, which is known to us in part, through the world. All religious
traditions have ways of helping their members to do this, and we must use the
resources of our traditions for a common goal, a common good. HG Bishop Basil of Sergievo, Russian Orthodox Church,
Symposium on the Black Sea, September 26, 1997
What is beauty?
How may beauty become a teacher of personal behavior?
What does it mean that each person is a hologram of the universe?

28 Friday July 2, 2021
Priestly Asceticism is for All Christians

The ecological problem, at root, is a spiritual issue. Many people dealing with
the environment tend to overlook its spiritual aspects. Yet both historically
and practically it is impossible to address it without reference to religion and
ethics. What motivation can religion offer people facing the ecological crisis?
Here are some suggestions:
Stressing and promoting the idea of the sacredness of creation in all its
aspects, spiritual as well as material….
A human is the Priest of creation as he or she freely turns it into a
vehicle of communion with God and fellow human beings. This means that
material creation is… a sacred gift from God which is meant to foster and
promote communion with God and with others. Such a ‘liturgical’ use of nature
by human beings leads to forms of culture which are deeply respectful of the
material world while keeping the human person at the centre.
An “ecological asceticism,” if we may coin such a term, begins with deep
respect for the material creation, including the human body, and builds upon
the view that we are not masters and possessors of creation, but we are called
to turn the creation into a vehicle of communion…. This last point is of
paramount importance. Human beings must realize that natural resources are
not unlimited. Creation is finite and so are the resources that nature provides
for our needs. The consumerist philosophy of life ignores this truth.
Reconsider our concept of quality of life. Quality does not need quantity
to exist. A restriction in our use of natural resources can lead to a happier life
than the endless competition of spending and acquiring more and more.
Qualitative growth must replace the concept of economic development which is
dominated by quantitative statistics. Asceticism must cease to be a notion
referring to a class of religious eccentrics and become synonymous with
qualitative – instead of quantitative – progress in human societies.
HE Metropolitan John of Pergamon, “Ecological Asceticism: A Cultural Revolution,”
April, 1996 Q
What does it mean that God’s creation is sacred in terms of human behavior?
How would you define ecological asceticism?
What does it mean to be a priest of creation?

Programs and Opportunities

The Face of God film
If you have not seen it yet, you are invited to view our new film “The Face of God:
The Orthodox Church and Global Climate Change.” See also the introductions to
this film with commentary from HB Bishop Ireniy from the Serbian Orthodox
Church’s Diocese of the East, from HE Archbishop Alexander from the OCA’s
Diocese of the South, and from HE Metropolitan Nathanael from the Greek
Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago. See this at www.FaceofGodfilm.com

Reaching into Australia
Coming up next month the OFT will begin to circulate our film to the Orthodox
parishes of Australia. Please pray that this effort proceeds smoothly and effectively.

Linguists Needed
Additionally we will be translating our film into a number of languages, including
Albanian, Arabic, French, German, Hindi, Greek, Romanian, Russian, Serbian,
Shona, Swahili, plus other European and Middle Eastern languages. If you would
like to volunteer your Native language skills, your help in translations would be most
appreciated. Please send a note to our office, c/o FKrueger@Sonic.net

Forty more hours
During the production of our film, our team recorded over forty hours of interviews,
much of it inspired and eloquent. Our next task is to sort through these “out takes”
and place these commentaries on a fifth page of our film website. If you have film
editing skills and would like to use your abilities in service to our Church, please
contact our office. Thank you.

Help us Help our Church
The Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration has as its purpose to restore
awareness of Christ’s presence everywhere in creation, and thus hallow God’s Name,
“on earth as it is in heaven,” by seeking the transfiguration of creation.
Your donation can help us in this challenge. Thank you.
Mail to: The Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration
P.O. Box 7348, Santa Rosa, California 95407 USA
Orthodox Christianity Complimentary copy

The Unified Vision and Spiritual Direction of the Orthodox Patriarchs as they
call us into care for God’s Creation