His Eminence PANTELEIMON,
Metropolitan of Veria, Naousa and Kampania
We have learned with joy that this year too the Holy Metropolis of Veria, Naousa and Kampania, continuing the tradition that Your Eminence have inaugurated at your enthronement in the apostolic diocese of Veria, will organize the International Scientific Congress on “Patience and endurance in contemporary times according to Saint Paul the Apostle”, which is already at its 21st edition. It is known that religious and cultural events taking place within the “Pavleia” encounters highlight the personality and work of the great Apostle to the Gentiles, making accessible to our contemporaries his teaching and responding to the realities faced by contemporary society. The theme chosen for this year is one of great interest and importance, since the planet is facing many problems of different nature: from armed conflicts between nations and terrorist actions to hostile attitudes between persons belonging to the same social status; from serious health problems and collective psychosis to dramas personally experienced by individuals marginalised by a secularised society that no longer respects the spiritual value of every human person. The list is much longer, covering issues which the Church is called to respond in prayer, word and action, continuing the work of our Saviour Jesus Christ and of the Apostles, among whom the most important is the Apostle to the Gentiles. Within this broad scientific encounter in Veria, Saint Paul the Apostle is celebrated in liturgical prayer and love for truth by theologians from all Orthodox Churches. The virtue of patience and its work in contemporary society, dominated by haste and unnatural pressure of the lack of time, represents one of the most significant features of Christian life since our Saviour Jesus Christ Himself directly linked patience and endurance with salvation, saying: “In your endurance you will gain your souls” (Luke 21:19). At the same time, patience works together with endurance, in the sense that always a Christian who endures for a long time shows thereby equally the inner spiritual strength to endure or suffer tribulations and trials coming from others and to compassionately understand their mistakes, with the hope of them being redeemed.
Saint Paul the Apostle tells us that, by practicing patience and endurance, a Christian is accomplishing the will of God and is strengthening himself in faith, on the path to attaining salvation: “Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which will be greatly rewarded. For you need patience, so that after you have done the will of God, you will receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:35-36). The Christian belief in the help of God transforms our patience and endurance in a spiritual power to promote peace in the community and the society in opposition to hatred and violence, thus, overcoming such situations of conflict. Although considered sometimes as passive and ineffective attitudes, yet, patience and endurance in difficult situations are great qualities or virtues because they are signs of the presence of Christ’s sacrificial love and wisdom in human beings. Through patience and endurance, a Christian becomes confessor of the love for the merciful God and for his neighbour, promoting peace in the family, society and among peoples.
The scientific and spiritual Congress in Veria is both an expression of the international Orthodox communion and also a pastoral and missionary cooperation to find new ways of helping people who are going through difficult situations in their lives.
We pray God that you may have good results in the works of this Congress towards strengthening fraternal communion and cooperation between our sister Churches.
With brotherly love in Christ, high esteem and blessing,
Patriarch of Romania