After the celebration of the Divine Liturgy and of the Te Deum service on 1 January 2014, in the Patriarchal Cathedral, His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church officially proclaimed the year 2014 as Solemn Eucharistic Year (of the Holy Confession and Holy Communion) and Commemorative Year of the Brancovean Saints Martyrs in the Romanian Patriarchate.
To start with, the troparions entitled To Your Last Supper and of the Brancovean Saints Martyrs were sung.
The official document was read by His Grace Varlaam Ploiesteanul, Assistant Bishop to the Patriarch and Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church. We render it below:
“Decree of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church no 10236 of 31 October 2012.
During its working session of 29 October 2012, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church examined the report of the Holy Synod Office on the initiatives of the Patriarch of Romania concerning the declaration of the year 2014 in the Romanian Patriarchate as Solemn Eucharistic Year (of the Holy Confession and Holy Communion) and Commemorative Year of the Brancovean Saints Martyrs. Following the discussions in the plenary session, and following the proposal of the Theological Liturgical and Didactic Commission, the Holy Synod decided:
1.To approve the initiatives of His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel concerning the declaration of the year 2014 as Solemn Eucharistic year (of the Holy Confession and of the Holy Communion) and as Commemorative year of the Brancovean Saints Martyrs in the Romanian Patriarchate.
2.To approve the church national frame-programme designed to implement the project entitled 2014 – Solemn Eucharistic year (of the Holy Confession and of the Holy Communion) and as Commemorative year of the Brancovean Saints Martyrs from a liturgical, cultural and media point of view.
3.To approve that all the necessary measures should be taken in all the central and eparchial church institutions, as well as in every institution of theological education in order to illustrate the church national frame – programme entitled 2014 – Solemn Eucharistic year (of the Holy Confession and of the Holy Communion) and as Commemorative year of the Brancovean Saints Martyrs, through local actions and manifestations (media, conferences, meetings, pastoral, theological, catechetic and spiritual seminars), through the contribution of the theology professors, priests and monks, as well as of some other specialists.
4.To approve that the Semestral pastoral – missionary conference of the spring of 2014 focus on the theme 2014 – Solemn Eucharistic year (of the Holy Confession and of the Holy Communion) in the Romanian Patriarchate, and the Semestral pastoral – missionary Conference in the autumn of 2014 focus on the theme Commemorative year of the Brancovean Saints Martyrs, with their possible thorough study at the priests’ monthly administrative conferences scheduled by every eparchy, as well as within the pastoral circles”.
To end with, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel delivered a sermon in which he emphasised the importance of these two holy sacraments and spoke about the Brancovean Saints Martyrs.
“These two themes were proposed and approved first of all because in 2014 it is 300 years since the martyr death of the Saint Prince of Wallachia, Constantine Brancoveanu and of his four sons Constantin, Stefan, Radu and Matei and of counsellor Ianache. That is only to have a commemoration worthy of a martyr ruling prince who sacrificed his life, he and his four sons and counsellor Ianache, although he could have lived if he had become Muslim, but he preferred to die Christian instead of passing to another faith. During the last few years we paid much heed to some of the Holy Sacraments and we wanted to continue to emphasise their importance in the church life in order to intensify the Christian life, to understand their deep significance and especially their relation with our life and with the salvation work of the Church on the basis of the saving work of Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church. The Sacrament of the Holy Confession is very important and directly related to the Holy Eucharist, because we cannot have the Holy Eucharist unless we confess our sins and receive the forgiveness of our sins from our father confessor. Thus, these two sacraments are very closely related to each other. We see this truth in the Holy Scripture, in the works of the Holy Fathers and in the life of the Church throughout the centuries”, His Beatitude explained. The Patriarch of Romania showed that “the Mystery of the repentance precedes the Holy Eucharist”: “Unless man rids of sin, says Saint Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians in the book of the Revelation, he cannot get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Because the Holy Eucharist is the dinner prefigured as a foretaste of the Kingdom of Heaven, the Mystery of Repentance always precedes the Holy Eucharist. Thus, they are related. Whoever judges himself, say the repentance prayers celebrated before the Holy Communion, will no longer be judged by God on the day of the Last Judgement. When we confess our sins we do not defend ourselves, but judge ourselves, we say the father confessor who is the servant of Christ what our sins are, with a feeling of regret, of repentance for having done them, wishing to rid of them, to be released from their darkness”.
The Primate of the Romanian Orthodox Church has also said: “Constantine Brancoveanu is a confessor of faith just like Saint Constantine the Great, but moreover he is a martyr and we must take into account the fact that he died a martyr’s death just on the day when he was 60. The Romanian Orthodox Church ranked him among the saints by decision of the Holy Synod of 20 June 1992, with 16 August as celebration day, because 15 August is the great feast of the Falling Asleep of the Mother of God, when no other feast is added. Thus, the Brancovean Saints will be celebrated with special devotion in 2014. His Grace Varsanufie Prahoveanul has already taken care to have a silver shrine made in the Brancovean style and a canopy for Saint George the New church because six years after his death his wife lady Maria brought his body in secret and laid it in the church he had founded in Bucharest, the church of Saint George the New, where it has been till today. Thus, we shall have a silver shrine which will be taken in pilgrimage to the churches he founded in Wallachia and maybe in Transylvania too, to Sambata de Sus, because he was a great founder of churches and their supporter too. Moreover, Saint Constantine Brancoveanu helped not only the Romanian Orthodox faithful, but also the Orthodox who were living under Ottoman occupation: in Syria, Georgia, in various parts of the Orient and certainly the Arabs too. He was a founder of Churches and a generous ruler who helped the entire Christianity”.
Following the initiative of His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church approved during the working session of 29 October 2012 that the year 2014 should be declared Solemn Eucharistic Yea (of the Holy Confession and Holy Communion) and Commemorative year of the Brancovean Saints Martyrs in the Romanian Patriarchate.