Category Archives: From Bishop Gregory

2018 Lenten Archpastoral Letter

GREAT LENT 2018 - Protocol N. 3/2018 My Beloved Faithful Clergy and Laity of Our God-Protected Diocese: As we begin Holy and Great Lent this year on February 19th, I wanted to share with you a few thoughts so that we may journey through the season and arrive safely at the Great Feast of Feasts, Holy Pascha with the proper frame of mind. Holy and Great Lent is a truly beautiful period of time filled with moments in which we can focus our hearts and our minds on the grace of God. Through daily prayer, fasting, worship, and giving to others and by the grace of God our lives will continue to be transformed by Him and our souls will be drawn closer and closer to our Lord Jesus Christ! In the hymns and services of the Triodion period and at the entrance of this holy season of Great Lent, we are called to repentance. We are invited to come before God in the humility of the Publican. We are beckoned to return to His dwelling and His compassionate embrace as the Prodigal Son. We are confronted with the causes of our separation from God and our need for His great mercy. It is truly a time of repentance as we prepare to commemorate and contemplate all that has been done for us through Christ our Lord. This solemn and reflective journey is not one of despair. This is not a time of inconsolable grief or deep anguish and anxiety. Holy and Great Lent is a time of spiritual renewal in which repentance finds forgiveness and grace, engenders hope, strengthens our faith and leads us to abundant and eternal life. We know through the Gospel that genuine repentance receives forgiveness and grace. The sincerity of the Publican expressed in his cry, “God, be merciful to me a sinner” was recognized by God, and his sins were forgiven (Luke 18:13 – 14). We also know that repentance nurtures hope. God’s grace transforms us, as we see the blessedness of life restored to communion with Him, we experience the joy of hope. For the Prodigal Son it was the journey to return to the house of his father, hoping that something better awaited. As through repentance we receive forgiveness and grace and our hearts are filled with hope, our faith is strengthened. As we prepare to celebrate the fulfillment of God’s promise to defeat death, restore us to life, and lead us to the Resurrection, our faith in Him grows. At the beginning of Great Lent, let us contemplate the power of repentance and take this opportunity to examine our hearts and minds. Let us pray for humility in seeking the forgiveness and grace of God, returning to communion with Him. Let us find renewed hope in the light, peace and joy that comes from our Crucified and Risen Christ. I pray that this Holy and Great Lent season is a spiritually uplifting time for all of us. Working in His Vineyard with much love for all of you, +BISHOP GREGORY OF NYSSA

2017 Nativity Pastoral Letter

Protocol. No. 15/2017 December 25, 2017 / January 7, 2018 CHRIST IS BORN! GLORIFY HIM! Dear Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, As we celebrate this joyous Feast of the Nativity in the flesh of our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ, I wish to share with you one of my favorite Christmas homilies from the Church Fathers concerning this day. St. John Chrysostom spoke on the Incarnation with these words: “I behold a new and wondrous mystery! My ears resound to the shepherd’s song, piping no soft melody, but loudly chanting a heavenly hymn! The Angels sing! The Archangels blend their voices in harmony! The Cherubim resound their joyful praise! The Seraphim exalt His glory! All join to praise this Holy Feast, beholding the Godhead herein…on earth and man in heaven. He Who is above now, for our salvation, dwells here below; and we, who were lowly, are exalted by divine mercy. Today Bethlehem resembles heaven, hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices and, in place of the sun, witnessing the rising of the Sun of Justice! Ask not how it is accomplished, for where God wills, the order of nature is overturned. For He willed, He had the powers, He descended. He saved. All things move in obedience to God. Today He Who Is, is born! And He Who Is becomes what He was not! For when He was God, He became man while not relinquishing the Godhead that is His… And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him angels, nor archangels, nor thrones, nor dominions, nor powers, nor principalities, but treading a new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb. Yet, He has not forsaken His angels, nor left them deprived of His care, nor because of His Incarnation has He ceased being God. And behold Kings have come, that they might serve the Leader of the Hosts of Heaven; women, that they might adore Him Who was born of a woman so that He might change the pains of childbirth into joy; virgins, to the Son of the Virgin… Infants, that they may adore Him Who became a little Child, so that out of the mouths of infants He might perfect praise; Children, to the Child Who raised martyrs through the rage of Herod; Men, to Him Who became man that He might heal the miseries of His servants; Shepherds, to the Good Shepherd Who laid down His life for the sheep; Priests, to Him Who has become a High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek; Servants, to Him Who took upon Himself the form of a servant, that He might bless our stewardship with the reward of freedom; Fishermen, to the Fisher of humanity; Publicans, to Him Who from among them names a chosen evangelist; Sinful women, to Him Who exposed His feet to the tears of the repentant woman; And that I may embrace them all together, all sinners have come, that they may look upon the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world! Since, therefore, all rejoice, I too desire to rejoice! I too wish to share the choral dance, to celebrate the festival! But I take my part, not plucking the harp nor with the music of the pipes nor holding a torch, but holding in my arms the cradle of Christ! For this is all my hope! This is my life! This is my salvation! This is my pipe, my harp! And bearing it, I come, and having from its power received the gift of speech, I too, with the angels and shepherds, sing: Glory to God in the Highest! And on earth peace to men of good will.” Amen. Today may all of us, Priests, Panis, Deacons, Sub-Deacons, Readers, Parish Officers, Parishioners, Friends, and Supporters of our God-protected American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese experience the joy and wonders of the Shepherds and the awe and respect of the Three Wise Men at the arrival of the Messiah, our new born King. Christ is Born! Greetings from Johnstown with much love, +Bishop Gregory of Nyssa

Pascha Archpastoral Letter

Protocol N.6-2017 - Paschal Archpastoral Letter PASCHA ARCHPASTORAL LETTER To the Very Reverend Protopresbyters, Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers, and Faithful of our God-Protected Diocese: CHRIST IS RISEN! INDEED HE IS RISEN! “…its truth is seen in Him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.” (1 John 2:8) In this world where darkness unceasingly prowls and is ever ready to overtake and consume any goodness which may exist, we must remain steadfast in our faith and allow Christ’s Light to shine through us, transforming us into beacons of hope for the entire world. During the beautiful service of the Resurrection, waiting in a darkened church, anticipating the Light, we should be mindful of what we are about to experience and its significance. The Resurrection is a real event. It is happening right now for all of us. On this great and glorious Feast of Pascha – the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, our hearts are filled with tremendous joy, our souls are transformed and we bask in the Light of the Truth. It is my fervent prayer that we continue and increase our efforts to help conquer the seemingly overwhelming sorrows and despairs in this darkened world by sharing the “Good News” of our Lord’s Resurrection, not only with the proclamation of “Christ is Risen” but also by also being the shining, radiant beacons of our Lord’s Light and Love. Personal Greetings On this Bright and Holy Feast, I extend my prayerful best wishes to you, the Clergy and Laity, Friends and Supporters of the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese. May you truly experience the love, joy, and excitement of the early followers of Christ when they first saw Him after His Resurrection. Christ is Risen! Working in the Risen Lord’s Vineyard with much love, +Bishop Gregory of Nyssa

Nativity Archpastoral Letter from Bishop Gregory

2016 Nativity Archpastoral Letter The American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese of North America. ECUMENICAL PATRIARCHATE OF CONSTANTINOPLE Protocol No. 19/2016 CHRISTMAS ARCHPASTORAL LETTER December 25, 2016 / January 7, 2017 CHRIST IS BORN! GLORIFY HIM! Dear Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, On this glorious Feast of the Nativity of Christ we celebrate a truly a wondrous event in which God, in His infinite and marvelous grace, became man bringing us enduring hope, newness of life, and eternal salvation. The Son of God, the Lord of Glory and King of kings who upholds the universe by His word of power, became man so that we human beings might be redeemed, renewed, united with Him, and become fellow citizens with the Saints and members of God’s kingdom. The magnitude and depth of the event of the Nativity of Christ are impossible to grasp, but the message is clear and true. It is a message of grace, hope, and salvation to all humanity and to all the created order. It is a message which we both celebrate and share on this sacred day, an invitation to "come and see" what our loving Creator and God has done for us. On the night of the Nativity, the angels appeared in the glory of God and announced the birth of Christ to the Shepherds. In response they said, "Let us go…and see this thing that has happened." Accepting the invitation to participate in this glorious event, they came and saw the newborn Christ, and becoming amazed by what God had done for our salvation, went away glorifying and praising Him for all that they had seen and heard (Luke 2:8 – 20). Following the Nativity, Wise Men in the East saw a mysterious star and following it came seeking the King who was born in Judea. Upon learning of the place of the birth of the Lord, they came and saw the Christ child, offered Him gifts, and worshipped Him. Responding to the invitation presented to them in the sign of the star, they came and encountered the One who would be a great ruler of His people as foretold by the prophets (Matthew 2:1 - 12). As the Shepherds and Wise Men received the invitation to "come and see" the superb miracle of the Incarnation of God, we are also invited to "come and see" Christ and the great work He has done for our salvation. On this day we "come and see" the bright light of truth and life shining through the darkness and despair of our violent and war torn world. On this day we hear a message of hope, grace, and peace. We come to Christ and see justice, holiness, and love. Today may all of us, Priests, Panis, Deacons, Sub-Deacons, Readers, Parish Officers, Parishioners, Friends, and Supporters of our God-protected American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese experience the joy and wonders of the Shepherds and the awe and respect of the Three Wise Men at the arrival of the Messiah, our new born King. Christ is Born! Greetings from Johnstown with much love, +Bishop Gregory of Nyssa

Archpastoral Letter For The Nativity Fast 2016: Nativity Prayer Challenge

Nativity Fast 2016 - Protocol N. 18/2016 Glory Be To Jesus Christ! My beloved Faithful Clergy and Laity of our God-Protected Diocese: It is hard to believe that this month marks the fourth anniversary of my Consecration and Enthronement as your Bishop. During my visits to the parishes you have heard me preaching on the state of affairs, locally and globally. Conflicts, wars and senseless violence continue to inflict pain and suffering and spill blood everywhere. I am deeply saddened that peace continues to elude us. This lack of peace is the direct result of increased selfishness and hatred throughout the world. Whatever we as inhabitants of this planet are doing it is not working, somehow it is not enough. Obviously we as humans can not achieve peace on our own. We need the help of the Lord. As we once again enter the Season of the Nativity Fast, I ask you, actually I plead with you, the good faithful people of our Diocese, to join me on a journey to meet the new born King. During these 40 days leading to the Nativity of our Lord let us increase our efforts in church attendance, in prayer, in fasting, in scriptural reading, in almsgiving, in repentance and confession, in receiving the Eucharist. This year, just like last year, I am challenging everyone, clergy and laity, to offer a special prayer for peace during evening prayers. During the Litany of Fervent Supplication at each Divine Liturgy a special petition is also to be included. The text of these prayers will be provided to the Clergy for distribution. Each household should have sufficient copies so that each young person that can read has one by their bed to use nightly and those who are too young to read may say the prayer with their parents before they go to bed. Of course all the adults should also participate. To assist with this challenge, a special web page has been created on the Diocesan Website, Praying for Peace, which contains downloadable texts of the special prayers. Other postings will be made on various social media outlets to encourage maximum exposure and participation. With all of us united in prayer and laboring for peace this Nativity Fasting Season, I am convinced that we will help to make our lives and that of others throughout the world more peaceful, even if only in a small way. Working in His Vineyard with much love, +BISHOP GREGORY OF NYSSA prayer-for-peace-daily-prayers-2016-revised

Bishop Gregory’s Paschal Letter

Protocol 14/2016 To the Very Reverend Protopresbyters, Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers, and the Faithful of our God-Protected Diocese:  CHRIST IS RISEN!    INDEED, HE IS RISEN! On this great and glorious Feast of Pascha – the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, our hearts are filled with tremendous joy, our souls are transformed and we bask in the Light of the Truth.  This year I want to share with you some Paschal thoughts from St. Gregory the Theologian. THE PASCHAL HOMILY OF ST. GREGORY THE THEOLOGIAN It is the Day of the Resurrection! Let us then keep the Festival with splendor, and let us embrace one another.  Let us say Brethen, even to those who hate us, Let us forgive all offenses for the Resurrection’s sake; let us give one another pardon.  Yesterday, I was crucified with Him; today I am glorified with Him.  Yesterday, I died with Him; today I am made alive in Him.  Yesterday, I was buried with Him, today I am raised with Him. Let us offer ourselves to Him who suffered and rose again for us. Let us become divine for His sake, since for us He became human. He assumed the worst that He might give us the better. He became poor that by His poverty we might become rich.  He accepted the form of a servant that we might win back our freedom. He came down that we might be lifted up.  He was tempted that through Him we might conquer.  He was dishonored that He might glorify us.  He died that He might save us.  He ascended that He might draw to Himself us, who were thrown down through the fall of sin. Let us give all, offer all, to Him who gave Himself as a ransom and reconciliation for us.  We needed an incarnate God, a God put to death, that we might live.  We were put to death together with Him that we might be cleansed. We rose again with Him because we were put to death with Him.  We were glorified with Him because we rose  again with Him. May we all be one in Christ Jesus our Lord, to Whom be the glory and the might forever and ever. Amen. Personal Greetings: May all the Priests and Panis, Deacons, Parishioners, Friends and Supporters of our American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese experience the joy, excitement and wonder of the early followers of Christ when they first saw Him following His Resurrection. Christ is Risen! Working in the Risen Lord’s Vineyard with much love, +His Grace Bishop Gregory of Nyssa To be read as the sermon in all churches of the Diocese at the Paschal Divine Liturgy on the Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ Protocol N.14-2016 -Paschal Archpastoral Letter  

Christmas Archpastoral Letter from His Grace Bishop Gregory

Protocol. No. 21/2015 December 25, 2015 / January 7, 2016 CHRIST IS BORN! GLORIFY HIM! Dear Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I greet you with great joy and love in the Name of our Incarnate Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  I give thanks to Almighty God by whose grace we have been given the opportunity to celebrate the Birth of His Son.  Looking around, we still see hatred, mistrust, violence, suffering, and the absence of peace in our world.  This reality of life in this world makes us cry out for God’s help, assistance and intervention. The holy gift of God’s Son at Christmas reveals to us His love and care for all humanity.  As human beings, we are awed by the miracle of God becoming man: the divine glory revealed in a child born in poor circumstances, the omnipotent Creator a little baby in His Mother’s arms.  Indeed on this night the Redeemer becomes one of us, as St. John Chrysostom says, He took on our flesh to make us holy, and gave us His Spirit so that we can be reconciled with our Creator and enter into eternal life with Him. Therefore as we celebrate the miracle of His Birth, let kindness come with every gift, and compassion, forgiveness and love with every greeting.  Let us beautify our hearts with prayer and charity, so that all people may enter into the joy of the Feast of the Nativity with us.  Let us give our families and friends the lasting gift of forgiveness and reconciliation.  Let us pray for one another, that we may forget about our own concerns and truly love our neighbor as ourselves.  Let us worship the One who came from the highest heaven to dwell with us on earth, raising us from this world into the Kingdom of God. Today may all of us, Priests, Panis, Deacons, Subdeacons, Readers, Parish Officers, Parishioners, Friends, and Supporters of our God-protected American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese experience the joy and wonders of the Shepherds and the awe and respect of the Three Wise Men at the arrival of the Messiah, our new born King.  Christ is Born! Greetings from Johnstown with much love, +His Grace, Bishop Gregory of Nyssa

Christmas Message from the Assembly of Bishops


For the Lord your God is God of Gods and the Lord of Lords…He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing (Reading from Great Vespers of the Nativity; Deuteronomy 10: 17-18).

To the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of Parish Councils, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Members of Philanthropic Organizations, the Youth and Youth Workers, and the entire Orthodox Christian Family of the United States of America.

Beloved Faithful Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On these most blessed days of the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we are all invited to consider how we may manifest among our neighbors the love, mercy and compassion of the Christ-child. This is especially important because Christmas represents the profound and sacred point in history when invisible God, taking the form of a servant, dwells among us. From this time forth the eternal message of salvation is not merely declared through law and prophetic message, but is finally something, as Saint John the Evangelist says, that we have heard, that we have seen with our eyes, that we have looked at and touched with our hands (1 John 1: 1).

From this time forth, therefore, our actions are meant to reflect this tangible reality. Having heard, seen, and touched the Lord, we are called to share with the downtrodden and forgotten the same joy of the Incarnation. To do this, however, we must move beyond selfish endeavors and turn to the needs of others.

Certainly, many have contributed significantly to the Church’s evangelism and outreach ministries on parish, diocesan, and jurisdictional levels. These initiatives, however, must never be viewed apart from national and global humanitarian efforts. Through our Assembly of Bishops, we have the unique blessing to participate in the work of our Agencies, and thereby become agents of the Holy Gospel in more dynamic ways than ever before. As you and your loved ones prepare to celebrate the holy feast of the Nativity, I encourage you to learn how IOCC responds to national and global humanitarian crises; how OCMC brings the good news of the Holy Gospel to all corners of the world; how OCPM cares for and offers hope to those in prisons; how OCN introduces people to Orthodoxy through digital media; and how OCF cultivates the minds and hearts of our young people on college campuses.

During the Christmas season, which is marked by an increase in God’s grace upon us, we are called to serve as the all-merciful hands of God in the world. From the very beginning of His public ministry, Jesus Christ is approached by countless people who are suffering and in desperate need of help, and in every such instance, Christ has compassion on them. In like fashion, we must feed the countless men, women and children who go to sleep on empty stomachs; provide shelter to the homeless; and visit our neighbors in prisons and hospitals.

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, as we prepare to receive the Incarnate Lord into the world and into our lives, let us keep in mind that the light of Bethlehem and the joy of the manger of the Nativity are meant to be witnessed and experienced by all of humanity and not just a select few. During this blessed period, I extend to you the blessings of all brother Hierarchs of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States. We wholeheartedly pray that the compassion and mercy of our Lord may be bestowed upon you and your families.

With paternal love in Christ,

+Archbishop Demetrios of America