On May 7th, participants from all over the Direct Archdiocesan District gathered at St. Barbara’s in Orange, Connecticut to compete in the Oratorical Festival Finals. All of the participants gave amazing speeches and taught many aspects of their faith to their fellow competitors and the attendees.
One of the participants, Irene Coritsidis sent her speech in to the DAD Office for others to enjoy. Thanks so much Irene, and congratulations!
The Lord says: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9 Simple enough, isn’t it? But how do we do we become peacemakers? There are books, movies and even colleges dedicated to the art of war. However, in this age of violence and terrorism and war–where can we learn the art of waging peace? Who will be our Caesars and Pattons? Who will be our Band of Brothers?
Two of the great saints of Orthodoxy, were warriors, who showed their greatest courage, not with the sword, but with the profession of their faith. St. Demetrios became a high-ranking officer in the Roman Army, at a very young age. Still, he proclaimed his faith by saying: “…only in Christ do I believe” and with that statement, sealed his fate. St. George became a Roman soldier at the age of 17. He was elevated to the rank of colonel by the Emperor Diocletian. St. George bravely denounced the Emperor for his unnecessary cruelty, and St. George was beheaded defending his faith.
Peacemaking has always needed warriors, because it is not easy. Peacemaking requires more courage, patience and discipline than does war. It requires one to know that he will be punished for seeking justice and speaking the truth. As Jesus said in John 18:23 “If I said something wrong, testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” We see this today, in Egypt, the land where God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, and where St. Catherine was martyred. We have witnessed a nation deliver itself from a modern ‘pharaoh’, without waging war; and a young band of brothers–and sisters– become martyrs for peace and brotherhood. What makes this special is that not only a wonderful ancient history is repeating itself, and a dreadful modern history–of terrorism and the murder of Orthodox Christians, Jews and even fellow Muslims, is curing itself.
By waging Holy Peace, and succeeding, these young peacemakers have made fools out of the terrorists who have waged Holy War, and have only destroyed themselves, others and the land they claimed to love. But we should not be surprised that the patience and discipline of these young people has been rewarded. As we read in Hebrews 12:11: No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
So let us, as Orthodox Christians, begin training today, to be soldiers of peace. We do not have to go far or do a single push up. We can start in our rooms, on our computers. If we see others engaging in cyber bullying, let’s be the ones who stand up for reason. When we are in school and see kids getting picked on because they are smaller or different, let us be the one’s who speak peace. And when we hear people making hateful racist remarks, let us be the one’s who speak Christian brotherhood. And, in the end, like the band of brothers and sisters in Egypt, and like Saints George and Demetrios, whatever hardships we endure, will be rewarded by a harvest of righteousness and peace.