The Vespers Service for the Feast Day of Saint Sergios and Saint Baccus and Saint Sergius of Radonzeh was held on Tuesday 6 October, a truly blissful Spring evening in Cape Town. His Eminence Archbishop Sergios officiated at the service, which included an Artoclasia for the saints, beside Father Nikolaos Giamourides and Deacon Father Michael Simos. Also present were the Consul of Greece Mr Thomas Matsoukas with members of his consular staff and Mr Nassos Martalas, President of the Hellenic Community of Cape Town and several committee members.
In his address after the service, His Eminence spoke of the importance of the Saints of the Orthodox Church. He said Saint Sergius of Radonzeh, who was the Abbott of the Monastery of The Holy Trinity in Russia, is a saint for all of Orthodoxy. He was a very great saint and the left side of the Metropolitan Church is named after him. Saints Sergios and Bacchus were senior army officers in the fourth century and they were martyred for refusing to deny Christ and His teachings.
Although they were not blood brothers, their friendship and commitment to each other is a prime example of what we call “philia”. This is an ancient Greek word for love and is often described as “brotherly love”. Unfortunately over the centuries, this meaning has been somewhat distorted and it is important that we,as Orthodox Christians, understand the true meaning of this word which extends beyond our own family members. Christ spoke of this kind of “philia” when he referred to his apostles as his “philous” or his brothers/friends. Philia is a multi-dimensional love that extends beyond familial boundaries.
These important martyrs are remembered in Alexandria and Constantinople. Saint Sergius of Radonzeh, whose Feast Day is actually celebrated on t 11th October in accordance with the old calendar was ordained as an abbot of a Russian Monastery in 1354 and he took the name of Saint Sergius.
His Eminence said it is important for all of us to honour the saints after whom we are named and it is particularly important for the clergy who choose to be named after a saint at the time of their ordination, and to beseech them to intercede to God for us.
He welcomed Consul Matsoukas and said that we owe a lot to our Motherland Greece for preserving our Orthodox faith. He said that his own experience of Orthodox Catechism and holy traditions started at school in Cyprus with complimentary books and teachers supplied by the Greek government.
He pointed out that the Old and New Testaments had been written in the Greek language and Christ also taught mostly in Greek. He said that the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates was martyred for the pursuance of truth in anticipation of Christ being crucified for the ultimate truth which was for the salvation of mankind.
His Eminence said that despite the economic crisis in Greece, the Greek people have kept up their Orthodox Faith with pride and they are doing their Christian duty by showing compassion and assisting, wherever possible, the numerous destitute refugees who are finding their way there from Syria under very dangerous circumstances.
His Eminence also mentioned Alexander the Great, the founder of the great city of Alexandria in Egypt where the Orthodox Patriarchate is situated and with this in mind, he thanked Nassos Martalas, the President of the Hellenic Community of Cape Town, who hails from Alexandria, for all he has done over the years for the community and for the Church. He compared our community to a journey where we are all travelling together to reach a specific destination and we need strong leaders such as him to take us in the right direction.
He also thanked Father Nikolaos for all his support and for his love for our community which he regards as his extended family, and Deacon Father Michael, who serves regularly in our Church, despite the fact that he has a family and runs his own business.
His Eminence also thanked our two senior altar attendants — Nicholas Esterhuizen who is to be ordained a deacon on 15 November and Petros Khoza, who has been with us for many years and was baptised in the Orthodox Church and has spent two years at the theological school in Alexandria. And finally His Eminence thanked the chanters and all the people who help and support the deeds of the Metropolis and said that each one in their own way contributes to the well-being of our church by sharing the responsibility of the duties of the Metropolis.
Father Nikolaos brought the service to a close by wishing his Eminence all the very best for his Name Day and also stressed that the saints are there to assist us in our journey and their example helps us in our lives. He said that Orthodoxy has spread all over the world and that we must work together and give each other support and courage to face the good and the bad that the world throws at us. He also reminded us to pray for our clergy as they pray for us and wished everyone the best.
After the service everyone got together for a light supper and refreshments and a chance to enjoy the blessing of the day.
On the following day, October 7, the Feast Day of Saint Sergios and Saint Bacchus was celebrated with a Holy Liturgy Service in the Church of Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene.