Τhe Iliad and the Odyssey were written at least 1,000 years before Christ. Nothing has yet been written to outshine and surpass them.
My professor of Philosophy at the University of Alberta in 1963 always repeated the following in class: “Philosophy has not progressed even a step beyond Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.”
The ideal form of government that is respected by every civilized country today is democracy, which is also an invention of ancient Greece .
Carter Clark, an American General in the Korean War, says: “At West Point Academy, there is a class taught every year to the Cadets of the military tactics that were used in battle by Alexander the Great.”
The Olympic Games is the greatest sporting event in the world today and the most watched event on television around the globe. We owe these games to Ancient Greece as well.
No empire in the history of the world has survived for more than one thousand years, as the Byzantine Empire did. It is a matter of historical research, but it seems that the opulence and indulgence of the people living in the Byzantine Empire was one of the main cause of its demise in 1453. They became lazy. They lost their values. They lost their Empire to the Ottomans. Above all, they lost their freedom and they became slaves to the victor.
For 400 years, they lived as slaves in their own land. They were almost exterminated. The inhumane Ottoman Empire wrote them off.
They were also written off by most other nations as well. Only God did not write them off or forget them. The Greeks themselves never gave up on themselves. Just like a spark hidden in the ashes, hidden inside every Greek was the memory of past glories and grandeur. But as a slave, he was impoverished. Abandoned. Every door of those who were powerful was also closed. These barriers were not easily overcome. Eventually, “he came to himself.”
The Greek thought to himself and said: “It is better not to live at all, than to live as a slave.” “Either I live in freedom, and if I cannot, I would rather die.” He made the decision and cried out: “Freedom or death.” He defied every possible obstacle in his quest for freedom. He applied to his life the slogan “Freedom or death” and thereby created the miracle of the Revolution of 1821. He was rewarded with his own freedom and the acquisition of a free and independent homeland. He was able to proudly see the Greek flag waving from the top of the Acropolis, this miracle of Greek architecture. Wherever he may live today, every Greek around the world celebrates the miracle of the Revolution of 1821 and lives the gift of freedom that was given to him from the spoils of this victory.
God never abandoned the Greeks. This is because the Greeks did not abandon God. The crafty wiles and policies of the Ottoman Empire were unable to convert the majority of Greeks to Islam. This is because the Greeks fought their War of Independence in 1821 “for the holy Faith of Christ and for the freedom of the Motherland.”
On that day, they were celebrating the Feast of the Annunciation to the Blessed and Ever-Virgin Mary. The Most Holy Mother always accompanied and protected the Greeks in their hour of need, and She always prayed to God for them:
“Dear God, look down upon the Christians who suffer upon the earth,
As they celebrate my Holy Feast today in Holy Worship.
See how much they are oppressed as slaves and help them!”
This Prayer of the Immaculate Mother of Christ -- who is the true God, the true Messiah, and the only Saviour and Redeemer of the world -- was heard by God. He helped the Greeks so that they could regain their freedom and their homeland, and live and practice their Orthodox Christian faith in freedom.
In the newly liberated Greek state, freedom and democracy had its ups-and-downs. It passed through many crises, such as: the First World War; the Asia Minor catastrophe; the Second World War; the Civil war; dictatorships; and financial crises. The achievements of the Greek army in the Second World War showed the world how great the Greeks were through their victories on the battle-field. The glory of Greece was again at its greatest summit.
Celebrating today the glory of the Revolution of 1821, all Greeks should be thinking about all these past events. They should think about Greece, and what it means to them personally. Who is she and what has she accomplished? What is her legacy to the world? What is the current situation she is now in? What is her future? What is your duty towards her at this moment in her history? These are the things that every Greek should be thinking about, and should work towards assisting Greece to attain her rightful place in the world today. And we Greeks in Canada can do no less. I invite all of you to celebrate the Anniversary of March 25th, 1821 with a Doxology of Thanksgiving and offering thanks to God. Celebrate with parades and other commemorative events and festivities. Let us take pride in knowing our past history and who we are, so that we can understand where we have to go. Let us apply to ourselves the rule that we must always become better each day. Let us always remember that if God had not signed and supported the Freedom of Greece, we would not be free today. The Greeks fought in 1821 “for the holy faith of Christ and for the freedom of the Motherland.” Therefore, let us celebrate the Anniversary of March 25th, 1821 by honoring the sacrifices of our ancestors. Let us always live in freedom. Let us strive to live and apply our Orthodox faith. Above all, let us strive to keep our soul and our heart Greek, Orthodox and pure.
With fatherly love and fervent prayers,
+ Metropolitan Archbishop Sotirios of Toronto (Canada)