Sunday, October 14, 2012 at 5:00 pm
Five years later the visit of Patriarch Alexis II to Notre-Dame de Pariswe are invited to join in this prayer, a sign of peace and dialogue among Christians.
This fraternal tradition, now well established, of the Orthodox Vespers at Notre-Dame de Paris was established and followed annually by the Cardinal Jean-Marie LUSTIGER. Attentive to the ecumenical dialogue, the Cardinal André twenty-three, Archbishop of Paris, continues this invitation.
Address by Metropolitan Emmanuel of France
Orthodox Vespers at Notre-Dame de Paris, Sunday, October 17, 2010
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Traditions have a hard tooth and there is one that is constantly strengthening, strengthening friendship, if not fraternity, between Orthodoxy and Catholicism. The celebration of Orthodox Vespers in Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral is not only a sign of peace returned to the world, it also configures much more any dialogue between our two churches in France, placing it under the high patronage of Saint Denys the Aeropagite. The choice made by Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger to initiate this evening's event, by allowing the Orthodox to celebrate Byzantine Vespers, around the figure of Saint Denys, is not fortuitous.
Saint Dionysius, disciple of the Holy Apostle Paul.
Saint Dionysius, evangelizer of Athens.
Saint Dionysius, bridge between East and West.
Saint Dionysius, apostle of the Gauls.
Indeed, in the rich hagiography of Saint Dionysius the Aeropagite, it is important to retain his formidable ability to dialogue with people, and the ideas of his time. Responding to the sophists, opposing the astrologers, arguing with the philosophers, he continued above all the work of the Apostle of the Nations as described in his speech to the Aeropage. He proclaims that the "unknown God" of the Athenians was the one he came to announce to them with an inconceivable proposal: "we are of the race of God" (Acts XVII, 29); and much more: "by offering to all a guarantee by raising men from the dead" (Acts XVII, 34).
Even today, as in the days of Saint Dionysius, announcing the Resurrection as the heart of the Good News of Christianity remains "madness". Without the Resurrection, our message is as empty as our faith, as St. Paul constantly claims (I Cor. XV, 14). It was for this same faith that Saint Dionysius gave his life after having made it the tangible sign of his faith.
East and West celebrate Saint Dionysius with devotion and reverence. And we must find the words and gestures to respond to the same intuition as those of the contemporaries of the Aeropagite. We come to tell you who this unknown God is, the one you seek without knowing how to name him, the one you hear from the bottom of your heart, without being able to recognize him. We announce this to you without triumphalism, but with the hope that is at the heart of our faith, Jesus Christ the Risen Christ. It is through His resurrection that we can declare that we are of the race of God. Following in the footsteps of Saint Irenaeus of Lyon, Saint Athanasius the Great in the 4th century will support the proposal: "God became man, so that man might become God".
Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
As we have just said, the celebration of Orthodox vespers in this cathedral, more than a tradition, has become an appointment awaited by all believers. I would like to thank His Eminence Cardinal André Vingt-Trois for supporting the benevolent work of his predecessor the Cardinal
Jean-Marie Lustiger, by allowing us to continue his initiative. For, beyond our divisions, as the evangelist John tells us: "it is by love that you will have one another", tonight's event is a first-rate symbol of this, "that you will be recognized as my disciples" (John XIII, 25).