It gives Orthodoxy in Dialogue great pleasure to provide a space where all eighteen finalists of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese’s St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival 2018 can share their speeches with our readers around the world. There were nine finalists each in the Junior Division (grades 7-9) and the Senior Division (grades 10-12). Speakers were given a brief list of themes from which to choose.
Speeches from SJCOF 2018 are published with parental consent and archived on our VOX-Youth page.
Theme: Talk about a time and circumstance when you were in awe and wonder—where you sensed the majesty of God.
Your Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Your Eminence Metropolitan Nathanael, Reverend Fathers, and Fellow Parishioners, Good Morning/Afternoon:
Yea, we beseech, You, visit our weaknesses, O Good One, and heal our infirmities both of spirit and of body through Your mercy; through the prayers of the all-pure, exceedingly blessed Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary.
The above text is taken from the liturgical service of The Order for the Lesser Sanctification of Water. During Liturgy, we are always reminded that we must have the fear of God, but what does this mean? It does not mean that we must be scared or intimidated by God. It is a reaction to God’s greatness, His limitlessness, the power of His love. All of this is what produces my awe of God. This awe of God is what makes me desire to have an intimate relationship with Him.
My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight; keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s body. (The Book of Proverbs)
During my fourteen years of life, I have undergone twelve surgeries and many medical procedures. I have always placed my trust in Jesus, reciting silently, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” I have found peace this way. While on a surgical table, waiting to be placed under general anesthesia, I have been in awe of God. Just by looking at the faces of the doctors, nurses, and my parents, I see God, since God created us all in His image. God has brought all these good people together to restore my body to health.
Hail, Thou art full of grace, the Lord is with Thee. Blessed art Thou among women. The Holy Spirit shall come upon Thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow Thee: wherefore also that which is to be born shall be Holy and shall be called the Son of God. (The Gospel of Luke)
The earliest known prayer to the Theotokos was found on a fragment of papyrus, which dates approximately to the year 250 AD. It reads:
Beneath thy compassion we take refuge, O Mother of God: do not despise our petitions in time of trouble, but rescue us from dangers, only Pure One, only Blessed One.
The Theotokos is like a mother to me. Every Sunday, before fulfilling my altar boy duties, I venerate Her and place a candle underneath Her icon. During the recovery of my last surgery, the doctors would not allow me to go home until my kidneys began to function. Many hours passed, and the nurses became very concerned. My parents and I prayed to the Theotokos to intercede on my behalf; at that very moment, my kidneys started to function. I truly believe that our prayers were heard by the Mother of God. To the amazement of the doctors and nurses, my body healed beyond their expectations.
There are two dimensions to Christian life, the spiritual and the physical, both are interconnected. At times, so many people, including priests and nuns, have prayed for the healing of my body. The coming together of all these people, including the doctors and nurses, has shown me God’s Majesty. My physical healing has taught me to be in awe of God’s Grace every day of my life.
Alexandros Mammas is 14 years old, has just finished 8th grade in the Gifted and Talented Program at his school, and has been accepted into High Tech High School of Hudson County. He attends St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Clifton NJ, home of the Shrine of St. Nectarios the Wonderworker. He holds a black belt in karate, plays the piano and clarinet, and has graduated from six years of Greek School.
A blessed Apostles Fast to our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.
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