A Longstanding Debt
This book meets a longstanding obligation by paying personal tribute to a great figure of the Church and the Greek nation.
It describes the eventful life of an unusual Bishop whose love for God, the Church and his fellow human beings knew no bounds. The life of Metropolitan Sebastian of Dryinoupolis, Pogoniani and Konitsa is well-known in Greece and beyond on account of his struggles for the rights and freedom of the Greeks living in Northern Epirus (today part of Albania). As we read the book and learn about Metropolitan Sebastian’s way of the life, the sacrifices and exhausting efforts he made, we come to a better understanding of these struggles. We realise that his love for those who were suffering, which he publicly confessed before all, flowed from his love for Christ’s Gospel.
Metropolitan Sebastian was the author’s spiritual father while he was at school and during his student years. Various incidents are authoritatively recorded from the close contact that the author had with him.
His intense spirituality is evident from his handwritten letters to the author, which reveal hidden aspects of his inner life. He was sincere in the extreme, full of priestly dignity, austere and courteous in his behaviour: instinctive courtesy that sprang from humility and unfeigned love. He had evangelical righteousness without pretence or deceit, and he brought joy and comfort to those around him.
He was a humble Bishop and an ardent celebrant of the Liturgy, who feared God, was profoundly committed to the traditions of the Church, and whose distinguishing characteristic was the spirit of noble love and freedom. His great love towards the Mother Church, God and other people kept him far removed from expediency and utilitarian aims.
In his sermons he was often militant and enthusiastic, with a gift for rhetoric. His words were powerful, bold but modest, penetrating and eloquent.
This book reveals a great leader endowed with spiritual gifts, a fervent minister of Christ, a missionary and a national apostle. He was sensitive and dignified in his fighting spirit; a man of sacrifice, charity, patience and righteousness. These were virtues that he taught through his living example, not just with words.