The Hieratic Synaxis of August took place yesterday, Thursday the 1st of August 2013, at the Sacred Metropolitan Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos, in Kastoria.
During the Synaxis, both His Eminence as well as Archimandrite Athanasios spoke about and clarified to the Clergymen of the Metropolis various ecclesiastic and administrative matters.  His Eminence also analyzed the content of the exhortative encyclical that was given to all the Parish Priests, which pertained to the virtue of graciousness.
More specifically, what graciousness is, what the characteristics of a gracious person are - and more so of a gracious Clergyman - stressing characteristically that "If a priest is not at least gracious, then all his ministry goes to waste."
Below is the full text of the encyclical by His Eminence the Metropolitan Seraphim:
To all the Reverend Presbyters of our Metropolis
My beloved Fathers,
We are preparing ourselves again this year - with the help of God and with the bounteous intercessions of the Most Holy Theotokos and of all the Saints - to celebrate the "Mother of God's Pascha of the Summer", which is the Dormition of the Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary.
On the occasion of this event, I would like once again to communicate with you and deposit my agony over what is happening in our homeland as well as around us, regarding the factor of the people's daily strain under the numerous tribulations and difficulties, and especially about those who are raiding our country and homeland to this day, without seeing the slightest sign of help.
Of course above all this and beyond it, is the Hand and the Providence of God. However, what is absent is our participation in the move forward.
That is why the words of Saint Gregory the Theologian apply in our days: «You ask how our affairs are also so bitter: [...] the sea voyage is by night, there is no torch anywhere, Christ is sleeping...». 

Allow me to deposit to your love a few thoughts borrowed from the Holy Fathers of the Church regarding a virtue that is scarce in our day and age; a virtue that is missing from the persons of our Clergy, but also from all of us: it is GRACIOUSNESS.
First of all - what is graciousness? It is not simply a virtue, but a resultant of many virtues.
It is not merely the guide to proper behaviour, containing certain rules of social life, but the fruit of an inner life which comes as a result of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the space of our soul.
Graciousness is the overflowing of one's soul towards fellow-man. It originates from the excess of the heart. It is born within a reborn and renovated heart.
It is the resultant of a struggle for an upward course. It expresses itself in every person - young and old.
The content of graciousness is underlined for us by the Apostle Paul: «...Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another...» (Rom.12,10). 

It is lauded, furthermore, and admired by the Fathers of the Church: «Man must not be arrogant or a flatterer, neither should he also reach audacity, or stoop to subservience, given that "inconsiderate behaviour is wrong"», as Saint Isidore the Pelusian stresses. 

Secondly - A gracious person is simultaneously a discerning one.
He becomes "weightless"; that is, he does not become burdensome, to each and every fellow-man.
He always applies the words of the Apostle Paul in his life: «And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself» (2 Cor.11:9).
He does not ask for anything; he gives.  In that way, he preserves both his freedom as well as his dignity.
A gracious person avoids harshness, and even more, audacity, which is  repulsed by people, because he is aware that audacity is not a strength but a weakness.  And one reaches the point of audacity, when - as the Fathers of the Church stress - he does not implement boldness with measure.
Graciousness never goes as far as using abusive language and vulgarity.  It does not familiarize itself with disrespect and impertinence, which, according to Saint Theodore the Studite, is a «huge and devastating evil».  Besides, Saint Ephraim the Syrian will say that impertinence is the mother of profligacy..
Thirdly - A gracious person never talks about himself.
He never presents himself as a saviour. He does not create followers or groups, but always behaves with prudence. In general, he is a balanced personality.

A gracious person respects and honours the elderly, not hypocritically, but spontaneously and honestly, in every way and at every moment in his life. 

A gracious person is patient, consistent, willing, careful, pleasant, grateful, and he never becomes tiring and a nuisance.  

A gracious person is one who controls the quality of his behaviour: first of all inside himself, and then also inside his own home. Because one cannot be a tyrant at home and towards his own, and at the same time be seemingly pious to those outside.  One cannot appear barbaric to his children and at the same time wear a broad smile for all the others.
True graciousness begins from within the space of our heart; it is expressed inside our home, to our family members, then to our fellow-man, and it is addressed to everyone, without discrimination.
A gracious person always willingly and sincerely apologizes, not for the sake of appearances, but because he can feel his conscience bothering him.
A gracious person is simultaneously meek. He is tolerant. He does not resort to the passion of anger.  He is discerned for his sobriety. But most of all, he is careful with his use of words. He thinks before he speaks, how he will speak, if he should speak, and when he does speak, he will say what is appropriate.
Whispering is absent from a gracious person, as Saint Basil the Great says, and «also speaking unbecomingly», as Saint Gregory the Theologian reminds us.
A gracious person furthermore is careful, even about his gaze, which quite often can offend his fellow-man. That is why it is written that a gracious, modest and respectable person has, as his motto, the words of Saint Gregory the Theologian: «observe, decently».
My beloved fathers, I have conveyed all the above to you, because this virtue of graciousness is inclined to diminish in our day and age, even from the persons of our Clergy.
In my ears are echoing the words of the Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetra Monastery: «If you can't become saints, at least be gracious».
A Clergyman, especially in our days, must be a par excellence gracious person:
Gracious in our home.

Gracious to the people of our Parish. 

Gracious and beneficial to people who are suffering.
Gracious to the various Public Services, from which we daily seek assistance.

Gracious to every person, regardless of his status.
The various localisms and the supposed privileges that we think we have are rejected and condemned by our Church.
That is why I am addressing a fervent request to your love: Let us embrace this virtue of graciousness, which is the fragrance of many virtues. Only thus will we succeed in attaining our spiritual balance and calmness in the space of our heart, and that love and peace be offered to our fellow-man who is in such need of them.
If the priest is not at least gracious, then all his ministry goes to waste.
In view of the Most Holy Mother's feast of the Dormition, I would like to remind you once more, as I did in the previous years, of the following and request that you show your concern:
1. Perform Vespers on a daily basis in the Holy Temple, followed by the Paraclesis Canon (the Minor or Major one) to the Most Holy Mother, in accordance with the Typikon of the Church, having previously notified your parishioners of the Sacred Service and the exact time that it commences. I would like to recommend, fraternally and paternally, to not omit every day - in your homes and before the holy icons - to chant the Paraclesis Canon to the Most Holy Mother, and also, every evening, along with the Evening Service, to read the Service of Salutations to Her. You will have the blessings and the grace of the Holy Mother, Who will shelter you and your families.
2. For the benefit of your parishioners, you should perform liturgies more frequently during this period, perhaps even on a daily basis. It is a sacrifice and an offering that will nevertheless provide many blessings.
3. In this context of Divine Worship, you should perform a short Night-Vigil on the 13th towards the 14th of August, thus preparing your faithful for the grand feast-day of the Holy Mother. Have with you the Typikon of this Sacred Night-Vigil. You can even arrange to perform the Sacrament of Holy Unction and in that way also prepare your flock. (A reminder that on the feast-day itself of the Dormition of the Theotokos, MEMORIAL SERVICES ARE NOT PERFORMED).
4. We must pay attention to fasting.  Fasting during the 15 days of August is without oil on week days, except for Saturdays and Sundays. We should ensure that we observe this first, after having informed the people about the significance of this Fast.  We must of course inform all the various Church Clubs as well as our Christians that they should not break the Fast on the eve of that important Feast-day of the Holy Mother, which will result in no-one partaking of Holy Communion on the following day. 
5. We should exhort the faithful to participate in the Mystery of Holy Confession and Holy Communion.

6. If your Parish Church celebrates on that day, prepare it suitably for the feast-day (cleanliness, adornment of Icons, comeliness of the entire Temple).  Furthermore, ensure that there is a timely announcement of the schedule of Holy Services for the Eve and for the Main Feast-day.
7. At the lead of this feast day is the Sacred Metropolitan Temple of Kastoria, which celebrates on the 15th of August and where Major Celebratory Vespers and the Praises to the Holy Mother will be performed on the 14th of August at 7pm, then in the morning of the Feast-day a Hieratic Divine Liturgy and in the afternoon of the same day at 6.30pm, the descent of the Holy Icon of the Theotokos from the Metropolitan Temple to the Sacred Monastery of the Panayia Mavriotissa.
8. The participation of all of you in the Sacred Night-Vigil that will be performed at the olden and historical, celebrating Sacred Monastery of the Panayia Mavriotissa on the 22nd towards the 23rd of August on the occasion of  the Apodosis of the Dormition of the Theotokos. It is the Apodosis - the reciprocation - of the respect and the obligation that we have towards the maternal protection of the Panayia. It is worth dedicating a few hours of the night to Her, Who, in spite of our sins and mistakes, continues to shelter us and intercedes.
9. During this period, the following also celebrate:  the Sacred Monastery of Panayia Faneromeni, of the Saint Kyriaki community (30 and 31 August) and the Sacred Monastery of Panayia of Kleisoura (7 êáé 8 September).

This way, my Fathers, we will have the opportunity to help the souls of the Christians for a spiritual detoxing: to relieve them with the Mystery of Holy Confession and to nourish them with the Mystery of the Divine Eucharist; to lead them to the Most Holy Theotokos, and to project to all of us the Holy Mother - the Mother of our Lord and our Mother - as the role model for our own lives.
With my wish that you may all have the blessing of the Holy Mother richly, in your lives, in your families' and your parishioners'.  I also beseech you to pray for my insignificant person, both at the Sacred Altar as well as in your personal prayers.
I greet you in Christ, with very much love
Translation: A.N.