CHRIST IS BORN!
The Nativity of Christ. — He has come upon earth, He Who in the beginning created us from earth and breathed His Divine breath into us; He has come Who ” giveth to all life, and breath, and all things”; He has come, He Who by a single word called all things visible and invisible from non-existence into existence, Who by a word called into being birds, fishes, quadrupeds, insects, and all creatures, existing under His almighty providence and care; He has come, He Whom the innumerable hosts of Angels continually serve with fear and joy. And in what humility has He come! He is born of a poor Virgin, in a cave, wrapped in poor swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. Riches, honours, glory of this world! fall down, fall down in humility, tearful devotion, and deep gratitude before the Saviour of men, and share your riches with the poor and needy. Do not pride yourselves on your visionary, fleeting distinctions, for true distinction can only be found in virtue… learn here, before the manger, your vanity. Thus, let us all humble ourselves; let us all fall down in the dust before the boundless humility and exhaustion of the Sovereign of all, of God, Who has come to heal our infirmities, to save us from pride, vanity, corruption, and every sinful impurity.
— Excerpted from the diary of St. John of Kronstadt
New York: January 3, 2014
Nativity Epistle of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
Most Reverend fellow archpastors, most honorable fathers–concelebrants,
God-loving monastics, dear brothers and sisters!
Motivated by the best thoughts and deepest feelings of brotherly love and spiritual joy, I greet the faithful children of the Russian Church Abroad, scattered worldwide as God’s wheat, with the celebration of the Nativity of Christ. I send my sincere wish from remote Australia that the coming new 2014th year bring rich spiritual fruit for each of us individually and for the entire Church!
In their writings the Holy Fathers of the Church portray the Feast of the Nativity as great, universal and joyful; the beginning and basis for all other Feasts. It is no wonder the Holy Church sings: “Christ is born, give ye glory, Christ cometh from the heavens. Meet ye Him, Christ is on earth, be ye exalted …”
The Holy Church calls upon us to worthily celebrate the Nativity of Christ. It was not that long ago that in many countries Christians laid aside worldly and earthly cares. Government offices shut down, trade ceased and everyone hurried to God’s churches for festive services during which all prayed and partook of the Holy Mysteries of Christ. After the services many engaged in works of piety, visiting hospitals and prisons, providing substantial assistance to the poor. Philanthropic assistance to the poor and orphaned was inherently characteristic of our ancestors. Not a Feast went by without being accompanied by attention to those that struggle and are heavy laden (Matt 11:28).
With the simplicity of the shepherds, let us go to the cave in Bethlehem to worship the living God Who became a living Man. In other words, let us go to church bringing the Infant Christ the gift of warm tears of compunction, a heart enlivened with delight and boundless devotion; and to our neighbors and the needy – benefaction and love.
It is time for us, beloved, to bless ourselves with the Cross of Christ — the cross of self-sacrifice and love in the spirit of light filled Christian understanding. It is time for us to improve in all aspects of our lives. Let us contemplate this during these holy days, referred to as “Christmas-tide”, and make a firm decision to become better, closer to God and to each other.
I take this opportunity with great pleasure to announce the upcoming XIII All-Diaspora Youth Conference to be held in San Francisco from June 27 to July 4 this year. This forum will be devoted to missionary work in the field of philanthropy and will coincide with the 20th anniversary of the glorification of St. John the Wonderworker (Maximovich) by the Russian Church Abroad. This great hierarch of the Russian diaspora exemplified a life of prayer, a life active in selfless good deeds. On behalf of the Synod of Bishops and Archbishop Kyrill, the ruling bishop of the Western American Diocese, I extend a heartfelt invitation to our clergy and representatives of our youth to this gathering. I hope that this conference called “In the Footsteps of St. John” will spiritually and intellectually enrich all the participants. Concurrent with the Youth Conference a Council of Bishops will be held to discuss the pressing issues of internal Church life and the external ministry of our dear Church. This will also give our Archpastors the opportunity to participate in important discussions with our young people. May these general Church gatherings, for which we prayerfully prepare, vouchsafe us the mercy and blessings from God: inexhaustible heroism, courage, vigilance of spirit, a selfless, captivating and inspiring faith, and other gifts of grace, so necessary in serving the Church, in serving God and people in our complex world.
May the coming New Year, beloved Archpastors, pastors, brothers and sisters, be one of Christian renewal of our hearts – a year of spiritual sobriety and ennoblement of our entire life! Let us become genuinely and deeply aware of the necessity of spiritual struggle, dictated by the spirit of life, and concern ourselves with the conscientious fulfillment of all our Christian duties: whether they are personal, family or employment responsibilities, or our duty as Orthodox Christian members of the Church, i.e. performing generous charitable works. May the feast be for us a time of prayer, the strengthening of our internal energies, the refreshment of our soul with Christian ideals, feelings and activities!
With love in the new-born Christ and requesting your holy prayers,
Metropolitan of New York & Eastern America,
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia
Nativity of Christ
2013 / 2014
January 5, 2014
A Christmas Prayer
This Christmas night bestowed peace on the whole world;
So let no one threaten;
This is the night of the Most Gentle One –
Let no one be cruel;
This is the night of the Humble One –
Let no one be proud.
Now is the day of joy –
Let us not revenge;
Now is the day of Good Will –
Let us not be mean.
In this Day of Peace –
Let us not be conquered by anger.
Today the Bountiful impoverished Himself for our sake;
So, rich one, invite the poor to your table.
Today we receive a Gift for which we did not ask;
So let us give alms to those who implore and beg us.
This present Day cast open the heavenly doors to our prayers;
Let us open our door to those who ask our forgiveness.
Today the DIVINE BEING took upon Himself the seal of our humanity,
In order for humanity to be decorated by the Seal of DIVINITY.
(St. Isaac the Syrian)