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The Serbian Orthodox Church to her spiritual children at Christmas, 2005

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    006.01.05 Kim Info: January 5, 2006 KiM Info Newsletter 05-01-06 The Serbian Orthodox Church to her spiritual children at Christmas, 2005 P A V L E By the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 5, 2006
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      006.01.05 Kim Info:
      January 5, 2006

      KiM Info Newsletter 05-01-06

      The Serbian Orthodox Church to her spiritual children at Christmas, 2005

      P A V L E

      By the grace of God

      Orthodox Archbishop of Pec, Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and Serbian
      Patriarch, with the Hierarchs of the Serbian Orthodox Church - to all the
      clergy, monastics, and all the sons and daughters of our Holy Church:
      grace, mercy and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, and
      the Holy Spirit, with the joyous Christmas greeting:


      … Today a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11). –
      God is revealed in the flesh (I Tim. 3:16). – The Word became flesh and
      dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory (John 1:14). …To present to you
      the word of God in its fullness, the mystery of that has been kept hidden
      for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints…, which is
      Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:25-27).

      Today’s holy and great Feast of the Lord, the Feast of the Nativity or
      Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, is, brothers and sisters, our dear
      spiritual children, the day in which the Holy Church announces the good
      news of great joy that will be for all the people of God (Luke 2:10-11). On
      this day, more than twenty centuries ago, in the City of David called
      Bethlehem, an unusual Event transpired, unique in the history of the human
      race: the Savior of world and mankind, the very Peace of God among us, our
      God-sent and God-given Peace (cf. Eph. 2:14), as a Divine Youth – a Child,
      a newborn infant, and in the same, o wonder above wonders, the Pre-Eternal
      God – He who lay in a poor cave, in a manger, and not in the comfortable
      crib of a palace or mansion. Indeed, there is no greater humility or
      condescension, than that which the All-powerful Lord shown at the Birth of
      Christ and, later, at His Crucifixion!

      The essence of the Nativity celebration consists in the Good News that God
      was born out of love as a Man in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, so
      that He might regenerate all peoples and all of His creation, deify them by
      Grace and eternalize them in His Church, which already here and now reveals
      the future Kingdom of God as the eternal community of love and the
      realization in love permeating between God and men, as well as among men
      themselves. The reality of our rebirth or birth from above, birth by the
      Holy Spirit, in the Mystery of Holy Baptism and thereafter in the entire
      grace-given life of spiritual efforts in the Church, with its culmination
      and fullness in the Divine Liturgy, would not have been granted to us had
      not the Pre-Eternal Son and Logos of God, One in the Holy Trinity, been
      born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary within the framework of
      historical reality. The birth in time of the Eternal and Timeless Lord made
      it possible for us the created ones, born of earth, by our being passing,
      to be elevated equal to eternity, outside of time and passing. In the
      person of our Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God who became on Christmas Day
      the Son of Man so that we the sons of men and daughters of men, might
      become in His Church the children of God, brothers and sisters among

      Precisely therein consists the Christmas invitation of God to us men. With
      our grateful and conciliar response to the gift of His love, to the gift of
      life and salvation in Him, even our human calling and intention are
      realized, our new, Christian way of existence. In Him from the beginning
      was, is and will be the true life, the only life worthy to be called the
      light of men (cf. John 1:4). Christ as the Life is in verity “the true
      light that gives light to every man” (John 1:9), a Great Light that by His
      Birth has dawned upon people living in the land of the shadow of death
      (Matt. 4:16), the Light of Salvation to enlighten the Gentiles (Luke
      2:30-32). Let us take note, therefore, that the Holy Evangelists rightfully
      describe the Event of Christ’s Birth and His manifestation to the world as
      a miraculous phenomenon of light. This we see even in the works of the Holy
      Fathers and Teachers of the Church, as well as in the wonderful liturgical
      hymns of the Nativity. We will cite only a few examples: St. John of
      Damascus in his Christmas homily states: “Today is born the Only-begotten
      Son of God, the Radiance of His Glory.” In the Christmas troparion the Holy
      Orthodox Church exclaims: “Your Nativity, O Christ our God, has revealed to
      the world the light of wisdom…” Similarly in another verse the ecclesial
      poet sings: “You have shinned forth from the Virgin, O Christ, as the
      spiritual Sun of Righteousness…”, and yet in another even more
      expressively: “We have been radiated by light, O Christ our God, with Your
      Arrival. As Light of Light, as the faithful Reflection of the Father, You
      have enlightened all creation… You who have radiated forth from the Virgin,
      O God, have mercy on us.”

      This Divinely-inspired poetry as a sign of Light is not at all
      coincidental. It reveals to us the wonderful mystery of Christmas: In Jesus
      Christ, the Lord saves us (the name Jesus even means that!), granting us,
      as the Orient from on High and the Sun of Righteousness, the light of
      wisdom and eternal Divine-Human life. Of that He Himself speaks: “Now this
      is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus
      Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). In a word, the Christmas Event
      reveals to the world that eternal glory, which otherwise belongs only to
      God on High and appears as peace on earth, and good will among men, such as
      the angels of God sang on the night of Christ’s Birth and as we sing every
      year at Christmas.

      The newborn Christ was a Small Child, and at the same time the Pre-Eternal
      God, as is noted in a Christmas liturgical hymn. Were He not the God-Man,
      He would neither be the Savior nor Restorer of all and everything. This we
      especially emphasize so that we may turn your attention to all of the
      threatening operations of old and new sects, occult groups and
      para-religious movements, whose self-proclaimed preachers and missionaries,
      at times openly, and sometimes veiled, denounce this fundamental Good News
      of the Church. As Orthodox Christians, we respect everyone’s conscience and
      freedom, we show good will and feel love even towards those who inhibit our
      holy faith, that was once for all entrusted to the saints (Jude 3), however
      we are at the same time spiritually awake and as the pupil of our eye
      protect the sanctity and glory of God, protect the salvific fullness of the
      faith, which was preached by the apostles, the Holy Fathers, martyrs,
      confessors, the Councils of the Church, and by which throughout the ages
      lived – and for which, when necessary died – our honorable ancestors.

      However, our faithfulness to the Gospel of Christ does not mean that we
      close our eyes before all of that which is in truth human, authentic or
      worthy even in that part of humanity, which is found outside the canonical
      borders of the Church, and also outside the domain of its missionary
      preaching. For, as the holy Bishop Nicholai convinces us, nothing exists
      that is holy, good, beautiful or truthful, – wherever we encounter it, be
      it even partially, –and that to a certain extent does not maintain the
      Divine-Human image of the Only Holy, Good and Philanthropic, Wonderful in
      His saints, Witness of the Faithful and True, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
      Whoever lives according to their conscience does good, witnesses to truth,
      defends righteousness and furthers love, has received these gifts from
      Christ and returns them to Him. In light of this understanding, let us
      look, our dear spiritual children, at the challenges and temptations of our
      time and all of us in it! Let us remain therefore in the faith, let us
      breathe with the lungs of hope and be inspired by love, in the name of the
      Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, the Only God!

      For us is there any greater challenge or more difficult testing of our
      faith and conscience than the painful question of Kosovo and Metohija?
      Indeed, there is not! However, our Holy Assembly of Bishops clearly and
      honorably recently formulated the position of the Church concerning the
      same. Here we will only call to mind the fact that no one has the right to
      unilaterally change the state-legal status of our southern region, without
      the consensus of all the peoples who live in Serbia, and also, therefore,
      the Serbian people. What then is to be said of the possibility of some kind
      of “negotiation process” accompanied by force? Life, peace, freedom, equal
      opportunities, and equal rights for all, the preservation of Serbian
      Orthodox sanctuaries, the uninhibited return of expellees and refugees, the
      absolute respecting of European values and international order, and before
      all, the Charter of the United Nations (which, as far as we know, no one
      has yet declared invalid)… – all of these are only certain elements and
      “standards” on the path to truthful resolution, wherein all will gain, and
      no one will suffer loss. Something else, which is important and essential:
      final status does not exist here on earth, not for anyone or anything, and
      someone’s comparison of the alleged birth of a new nationhood for Kosovo
      and Metohija to the Birth of Christ is not a phrase in the service of
      Albanian national fetishism, rather really and truly blasphemy.

      We invite all of you, brothers and sisters, that by your warm prayers to
      God and by appealing to the conscience of members of organizations
      concerned with human rights, you will contribute towards the God-pleasing
      expedient release of the imprisoned Archbishop of Ochrid, His Beatitude Kyr
      Jovan, so that the clergy and faithful people of the Archdiocese of Ochrid,
      an autonomous Church under the wings of our Patriarchate, will expediently
      win in their battle for freedom of faith and conscience, to stop the last
      of religious persecution in Europe with its epicenter in Skoplje and that
      the Christmas light of salvation and understanding of truth will enlighten
      the mind and soul of the bearers of the destructive ecclesiastical schism
      in the Republic of Macedonia, so that heaven and earth may rejoice in the
      unity of Orthodox faithful.

      The Serbian people in the Serb Republic (Republika Srpska) and throughout
      Bosnia and Herzegovina, are also exposed to bitter temptations, we invite
      them to endurance in the faith and on the path of good and humanity, and
      all of the peoples and communities there to reconciliation, mutual
      forgiveness and common efforts towards a future. We invite the state
      authorities of Croatia that, in the name of their European perspective,
      they secure the return of the expelled and refugee Serbs, and for the
      returnees a peaceful life and security. In like manner, we invite them to
      extend legal protection to the clergy, the faithful and the temples of the
      Serbian Orthodox Church, which are once again exposed to threats and
      attacks, especially in Dalmatia.

      We will repeat even on today’s Feast the invitation to Orthodox Christians
      and all peoples of good will in Montenegro for brotherly unity and for
      togetherness as among themselves so also with everyone, alongside another
      reminder of the fact that salvation is neither found in national nor state
      separation nor in partisan ideologies but rather in the spirit of conciliar
      unity and in an authentic global civilization of love, whose source is
      precisely the Church of Christ. This invitation for togetherness and unity
      concerns, of course, all of our faithful people, wherever they may live.
      Especially, we turn to our spiritual children that live in various lands
      throughout the world, with a plea that they preserve their faith and their
      identity and that everywhere and always they be of assistance to their
      Church and their people, especially in this difficult time.

      One of the honorary names of the Newborn Lord Christ was also the name
      Emmanuel. This means God is with us (Matt. 1:23). Indeed, brothers and
      sisters, on Christmas with all of our being we know and feel that God is
      with us! He is with us on Christmas; He is with us forever and ever! Let us
      be also with Him, forever and ever! All of us are in need of true
      repentance, cleansing, turning to the God of our fathers, spiritual
      renewal, moral rebirth…If all of that is excluded, sadly, we will not have
      a future, neither in the times which follow nor in the eternity of the
      Kingdom of God. Only a life in Christ and in the grace of the Holy Spirit
      represent an alternative to immorality, disfiguration, drugs, corruption,
      criminality, the white plague or the sin of abortion, all that is sin and
      that brings death, spiritually and physically. But despite all that comes
      upon us from men, more often from ourselves, because of everything that on
      Christmas comes from God, let us rejoice and be glad!

      With prayerful wishes that the Lord will grant everyone a better and more
      prosperous New Year than the one past, we invoke upon all of you His
      blessings and His love, greeting you on this Feast Day with the joyous
      Christmas felicitation:


      Given at the Serbian Patriarchate in Belgrade, at Christmas, 2005.

      Your prayerful intercessors before the Divine Infant Christ:

      Archbishop of Pec,
      Metropolitan of Belgrade-Karlovci and
      Serbian Patriarch PAVLE

      Metropolitan of Zagreb and Ljubljana JOVAN
      Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Coastlands AMPHILOHIJE
      Metropolitan of Midwestern America CHRISTOPHER
      Metropolitan of Dabro-Bosna NIKOLAJ

      Bishop of Shabac-Valjevo LAVRENTIJE
      Bishop of Nish IRINEJ
      Bishop of Zvornik-Tuzla VASILIJE
      Bishop of Srem VASILIJE
      Bishop of Banja Luka JEFREM
      Bishop of Budim LUKIJAN
      Bishop of Canada GEORGIJE
      Bishop of Banat NIKANOR
      Bishop for America and Canada (New Gracanica Metropolitanate) LONGIN
      Bishop of Eastern America MITROPHAN
      Bishop of Zica CHRYSOSTOM
      Bishop of Backa IRINEJ
      Bishop of Great Britain and Scandinavia DOSITEJ
      Bishop of Ras and Prizren ARTEMIJE
      Retired Bishop of Zahumlje and Hercegovina ATANASIJE
      Bishop of Bihac and Petrovac CHRYSOSTOM
      Bishop of Osijek and Baranja LUKIJAN
      Bishop of Central Europe CONSTANTINE
      Bishop of Western Europe LUKA
      Bishop of Timok JUSTIN
      Bishop of Vranje PAHOMIJE
      Bishop of Sumadija JOVAN
      Bishop of Slavonia SAVA
      Bishop of Branicevo IGNATIJE
      Bishop of Milesevo FILARET
      Bishop of Dalmatia FOTIJE
      Bishop of Budimlje and Niksic JOANIKIJE
      Bishop of Zahumlje and Hercegovina GRIGORIJE
      Bishop of Australia and New Zealand (New Gracanica Metropolitanate) MILUTIN
      Bishop of Gornji Karlovci GERASIM
      Vicar Bishop of Hvostno ATANASIJE
      Vicar Bishop of Jegar PORFIRIJE
      Vicar Bishop of Lipljan TEODOSIJE
      Vicar Bishop of Dioclea JOVAN
      Vicar Bishop of Hum MAKSIM

      The Orthodox Archdiocese of Ochrid
      Archbishop of Ohrid and Metropolitan of Skoplje JOVAN
      Bishop of Polos and Kumanovo JOAKIM
      Vicar Bishop of Dremvic and locum tenens of the Diocese of Bitolj MARKO
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