CHRISTMAS MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS ALEXY II, PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA
- CHRISTMAS MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS ALEXY II, PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW AND ALL
RUSSIA, TO THE ARCHPASTORS, PASTORS, MONASTICS AND ALL FAITHFUL CHILDREN OF
THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH
*Thou hast shone forth, O Christ, from the Virgin, the wise Sun of
and the star has shown Thee in the manger which has embraced that which
cannot be embraced.
Thou didst teach the magi to worship Thee,
with whom we magnify Thee: O Giver of life, glory to Thee!**
From the Office of Great Vespers
for the Feast of the Nativity of Christ
Beloved in the Lord your Graces the archpastors, the honourable priesthood,
the diaconate in Christ, God-loving monks and nuns, pious laity � faithful
children of the Russian Orthodox Church! On this holy and all-joyful day
with fatherly love I congratulate you all on the great and radiant feast of
the Nativity of Christ!
Once more the holy days of the Nativity turn our minds and hearts towards
the Lord, serve to edify us spiritually, renew within us our experience of
unity with God and each other in Christ's Church, created and headed by the
Son of God Who has become Man. While abiding in prayerful contemplation
before the manger in Bethlehem, we again and again ask ourselves: how are we
to respond to the love of the Lord Who has sent His Only-begotten Son '*so
that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life*'
(Jn 3:16)? What are we to do so that the unfading light of the star of
Bethlehem shine not only for us but for our neighbours too? Who are we with
on this holy night � with the shepherds? With the wise men? Or does the news
of the miracle of the incarnation of God bring us consternation and
confusion? It was simple people in the form of the shepherds who were the
first to venerate the Infant God Who had been born. The wise men, who had
hitherto not known the True God, brought Him precious gifts. Those who
thought themselves spiritually perspicacious could not divine the day of the
coming of the Lord.
If your hearts during these holy days are illumined by the simple joy of the
shepherds of Bethlehem, if your minds and knowledge are drawn by the
Nativity star, then I rejoice and give thanks to the All-Merciful Lord for
you. Yet if the pursuit of earthly joys and the fear of losing them compel
you to expel Christ from your hearts, then believe not the cunning precepts
of the eternal deceiver and the killer of men the devil. For there is no joy
in the world that can be granted to people other than the joy given by Him
Who is born today; as St. Paul says, '*Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor
have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for
those who love Him*' (1 Cor 2:9).
The world around us calls us ever more often to worship the idols of fame,
power, abundance and pleasures. Yet the Church knows that this path leads to
nowhere. In following it we receive not freedom but slavery, not joy but
disillusionment, not strength but destruction, not life but death. Yet in
following Christ, the wise men and the shepherds, who trustingly believed in
Him, we not only ourselves acquire the true good but can also enlighten the
whole world with what we say and do and through our prayers. I call upon all
of you to this, both children of the Church and those who are as yet on the
path towards the church and to Christ. Come, my beloved, and together we
will venerate the Infant God, offering to Him the gift of our lives, our
faith, our resolve to labour boldly and untiringly in His name, for the good
of the Church and all people who need our help.
Let us follow the precepts of St. Ambrose of Milan and 'in greeting the day
of the Lord's Nativity, cleanse ourselves, brothers, from all impurity of
sin, let us fill His treasure trove with varied gifts so that on this holy
day there is something with which we can give comfort to strangers, lighten
the burden of widows and clothe the poor'. So then let us combine our
efforts so that the joy of the Nativity of Christ enter every home and touch
the heart and soul of every person.
My beloved! The past year of 2005 brought the Russian Church many bounties
from the All-Merciful Lord. The Orthodox faith has been reborn all over our
world, even in its remotest regions, and in this I see the good fruit of the
labours of enlightenment of our hierarchs, clergy and laity. I believe that
these labours will not be left without God's blessing.
In striving diligently for the good of every person and the whole of Russian
society, the Church works hand in hand with the state, secular society,
Christians of other confessions, people of other faiths and convictions. And
may there remain in our lives many difficulties and problems � the power of
God, which has many times been revealed to our people, imparts to us the
great hope of a life of prosperity and peace '*in all godliness and
reverence*' (1 Tim 2:2).
I would like especially to appeal to the archpastors, pastors and flock of
Orthodox Ukraine. Remember, my beloved, that the Holy Mother Church embraces
with love each one of us. Let us strengthen our communion in prayer, good
deeds and care for the welfare of the Church. It is my belief that through
common labours we can vanquish schisms and divisions and forever remain
brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, for we were baptized in a common font
and called to the one Kingdom of God.
In the year that has passed the Church, together with the whole people of
Russia, celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of the victory in the Great
Patriotic War. Let us then preserve in strength that which our forbearers
have created and defended. May their accomplishments inspire the youth to a
selfless and sacrificial service for the Fatherland.
Church-wide celebrations for the 450th anniversary of the founding of the
diocese of Kazan, the 450th anniversary of the demise of St. Nil of Stolobny
and the 300th anniversary of the coming of Orthodoxy to Kamchatka took
place. These memorial dates reminded us of the labours of the great
spiritual heroes of Orthodoxy whose example we are called upon to follow. We
also marked the ecclesiastical and public celebration of the
625thanniversary of the Battle of Kulikovo Field, which began the
Russia from the heavy yoke of foreign captivity, the rebirth of our
statehood and the gathering into one of the then hitherto scattered Russian
In the past year the fraternal dialogue with representatives of the Russian
Church Abroad continued. Testimony to this was the presence in our homeland
of the relics of the martyred Grand Princess St. Elizabeth and the nun St.
Barbara. We also welcomed the coming to Russia of many other holy objects
which were venerated by thousands of Orthodox Christians. Let us give thanks
to the most gracious Lord for this mercy which inspires us to strengthen the
unity of Holy Orthodoxy.
Through the grace of God this past year I managed to visit theYekaterinburg,
Kazan, Yaroslavl, Kaluga, Nizhny Novgorod, St. Petersburg, Baku and Tula
dioceses of our Church, as well as the Valaam Monastery of the
Transfiguration of Our Saviour and other God-protected monastic houses.
Everywhere I saw a multitude at prayer and labouring for the Church whose
zeal for the Lord is becoming the sure foundation for the rebirth of
Orthodoxy in Russia.
In June of this past year the Lord vouchsafed me to celebrate the fifteenth
anniversary of my Patriarchal ministry. In receiving your congratulations,
so dear to me and speaking so much to my heart, I ever more deeply came to
realize how much your support and your prayers mean to me. Again and again I
turn to you, your Graces the archpastors, esteemed pastors, all-honourable
monks and nuns, all children of the Church, with words of deep and sincere
gratitude. May the Lord reward you a hundred-fold and '*make you complete in
every good work to do His will*' (Heb 13:21).
Once more I congratulate you, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on the
great and saving feast of the Nativity of Christ and the forthcoming New
Year. May God's gracious will, announced by the angels in Bethlehem,
accompany each one of us in our lives, helping us to overcome difficulties
and hardships. As the apostle says, '*mercy, peace, and love be multiplied
to you*' (Jude 1:2). Amen.
**PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA*
Nativity of Christ 2005/2006 AD
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