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"No one man, or group of men, can himself speak for the Church of Christ. It is nonetheless possible to speak from within the Church, in conformity with Orthodox tradition; and it is this that we shall attempt to do." Fr. Seraphim Rose Orthodox Word #1 Jan-Feb 1965 p. 17

Nativity Epistles

P.O. Box 591
Valley Cottage, N.Y. 10989

                                                                                               25 December / 7 January  2010
Nativity Epistle of the
Most Reverend Andronik
Archbishop of Syracuse and St. Nicholas

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, 
good will toward men.

The angels of God sang these praises on the night of the Nativity of Christ.

Filled with the same gladness, I, your unworthy servant, congratulate you, my friends, with the glorious feast day of the Nativity of Christ.

Christ was born to restore the being of the fallen, since mankind in the person of Adam sinned and lost its original state.  The Wisdom of God set forth that the promised Messiah was born of the Virgin Mary as an ordinary person, but His birth was extraordinary – without a father and therefore sinless.  This is a hidden secret, exceeding the reason of man, the mystery of incarnation, which things the angels desire to look into. (1 Peter 1:12).

In this way, God, through the incarnation of the Son of God, gave us the opportunity to become the children of God.

What shall we sinners give Him in return?  Firstly, to be faithful to Him as He said in the Apocalypse: be faithful to the end and I shall give thee a crown of righteousness.  Secondly, to correct our sinful lives.  Thirdly, to be merciful.  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.  (From the Sermon on the Mount of our Lord Jesus Christ.)

Once again, I congratulate all you pastors, monastics and brothers and sisters with the glorious feast day of the Nativity of Christ.

Archbishop of Syracuse and St. Nicholas

Nativity Epistle
Of the Most Reverend Sofroniy,
Archbishop of St. Petersburg and Northern Russia

For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.
Salt is good:
but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it?
Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.
(Mark 9:49-50)

In our troubled times, these words are applicable as never before.  The Lord came into the world, bringing us salt, and we can, thus salted, be saved if we have peace among us.  St Theophanes tells us that every man who wants to be saved must be salted with fire, to undergo a fiery cleansing of their sins.  Often we fight for the truth without respite, but do not achieve the desired result and deem it a failure.  Forgetting, thereby, the need to first have peace among ourselves, and then preach it to others.  St. Philaret of New York commanded us that everyone in their lives can save their Christian souls, if they see their lives and their affairs as service to the Lord God, fulfilling His commandments, and keeping faith, purity and love in their hearts.  Their lives must justify the coming of the Lord in the world.  Alas, we often approach prayer and the services in a ritualistic manner, as if God is in need of our prayers.  We turn our prayers into some sort of commercial agreement; I will put a candle in your honor Lord, I will read the Psalter, while you give me what I want.  As if the Lord was born into this world only to accept our repentance. All of us forget it is not the Lord who is in need of prayer, and it is not He who needs to wait for us to begin to pray, but it is we that are in need of it and we that must rush to converse with the Incarnate Living God.  We must remember that the Lord has come for us to change, to be reborn and turn away from sin, and to love only Him.  As the Holy Fathers teach us, prayer is the staff, upon which we lean to achieve the Heavenly Kingdom.  Bearing in mind the teachings of St. Theophanes, we must always be ready for any kind of sacrifice and self-denial, in order to stay on the good path.  All of us, according to the law of creation, must sacrifice ourselves to God, but most of us are unclean.  We must, therefore, purify ourselves, to make ourselves a sacrifice favorable to the Living God.  But when we begin to purify ourselves and rip out passions from our soul, it will be painful, as if burned from a fire.  This is the process of internal self-purification.  That is why it is essential for all of us to be salted with fire, similar to how in the Old Testament, every sacrifice was salted before being brought to be consumed by fire.  Salt – is a good thing.  And only having been cleansed, having attained peace, can we profess it to others around us.  And the newborn God Child, upon His return in the Second Coming to judge all of creation, will not seek sin in us, for which he can condemn us and sentence us to eternal fire, but will seek in us that which can be lauded and worthy of salvation, for He is a loving Father, born today and come to save and not destroy His creation.

God-loving presbyters, deacons, honorable monks, novices and sisters, pious Orthodox laity - the faithful children of the Church!  I thank the Lord with all my heart for the opportunity to share with you this great and joyful day of the arrival in Bethlehem of the God Child in the world!

Archbishop of St. Petersburg and Northern Russia,
Ruling Bishop of the Ishimsk-Siberian Diocese

St. Petersburg
Nativity of Chirst, 2009

JAN 6, 2010

Nativity Epistle

+ Agafangel

Metropolitan of Eastern-America and New York,
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

Honorable archpastors and pastors, dear brothers and sisters!

The Holy Fathers proclaimed that it is not possible with our inadequate words to describe the grandeur and significance of the arrival in this world of the Savior, to Whom the angels sing and Who brings spiritual gifts on earth that are more valuable than those given by anyone in the human race.  What can compare to His Benevolence, which is a priceless gift for our life in this temporal world and a promise of eternal life among the angels, praising God?

All of our worldly concerns and all that we possess, our earthly values, hopes and joys, are nothing compared to this Divine Destiny. We are asked only to love the incarnate God with all our heart and accept His Divine Providence for us, while subduing the human will and pride in ourselves.

The Lord cried out with anguish, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chicks under her wings, and ye would not!”  (Matthew 23:37)  Our duty is to accept without fail this invaluable desire of God, which concerns itself with our unity with Him and with each other, so that we do not hear these words of our Savior at the Day of Judgment in denunciation of us.  

So let us do away with our decrepit infirmity and open the doors of our heart to welcome the Christ Child born in this world, and may our spirit join in angelic song, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men“ (Luke 2:14).

I congratulate you all, my dear fellow archpastors and pastors and brothers and sisters with the Nativity of Christ!

+ Agafangel

Metropolitan of Eastern-America and New York,
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

Odessa, Nativity of Christ, 2009

Nativity Epistle

Nativity Epistle of
Bishop Gregory
Of Sao Paulo and South America.
Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.

   Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord!

Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, hath shined upon the world the light of knowledge…

God has given us to live this year to see the glorious Feast of the Nativity of Christ!
And for this kindness to us from Him, let us thank the Merciful Lord!

          The Holy Church prepared us for this feast day with a 40-day fast, while the human race through the Providence of God prepared for it more than 5000 years.  In remembrance of this, the Holy Church established the commemoration of the Holy Forefathers two weeks before the great feast day.  These Old Testament saints, who did not hear the Gospel of Christ, as we do now, did not know that service, which we now complete in the churches of God.  Nor did they have holy baptism, or communion of the Body and Blood of Christ; they did not celebrate our Pascha, and the hope of resurrection did not appear to them as clearly as it does for us, since the coming to earth of the Son of God had not yet occurred, who later bodily suffered, died, and resurrected from the dead.

           And here we are now, celebrating the incarnation of what they, the Old Testament saints, anticipated and lived believing in.  Immeasurably more has been given and revealed to us, compared to what was revealed and given to them.  We see and receive that, which was revealed to them only in images and in prophecies.

            And in this day of the Grand and Glorious Celebration, when the sky bows down to the valley and the heavenly host descends to the sinful earth to join us and bow at the wonderful and mysterious cradle, where the Eternal God is swaddled in cloth and lies in the manger, let us bring our hearts as a gift to Christ, the Newly-born God Child. 
          Truly, the Perfect God and Perfect Man was born of the Virgin in a cave in Bethlehem.  May our hearts rejoice and ignite with holy love for Him, as the Lord has come for our salvation.  And in this outburst of love, may we also remember our dear departed loved ones, may their graves and souls be illuminated with a peaceful, soft Light - for love does not die.

   Congratulations on the Nativity of Christ, dear brothers and sisters and church members!

Nativity Epistle

Nativity Epistle 
of the Most Reverend Georgiy,
Bishop of Bolgrad and Belgorod-Dnestrovsk

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” 
(Luke 2:14)

Dear beloved brothers and sister in Christ!

On the great feast day of the Nativity of Christ, we direct our gaze to the cave in the city of Bethlehem, where the meeting of the Creator and His creation occurred in that Nativity manger. There, fulfilling the prophesy of the Psalms, mercy and truth joined together, truth and peace embraced, truth emerged from the earth, and the truth stepped down from heaven. (Psalm 84:11-12) The long-awaited Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, became the new Adam made of love, to raise the fallen Adam of old. "King Jesus, wanting to heal, healed the sick, girded by the band of humanity. The perfected teacher of children was a child with the children with babies, to make the wise the unwise. The bread of heaven descended to earth in order to sate the hungry ,” so said St. Cyril of Jerusalem of the Incarnation of Christ (12th Catechetical Homily). “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

The Nativity of Christ transformed humanity for eternity; it reconciled man with God. That is why we, Orthodox Christians, celebrate and rejoice, understanding that this event presages our salvation from sin, damnation and death, and together with the inhabitants of heaven and angels we sing this marvelous gospel song, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!” (Luke 2:14).

On this joyous day, I heartily congratulate you, dear fathers, brothers and sisters, children of the church, on the feast of the Nativity of Christ! May the peace of Christ and His grace fill our hearts, so that, "The Nativity of Christ is celebrated faithfully, our thoughts turned to Bethlehem, accepting the law of love and brotherly love, and bringing the gifts of the virtuous: faith - instead of gold, love - like myrrh, an act - as frankincense. For every kind of joy is fulfilled, Christ is born in Bethlehem!”

With the love of the newborn Christ,
Bishop of Bolgrad and Belgorod-Dnestrovsk

Nativity of Christ
December 25\January 7, 2009\2010

Nativity Epistle

Holy Ascension Orthodox Church
of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

Bishop Joseph (Hrebinka), Rector
3921 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030 
(703) 591 – 9445
Parish website: http://www.holyascension.info/

Christ is born, glorify Him!

With these words, we greet each other on the occasion of the feast day of the Nativity of Christ.

From the very day of the Nativity of Christ, a new Christian era began for mankind.  A new enumeration began, because mankind in its existence was as new.  But that was only outwardly.

The spiritual countenance of the entire world changed, but that did not occur immediately and it took three centuries of horrible persecution of Christianity filled with its own blood, which submerged in itself the ancient pagan world.  Mankind emerged changed and renewed from this blood bath, as if baptized in that terrifying baptismal font.  Christ’s Church and none other eliminated the enslavement imposed by pagan regimes and proclaimed freedom of worship and the equality of all before the law.  Most importantly, it was the grace of the Holy Spirit which transformed the very heart of mankind.  The horrible coliseums were abolished, where people demanded that other people kill each other, where people let loose wild animals to kill other people.  These coliseums were abolished, because they became repugnant to the hearts of mankind, because Christ, the God of love, mercy and compassion entered into them.

These days, we hear of atrocities, some quite cruel, which occur in various corners of the world, but such cruelty and inequity will never again be legitimized and become the norm of our lives.  Christ was triumphant once and for all and there are no forces on earth that can take away that victory.  If our hearts tighten at the sight of suffering of all kinds, if we cannot look at wounds or blood without wincing, if we cannot see the suffering of innocent children born and unborn without shuddering, we have God to thank for that.  These gifts were brought by Christ.  Let us glorify Him and thank Him for the kindness shown to us.

Christ is born, glorify Him!

Bishop of Washington, D.C.
Vicar of the Eastern-American and New York Diocese

Nativity of Christ, 2009

Nativity Epistle

for the Feast of the Nativity of our Savior Christ 
The Sustenance and Delight of the Church 
The Work of God and the Ministry of the Theotokos 

My Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ: 

The Work given by God the Father to His Son commences this day, with the  synergy of the Holy Spirit and the ministry of the Theotokos. 

Today, the Son of God becomes Man, that we might be delivered from the “power of darkness” and “translated into [His] Kingdom”; conveying us “from  death unto life”; and granting us “redemption through His blood.”

As Great Prophet, as Great High Priest, and as Great King, Christ has “finished” the single, unique, and indivisible “work which God the Father gave Him to do”: as Prophet, He has illumined us with the “words” that the Father “gave” Him to “give” to us; as High Priest, He has offered the Great Sacrifice upon the Cross, in our stead and on our behalf, while as Eternal High Priest, He continues to intercede with the Father “for us”; and finally, as King, He has made sin, the Devil, and death subject to the Grace-endowed and sanctified will of man.

* * * 

My Christ-loving Brothers and Sisters: 

Today, we celebrate the “Dawn of the Mystic Day,” that is, of the eternal Kingdom of God, through the Most Blessed Theotokos.   Our Lord begins His Work for the renewal of the world, resting in the arms of His Mother. This image highlights not only what God has given us—namely, His Only-Begotten Son—but also what we, as grateful men, have offered to Our Lord for the accomplishment of His Work. 

Very aptly has it been written that to the words, “God so loved the world, that He gave His Only-Begotten Son,” the Church gives a corresponding response: 

“The world so loved God that it gave Him her whose beauty and purity disclose the deepest meaning and value of the world.”

This image of Mother and Child provides us an authentic image of the True World, of the True Life, of the True Man. It proclaims to us the glad tidings of a unique historical event: the Eternal Love of God for the world and the Eternal Love of the world for God unite and culminate in a preternatural embrace. 

Thus, in the person of the Virgin, there is revealed to us the Divine depth, beauty, wisdom, and light of the world, as these are lovingly reunited with their Creator.

* * * 

My Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ: 

The Saints tell us that “just as” God “planted the Tree of Life in the earthly Paradise, so also He planted in the Paradise of the Church another Tree of Life, incomparably more honorable, which is the Mystery of the Divine Eucharist.”

The Bride of God, Our Lady, bore within her the “Bread of Life,” the New Tree of Life, Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Sustenance and Delight of the pious. 

For this reason, our Church daily salutes the Theotokos and Mother of the Light: 

“Rejoice, Minister of Holy Delight.” Rejoice, Minister of Holy Delight, Minister of the Sacred Banquet of the Eucharist, Minister of our divinizing Communion with God the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit. 

The Work of Our Savior is continued through the Church, which shepherds us in a Prophetic, Priestly, and Kingly manner. Our Immaculate Lady continues to minister to this Work, bearing the Church, the world, and creation in her maternal embrace, in anticipation of the union of all in the uncreated Love of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen! 

+ The Holy Nativity of Our Savior Jesus Christ, 2009 
Your humble intercessor before our Incarnate Lord,
† Bishop Cyprian of Oreoi,
Acting President of the 
Holy Synod in Resistance