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Author Topic: 2007 Nativity Messages of Orthodox Heirarchs  (Read 1154 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: December 24, 2007, 10:45:37 PM »

ENCYCLICAL

CHRISTMAS 2007

STYLIANOS

By the grace of God Archbishop of Australia
To all the Clergy and devout faithful
Of our Greek Orthodox Archdiocese

Brother Concelebrants and beloved children in Christ who is born,

   

In celebrating once again – as every year – the wondrous Birth of Christ (the God-Man) as the uncreated God’s ‘divine Economy according to the flesh’ for the sake of the human person made in His image, we are obliged to briefly let go of the futile cares and worries of this world.

Only in so doing, could we perhaps be made worthy of taking a deep ‘sigh of relief’ within the peacefulness of the miracle.

This, at any rate, is required by the laws of the miracle: “Let every mortal flesh keep silence” (Cherubic Hymn of Holy Saturday).

It is required by God the Miracle-Worker Himself: “In the world you will have tribulation. But take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

However, what does it mean to say ‘I have overcome the world’?

Who is it that ‘overcomes the world’?

Once, a very pious Elder of Mount Athos almost ‘protested’ (but like a small child) about this statement of Christ, saying: ‘That’s all very well – You overcame because You are both God and Man! But how am I supposed to overcome, since I am only man?’

This pious perplexity of the Athonite Elder is truly moving, on account of its simplicity.

At the same time, it is most instructive for all of us, being a brave awareness and confession of ‘unworthiness’.

Yet if we ‘passively’ surrender to such perplexity stemming from humility, we could perhaps run the risk of forgetting fundamental teachings of our Faith.

These teachings mainly were ‘sealed’ by the divine Incarnation with all bodily sanctity – the Incarnation which our Orthodox worship speaks about so prayerfully during Christmas.

There are mainly three ‘realities’ that the history of the world has revolved around since the beginning:

THE HUMAN PERSON – CHRIST AS GOD AND MAN – TIME

In order to appreciate the particular significance of each mentioned reality within the whole ‘Plan of divine Economy’, we need to underline that in each case, the consistent teaching of the Church is one thing, while the ever-changing opinion of the world is another.

The consistent teaching of the Church concerning the human person summarizes, as we know, the major truths of divine Revelation.

The Holy Scriptures in their entirety (both Old and New Testament) describe on the one hand the charismatic features of man, and his mission on the other. They furthermore describe his ultimate destiny in the eternity of God.

All these sacred data (features-mission-destiny) have as their root and unmistakable foundation the pre-eternal Will of God, who created the human person in His “image and likeness” (Gen.1:26).

We can therefore state – without being unrealistic or impious – that it was indeed for the human person that God made the whole Creation (both visible and invisible).

This is precisely why the great Fathers and Teachers of the Church called the divine Incarnation the ‘second Creation’!

Yet, if God did not ‘entrust’ to any of His creatures His own ‘image’, and if He did not ‘demand’ His ‘likeness’ from any other spiritual or rational being, it means that the Incarnation of God the Word opened our eyes to two astonishing truths:

First, that the mystery of the invisible God is directly connected to the mystery of the visible person (whose body never ceases to have sanctity comparable to that of the spirit and the soul). Second, through His Incarnation, God gave the notion of time a redemptive power, transforming it into the ‘opportune time’, an unexpected opportunity.

Consequently, the human Person (anthropos) and the God-Man (theanthropos) are not opposite notions or realities.

They are, strictly speaking, the two radiant extremities of the mystical Axis of the unity between two natures (theandricity).

It is this Axis which permeates the universal human adventure, beneath the star of Bethlehem, which calls all to the “fullness of time” (see Gal.4:4).

To God, who became man for all people, be glory, honour and worship to all.

Amen!

With fervent prayers in Christ
Archbishop STYLIANOS
Christmas 2007
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« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2007, 09:16:14 AM »

2006 Nativity Message from His Beatitude PATRIARCH IGNATIUS IV.
Patriarchate of Antioch & all the East

The Nativity of our Savior Jesus Christ dawns upon us each year to remind us of God's infinite mercy and love for His entire Creation, and to call us to reflect again on the sublime Mystery of the Divine Incarnation, without which our salvation would not be possible.
Christmas should constitute, for all of us, an occasion of spiritual renewal, a moment of meditation on our life, acts, behavior, and on our commitment to live in Christ.

Peace and joy was poured upon earth at the moment the Divine Child appeared in a humble cave. The pure-hearted, humble shepherds were the persons who received Him, not the world's powerful leaders.

Christmas is an invitation, for all of us, to contemplate on the heavenly message and to strive for peace, which is not, unfortunately, attainable nowadays, in the cradle of the Good News, in the land of the Incarnation, and in many regions of our suffering, crucified world.

Images of massacre and destruction are shown and diffused every day, as well as images of the violation of the dignity of the human being for whom the Glorified Son consented to dwell among us, in order to restore our affiliation to the Father, to enable us to sit with Him on the Day of Judgment.

We pray Our Lord, during this honorable season of Christmas, the New Year and Theophany, to grant us peace and stability, praising God and acclaiming with the Angels: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill to men.”

+Ignatius IV
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East


May I also append to  you the following message:

CHRIST IS BORN! GLORIFY HIM!

May you and your loved ones have a blessed feast day.

Thomas
« Last Edit: December 25, 2007, 09:18:12 AM by Thomas » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2007, 11:34:43 AM »

2006 Nativity Message from His Beatitude PATRIARCH IGNATIUS IV.
Patriarchate of Antioch & all the East

The Nativity of our Savior Jesus Christ dawns upon us each year to remind us of God's infinite mercy and love for His entire Creation, and to call us to reflect again on the sublime Mystery of the Divine Incarnation, without which our salvation would not be possible.
Christmas should constitute, for all of us, an occasion of spiritual renewal, a moment of meditation on our life, acts, behavior, and on our commitment to live in Christ.

Peace and joy was poured upon earth at the moment the Divine Child appeared in a humble cave. The pure-hearted, humble shepherds were the persons who received Him, not the world's powerful leaders.

Christmas is an invitation, for all of us, to contemplate on the heavenly message and to strive for peace, which is not, unfortunately, attainable nowadays, in the cradle of the Good News, in the land of the Incarnation, and in many regions of our suffering, crucified world.

Images of massacre and destruction are shown and diffused every day, as well as images of the violation of the dignity of the human being for whom the Glorified Son consented to dwell among us, in order to restore our affiliation to the Father, to enable us to sit with Him on the Day of Judgment.

We pray Our Lord, during this honorable season of Christmas, the New Year and Theophany, to grant us peace and stability, praising God and acclaiming with the Angels: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill to men.”

+Ignatius IV
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East


May I also append to  you the following message:

CHRIST IS BORN! GLORIFY HIM!

May you and your loved ones have a blessed feast day.

Thomas


Amen to that......stashko......SmileyCentral.com" border="0
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« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2007, 12:12:02 PM »

Ecumenical Patriarchal Declaration For Christmas, 2007

+BARTHOLOMEW

By the Mercy of God
Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome
And Ecumenical Patriarch

To the Plenitude of the Church

Grace, mercy and peace
From the savior Christ born in Bethlehem


Christ is born, glorify Him;
Christ comes from heaven, meet Him.

Beloved brothers and children in the Lord,

It is with great joy that our Church calls us to glorify God for His loving and personal presence on earth in the divine-human hypostasis of Christ Jesus, one of the three persons of the Holy Trinity.

We must, therefore, examine very carefully the true and life-giving significance of the incarnation of the Son and Word of God. First, it reveals to humanity that God is personal and is made manifest to us as a person, just as He has also created us as persons. Second, it reveals to us that God embraces us with His love. These two realities, the personhood and love of God, express fundamental truths of our faith, which we have doubtless heard many times. However, their impact on our lives is not as great as it might be, because many of us neither experience our brotherhood with Christ in a personal way, nor His boundless love for us. Neither do we return our love to Christ so that by sharing in His love, we may also share, by grace, in other characteristics of His Person.

If others, who do not know Christ and, as a result of their ignorance, drown in their search for an impersonal being that they perceive as divine, are to some extent justified, then we Orthodox Christians are not justified at all if we follow such fruitless pursuits. Instead of seeking God as a person and approaching Him in the One Who approaches us, namely Jesus Christ, people who are misled desperately strive to become divine through their own powers, like Adam thought, when he listened to spirit of evil. But the true and personal God, Who is known only through Jesus Christ, the One born in a manger out of love for us, promised us adoption and a return to the bosom of the Father, as well as deification by grace through Christ. It is only through Christ that one may fulfill the universal human desire to transcend the corruption and isolation of an existence without love, and to achieve communion with Divine and human persons in love. This is what leads to eternity and to immortality!

Let us, therefore, turn the gaze of our hearts toward the newborn Jesus Christ in the manger, so that, by considering how much He loves us, we might love Him with all our heart, mind and being. It is only through the love of Jesus Christ that we may become partakers by grace in His divine nature, just as through His love He shared in our human nature. Human-centered attempts and concepts, drug-induced states and ecstasies, together with similar non-Christian experiences do not lead to an encounter with the truly personal God of love. Rather, they lead to a deep cold darkness, to gloom of eternal destruction, as well as to a feeling of complete and abysmal emptiness.

For this reason, beloved children in the Lord, love Jesus Christ, Who out of love for us and for our salvation became human. Come to know the communion of His love, with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Indeed, there is nothing sweeter than the love of the personal God.

The supreme herald of divine love, the one who identified God as love, is St. John the Evangelist and Theologian, who first pronounced to us, “God is love.” After him, the greatest herald is St. Paul the Apostle, who loved God to the end and who asked the fervent question: “What can separate us from the love of Christ?” Neither sorrow nor sword, neither death nor any other love can be more powerful than our love for Christ. In remembrance of the words and loving works of St. Paul, and in celebration of two millennia since his birth, we declare the coming year 2008 as the year of the Apostle Paul.

We pray paternally and fervently that Jesus Christ, Who was born in a manger out of love and for our salvation, may render our hearts to become like His manger: through the intercessions of His ever-Virgin Mother, as well as of our predecessor St. John Chrysostom, to whose memory we dedicated this past year, together with the intercessions of another Patriarchal predecessor, St. Niphon, restorer and second founder of the Holy Patriarchal and Stavropegic Monastery of St. Dionysius on Mount Athos, which next year celebrates the 500th anniversary since his repose, as well as of Saints John and Paul the Apostles, par excellence heralds of God’s love, and of all the saints, so that He may reveal to everyone the person of His love.

We invoke upon all of you His grace and rich mercy. Merry Christmas; may the twelve days of Christmas be blessed; and may the New Year be both spiritually and materially fruitful.

Phanar, Christmas 2007

+BARTHOLOMEW
Fervent supplicant for all to God
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« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2007, 12:14:25 PM »

Encyclical of Archbishop Demetrios for The Nativity of Christ 2007


December 25, 2007
The Nativity of Christ

What shall we offer You, O Christ,
Who for our sakes has appeared on earth as a man?
(From the Vespers of the Nativity)


To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On this glorious day of the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ we celebrate the truly historical, universal, and eternal event of His Incarnation. It is historical, for at the divinely appointed time He entered our human history by being conceived and formed in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and was born of her in a cave in Bethlehem. It is universal because the Son of God, the divine Logos of Creation, took upon himself human flesh and blood so that He might redeem us and all of the universe from the burden of sin and death. His Incarnation and birth has eternal significance because through His life, we are offered life, not just a mortal and earthly life, but unending life. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). The gift of the Lord and the gift of life are the greatest offerings presented to humankind. God the Father gave his Son, and the Son gave Himself so that we might be restored to the life and communion for which we were created.

It is in this gift that we see and experience the true nature of giving. First, our Lord gave himself freely. He did this because of His great love for us. Jesus became like us in every way with the exception of sin. He began his life in the womb, then as an infant. He endured temptation, suffering and death, and He affirmed the power of faith through His Resurrection. In this revelation of God’s love, our Lord has given completely, freely, and willingly so that we might be saved.

Second, Christ offered himself in humility. He did not enter this world in all of the trappings of royalty and might. He did not come seeking fame, political power, and wealth. It would appear that He came in weakness and obscurity and that His meager beginnings would be no match for worldly authority. But in His humility was His power. In entering our humanity, our Lord exalted what had been made low by sin and death. As the Son of God Incarnate, He affirmed the divine imprint on our creation and our lives. Through His birth, life, teaching, and miracles He baffled the so-called wise of this world, brought down pride and spiritual arrogance, and illumined the path of truth so that all might enter His kingdom.

Third, the offering of our Lord was one of peace. His compassionate sacrifice of himself was not accomplished through violence. His birth signified that His cause was life, and even through His death He revealed His power to give and uphold life. The peace offered by Christ is an enduring peace that is experienced and sustained not by the sword, but through faith and love.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Let us contemplate what our Lord has offered to us, especially during this time of year when we give to one another. Giving can and should be a blessed and beautiful act toward others when we know the true nature of giving. Our Lord has given to us freely, and in humility and love. In the challenges of our lives and the uncertainty of our world He gives us peace. What can we offer to Him and to one another? In our celebration of this great Feast of the Nativity, we can affirm our faith in Him. We can and should offer all of our being for His glory and service, sharing in the life, love, and peace that will be ours for all eternity.

With paternal love in Christ,

+DEMETRIOS
Archbishop of America
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« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2007, 12:16:00 PM »

Archpastoral Letter of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman for the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord
Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord 2007

Brother Hierarchs, Esteemed Clergy, Venerable Monastics and Beloved Faithful of The Orthodox Church in America:

Christ is Born!  –  Glorify Him!

In celebrating the Nativity of our Lord once again this year, we Orthodox Christians find ourselves with an approach to the Feast that is very different from that of the rest of the world. 

Tragically for many in this world, their life is one without God – whether in personal belief, in practice, or both. For others, their “faith” is in a God that is hardly involved in human history or in their lives – as the popular song of a few years ago put it, “God is watching us … from a distance.” But for us Orthodox Christians, the pronouncement of the Scripture regarding the Incarnation rings out clearly: “Behold, the Virgin shall be with Child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, ‘God with us’” (Matthew 1:23).  And the hymnography for the Feast echoes this proclamation: “God is with us!  Understand ye nations, and submit yourselves, for God is with us!” Not “watching from a distance” but “with us” – around us, beside us, and to the degree we desire His presence, within us, as close as the breath in our lungs or the beat of our hearts.

For most people, today is the celebration of the birth of a beautiful, innocent and “cuddly” baby boy, one who would grow up and do more good than any other man – make the blind see, the deaf hear, the crippled walk, and the dead rise. For some, he even offers his life on the cross in exchange for men’s sins and for their salvation. But for us, this Feast marks the coming in the flesh of none other than God Himself. Jesus Christ is no mere man; He is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, God the Son, God the Word: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Almost everyone who celebrates this day marks it with the exchange of gifts, and all too often people focus on their “wish lists” of presents that they want to receive from Santa and his elves. But the focus for us Orthodox Christians is the question that is asked in one of the hymns of Vespers of the Nativity: 

What shall we offer Thee, O Christ, Who for our sakes has appeared on earth as man? Every creature made by Thee offers Thee thanks. The angels offer Thee a hymn; the heavens, a star; the Magi, gifts, the shepherds, their wonder; the earth, its cave; the wilderness, the manger; and we offer Thee a Virgin Mother. O Pre-Eternal God, have mercy upon us.

Our Orthodox Church calls upon us to offer our gifts to Christ, rather than to seek gifts from others. We are reminded of the gifts of the wise men, on behalf of the entire human race: gold, as they acknowledged the sovereignty of the only true King; frankincense, as they knelt in worship of the only true God; and myrrh, because Christ, the bearer of the Resurrection, would abolish death and there would no longer be need of the ointment that was used in burial. 

We are called to offer the Incarnate God the gifts of our faith, our hope, our love; He seeks our repentance, our confession, and our return to the narrow path that leads to His Kingdom; He desires our whole life, our membership in His Body, our commitment to the building up of His Holy Church. In return for this total offering, we will receive what Adam lost in Paradise – communion with Him!  In return He offers us His Body and Blood as a pledge of eternal life with Him in His heavenly Kingdom.

Indeed, we live in an affluent society, filled with the good things of this world that beckon to us. But Christ beckons us to recall the example of King Solomon, who was gifted with unfathomable riches, fame, power, and wisdom, but was tormented because he could not satisfy the desire of his heart. He was so wealthy that all the furnishings of his palace were covered with gold; so wise, that all the rulers of the nations sought his counsel; so mighty, that all the kings of the world feared him. Yet he was utterly discontent, because he knew that even though he could obtain any earthly thing that he desired, possessions and power were just vain and empty – waterless wells unable to quench his thirst for the divine. He could not satisfy the one true desire of his heart because he could not restore the communion with God that Adam lost. 

Let us heed the wisdom of Solomon and acknowledge all earthly things as unable to quench the desire of the human heart. And with the Magi, let us seek the One who has come into the world to restore the communion with God that man had lost. Offering ourselves to Him and His Church, in the form of gifts of time and talent and treasure, let us renew our faith and hope and love in the Christ Who, through His divine Incarnation, has given the gift of eternal life to each of us and to the entire human race.

Asking our Lord to favor you with every joy this Nativity Season and in the coming new year, and with the bestowal of my archpastoral blessing, I remain

With love in the Infant Messiah,


+ HERMAN
Archbishop of Washington and New York
Metropolitan of All America and Canada

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