By the grace of God
Orthodox Bishop of the
Diocese of Ras and Prizren
To all clergy, monks and all Orthodox
sons and daughters of the Serbian Orthodox Church, an
all-joyful Christian greeting
CHRIST IS BORN! GLORIFY HIM!
Christ is born – glorify Him!
Christ comes from heaven – meet Him!
Christ is on earth – be exalted!
Sing to the Lord, all the earth!
And sing in joy, ye people,
For He is glorified!
(Irmos of the First Canticle of the Christmas Canon)It is a cold and unusual night in Bethlehem. There is a couple, seeking a place to stay. An Old Man and a Maiden, weary from travelling, have arrived in order to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, by registering themselves in their ancestral town, in accordance with the Imperial Decree. But there is no lodging available to them – except a cold cave in Bethlehem. And it is precisely here, my beloved spiritual children, where this miraculous event takes place – the meeting of Heaven and Earth, the wonderful encounter and union of God and Man, the Advent of the God-Man Christ, Who comes from Heaven into our world –and we hasten to meet Him! Christ is on earth – and we are exalted, joyfully singing on this festive day and on this Holy Night, as Christmas is also called in other languages.
How does this wonder take place? The Holy Evangelists tell us in their Gospels of Good News. The Maiden is giving birth, and there is no dwelling place for her. In Bethlehem ‘the House of Bread’, one cave alone shows forth as a beautiful palace for the Queen, to receive Him Who sustains us all and Who multiplies our bread. He Who is the Bread of Heaven descends from Heaven. Christ is born in a poor abode to resurrect the one who He created in His image after his likeness, and who fell because of sin.
God is laid to rest in a simple manger and we look upon Him as a Man, as a Divine-Infant wrapped in swaddling clothes. Joseph is perplexed and not knowing what to think, he becomes incapable of recalling the prophecy of Micah that declares: “And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means the least among the princes of Judah, because out of you will come a leader who will feed my people, Israel”.
And to the shame of the monotheistic Jews who were sons of The Law, it is in fact Sages from the East who come to worship the One True God. It is pious astrologers and former pagans, who offer gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, and who seek the One Whose Star they saw in the East. The simple Shepherds worship Him, and the Angels praise Him. It is here in this humble abode, that the miraculous and beautiful union of Heaven and Earth takes place. The mad King Herod becomes furious, and fearing for his earthly rule, seeks to kill the child, by slaughtering thousands of innocent infants of Bethlehem. But everything he attempts will be in vain.
As the God-inspired Serbian Chrysostom, the Holy and truly ‘Pan–Serbian’ Bishop Nikolai of Zica teaches, it was both the wisest and the simplest folk of that time – namely, the learned Sages from the East and the simple Shepherds tending to their flocks in the field – who worshiped Christ, whereas uncultivated wisdom and fraudulent simplicity have always been the greatest enemies of Christ and His Truth, His Gospel and His Church. Let us remember these words, dear spiritual children, because, as then, so it is today. Both the truly wise and the truly simple receive Christ equally in their hearts, while those who reckon themselves wise go mad, according to the teaching of the Holy Apostle Paul. Even today, the world is divided into two factions: those who worship Christ, and truly glorify him, and who with humility, patience and a pure heart, bear fruit, thirty, sixty and one hundred fold; and those who in communion with Herod, wish to destroy the memory of Christ, His Gospel and His Teachings, or at the very least, reduce Christ to petty humanist dimensions, fit only for placement in the shameful pantheon of their false gods.
Does not our time, brothers and sisters, bear dark and tragic witness to all of this? When we look upon and recognise the signs of the times, do we not see that the world is filled with those who went mad by reckoning themselves wise, as that venerable luminary of the desert, Saint Anthony the Great also prophesied: “The time is coming when people will go crazy, and when they see someone who has not gone crazy, they will attack him, saying: ‘You are crazy, you are not like us!’ “
Does not this perennial lesson speak precisely about our time, a time of ‘individual rights’, ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’ and ‘equality’? A time when everything is liable to disappear in a single fleeting moment? And although they may indeed be swelling with pride in their boastful attempts to breach the heavens by constructing a new Tower of Babel, behold! The de-Christianized West and the atheistic man-centred and God-hating Europe of Humanism is already descending into Hell. Where is all the European ‘libertarian’ philosophy and reasoning today? Where are all the achievements of this much-lauded culture and civilization? Where is this Nietzschean ‘Superman’, who in his ‘will to power’, rather than evolving into a God-Man, has degenerated into a subhuman species instead, screeching from his madhouse that „God is Dead“ – just as King David foretold, saying “the fool hath said in his heart, ‘there is no God’.“ For it is precisely such a humanity that does not quench the thirst of its soul with the Living God, that is doomed to ruin, decay, eternal death and dying, because such a humanity has “no aim, no idea, no plan“, as Spengler wrote in ‘The Fall of the West’!
When speaking about Europe and the West, the Godly-wise Justin of Celije, teaches us that: „All the small and great secrets of the European spirit have met and have merged into one huge and unchangeable dogma: the Dogma of the Infallibility of Man.“ Thus the main aspirations of all European humanism, both secular and religious, were achieved. Man has been declared a Man-God. In fact, the Dogma of the Infallibility of Man reveals for us the central mystery of European Man. With this dogma, European man publicly and sincerely declared before heaven and earth, what he is, what he wants, and what he strives for. With that dogma, he decisively and completely expelled the God-Man from Europe and enthroned the Man-God in His place. In this way, he forever predetermined the future of Europe: a future that must inevitably follow the principles and directives of the Infallible Man – the European Man-God.
Together with the great Dostoevsky, our Holy Father Justin attributes this apostasy of Europe with the terrible Fall of the Pope and Roman Catholicism, that sold Christ in exchange for earthly power, thereby becoming the primary source of European materialism and atheism. May God make wise and enlighten all those in Episcopal and Patriarchal Sees, who all too often, defile the sacred and divinely-adorned vestments of Christ’s Divine Bride the Orthodox Church, with the heresy of Ecumenism, by entering into prayerful communion with Roman Catholics who have fallen away from the Church, and with all those many other heretics, subsequently born from that original heresy of Papism.
The fruits of this materialism and atheism we see embodied before our very eyes, in the deprivation of human rights, imprisonment, and the mandating of dangerous vaccines that have not been sufficiently tested, against a disease whose cause is even less verifiable. This premeditated enslavement of humanity, should ignite every Christian conscience, however ailing and miniscule, to raise the voice of fiery opposition and proclaim: “Not In My Name”!
Therefore, our dear spiritual children, let us be careful how we read, how we understand and how we live the Doctrine and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Today, when many people follow the example of the Rich Man in the Gospel Parable, squander Christmas and New Year holidays dressed in scarlet and silken clothes, indulging themselves in luxurious homes, restaurants, hotels and winter resorts with much clamour, unrestrained music and dancing, may we not justifiably ask whether such persons actually glorify the Virgin-born Infant, or whether they do in fact, glorify themselves and their passions instead? Is Christ still lying in a cold hut somewhere, as he once lay in a freezing cave, with those in sorrow and in poverty, and with some poor soul who also freezes and starves in the December frost, since cold hearts are most often to be found in rich and warm homes, where there is no place for Christ Himself?
Let us therefore, brothers and sisters, warm our hearts on this day, with love for God and for our neighbour, with love for the Faith and for the Orthodox Church, all of which suffer and grieve so terribly in our times. Let us remember our little and forgotten brothers, and offer ourselves to them in their tribulations, in their sufferings and in their sorrows, because whoever finds and offers help to one of these little brothers of Christ, finds and serves Christ Himself, as Christ promises us in His Gospel.
Dearly beloved spiritual children. During the course of these Holy Days, let us remember all of the exiles, the victims, the refugees, and the displaced persons, who for years, even decades, cannot find justice on this Earth. Let us also remember our brothers and sisters in the suffering Kosovo and Metohija, who have survived and stood firm for centuries, especially throughout the last twenty-two years since NATO’s occupation of Kosovo and Metohija, and the subsequent proclamation of the false state of Kosovo. To all of you who guard holy Kosovo and holy Metohija, may the Infant God born in Bethlehem, give you the strength to remain, to survive and to rejoice, for behold, the Lord has promised that great is your reward in heaven!
Furthermore, inasmuch as it is in our power, let us all devote ourselves to the struggle for the preservation of Kosovo and Metohija. Because in addition to preserving the Holy Orthodox Faith, the true struggle in Serbia in our time, can only be a struggle for the preservation of Holy Kosovo and Metohija, a struggle that is synonymous with the struggle for Christian dignity and freedom, and in particular, freedom, from coercive, unscrupulous and unverifiable pseudo-medical measures, implemented with the sole purpose of control and experimentation upon human beings everywhere, whether Christian or not. We can only take a leading role in supporting such a struggle, because the struggle for Kosovo from Prince Lazar to the present day, has always been sustained by the paradigm of a Christocentric Serbia. All other battles are futile and doomed to failure, being, more often than not, entirely controlled and manipulative deceptions.
If we fight as a free and brave people, preserving our humanity, our compassion and our heroism, the Lord will bless us, as the Holy Bishop Nikolai assures us in his song:
Be brave and be free,
God speaks to you, oh Serb,
‘’And I will surely fight for you,
Just hold fast to the truth’’!
On this wondrous Holy Day, we also greet all of you, our spiritual children living beyond all Serbian lands; indeed, spiritual children who are not only of Serbian descent, but from all other nominal Orthodox Christian nations encompassing one end of the universe to the other, and who, when fighting for the Holy Orthodox Faith and Church, have recognized in our Elder Artemije of blessed memory, the Flag-Bearer who holds high the Banner of Christ unfurled; and who have also discerned in the confessional Diocese of Raska and Prizren, the pillar and fortress of Truth, that is the Church of Christ. We greet all of you, from one end of the universe to the other, and we ask the Infant Christ to bestow you with Christian strength and virtue with which to endure the temptations you are undergoing and which await all of us together, never giving up the Name of Christ, nor the Seal of the Holy Spirit and the freedom given to us in Christ, because the price He paid for us was great indeed.
Let us therefore, hold fast to Truth and to Justice, to Faith and Hope and Love, dearly beloved brothers and sisters, spiritual children all. Let us keep the sacred virtues in our souls and join the Holy Church, when praying and worshiping in our catacomb-temples, confessing our sins, partaking of Communion in the Holy Mysteries, and not fearing any power of the Devil, who, by God’s leave, we will always encounter in this world, a world which after all, according to the words of the Holy Apostle Paul, is lying in sin.
Thus do we sing on this great and wonderful Feast, repeating the words of the Prophet Isaiah: „Unto us a child is born, and unto us a Son is given, because God is with us.” Thus when Christ is born to us, does the liturgical hymn also proclaim: „Thy Kingdom, Christ God, is the Kingdom of all ages, and Thy Rule is in every generation“!
We profess such a Faith, we believe in such a God, the God-Man Who became one of us to adopt us and make us Gods by grace. Therefore, let us all joyfully sing together: “We worship Thy Birth, O Christ! We worship Thy birth, O Christ! We worship Thy birth, O Christ! Show us also Thy Divine Epiphany!”
CHRIST IS BORN! GLORIFY HIM!
On the Nativity of Christ, 2021,
Prayerfully yours before the God-Child of Bethlehem:
+ Bishop Ksenofont, Head of the ERP in Exile
+ Chorbishop Nikolai, of Stari Ras and Loznica
+ Chorbishop Maxim, of Novo Brdo and Panonia
+ Chorbishop Naum, of Hvosno and Barajevo