Почетна / English version / CHRISTMAS EPISTLE 2023


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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


When the Lord Jesus was born of the Holy Virgin, the entire world became enlightened. The shepherds watched in the fields, the Wise Men adored Him and the angels praised Him in song, while Herod was troubled – for God appeared in the flesh, as Saviour of our souls.

(Stichera of Vespers by Anatolios on the Nativity of Christ)

On the wonderful and joyous feast of the Nativity in the flesh of the Infant Christ, dear brothers, sisters and spiritual children all, everything is wonderful and joyful, because as we have heard the Church singing in the aforementioned verse: „the entire world is enlightened“. It is enlightened with a wonderful light, an indescribable light, an unspeakable light, and that is why this night and this day are both holy and bright, as the Angel from heaven announces to the frightened shepherds who keep vigil in the field, „the great joy that will be for all people, because today a Saviour is born to you, who is Christ the Lord in the city of David. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe lying wrapped in a manger.“

And the simple shepherds hurry, they hasten with the Wise Men of the East, to fulfill the commandment announced in the heavenly revelation. To bow down before the humble Creator who becomes a poor infant, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger in the cold cave of Bethlehem, because it was not possible for Him to reside as King of kings and the Lord of lords anywhere else. For the Peaceful One only comes to rest with those who love peace. The All-Patient One comes to abide only with those who are long-suffering. Thus does the Ever-Diligent Creator also come to labour alongside His fervent Mother, together with the serene elderly Joseph, the Angels, the Shepherds and the Wise Men of the East.

According to the Holy Bishop Nikolai of Ziča, the Lord appeared humbly among the people in Bethlehem of Judea, because it was here where He was first accepted by the simplest and the wisest of this world: namely, by illiterate shepherds and the wisest stargazing scholars from the Orient. Saint Nikolai adds: „Even today, the simplest and wisest people in this world worship the Lord Jesus as God and Saviour most sincerely. For corrupted simplicity and half-learned wisdom have always been enemies of Christ’s Divinity and His Gospel.“ (From the Prologue of Bishop Nikolai for December 25th).

As we painfully look upon ourselves and the world around us through the eyes of our soul, we observe the same phenomenon taking place today, at a time when „the sons of this age are shrewder in their generation than the sons of light” – a time, in the words of Fr. Justin of Čelije, where despite the development of nuclear science and environmental ethics, half-learned wisdom and corrupted simplicity still triumph and prevail. And yet, at the same time, Christ-God continues to be born and welcomed into the hearts of the simplest and the wisest alone. Because, according to the words of the Apostle Paul, “in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God” (1. Cor. 1:21).

And so on this bright and holy night, we proclaim together with St Paul, that the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were powerful; not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; and God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. (1 Cor. 1, 25-27).

Because the chosen guests at the Lord’s Table were not worthy, it is us, the despised and the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind, who have entered into His Hall and who have sat down at His Table, hoping to have arrayed our hearts and souls with the most delicately woven and brilliantly embroidered spiritual vestments. And being thereby summoned and invited, duly dignified and prepared, we may not be cast outside, together with the sages and the scribes, the princes and the philosophers of this age.

Let us therefore, brothers and sisters, join the Angels on this wonderful Feast, and together with the Shepherds and the Wise Men, let us offer not only the song: Glory to God in the highest! But also the gold of a purified and patient heart, full of faith, hope and love. In the place of incense, let us offer pure and grateful prayer. And in the place of myrrh, let us offer our labours and gracious gifts of the Spirit, exclaiming with David in delight: „How shall I repay the Lord for all that he has given me? I will receive the cup of salvation and I will call upon the name of the Lord.“ (Ps. 115, 3-4).

And yet, it is not easy to remain a disciple, or to protect the heart as a house of prayer, or to preserve the cave of Bethlehem as a house of heavenly bread. This is especially so in our day, where half-learned wisdom and corrupted simplicity have triumphed. Where the lives of neighbours and children cut short by the bloody conflicts ravaging Palestine and the Ukraine, are considered less worthy of the world’s attention, than the dogs of the rich or the cats of the famous. But what are we saying here? We need only remember the furious and devastating bombing suffered by our lands, our people and our capital Belgrade, not just in 1999, but five times previously in the 20th century alone, in order to understand how little human life – and least of all, Orthodox Christian life – is worth to the princes, the scribes and the debaters of this world.

Therefore, let us never forget that no matter what the external circumstances of our lives are, the Lord speaks and commands everyone to go and learn what it means when He says: „I desire mercy, not sacrifice!“ (Mt. 9:13). Because He who lay down in the manger as an infant in swaddling clothes, did not come to be served, but to serve, from that moment on until his baptismal death on the Cross. He, who was born during the Imperial Roman Census, did not come to organize censuses and elections, or to change emperors, kings and regimes. Nor did He come to offer us the foolish idea that any man, regime or system can provide us with paradise on earth, because He did not come for that reason either, as the heretical Chiliasts have always taught, and as the Jews of that time expected, awaiting their messiah to establish his rule and kingdom on earth. Because as the Lord Himself has taught us, His Kingdom is not of this world. Instead, He came to offer us His Kingdom, that we may realize it within us and amongst us. That thought alone should guide us, whenever various false saviours and rulers of this world promise us earthly paradises, the pursuit of which invariably results in bloody conflicts, of nation brutally rising up against nation, and empire savagely rising up against empire.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, let us beware of false messiahs and teachers, whenever and wherever they teach innovations contrary to the Holy Orthodox Faith, whether from episcopal chairs, or from political party conferences, from administrative positions within the state apparatus or from television studios and screens, offering us worldly paradises and unwelcomed changes and so called ‘progress’.

Every year we see more and more, how the Serbia of Saint Sava and other Serbian lands, is increasingly turning into a globalist ‘melting pot’ encompassing every kind of dross and fakery, especially before these tranquil days of Christmas. For while the Serbia of St Sava is still fasting before the Nativity of Christ, anticipating His great and joyful feast in humility and prayer, globalist Serbia is already lit up with sparkling ornaments and glittering decorations. Already from the beginning of December – according to the Gregorian civil calendar – Germanic Christmas trees are being erected in the homes of ‘Orthodox’ Serbs and almost the whole of Serbia is in an unhealthy state of euphoria for the entire month. Stupefied by the delirious effects of Western music, jingle bells, Santa Claus and tinkling Christmas trees, this ‘new’ Serbia celebrates and awaits the end of the civil year, when it offers itself upon the altar of the globalist beast of the New World Order.

Let us not accept such soul-destroying innovations. Let us not decorate our homes with anomalous and unnecessary Germanic Christmas trees, which are not part of our ethos, our culture and our tradition. Let us keep our centuries-sanctified Church Calendar and the holidays celebrated according to this calendar. Let us pray to Christ the God-Born, for those Orthodox Christians who brought the novelty of the New Calendar into their churches and homes, following the instructions of their bishops who arbitrarily and without any pastoral necessity whatsoever, promoted it under the deceitful name of ‘Revised Julian Calendar’. Let us pray that they may all return to the centuries-sanctified calendar left to us by the Fathers.

For we are witnessing how a whole series of anomalies and transgressions developed from that one non-dogmatic and apparently superficial ecclesiastic deviation, that nevertheless evolved and grew during the past century, into a hundred-headed ecumenical-globalist and pan-heretical dragon, rejected and cursed by the Fathers. Therefore let us stand firm in what we have been taught, rejecting every ecclesiastical innovation and divergence, praying to the King of Peace that He bestows His Peace upon His Church, and restores the much-yearned for glory of Orthodoxy from one end of the universe to the other.

We calmly hope, that in this struggle for the peace and glory of the Church of Christ, that the banner of Orthodoxy stands high, the banner which was raised and held firmly until his blessed death by our Father and predecessor on the Episcopal throne of Raska-Prizren, Bishop Artemije of eternal memory. Furthermore, we invite all devout sons and daughters of the Orthodox Church, especially ours, the Serbian Church of Saint Sava, to place themselves under this confessional banner with one accord, fighting with heart and soul for the unity of faith and the communion of the Holy Spirit, by witnessing and showing by our evangelical adherence to the commandment of the twofold commandment of Love for God and Love for Neighbour.

With particular sadness and pain in our hearts, we remember and prayerfully greet all our suffering brothers and sisters in Kosovo and Metohija, painfully understanding their difficult confessional position, not only south of the Ibar, but also in the north of Kosovo, especially since the painful events in the ‘little Banjska near Kosovo’. We greet you all with a paternal blessing and with the desire and hope that we will not surrender to but endure against all the power of the prince of this world that has fallen upon us. And may you in your turn, invoke the heavenly blessing and prayers of our slandered hierarch Bishop Artemije, whom we are certain is kneeling together with St. Sava before the throne of the Lord, entreating Him for our national repentance and liberation.

We greet and bless all the faithful sons and daughters of the Orthodox throughout the Serbian lands and in the diaspora, that they do not give in and that they fight to preserve the Kingdom of Heaven in their hearts, with purity and in patience, bearing fruits of thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold, guarding and preserving the Faith of the Orthodox Church and the Church of Saint Sava.

We also greet all those faithful in Russia and Ukraine who have placed themselves under the confessional banner of our blessed Elder and under our Omophorion, keeping to the undefiled vow of the Orthodox Faith. We invoke God’s blessing upon all of them, praying for peace in the Little Russian-Ukrainian land as soon as possible.

To all of you, faithful sons and daughters of the Orthodox Church, we congratulate you on this upcoming Feast of the Nativity of Christ, and we pray that Christ the God-born Sun of Righteousness Who shone on us from the east, to shine upon you all with every ray of his divine blessings.

At the same time, we congratulate you all from the bottom of our hearts for the upcoming year 2024, with our modest, humble and yet most earnestly fervent prayers.


On the Nativity of Christ, 2023,

Prayerfully Yours before the Nativity of God in 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