From His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia
To archpastors, pastors, the monastics and all the faithful children
of the Russian Orthodox Church
the Virgin gives birth to the Maker of all,
Eden offers a cave
And a star discloses Christ,
the Son, to those in darkness: (From the Great Compline)
in the Lord, Most Reverend archpastors, All-honourable fathers,
Humble nuns and monks, God-loving laity – my dear brothers and sisters!
I wholeheartedly congratulate you on the great and radiant feast
of the Nativity of Christ!
Let us thank the Lord, for by His ineffable love of mankind we have
again been given the joy of participation in the Mystery of our
salvation, which was promised from the beginning, which has happened
recently (cf. 1 Cor. 10:11) and which is with us unto all ages.
Let us rejoice, for the great Mystery of the Divine Incarnation
was accomplished on earth as the world saw its Creator, God the
Word, enter it to remove the wall erected by the fall between the
creation and the Creator and to give renewed humanity eternal life
and the joy of communion with God.
Christ is born on earth and in the soul of every Christian who gives
his heart to the Creator. But it is only a pure heart in which there
is neither evil nor sin that can be given to God. Beloved ones,
let us tirelessly purify our hearts, concerned over "one thing that
is needful" (Lk. 10:42), and our efforts will not be in vain, for
the Lord knows everything and the human life is in His hand.
Today, two thousand years after "the Word was made flesh and dwelt
among us" (Jn. 1:14), the Kingdom of God has drawn nearer, because
the Church of Christ has since shone forth in many of her saints.
In the Saviour's days on earth, there were few disciples with Him,
but in the Holy Church He founded their number has multiplied. Innumerable
zealots, ascending to the radiant glory of the Lord from the Church
on earth, the foundation of the Church in heaven, bring the Kingdom
of God nearer and nearer, doing it to this day when they are joined
by the host of Russia's New Martyrs and Confessors. Today they intercede
at the Throne of the Heavenly King for their earthly homeland, for
every one of us.
The joy of the Divine Infant Who was born into the world is illumined
for us with the joy of the Risen Christ. "Why is our celebration
today of the Nativity greater than the festivity of that time?"
St. Ambrose of Milan asks and answers: "At that time they rejoiced
only in the Lord Who was born, while today we glorify Him not only
as born but also as risen and reigning together with the Father
and the Spirit". In the Nativity of Christ we see both the Resurrection
of the Saviour of the world and His reign in glory.
Dear archpastors, fathers, brothers and sisters, the first year
of the new century has been, by God's mercy, beneficent for the
Russian Orthodox Church. The construction of new churches and the
restoration of the ruined ones have continued; new monasteries and
theological schools have been opened; our cooperation with the state
and society has strengthened.
In the past year the Lord saw fit for me to visit several dioceses
of our Church. I visited four Belorussian dioceses of Brest, Pinsk,
Turov and Gomel, which has been affected by the Chernobyl disaster
most of all. In the diocese of Tobolsk in western Siberia I visited
five cities and consecrated new churches there. I will keep the
grateful memory of my visitations to the diocese of St. Petersburg,
dear to me as I served there, the diocese of Moscow, where we consecrated
the church of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos at Podolsk,
which has been restored from ruins, and the dioceses of Chuvashia
and Kaluga. The major event during my visitation to the diocese
of Tula was the requiem service at the Kulikovo Battlefield. I remember
with joy my pilgrimage to the Monastery of the Holy Transfiguration
at Solovki Islands and my visit to the newly-established diocese
I made an official visit to the Republic of Armenia to take part
in the celebrations devoted to the 1700th anniversary of Christianity
in that country.
I remember the gratifying moments of my prayerful communion with
the flock. Visiting dioceses far and near, I can see that more and
more people are returning to the faith of their forefathers. Thousands
of pilgrims, who shared with us in church prayer, a great many children,
who came to take the Holy Communion – all this shows that the Orthodox
soul of the people is alive and its restoration to its former strength
is near at hand. Let us pray for the people of our land, who have
gone through much suffering to deserve a better fate. Let us work
to renew and transform our life. Only with God's help can we overcome
the imperfection of human nature and attain a righteous and holy
life full of peace and welfare.
It is true that we still face many hardships and problems. These
are poverty, social insecurity, the threat of terrorism, crime,
the propagation of immorality, spreading alcoholism, drug-addiction
and other dreadful vices. Underlying all this is the distorted human
soul and it means that it is impossible to change society for the
better without faith, hope and charity. The Orthodox people have
always been aware of this. It was not fortuitous that, experiencing
a troubled time or coming to new lands, they always built churches
so that they could lift up a prayer to the Lord, for our pious ancestors
understood that no human order can stand fast without the will of
Last year the Lord visited us with many sorrows as floods, hurricanes
and scorching draughts fell upon our land. There is unrest in the
world today. People have again arisen against each other. Thousands
of civilians in various countries have fallen victim to the evil
will. In the hardest situation however, we will not forget the words
of Christ the Saviour addressed to each of us: "Be not afraid, only
believe" (Mk. 5:36)! Suffering should not harden our hearts. Indeed,
if the Lord leads us along the narrow path of sorrows, we come closer
to the House of the Father, the Heavenly Kingdom. Let us then intensify
our prayer for our fatherland, for our people and for the entire
human race. And let us remember that the joy that has been given
us overcomes every misfortune generated by "this world".
"So, let us rejoice, brethren, that we have also been given to offer
reward to the Lord for 'all, as He has rewarded us'", says St. Theodore
the Studite, "What is this reward? – The cross-bearing life we have
received and the confession 'wherein we stand and rejoice in hope
of the glory of God' (Rom. 5:2). And this should be celebrated not
one day but all life". Our every day and every hour, my dear ones,
should be filled with the joy of the Lord, especially on the radiant
day of His Nativity. May no room remain in our hearts for fear and
dejection, for enmity and discord, for despair and lack of faith
in the power of God. Let us exult over the Divine Infant Who has
been born, communicating this joy to the whole world, bringing to
those who are far and who are near the light of the Gospel's message.
My beloved ones, again and again I wholeheartedly congratulate you
on the great and salvific feast of the Nativity of Christ! On the
eve of the new year of the Lord's grace, let us give thanks from
our hearts to the Lord Almighty for His "great and abundant mercies"
shed upon us. I wish you, reverend archpastors, dear fathers, brothers
and sisters, God's inexhaustible help in the new year, as well as
spiritual and physical strength so that you may be steadfast in
carrying the cross of life and working for the good of our Holy
Mother Russian Orthodox Church. May the Lord Almighty bless us all
with peace and may the beneficial Protection of the Heavenly Queen
be always with us!
"Christ is on earth – be exalted!"
Moscow anl all Russia
The Nativity of Christ 2001/2002, Moscow http://www.russian-orthodox-church.org.ru/ne201061.htm
(with some corrections by Russion text)