Orthodox America


Christ is Born! Glorify Him!  


Christmas Epistle

 

O Lord my God, I will sing a birthday hymn to Thee Who by Thy Nativity givest me a divine rebirth. (Canon on the Eve of the Nativity of Christ)

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

 In the lines quoted above, and in other hymns of the Nativity, there is the hope of the Church in our regeneration, a correction of the life of sin.

How consoling it is to hear that in the Russian homeland also ,people are thirsting for rebirth and there can be heard voices against the most grievous capitulation of the hierarchy before the atheist authority.

There people are appearing who labor for the future freedom and glory of the Russian Church. These are not only the new martyrs and confessors of Russia who have finished their struggle, but also the individual clergymen and laymen who are showing now an example of faith and courage, openly standing up for the rights of the Church and refusing to lie.

Look! They "preach the word, instant in season and out of season" (II Tim. l:2). They are deprived of parishes; their children are terrorized. And there are young people, organizers of groups in search of spiritual food and contacts. They are being eaten alive, languishing unendingly in frightful concentration camps. And the unbroken clergymen again write memoranda, gather materials on the persecutions for faith, boldly accuse and exhort patriarchs, until they fall under the interdict of the subject hierarchy and under the press of the lawlessness which has been established by the government.

Let us show our heartfelt attentiveness to the struggle of such activists of spiritual regeneration.

Let us say, in the words of the Apostle Paul: "Acknowledge ye them that are such!"(I Cor. 16:18). And again: "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them" (Heb. 13:3). And those in bonds there are not only those who are under arrest.

And let us look now at ourselves. Of others I will not speak, but I ask myself: Have you used all the freedom you have, while there it is the "poor" (in respect to freedom) who are preaching the Gospel?

No. And there is no way of justifying myself. One can only be humble !

Let us be humble, then, as we are taught to be by Him Who humbled Himself to the manger in Bethlehem, and then to the Cross on Golgotha--the Son of God!

I greet you on the feasts of the Nativity of Christ and the ;Theophany, and on the new year! May God grant us in this year ~a special sensitivity to our fellow pastors, kin to us, and to all the pastors and flocks of the Church of Christ.

O Lord our God, grant us all rebirth and eternal salvation!

Archbishop Anthony
of Western America and San Francisco
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

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