Saturday, January 10, 2015

Shedule for Theophany

We will hold the following services for Theophany (all dates according to the civil calendar):

Saturday, 17 January
Vespers for the Sunday Before and the Eve of Theophany - 5:00 PM

Sunday, 18 January
Hours and Typika for the Sunday Before and the Eve of Theophany - 10:00 AM
Vespers for Theophany - 5:00 PM

Monday, 19 January
Festal Hours and Typika for Theophany - 10:00 AM

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Christmas Epistle of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad

Most Reverend fellow archpastors, most honorable fathers–concelebrants, reverent diaconate in Christ, beloved in the Lord monastics, laboring in our monasteries; brothers and sisters, faithful children of the Russian Church Abroad, spread as God’s grains of wheat 
across the face of the entire earth!

From the depth of my heart, filled with joy, I greet all of you with the Nativity of the God of peace and love, who became a live Human Being, one of us! Contemplating the manger of Christ, I offer the gift of fervent prayer for the establishment of a deep and inalienable peace in the hearts of all men, all peoples, in my heart and in your hearts—that compunctious peace which was brought to the city of Bethlehem by that great chorus of angels, which proclaimed: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Today the Holy Church represents Bethlehem in each of Her temples. She desires that each heart be a pure manger for God… What is necessary for this? It is necessary for each of us to become a child. From His manger the Lord proclaims: look at Me, the Creator of the world, I have become a child for your sake. If you do not change and do not become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 18:3); you will not be capable of and worthy of receiving Me into your hearts.

Having been cleansed in the fount of Holy Baptism, the Holy Great Prince Vladimir, the enlightener of Rus’, who died exactly 1000 years ago, became such a child. In the upcoming 2015 New Year this momentous date will be widely celebrated by our beloved and great Mother – the Russian Orthodox Church. Let us note that the famous historian of Russian Church history and architecture, Yevgeny Golubinsky wrote in the early twentieth century about St. Vladimir, that his very name contains the concept of possessing peace, amity, harmony. Sadly, at this time there is no such concord and peace in our common font, the kind our enlightener Vladimir (whom we call “our beautiful Sun”) possessed…

Everyone longs for peace and demands peace for the entire world. Where can that peace be found? It is in the preservation and cultivation of our common Orthodox Christian roots. In 1988, my predecessor, Metropolitan Laurus of blessed memory (who at the time was the Archbishop of Syracuse and Holy Trinity Monastery) wrote: “What will befall our nation in the future is fully known only by the Lord our God. Yet that which constituted its strength in the past—only that can make us strong now and at all times. Therefore, let us firmly enshrine and staunchly protect the testament of our fathers from whom we inherited the Orthodox faith as the true power, greater than that which can be found in this world.”

Let us humbly beseech the God Child that He grant our people spiritual strength for the overcoming of fraternal strife, that through the prayers of the right-believing, equal to the apostles Great Prince Vladimir peace be restored in the God-preserved lands of Rus’, having been cleansed through repentant tears as through a second baptism. May we uphold the way of St. Vladimir which alone can save us and our historic native land, and with it the entire world. And then the promise of the luminary John (Maximovitch), the great archpastor of the Russian diaspora, will come to pass: “Blessed are you, the land of Russia, which is being purified by the fire of suffering! You passed through the waters of baptism, and now through the fire of suffering, and will enter into your rest” (from his Homily on the 950th Anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’, 1938).

Once again I greet all the beloved children of the Russian Church Abroad with the joyous and world-saving Feast of the Nativity of Christ! Through this greeting, I would like to underline the spiritual loftiness of this good and luminous celebration. May the Son of God enlighten our hearts with the quiet light of the star of Bethlehem. To Him is due glory and thanksgiving unto the ages of ages. Amen!

With love in Christ Who is born,

Metropolitan of New York & Eastern America,
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia
Nativity of Christ
2014 / 2015

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Christmas Message of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus Kirill

Source: Department of External Church Relations, Patriarch of Moscow

Christmas Message
of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus Kirill
to the Archpastors, Pastors, Monastics and All the Faithful Children
of the Russian Orthodox Church

Your Graces the archpastors, venerable fathers, all-honourable monks and nuns, dear brothers and sisters!

On this holy night I address all of you living in different countries, cities and villages, yet making up the One Russian Orthodox Church, and from the bottom of my heart I congratulate you on the world-saving feast of the Nativity of Christ. I send you my heartfelt greetings, my dear ones, and prayerfully wish that we all be filled with spiritual joy in participating in this great festivity and enjoy the banquet of faith as sons and daughters of God and friends of Christ (Jn 15:15).

Today, as we contemplate the mystery of the incarnation of God, we strive to understand what the meaning of this event is that happened two thousand years ago in Bethlehem and what relationship it has to us and our contemporaries.

St. Paul writes: ‘ But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons’ (Gal 4:4-5). But what preceded this fullness of time? The entire history of the human race before the Nativity of Christ in essence is the history of the search for God when the best minds tried to understand who is the source of the supernatural power which affects every human person in one way or another in life.

On their path for searching for God, people, in endeavouring to find the truth, have stumbled into all sorts of errors. Yet, neither man’s primitive fear before terrifying natural phenomena, nor the deification of the natural elements, idols and at times himself, nor even those rare insights which illumined the pagan philosophers, have brought people to God. And when ‘the world by wisdom knew not God’ (1 Cor 1:21), he deigned to come down to people. With our spiritual eyes we contemplate the ‘great mystery of godliness': the Creator is likened to creation, he assumes human nature, endures humiliation, dies on the cross and rises again. All of this transcends human understanding and is a miracle which reveals the fullness of the Revelation of God of himself to people.

Christ is born and the world has found hope, Christ is born and love reigns forever, Christ is born and the heavens have bowed down to the earth, Christ is born and the star of Bethlehem shows the true way to God, Christ is born and let no one believe in the triumph of evil, for we are ‘saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God’ (Eph 2:8).

The prophet Isaiah awaited and foresaw the coming of the Messiah, and exclaimed: ‘God is with us’ (Is 8:10). His divinely inspired words are even today a source of ineffable joy for millions of Christians. Once born in Bethlehem, the Lord is born in our hearts and abides with us if we remain faithful to him and the Church that he has founded. He is with us when we accomplish good deeds. He is with us when we help our neighbours. He is with us when we are compassionate and sympathetic. He is with us when we reconcile enemies. He is with us when we forgive and remember not evil. He is with us when we pray and participate in the Church’s sacraments, more so in the sacrament of Thanksgiving, the Eucharist.

The feast of the Nativity of Christ speaks to us of that which is most important; we are called to learn how to love God and serve him, our Saviour, the one who has granted this salvation to all nations and for all times, who extends his embrace to each one of us. In acquiring the skill of worshipping God and reverentially standing in his presence, we at the same time learn how to serve our neighbour as well by manifesting ‘faith which worketh by love’ (Gal 5:6).

We have only to add a little – to respond to the action of the saving grace of God through our obedience, through our trust in the words of the Lord, through our desire to fulfill his commandments. If we master this great truth, then much will be transformed not only within ourselves but around us. We will be able to set priorities on our values, we can peacefully, calmly and assuredly go along the path of life mapped out for us, rendering praise and thanksgiving to God.

In order to attain this spiritual state, we must be Orthodox people not only by opinion polls but according to our deepest convictions and way of life, as our pious ancestors were ardent believers and people who loved God. Among these a special place is occupied by the baptizer of Rus, the Holy and Equal-to-the-Apostles Grand Prince Vladimir, the thousandth anniversary of whose demise we shall commemorate this year. It is thanks to him that we are the bearers of the lofty estate of Christian and in total comprise the single family of Orthodox brotherly peoples of historical Rus. Thus it was, is and shall be. And no temporary troubles and trials, no external forces can tear asunder these centuries-old spiritual and cultural ties of the inheritors of the baptismal font of Kiev.

In these holy days of the Nativity the prayers of the fullness of the Church and my own fervent prayer are for peace in the country of Ukraine. Irrespective of where her children live and of their political views and preferences, the Russian Orthodox Church fulfills her responsible mission which was placed upon her by Christ (Mt 5:9). She has done and continues to do all that is possible to reconcile people and help them overcome the consequences of enmity.

At the bottom of all conflict, hatred and division is sin. According to St. Justin Popović, sin ‘exploits all its power to accomplish one thing: to render the human person godless and inhuman’ (St. Justin Popović, Philosophical Abysses). And we see in what infernal state the human person at times abides when he has lost the dignity granted to him by the Creator.

Yet the Church in the name of God, tirelessly proclaiming to people the ‘great joy’ (Lk 2:10) of the birth of the Saviour, calls upon each dweller on earth to believe and transform himself for the better. She offers to us the way of ascent: from seeking out God to the knowledge of God, from the knowledge of God to communion with God, and from communion with God to becoming like God. St. Athanasius the Great, who lived in Alexandria in the fourth century, expressed the purpose of the coming into the world of the Saviour in these amazing words: ‘God became man so that man may become god,’ yet not according to his nature but according to divine grace. The centuries-old experience of the Church testifies that genuine transfiguration, theosis, is accomplished through the action of grace by means of the voluntary co-operation between God and the human person. And it is attained through labour, in obedience to the Creator, and not through accepting the diabolic temptation of the serpent who intimated to our ancestors that they should taste of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and immediately become ‘as gods’ (Gen. 3:5). Every person who lives according to faith knows that it is fidelity to God that deters him from evil deeds and thoughts, that it is faith which inspires him to spiritual feats and labours to the glory of God and for the good of our neighbours.

In congratulating you all on the great feast of the Nativity of Christ and the New Year I would like to wish you from the bottom of my heart good health, peace, prosperity and abundant succour from on high in following our Lord and Saviour without stumbling.

‘But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.’ (1 Pet 5:10-11)

                                                           + KIRILL

The Nativity of Christ

Monday, January 5, 2015

Resources on Primacy and the Filioque

This post is for the assistance of those seeking more information on the subjects of:
  • Primacy in the Universal Church
  • The non-Orthodox addition of Creedal article "filioque" ("and the Son") within the statement proclaiming the procession of the Holy Spirit  

Position of the Moscow Patriarchate on the Problem of Primacy in the Universal Church

"Filioque" on Orthodoxwiki