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Russian Orthodox Church • Patriarchial Parishes in Canada

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ELEVATION OF CROSS

Elevation of Cross

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!

Dear brothers and sisters!

Elevation (Vozdvyzhenye) means to raise up. The first time the blessed clergy raised the cross, was after the blessing of the new temple in honour of Christ’s Resurrection, at that place where the tomb was, from which Christ resurrected. This was done so that most of the pilgrims, whom had gathered in Jerusalem for the solemn feast, the first after the persecutions of Christians, could see and venerate the life-giving Cross, as well as confirm that indeed the Cross was that of Christ.

Why do we today raise up the Cross, on which, like on the sacrificial table the release from sin and the saving of humanity was accomplished? Not only in remembrance of this solemn event. We raise up the cross as a sign by which those whom have lost their way, are tired and weary, could again find the path. Today, the cross which is raised up high, becomes a saving spiritual lighthouse for unbelievers ans those who believe wrongly, which helps them come to God’s Church. With help of the cross Christ wishes to save all the lost sinners.

In the army, when soldiers are advancing to attack, the national flag is held high preceding them. That flag is carried by a particular soldier in order to raise the spirits of the warriors, to make them braver, so that they would fight more aggressively. The flag showed them that they were not alone, that the entire homeland and people for whom they were givng their lives for, were behind them. So must each christian — a spiritual warrior for Christ, who is at war with the devil, with the help of the cross bind him, defeat evil with good. The cross is for us a sign of strength, rather than weakeness; the cross is always followed by victory and joy.

The cross is like a shield, which protects us from the devil’s arrows, from storm and rain, like and umbrella when raised. It is very important for a soldier to have protection from the enemy. God defeats the devil using the cross; the devil fears the terrifying weapon being a symbol of love and life.

The cross is, for us faithful, like a ladder by which we can rise to any spiritual hight, closer to God. Our path towards Heaven, towards salvation lies also through the cross! Saint Mary of Egypt, whom lived in the 5th century, also began her life of repentance and closeness to God, with the veneration of Christ’s Cross in Jerusalem at the feast of Elevation. Today also, the cross is raised up high in church, so that more people can see it, bow to it, and save themselves. The raising of the cross is done on four sides to signify that the Lord through His Cross atoned for the whole world — east, west, north, and south; then once more to the east as a sign that Christ atoned for man, who has five senses by which he constantly sins. A day of fasting has been established on this feast as a sign that ‘true honouring’ of Christ’s Cross consits of the mortification of passions of the flesh.

The cross bares witness not only to God’s great love, but also His great humility. Today, in the Gospel reading we heard, how apostle John tells us about the voluntary death of our Saviour. The Lord lowered Himself, humbled Himself to a shameful death on the cross. He awaits from us humility and obedience to Him. When man’s heart is filled with pride, when a man wishes Alone to be happy in his life, when man relies only on himself and is prideful, when he forgets about God and refuses to carry his cross; then all in our world begins to crumble, starting with the Old Testament temple in Jerusalem (man built by God’s will) where people sincerely worshipped God. So also dissapeared the Great Roman (Byzantine) Empire in the 15th century; and one hundred years ago the Russian government, built with great difficulty, headed by the ‘Tzar’. Likewise when love is lost, then family falls apart.

As we bow to Christ’s Cross, may He help us lift His Cross as high as possible in our lives, so that through this elevation of the Cross the maximum amount of people may come closer to the Cross to venerate it, and honour the One, who saved us by being on it! Amen!

(Source: http://www.orthodox-canada.com/sermon-on-the-elevation-of-the-cross/)


NATIVITY EPISTLE Of His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia

M C 2018

 

Beloved in the Lord archpastors, all-honorable presbyters and deacons, God-loving monks and nuns, dear brothers and sisters!

From the depths of my heart I congratulate you on the great feast of the Nativity of Christ – the feast of the birth in the flesh of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ from the Holy Spirit and Most Pure Virgin Mary. Today we call upon all people, together with the Church, to glorify the Creator and Maker with the words: “O all the earth, sing ye unto the Lord” (heirmos of the First Ode of the Canon for the Nativity of Christ).

The all-beneficent God who loves his creation sends down his Only-Begotten Son the awaited Messiah so that he may accomplish the cause of our salvation. The Son of God, “which is in the bosom of the Father” (Jn 1:18), becomes the Son of Man and enters our world so that through his blood he may deliver us from sin and so that the sting of death should never inspire fear in the human person.

We know that the Magi who bowed down before Christ brought him gifts. What gift, then, can we bring to the Divine Teacher? The very gift which he asks of us himself: “Give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways” (Prov 23:26). What does it mean to give one’s heart? The heart is a symbol of life. If it ceases to beat, then we die. To give one’s heart to God is to dedicate our whole life to him. This dedication does not require that we renounce all that we have. We are merely called upon to remove from our hearts that which is an obstacle to the Divine presence within it. When all our thoughts are taken up with our own ego, when there is no room in our hearts for our neighbor, then there is no room for the Lord too. The presence of our neighbor in our heart depends mainly upon our capability to feel another’s pain and respond to it with deeds of mercy.

The Lord requires that we “observe his ways.” To observe the ways of God is to see the Divine presence in our lives and in human history: to see the manifestations of both Divine love and his righteous ire.

The past year for our people was replete with reminiscences about the tragic events of the twentieth century and the incipient persecution of the faith. We recalled the great spiritual exploits of the new martyrs and confessors who steadfastly bore witness to their fidelity to Christ. Yet even at that terrible time for our country, the Lord bestowed his mercy: after an enforced two hundred year rupture, the Office of Patriarch was revived in the land of Russia, and the Church, at a time of tribulation, found in the person of the holy bishop Tikhon, who was elected First Hierarch, a wise and courageous pastor, through whose ardent prayers before the Throne of the Most High Creator our Church and people were able to pass through the crucible of trials.

Today we are undergoing a special period: afflictions have not yet left this world, every day we “hear of wars and rumors of wars” (Mt 24:6). Yet how much of God’s love is poured out upon people! The world exists in spite of the forces of evil, while human love and family values abide in spite of the unbelievable attempts to destroy, desecrate and distort them. Faith in God is alive in the hearts of the majority of people. And our Church, in spite of decades of persecution in the recent past and the endeavors to undermine her authority in the present, remains and shall always be with Christ.

We believe that after undergoing the current trials, the peoples of historical Russia will preserve and renew their spiritual unity, will prosper materially and socially.

The Nativity of Christ is the central event of human history. People have always sought out God, yet the Creator – the Triune God – revealed himself as fully as possible to the human race only through the incarnation of his Only-Begotten Son. He came into a world of sin to make people worthy of the beneficent will of the heavenly Father and lay a firm foundation to the world in leaving this precept: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (Jn 14:27).

May this year be for our people, for the peoples of historical Russia and all the nations of the earth, a year of peace and prosperity.  May the Divine Infant, who has been born in Bethlehem, help us to find hope that overcomes fear, and through faith feel the power of Divine love which transforms the life of people.

Amen.

 + KIRILL

PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA 

Moscow

Nativity of Christ

2017/2018


Christmas Greeting of Bishop of Kashira Iov, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in Canada

Very Reverend and Honorable Fathers! Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

 

Христос рождается, славите Его! Christ is Born: Let us glorify Him!

 

            With heartfelt joy I congratulate you all with the great feasts: the Nativity of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, His Circumcision in flesh on the Eighth Day upon His Birth and His Baptizing in The Jordan River!

            The Nativity of Jesus Crist is the Feast that brings to the followers of Christ the essential thing in their life. Two thousand years ago, during the population census in the Roman Empire, the most vital event in the human history took place in Bethlehem of Judea — was born Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is difficult for us to wholly comprehend how God and a Human being were united; how infinity was encompassed into the voluntary restraint, and eternity — incorporated into the limits of time…

            Though Our Savior was born in the most despondent surroundings, His Birth has performed the real revolution in the world: it was the turning point from perdition to salvation of humankind. God Himself, who “will save His people from their sins” (Math. 1:21), has come to us. This greatest event and the kindest deed in the world has brought to all God-believers spiritual joy and real happiness, since from the moment of the Nativity of Jesus Christ God has been truly residing with us.

            The Nativity of Jesus Christ is always above all social events in the world history. In the time of political crises and social troubles it is very important to remember that God has united with people through His Birth and became close to us, as nobody else.

            Saint John Chrysostom noted that all other great Christian feasts are rooted in the Nativity of Jesus Christ: The Baptizing of Christ (The Feast of Epiphany), The Transfiguration, The Passions of Our Lord, His Glorious Resurrection and the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. Everything in the Christian Orthodox Church has as its beginning the Nativity of Our Lord.

            Saint Basil the Great and the other Holy Fathers expressed their admiration in front of the mystery of the Nativity and Epiphany in the words of theology, sermons and poems. But they noted along with that it is better for us to be silent and meekly attend the great moment… Every our good deed in the name of the Glory of God, helps us to bow in front of Him, as once bowed in front of him the simple shepherds, who were first “to find Him in the swaddling clothes, lying in the manger…” (Luke, 2:8-14). The angelic singing gives strength to our prayers; the bright light of the eternal star of Bethlehem awakens in us the willingness to bring to Him the best things that we possess — the freshest and the most beautiful!

           In the luminous and quiet Bethlehem night of the Nativity of Jesus Christ I wish that we all and the whole world return with all our hearts to Our Savior, who is meekly lying at this moment in the Bethlehem manger… Only together with God our soul acquires the fullness of life in any earthy circumstances! When we are with God, nobody is able to harm us! God is with us now and forever! Amen!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

                                                          Nativity of Our Lord, 2017-2018

Bishop of Kashira Iov,

Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in Canada


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