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The Holy Theophany of Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ (Baptism of the Lord)

Владимиро-суздальская школа. Богоявление. Икона из церкви села Чернокулово. Конец 15 века. Собрание Владимиро-суздальского музея-заповедника.

On Theophany, that is, the Day of the Lord’s Baptism, every year a great miracle is performed. The Holy Spirit, coming down upon the water, changes its natural properties. It becomes incorrupt, that is it does not spoil, remains transparent and fresh for many years, receives the grace to heal illnesses, to drive away demons and every evil power, to preserve people and their dwellings from every danger, to sanctify various objects whether for church or home use. Therefore Orthodox Christians with reverence drink Holy Water – a great Agiasma (holy thing), as the Greeks call it.

One should always have at home enough Theophany water so that it will last the whole year, and make use of it at every need; in cases of illness, leaving on a journey, whenever one is upset, students when going to examinations. They do well who daily, before eating any kind of food, drink a little Holy Water. It strengthens the powers of our soul – if it is done, of course, with prayer and reverence, and one does not merely expect from it a mechanical result.

Every priest should take care to bless a sufficient quantity of water for his church, so that it will be on hand for the course of the whole year for every need and to be given out to those who ask for it; and parishioners should provide for themselves at Theophany with Holy Water for the whole year and even so that it can be kept for future years.

St. John of Shanghai

1/18/2012

Source of information: https://orthochristian.com/44164.html


CHRISTMAS MESSAGE by Patriarch KIRILL of Moscow and All Russia

Christmas Message by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia to the Archpastors, Pastors, Deacons, Monastics and All the Faithful Children of the Russian Orthodox Church.

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

From the depths of my heart I congratulate you all on the radiant feast of the Nativity of Christ.

Today the Church in heaven and on earth is triumphant as she rejoices at the coming into the world of our Lord and Saviour and lifts up praises and thanksgiving to God for His mercy and love for the human race. It is with spiritual trembling that we listen to the words of the hymn: “Christ is born; glorify Him! Christ comes from heaven; go out to meet Him” (Hirmos for the Canon of the Nativity of Christ). With reverence and hope we set our gaze upon the cave of Bethlehem where the Divine Infant lies wrapped in swaddling clothes in a lowly manger.

Truly, today there has been revealed the great “mystery of our religion: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels” (1 Tm 3:16). It is not possible for the human intellect to penetrate the depths of the mystery of the Divine Incarnation. It is not possible to comprehend fully how the One Who is the fount of life for all that exists is now warmed by the breath of animals! The Creator of the universe humbles Himself in taking upon Himself the image of creation. The Son of God becomes the Son of Man! “And ask not how,” St. John Chrysostom exhorts us, “for where God wills, the order of nature yields. For He willed; He had the power; He descended; He redeemed; all things yielded in obedience to God. This day He who is, is born; and He who is, becomes what He was not. For when He was God, He became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His” (Homily for the Nativity of our Saviour Jesus Christ).

As we celebrate the world-saving feast of Christ’s Nativity, we contemplate its unsurpassed spiritual meaning and fundamental significance for all of humankind. All of this is true; yet it is also important to grasp the personal dimension which the mystery of the Divine Incarnation has for each one of us, for it is not fortuitous that we turn to the Lord in prayer and call him our Saviour.

We know from experience that we cannot vanquish of our own accord the evil which is within ourselves, no matter how desperately we may try. Sin, which has so deeply smitten the human soul and distorted human nature, is impossible to overcome with spiritual practices and psychological trainings. God alone is capable of healing and restoring all of the human person to his or her original beauty. “For what purpose did God become clothed in human flesh?” asks St. Ephrem the Syrian and answers, “In order that the flesh itself may taste the joy of victory and be filled with and come to know the gifts of grace…, in order that people may ascend to Him as though borne aloft with wings and find comfort in Him alone” (Commentary on Tatian’s Diatessaron, Chapter One). Christ’s incarnation liberates us from slavery to sin and opens up the path to salvation.

“I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness,” the Lord proclaims (Jn 12:46). Like the bright star of Bethlehem, which led the wise men from distant lands of the East to the Divine Infant, we Christians, being true sons and daughters of light (cf. Jn 12:36), are called upon to enlighten this world with the light of faith (cf. Mt 5:14) so that those around us, in seeing the example of our steadfastness and courage, long-suffering and spiritual nobility, magnanimity and unfeigned love for our neighbour, may “glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Pt 2:12).

Today, when the peoples of the earth are enduring the arduous trial of a new disease, when peoples’ hearts are overwhelmed by fear and anxiety for the future, it is especially important that we strengthen our collective and individual prayer and offer to the Lord the diligent labours of good works. Many of our brothers and sisters, as a result of the devastating pestilence, no longer enjoy the opportunity of visiting churches. Let us lift up our petitions to the Merciful Lord that He may renew their bodily and spiritual strength, grant the soonest recovery to those who are sick and send down His help to the physicians and all medical workers who with self-sacrifice are doing all they can for peoples’ health and lives.

Let us recall that no problems are ever capable of breaking the human spirit if we retain our living faith and place our hope in God for all things. Let us therefore accept without murmuring the afflictions that have befallen us, for “if I put my trust in Him, He shall be my sanctification: for God is with us” (the Office of Great Compline), as Christ’s Church sings during these holy days of the Nativity. Let us pray that the lowly cave of our life be illumined by the incorruptible light of the Godhead, so that our contrite and humble hearts, like the manger in Bethlehem, accept with reverential awe the Saviour Who has come into the world.

God finds an expanse in the human heart if it is filled with love. “The one who labors in love will live with the angels and will reign with Christ,” St. Ephrem the Syrian tells us (Homily on the virtues and vices, 3). May these holy days of the feast become for us a special time for the accomplishing of good deeds. Let us use this grace-filled opportunity, too, to glorify Jesus Christ, Who is born, by displaying kind-heartedness to our neighbours, by rendering help to the needy, and by comforting the afflicted and, perhaps above all, those who are suffering from the coronavirus infection or its effects.

May the Lord illumine with the light of knowledge of Him the peoples of the earth, may He bless them with peace and may He help each and every one of us to be aware of our special responsibility for the present and future of the planet. May the Divine Infant send down His love and accord into our families and protect our young people and all of us from sin and dangerous errors. Once again, I cordially greet all of you, my dear, with the radiant feast of the Nativity of Christ and wish you all good health, unceasing joy and the bountiful aid from God Who is “the true light that enlightens every man… coming into the world” (Jn 1:9). Amen.

+KIRILL

PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA

Moscow

Nativity of Christ

2020/2021


CHRISTMAS MESSAGE by Bishop MATTHEW of Sourozh, Interim Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in Canada

GREETINGS FOR THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST TO THE CLERGY, MONASTICS, AND LAITY OF THE DIOCESE OF SOUROZH AND THE PATRIARCHAL PARISHES in CANADA

Dear Fathers, brothers and sisters!

The time for spiritual celebration has approached – the Church invites us to enter the Holy Days, beginning with the feast of the Nativity of Christ and concluding with the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord. The sacred events of the Gospel narrative remembered by the Church unite us with a common joy of the coming into the world of Christ the Savior and a common hope for deliverance of mankind from sin and eternal death.

This past year has become for all of us a year of unexpected trials, including stressful concerns regarding the health of our relatives, friends and acquaintances, restrictions in the celebration of divine services, and the inability to share the joy of common prayer, and much, much more.

I sincerely thank the clergy and parishioners of the Diocese of Sourozh, the Patriarchal parishes in the USA, Canada and Mexico for their selfless fulfillment of their assigned obedience’s, for their responsible and careful approach to the observance of all the instructions prescribed by His Holiness, the Patriarch, and the demonstrations of civic consciousness with the implementation of the decisions of the local authorities. This was an example of Christian love for one’s neighbor. By deed and word, support was provided to those who required special attention and care.

I pray with you that the coming New Year will be marked by the long-awaited deliverance from the destructive epidemic and filled with peace and prosperity. I believe that the All-Merciful Lord, who has manifested His goodness to the human race many times and in many ways, will visit all those who have faith in Him and renew our spiritual and physical strength.

I wholeheartedly congratulate all of you, dear Fathers, brothers and sisters, with the birth of our Lord and Savior and prayerfully wish all of you good health and spiritual joy and call your attention to the words of the Apostle Paul: “Work hard and do not be lazy. Serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion. Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times” (Rom. 12: 11-12).

I invoke the blessing of God on all of you.

With love in our newborn Christ,

+MATTHEW

Bishop of Sourozh

Interim Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in Canada


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