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Heads of Christian Churches express greetings on the Christmas
23 December 2016, 13:05 | Religious holidays and traditions | | | 0 | | Code for Blog | |
In his Christmas message ‘Urbi et Orbi’ the Pope has stressed that today the Church experiences again the surprise of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and the shepherds of Bethlehem, which they had when watching the newborn child lying in the manger, Jesus the Savior. Today this message is distributedall over the earth, desiring to reach out to all nations, especially those afflicted by wars and severe armed conflicts and those who most strongly desire peace ...
In his Christmas message Pope Francis referred to Ukraine:“Peace to men and women who are still suffering the effects of conflict in eastern Ukraine, to whichwe all desire to bring relief to the population and to fulfill the obligations undertaken.”
The Pope wished peace to“men and women of war-torn Syria where too much blood is being shed.”He said, “it is time that the weapons went silent forever, and the international community initiated active efforts in order to find a solution to the crisis through negotiations and to reinstate civil coexistence in the country.” He also wished peace to men and women of the “beloved Holy Land,” urging Israelis and Palestinians to find“the courage and determination to write a new page of history where hatred and revenge give way to the desire to build together the future of understanding and harmony.”
The Holy Father wished unity to Iraq, Libya and Yemen, wished peace to inhabitants of different regions of Africa, particularly Nigeria and South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, urged to pray for understanding for the Colombian people and Venezuela without ignoring the situation in Ukraine, Myanmar and in Korean peninsula.
In this year's Christmas greetings, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople mainly focused on children. He called on all people to recognize and respect their rights and integrity and declared the coming year 2017 asa year to protect the sanctity of childhood.
The Patriarch has said that in today's world children are becoming victims of war and even in countries of sustainable peace through a major crisis of marriage and family they suffer physical and psychological violence. In his address the Primate reminded that the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church appealed to children and young people “with much love and affection.”
“The Mystery of Christmas is perfectly conveyed by kontakion “the new child is born for us who is Eternal God.” God the Word, as a child, and the child as God appears before people with pure heartsand with the simplicity of children. Children understand the truth that “wise and prudent” cannot grasp.“One can form Jerusalem solely from children," said Elytis in his poem “From the neighbor,” the hierarch said.
“We convey you our festive greeting from the vigilant Phanar: “Christ is born - glorify Him! Christ is from heaven; go and meet him! “To all the distant and close children of the Church of Constantinople, we are sending our wishes and our father's patriarchal blessing,” said the Primate of the Church of Constantinople is his greeting speech.
In his message, Patriarch Sviatoslav (Shevchuk) of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has said that nowadays Christians of the third millennium need Jesus, that they need to introduce him to our world, modern history and culture through their faith.
“Moreover, we must introduce Christ, who was born this day for our salvation, in all corners of personal, familial and social life. God wants to enter there and be present in person, but respects our freedom and waits for our openness to him,” says the patriarch.
The First Hierarch has stressed that God is always with us:
“In our public life, especially given the current economic, political and military challenges, let us remember that God is with us! We are not alone among pain, suffering and blood in this war. On his NativityGod also incarnates today, in the historical moment in which we have to live and die, build and restore, protect our homeland from enemy and heal the wounds of the past and present. It is to us that the Apostle Paul turns today calling to holiness of life: “...so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3, 17-19)
Patriarch Sviatoslav also wished all Ukrainians“from the youngest to the oldest, either living in Ukraine, or outside, with all my heart to each of you a delicious kutia, a merry Christmas and a happy and blessed new year!”
Patriarch of the UOC-KP Filaret (Denisenko) wished that the rays of the Star of Bethlehem lit our souls and hearts with the light of the world:
“Ukraine is celebratingthe Nativity in difficult conditions: the war in Donbas, our best sons and daughters die for the freedom of Ukraine, people suffer. The Church encourages the faithful to patience in suffering. But the sense of earthly life is not patience, but righteousness and piety, love each other and love for God. Righteousness is a property of a person's life when he sympathizes with the disadvantaged, and carries out its duties. Ukraine is a peace-loving state. Truth is with us and where there is truth- there is God and where there is God - there is always victory. So, we believe in our victory!
In these days of joyful Christmas let us thank our Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ for all His blessings to us, for all joys and sorrows. We beg him that he forgave all our sins, voluntary and involuntary; that he gave Ukraine victory over the aggressor; that he blessed the Ukrainian state and the Ukrainian people in 2017; that he granted us peace, harmony, unity; that we were guided in life with love for God and neighbor, and Ukraine; walked in the ways of truth and curves drawn on the road. Let the rays of a radiant and Star of Bethlehem illuminate our souls and hearts with the light of peace, love and truth!”
The hierarchs of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Western Europe called Ukrainians to value the quietude of the Nativity and being together.”
“On Christmas Eve we have the opportunity to face the mystery of silence as children, the mystery in which God comes to us. In the tenderness of carols, in the quiet light of Christmascandles in the family prayer and the unhurried Holy Supper. Let us appreciate this Christmas peace and a life together without violating them with bustle, quarrels or misunderstandings ....
The child with the mother and Joseph were “refugees” in Egypt. Now there are 65 million of internally displaced persons and refugees globally. Among them are two million citizens of Ukraine, internal displaced persons, who fled the hostilities in eastern Ukraine. They left families, homes, friends, all previous life, because the risk is higher than the fear of the unknown. Tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and hundreds of thousands of civilians in the gray zone in Donbas celebrate this Christmas as Mary with Joseph the Betrothed - in poor stables, trenches and fields. For many families, the traditional free space at the festive table speaks of the tragic lack, which can only be filled by the presence of God, and it is what we celebrate together.
In this Nativity, God is with Crimeans because our Crimea suffers from persecutions and human rights violations. He stands by the prisoners of war, hostages and prisoners of conscience.
There are many among us who are going through difficult personal circumstances, the ones who feel forgotten and abandoned. In Western Europe there are two million economic migrants from Ukraine, who are also forced migrants, because they left their native Ukrainian land in search of work, they feel alienation, desolation, uncertainty in the future. Not only newcomers are experiencing difficulties and challenges but those whose ancestors left Ukraine long ago and for whom Western Europe has become homeland.
How can we invite everyone to our vertep – from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south? We must seek together for answers to these questions, in prayer, which always inspires and heals, in Christmas, which unites us - poor shepherds and wise men, people and animals, heaven and earth. Today, Christ is coming to all of us and proclaims the good news to everyone. Let us bethe evangelists to one another, let us share with every person out warmth, light and mystery.”
Greetings from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the Diaspora
The hierarchs of the Permanent Conference of Ukrainian Orthodox Bishops beyond the borders of Ukraine in their Christmas greeting reminded the words of St John Chrysostom that Christmas is the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He became one of us so that we could feel His Divinity and realize that God is love.
“Celebrating this mystery of the Incarnation in our parishes, we must humble ourselves to the extent to worship the infant, which lies in a manger in a cave in Bethlehem,” wrote the bishops.
“Today Christ as an infant, allows us to experience anew the Incarnation of God with awe and joy. The Son of God enters in human history and allows us to participate in the timeless reality of the Holy Trinity – God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. May our love for him will be in all of our lives - always, every minute, with all our heart, our soul, our mind and our feelings,” Orthodox bishops from the diaspora say their wishes to Ukrainians.
Metropolitan of Lviv, Archbishop of the RCC in Ukraine Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki urged in his greetings to open hearts to Christ, so there came peace, joy, hope, salvation and life together with Him. Metropolitan also reminded that in 2017 the Roman Catholic Church in Ukraine proclaimed the Year of Fatima:
“At that time Pope Benedict XV released an appeal with prophetic words that will move every heart of the inhabitants of Ukraine, which strives for peace. He wrote: “We need more than ever it was, at that terrible time to send a request to the Mother of Godfrom its most devoted children. To Mary, Mother of mercy, who is Almighty in her mercy. Let the prayers loving and committed hearts rise to her from all corners of the earth - from majestic churches and small chapels, from royal palaces and mansions of the rich and the huts of the poor - everywhere where a believing soul finds refuge, from the blood-soaked plains and seas. Let the cries of wives and mothers of innocent babies’ groans, sighs of every sincere heart reach Her so that her tenderness and concern came down to us and the peace that we ask about reigned in our anguished world.”
Let, therefore, our prayer to the Mother of God bring us a decent and righteous life in peace, love and grace of God!”
Mykhailo Panochko, Bishop of the Church of Evangelical Christians greets with Christmas and New Year 2017.
“Over more than two thousand years, Christians around the world have celebrate, are celebrating now and will celebrate the blessed Nativity of Christ.
Together we make part of ecumenical Christianity and with great joy and enthusiasm we look forward to this special holiday for us. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.” (Is. 9: 6).
I wish all of you, dear brothers and sisters, the joy, peace and light of Nativity in your hearts and homes. Join angelic choir, which praised everlasting God the Father, who sent us a Savior, Teacher and Shepherd. Let the grace of God always be with you!”
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