среда, 04. јануар 2012.

CHRISTMAS EPISTLE


CHRISTMAS EPISTLE
+AKAKIJE
By the Mercy of God
True Orthodox Bishop of Resava and Shumadiya
(SERBIAN TRUE ORTHODOX CHURCH)

To All the Faithful Children of St. Sava’s Church,

By the mercy of God, one more joyous and comforting feast of the descent of God the Word to earth, that is, of His most wondrous birth by the Holy Spirit and Virgin Mary, has arrived. For our sake and our salvation, Christ was born, took flesh, and dwelt among us, and we on earth beheld His glory, as the Only-Begotten Son of God, full of grace and truth. All God’s creation rejoices today and hastens to worship the King Who has been born, their Creator: Angels offer their singing, the sky – a star, the Magi – gifts, the shepherds – pious delight, the earth – a cave, the wilderness – the manger, and the race of man – the Virgin Mother.  And we True Orthodox offer God the preservation of the True Faith given to us by our fathers, at the head of whom is Saint Sava, and a sacrifice of thanksgiving – the fruit of lips who glorify His name.

God came to save His creation from evil and destruction. Christ the Savior came down to Earth, as He said Himself, to witness to the Truth (Jn. 18:37) only by which it is possible to win salvation. All His faithful followers, and even more the pastors of the Church, are obliged to follow His example, to witness to the Truth, not allowing any falsehood, either in words or in deeds. Today we celebrate the Incarnation of Truth, as Christ Himself is Truth. We celebrate the birth of the Founder of the Church, which is the only and irreplaceable instrument of the salvation of mankind. Along with this, the Church is a treasury of divine truth; She is, according to the Holy Apostle Paul, the pillar and ground of the Truth. She is overflowing with divine truth, and everything in Her is only truth, and truth is one, as is the ONE, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. There are not many truths, nor do many churches exist outside the bounds of the truth of Holy Orthodoxy. The Orthodox Church is one, but within the confines of Orthodoxy, She is at the same time “many” (Local Churches).
In Orthodoxy, that is what is most important, that it confesses the only True Faith, that which God revealed, which was not invented by people making guesses about God and faith, but rather that which was brought from Heaven to Earth by the Lord Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, God’s Logos, Power, and Wisdom. This is the essential dogma of the Orthodox Church of Christ, especially today, when “Orthodox” Ecumenists recognize grace outside the borders of the Orthodox Church. We must humble ourselves before this explicit teaching of the Church, that outside of Christ’s Truth there is no salvation. The Orthodox Church is the indestructible keeper of the truth, and those who are outside of it (heretics), as St. Cyprian of Carthage says, could be saved only in the case that some were saved who were outside Noah’s ark.
In our unfortunate and confusing times of the apostasy of the pan-heresy of ecumenism, a life-or-death battle is being waged between light and darkness, truth and falsehood. In the beginning of the 20th century a great division appeared (similar to that in the 11th century), which one can now say is fully accomplished: the so-called “World” or Sergianist, New-Calendarist, Ecumenist “Orthodoxy,” separated itself from the Orthodox Church – it lost its bond with the Church of the Holy Fathers, the Holy Ecumenical Councils, and Holy Tradition. The foundation of the “World Orthodox” consists of a hierarchy which has apostatized from Christ, and which drags with itself people who consider themselves Orthodox, but who do not know what Orthodoxy is in fact. For those people who substitute mere appearances and some kind of Eastern-flavored Papism or Protestantism for the patristic teachings about the Church, a bishop’s significance boils down mainly to the function of church administrator, or to the role of some kind of authority without backing, i.e., a bishop who is not a link in the unbreakable chain of patristic catholicity. He can be a heretic, or in communion with heretics, yet not fall under the judgment of the canons because of his heterodoxy. For such people, the fullness of the church is in a bishop if he is: “official,”  if the mighty institution of the state church stands behind him, and his seat is in some ancient monastery or cathedral. According to the patristic teaching, however, as expressed by St. Maximus the Confessor, the Church is comprised of “a genuine and salvific confession of faith,” and therefore, of every man who is a bearer of that faith. Still, it is true, that without a right believing bishop, there is no fullness of the church; so, as long as the church on earth exists, there will exist Orthodox bishops.  God promised that the gates of hell will never prevail against His Church, meaning solely that the true Church of Christ will not disappear from the face of the earth until the very end of this age, at the second coming of Christ; but this does not exclude the appearance of a false church in Christian society, the church of the wicked, which bears only the exterior marks of the Church, but is devoid of Her spirit. The true Church of Christ will be preserved on Earth, even if She has only one bishop with only a few priests and believers.
The True Orthodox Church separated from the Apostasy, staunchly holding fast to the Orthodox teachings about Bishop and Church, as part of Holy Tradition. We wish to be faithful children of the Holy Fathers, the teachers of Orthodoxy, and to live in the very same Church in which live the Holy Apostles, prophets, martyrs and all saints: that is why we will not go with the apostate “Orthodoxy” of this world which arrogantly tramples the Church teachings and mocks the saints, who spilled their blood and gave their lives defending the stronghold of the Faith. We will not go with so-called “patriarchates” with their hierarchy and “spiritual elders” who emulate them, with their lost pastors and flock, because we have been taught by the saints that there are two paths: the way of life and the way of death; the way of light and the way of darkness; the way of the holy fathers and the way of apostates and heretics, persecutors and haters of the truth and lovers of lies. The way of Truth is the way of Golgotha, the narrow, thorny path which is taken by the minority, just as in ancient times a minority of people recognized and venerated the Divine Child Who was born in Bethlehem. More than that, for Him, there was no room in people’s homes, and when the shepherds who heard the singing of angels came to see the One Who was glorified by Heaven, they found a child lying in a manger, just as the divinely-inspired Prophet Habbakuk prophesied long ago: “O Lord, I have heard Thy word and was afraid; between two living creatures will I recognize Thee.” Between two animals lay the Heavenly King Who had come to save the world, for people had abandoned Him completely. As the One born of the Most-Blameless was persecuted, so in the same way His blameless Bride, the Holy Church, is persecuted.
The battle which began in Bethlehem between the One Who brings heavenly peace to earth and the terrestrial and sub-terrestrial forces of evil has been conducted without ceasing and grows ever fiercer.  Today we especially feel this division which was proclaimed by the One Whose glory today angels sing – “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will among men.” As then it pleased the Incarnate Almighty to lie in a manger, so today the Lamb of God lies on the modest altars in the little nest of the Serbian True Orthodox Church. He is not in the sumptuous basilicas, sky-high sanctuaries, cathedrals, in ancient, glorious memorials and churches adorned with precious artistic treasures, gold, wealth, and ancient relics, which are ruled by apostates from Holy Tradition and the Orthodox Faith, whether from the East or West, because God does not abide where there is no truth, or where truth is mixed with lies. Let us go, faithful children of St. Sava, to the cave of Bethlehem hidden from this world, which our sanctuaries represent, for the God-Child Christ, born of the Virgin, does not lie there in appearance only, but in truth. Let us worship Him, removing ourselves from evil and doing good. Let us offer Him as a gift repentance for our sins, confessing them, and taste His Most Pure Body and Blood. Let us fall before Him in fear, humility, and joy, for the radiant star of Bethlehem has shown forth! “Glory to God in the highest, and on the earth, peace, good will among men.”
May the peace of God be with you! Christ is born!
A very happy and blessed year of 2012!
+Bishop Akakije
Nativity 2011

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