By the mercy of God
True Orthodox Bishop of Resava and Shumadia
To All the True Orthodox Children of Saint Sava’s Church
CHRIST IS BORN! GLORIFY HIM!!
And the angel said to them:
Fear not; for I bring you tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior,
which is Christ the Lord. (Lk. 2:10-11)
Before us lie the days of the Nativity Feast, and we truly rejoice with great joy, for unto us a Savior is born – Christ the Lord, Who came to this sinful earth to show us the path to heaven and to indicate to us how to live according to His Holy will. A believing soul cannot but rejoice at this, the most important event for earthly history and the economy of salvation for the human race, since the creation of the world. The importance of this historical event is acknowledged by the entire world, for the beginning of calendar time, that is, the end of the old era and beginning of the new, are reckoned from it. Hence all history of the human race is split by this temporal division: time is divided in two periods, before and after the birth of Christ.
Unfortunately, the difficult conditions in which the True Church finds herself, like those in our much suffering fatherland and the entire world, can often discourage Christians. In these all-joyous days of the celebration of Christ’s birth, we nostalgically remember the once divinely ordered Christendom in which Church and the Christian states lived in God-blessed symphony: Byzantium, Serbia under the Nemanjich dynasty, Russia… and then the princedoms and kingdoms of Montenegro under the Petrovich dynasty, and Serbia under the Obrenovich and Karadjordjevich dynasties, or even the unfortunate kingdom of Jugoslavia.
Let us remember that the Christian period of history began, it could be said, with the Holy Emperor Constantine the Great, and tragically ended with the Holy Tsar Nicholas Romanov II.
The period of the Christian era nevertheless did not have an unbroken continuity of freedom and bloom of Churches and Christian States, i.e., Orthodox autocracies. It was, rather, periodically interrupted by shorter or longer periods of enslavement by forces adverse to Christianity, or various heresies and apostasies, which stole this precious peace and freedom from the Christian states and Church from within and without.
“If they persecuted Me,” spoke the Lord, “so will they you.” Persecution, in fact, is a natural and inseparable companion of the Church Militant on the Earth, while peace and prosperity are exceptions, and actually represent the very great mercy of God. The Holy Fathers said, “This age is the age of long-suffering - the next - of comfort.”
Even the Divine Infant Who was born of the most holy Virgin, from His very birth that we celebrate during these days, was persecuted! And after His death on the Cross and Resurrection, His loyal disciples the Apostles were persecuted, while His pure Bride, the Church, suffered and will suffer persecution until the very end of the history of the earth as we know it.
Why am I saying all of this? I am saying this so that we will not fall into despair in these very difficult times of apostasy from Holy Orthodoxy and the near-complete wreck of our people and our state, wounded fatally by God-hating communism and finished off by the secularism of Western democracy.
God so ordained that our very generation live in such times; and in the conditions and surroundings in which we live, we have to act humbly. This is not the first time that Serbia has been left stateless and pressured from all sides. Our Christ-named people, in all the lands we inhabited, knew how to bear the foreign yoke of slavery and keep its Orthodox identity. In the end, with the help of God, with faith in Christ, for the Precious Cross and golden freedom, they gloriously won back their freedom and restored all that had appeared to be lost.
Once, when the Serbian family was numerous and patriarchal, and when the Serbian Church of St. Sava in times of misfortune and temptation fortified the soul and kept up hope, she formed a firm support for the suffering people to keep them from falling into the abyss of complete annihilation. Without this support, the Serbs would have spiritually, and perhaps physically, disappeared from the face of the earth.
The present times are different and incomparably more terrible than all those preceding, for the family has been broken, and the support of the Church has been utterly weakened; that is, instead of a true Church, an illusion has been put in its place. By external appearances it is identical to the true Church, but when one leans on it, it vanishes like smoke, letting one slip off the cliff into the abyss, into deep spiritual and physical destruction. The tragedy of our unhappy times lies precisely in this! Such a demoniacally shrewd strategy on the part of Satan and his servants in the primordial battle against God and Church has already brought success. Extermination, that is, the complete physical destruction of Church and Christian is an obsolete and outdated matter. Such attempts were overcome when the Holy Emperor Constantine gave freedom to the Christians. Leaving the external church institutions whole, but destroying Her spiritually with various heresies and apostasies became the most powerful and most successful weapon in the war against God and Church. Historically regarded, the western churches, one by one, were the first to be defeated and subjugated. On the outside they appeared still to exist, but they were stripped of the Holy Spirit. Sadly, the western Christians, because of heresy - and the majority of them never became aware of this fact - ceased to be the servants of the Truth Incarnate – Christ. Regardless of their Christian façade, they had harnessed themselves into service for the primordial Lie, deceiving themselves and others. The Eastern Churches, however, long resisted such a tragic fate as that of their Western Christian brothers. Nevertheless, during the apocalyptic twentieth century, each local Church, one by one, was mowed down by the Judas-like betrayal of church freedom - Sergianism, the soul-destroying New-Calendar schism, and the deadliest blow, the pan-heresy of ecumenism.
In order for this to happen, beforehand the Orthodox monarchies had to fall,whose place was taken – through force or deceit - by all kinds of “people’s governments,” Communists or Democrats.
The remaining little flock of Christ, under terrible persecution, was driven into illegality or the catacombs. Thus Orthodox Christianity as a state religion has passed into history. In the new, post-Christian era, True Orthodox Christians go back to the living conditions of their ancient predecessors from the time before the Holy Emperor Constantine, with the difference being that, today, the state powers are no longer polytheist but rather open atheists, i.e., secularized, heretical, or pseudo-Christian. The disfigured and profaned “Christianity” of the “New Age” in the West and East is deeply permeated with ultimately Antichristian, aggressive globalization and ecumenism. Let it not surprise you, then, if they begin to persecute resisters to globalization and ecumenism as terrorists and enemies of the United Nations and world prosperity.
Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov, a spiritual writer and great prophet of Russia in the 19th century, said that in the end times all of the official church organizations would submit to Antichrist and the spirit of this world. He emphasized many times that in the last times there would be an essential difference between the institutionalized church and the True Orthodox Church. We will have, he said, a powerful ecclesiastical organization without the true spirit of Christ, and a small catacomb community unified by faith in Christ and by His Spirit. “It can be guessed that the institutions of the Church, which have already long been tottering, will fall horribly and unexpectedly. In truth, no one is able to stop or prevent this. The present way in which the institutional Church preserves itself is borrowed from this world, which is foreign to the Church; and the result will only be to hasten her fall… May the merciful Lord defend the remainder of those who believe in Him. That remainder, however, shall become smaller and smaller.”
In the official Serbian church, there do indeed exist many good, honest souls, who have been carried away by the idea of a “fight from within” for the preservation of the institution of the ecumenist Serbian Orthodox Church. They do not realize that this apostasy was allowed by God, and that Christians must separate from it. Here is what St. Ignatius says further on the subject: “God allowed apostasy. Do not attempt to stop it with your own powerless hand, but rather, flee from it, defend yourself from it. To do that is enough.”
All that I have said above reflects the reality of our times, and we have to resign ourselves to this reality. We will be truly fortunate if we are offered the possibility to cling to patristic Orthodoxy and work out our salvation in relative peace, granted by God, in illegal-to-the-world, small True Orthodox, catacomb communities, in outskirts and villages, mountains or backwoods, with the occasional True Orthodox bishop, priest, and monk.
Every True Orthodox parish or monastery in our fatherland is a life-giving oasis in which can be found the Evangelical Living Water – an oasis in the dry and barren wilderness of the great apostasy, where the official churches appear like mirages, that is, visions of water which deceive and leave one thirsty, far away from the true spring of Living Water. These very grace-filled oases, humble and persecuted, give us hope that our common fatherland, Serbia, with the testament of the Nemanich autocracy, along with our mother, the Serbian Church of St. Sava, will not vanish from the face of the earth.
Neither the battle flame for the faith, nor the national fighting spirit which strives to resurrect and give rebirth to Serbian-hood, must ever be quenched, for the preservation of the faith is the condition on which rests God’s promise that the gates of hell will never prevail against the True Church of Christ.
We do not lose hope that, if it be God’s will, before the end of the world one more age of the blossoming of the Church and Orthodox autocracy will come! The Serbian True Orthodox Church is now acting in extraordinary conditions, conditions which resemble those of a great war, when the enemies have succeeded in completely taking the upper hand. She is conducting war in illegal or guerilla ways for the preservation of St. Sava’s Orthodoxy and Serb-dom, until a God-given morning of freedom, national repentance and rebirth dawns, or the Second, glorious coming of Christ, for one of these two must happen, although the first would only delay the second for a short time.
Therefore, Brothers and Sisters, let us obey the Apostle Paul, and be, in his words, “in hope joyful, in misfortune long-suffering, and in prayer constant.” There is an old proverb: “Serbia is eternal as long as its children are faithful!” Yes, that is the vital truth, which is true not only for our Fatherland, but for our fatherland’s Church. Let us show our loyalty to St. Sava’s Church and Fatherland by removing ourselves from the secular and ecclesiastical apostasy, keeping the Patristic faith like the apple of our eye, by not taking any part in the works of darkness of the secular and world oligarchs.
Gathered around these blessed principles, around this beautiful Bethlehem manger, we offer glory to the Newborn of the Virgin Theotokos, the pre-eternal Christ Child, Our Savior, with the song which encouraged our holy forefathers for centuries:
God is with us, understand, O ye nations, and submit yourselves: for God is with us!
And of your fear we shall neither be afraid nor in dread. For God is with us!
For unto us a Child is born. Unto us a Son is given. For God is with us.
Mighty God, Ruler, Prince of Peace. For God is with us!
I wish you a happy and blessed new year of 2013!
From the free mountains of Serbia
on Our Lord’s Nativity, 2012
+ Bishop Akakije