Archpastoral message for Christmas 2020
Thy Nativity, O Christ our God,
Has shown to the world the light of wisdom…
Dear brothers and sisters,
Here we are during the Nativity fast, with which we should prepare as worthily as possible for the feast of the Nativity of Christ, when it was truly shown that God, Emmanuel, is with us. This year, we will not, , celebrate this holiday of joy, this holiday of the household church, as we are accustomed due to the pandemic of COVID19 virus, which has spread all over the world.
Many ask us: How will we celebrate the Christmas and New Year holidays this year? We answer them: As best we can. That is, as time and conditions allow. First of all, let us celebrate spiritually, as much as we can or are allowed, by participating in the Holy Worship Services, and especially in the Holy Liturgy, and partaking of the Holy Sacraments.
This is not the only time the Church has found itself in difficult times. Who knows how many times the Christians of the first centuries had to secretly celebrate in the catacombs, hiding from the Roman emperors and persecutors? Or, how did our ancestors celebrate these holidays during centuries of Ottoman slavery? And only God knows what diseases existed. They had to fight them too.
Here is how St. Dionysius of Alexandria writes about the plague: "Many of our brothers, out of great love, not caring for their own lives, take care of each other, visit the sick, attend to them constantly, heal them for Christ's sake; they died voluntarily with them, taking upon themselves their sufferings, washing out their wounds with devotion. Many of those who worked so hard for the sick and restored their health, themselves died … And this kind of death out of piety and firm faith is nothing less than martyrdom. They took the bodies of the saints with their hands and held them on their knees, closed their eyes and mouths, carried them on their backs like children, arranged them, attended to them, washed and clothed them. "
Let's compare that time with our time. Nothing is different. Are there not even today such wonderful examples of doctors and medical staff in hospitals, nursing homes and monasteries, who laid down and are laying down their lives to save others, regardless of religion, nation, race or class? They truly affirm the words of Christ: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). There is no greater gift to Christ than that gift! There is no greater virtue than love (I Cor. 13: 1-3). Our faith should work through love (Gal. 5: 6). For faith without works is dead (James 2:26).
This virus took away our first hierarch, the quiet and calm, of blessed memory Patriarch Irinej, the very respected and tireless of blessed memory Metropolitan Amfilohije, and faithful Bishop Milutin of blessed memory, several priests and many believers. Eternal memory to them and may God grant the forgiveness of their sins!
Dear brothers and sisters,
Let us take care of ourselves and let us take care of our neighbours. By protecting ourselves, we protect them as well, by not exposing them to danger. And they, guarding themselves, will guard us. If we cannot burn the Yule Log, let our faith in Christ burn in our hearts. If we cannot embrace one another, let us warm our hearts with love and prayer to our Lord Jesus Christ, for all those who suffer and perish. That is how we welcome His Birth. If we cannot celebrate our patron saints according to our Serbian custom, let us sincerely pray to our Defender with the hope that next year it will be more beautiful and festive.
Wishing you great physical and spiritual health, in order to overcome all these troubles, before these bright Christmas and New Year holidays, we send you heartfelt greetings with these joyous words:
PEACE FROM GOD! CHRIST IS BORN!
A HAPPY AND GOD BLESSED 2021!
Your intercessor before the Divine Child Christ,
BISHOP OF CANADA MITROPHAN