Written just before his repose.
Glory to God in the highest,
I hear today in Bethlehem from the Angels,
[glory to Him whose good pleasure it was] that there be peace on earth.
Stichera from the Litya for the Feast of the Nativity of
Beloved in the Lord Most-reverend Archpastors, Reverend
Presbyters, the Diaconate in Christ, beloved of God Monastics, dear Brothers and Sisters, faithful Children of the Church!
Once again we hear the jubilant Angelic song, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!” (Luke 2: 14).
The Church on earth welcomes the Pre-eternal God, Who, born of the
Virgin in Bethlehem, has become Man. According to the Gospel, His arrival brings peace from above to those living on earth. Fulfilled are the Psalmist’s words, “The Lord will give strength unto His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace ” (Psalm 28: 11 [KJV Ps. 29: 11]).
”Peace I leave with you,” saith the Savior, “…My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. ” (John 14:27). The Peace offered by God with His Incarnation destroys sinful passions and worldly anxieties. That Peace has nothing in common with the
everyday, worldly self-satisfaction that locks the human soul within the bounds of earthly concerns; rather, it takes it up to the supremely peaceful Kingdom of God, of which every true Christian can
partake here on earth. Holy Hierarch St. Basil the Great called the Peace granted by God “the most perfect of blessings,” and St. Seraphim of Sarov passed down to us those truly golden, heavenly words, “Acquire the spirit of peace, and thousands about you will
Incarnate God the Word brought Peace to everyone who believes on Him and who, taking up his own Cross, follows after Him. However, why do we continue to be surrounded by as many conflicts, quarrels, feuds and grudges as before? Why is there still enmity between generations, among political groups, and between rich and poor?
Why do parents divorce, bringing suffering upon their children? Why do peoples, even Orthodox peoples, rise up against one another?
We will be unable to honestly and directly answer those questions unless we look into our own hearts. Do we not too often live according to our own will, forgetting God’s Will and Commandments, relying only on our human strengths, and forgetting God’s power? Do we not substitute sinful vanity – something that brings only the disillusionment of emptiness - for our aspirations for peace?
Let us remember, dear ones, that only the Lord grants true
peace. It is only by following the Star of Bethlehem along Christ’s path that we will find prosperous and peaceful life on earth and eternal peace in His Heavenly Kingdom.
Let us remember that Christ’s peace overcomes the hostility of this era, and that only by acquiring that peace in one’s heart can one withstand all of the storms of life and bring reconciliation to those near and far, transforming life through faith, truth, purity and love. May Christ’s peace embrace all of us, His disciples and followers, people of different ages, nationalities, political views, and social classes. May it extend to those of other faiths and convictions, those with whom we build our life together as a people.
Once again there is unrest in the world. In many places, blood is being shed and people are suffering. However, we believe that the Lord will help us Orthodox Christians, by His good example and
actions, to motivate the peoples toward reconciliation, toward wise and just resolution of all disputes and disagreements.
Beloved archpastors, dear fathers, brothers and sisters! By the prayers of the Most-holy Theotokos and all of the Saints, the Lord is leading the Church along the path to salvation. Thanks to the many, many efforts you have made in the past year, He has kept His people unharmed and “…added to the Church daily such as should be
saved. ” (Acts 2: 47), and it was with God’s help that I carried on my
Patriarchal service. Christ the Supreme Pastor bolstered my strength in standing before Him in prayer, granted me the joy of having active association with many of you, granted me the wisdom needed
in my meetings with secular authorities and with representatives of various nations and peoples.
In June 2008, the Holy Council of Bishops took place in Moscow. It glorified as saints to be venerated by the entire Church a number of worthy ones of God venerated by the people, expanded the social teachings of our Church and decided many pressing questions affecting its life. We celebrated the 1020th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’, a celebration during which the Lord allowed me to visit ancient Kiev, the cradle of our Church and one of its religious capitals. Amid a great confluence of the faithful, we prayed at Kiev’s holy places, and once again felt the powerful unity of peoples baptized in one single baptismal font. That unity, bequeathed to us by our holy forbears, must be carefully preserved and passed on to those who come
During the past year we marked the 90th Anniversary of the cruel
murder of the Royal Martyrs. On the days of their commemoration, tens of thousands of faithful came to the place of the holy passion-bearers’ suffering, and asked them to help our people in its spiritual rebirth, in its correction of its historical path. Let us resolutely hope that the Lord will enable us to overcome all of the consequences of the tragedies, discords and crimes of the 20th Century, and will lead Holy Russia to ever greater strength.
God grant that the words spoken in the terrible year 1938 by Holy Hierarch St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco might be fulfilled, “Blessed are you, O Russian Land, cleansed by the fire of suffering! You went through the water of baptism. Now you are going through fire of suffering, and will enter into your rest.”
I heartily congratulate all of you, my dear ones, with the feast of the Nativity of our Lord and Savior! May Christ the Incarnate God bless all of us in the coming new year with peace, health, and success in all good works! May He bring to our homes, to our countries, cities and villages the joy of living in His concord, love, and justice.
On this holy Feast, I address to you the words of the Holy Apostle St. Paul: “Brethren, rejoice, be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace, and the God of love and peace shall be with you. ” (II Corinthians 13: 11). Amen.
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
Nativity of Christ