Bishop Andrei’s Nativity Epistle
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14)
Dear Fathers, brothers and concelebrants, mothers and sisters,
What manner of peace did the Angels announce to the shepherds in the night of Christ’s Birth? Don’t we see that there is no peace and never was on earth? The history of Mankind is a history of never ending warfare – from antiquity to our current times. In all spheres of life: political, economic, familial, you can observe this continuous battle.
On earth there can be no peace, because the rivalry for earthly gains engenders envy, greed, pride and thirst for power. When these passions domineer in people’s hearts, it becomes impossible for them to live in peace among themselves.
Peace that descended upon earth is Christ God Himself, having united within Himself both Divinity and humanity and reconciled God with Man.
The Birth of Christ was that leaven, which in the Gospel parable, the woman mixed into three measures of flour, until all of it was leavened (Luke 13:21).
Disciple of the Apostles, Saint Ignatius God-Bearer, dissertates on the Birth of Christ:
“Now the virginity of Mary was hidden from the prince of this world, as was also Her childbirth, and the death of the Lord; three mysteries of renown, which were wrought in silence by God. How, then, was He manifested to the world? A star shone forth in heaven above all the other stars, the light of which was inexpressible, while its novelty struck men with astonishment. And all the rest of the stars, with the sun and the moon, formed a chorus to this star, and its light was exceedingly great above them all. And there was agitation felt as to whence this new spectacle came, so unlike everything else (in the heavens). Hence every kind of magic was destroyed, and every bond of wickedness disappeared; ignorance was removed, and the old kingdom abolished, God Himself being manifested in human form for the renewal of eternal life”.
The Birth of Christ was accomplished in secrecy: but from that moment on, the devil’s power over the world began to crumble. The devil realizes his authority over the world with the aid of seduction and deception. When Christ – Incarnated Truth, settled on earth in human form, the power of seduction began to withdraw. “By shining in Egypt the light of truth, Thou didst dispel the darkness of falsehood; for its idols fell, O Saviour, unable to endure Thy strength” (Akathist).
We are living in the time of apostacy, the departure from God, which was predicted in the Holy Scripture. From the time of the killing of the “restrainer”, Tsar-Martyr Nicholas, the main driving force in the world became deception. The final phase in Man’s history has begun and will end with antichrist’s ascension to world’s throne. Antichrist’s main weapon will be deceit, because it would be impossible to subjugate all of humanity with brute force.
Current events convince us that the course of the world’s history has already arrived at the fulfilment period. This can be seen in the nearly undivided reign of the lie in the world. The most frightening aspect of this is that this lie has settled in the Church, which is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15), which should be the leaven of truth for the world.
This spiritual catastrophe occurred nearly 100 years ago, when for the first time, words of hypocrisy, servility, and calumny resonated from the heights of the pulpit.
Thus wrote Hieromartyr Damaskin in his epistle regarding Met. Sergius’s “Declaration” of 1927:
“One of two: either, indeed, the Church, the Immaculate and Pure Bride of Christ – is the Kingdom of Truth, and consequently Truth is air, without which we cannot breathe, or She, like the rest of the world seated in wickedness, lives in falsehood and by falsehood, and then – everything is a lie: every word, every prayer, and every mystery is a lie” (Kiev Epistle).
Turning our attention to the thoughts expressed by the Hieromartyr: if falsehood enters the Church in any one form, then she begins to live in an atmosphere of lies. Then everything becomes a lie, – both the Church Teachings, in appearance, Orthodox, and the Mysteries, in appearance, correctly performed. This mixing of truth with falsehood in the Church has become normal and everywhere. People are used to lies and don’t notice them and become accustomed to them.
The current world-wide propaganda campaign, tied in with the so-called “pandemic”, is the main lie at the present moment – it is truly and without any exaggeration, satanic. The Church cannot participate in this lie or agree with it. The first responsibility of the Hierarchy at this critical time is to recognise this deceit and make it known. The Hierarchy must edify their laity: give correct orientation in the confusing differing opinions and contradictory information.
Apparently, what is happening now is only “the beginning of the birth pangs” (Mark 13:8), making it important to acquire the ability to recognise the deception, so as not to be seduced by the forthcoming antichrist.
The Lord says in the Gospel: “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division” (Luke 12:51).
The history of the Church is a history of division; and this will be so until the final division occurs when the Lord – Judge will place some to His right, and others, to His left.
Likewise, current events have created division. The attitudes toward the “pandemic” have divided even close friends. What is the reason for this? Why is on the face of it, a common question has assumed such a profound and principled character?
To reject the official point of view, means that you have become a dissident. It means that you have stood up against the government’s authority and against the obedient silent majority. Not everyone has the fortitude to do this.
Our Lord was born in a manger and died a shameful death on the Cross. Our Lord Jesus Christ is “the Stone which the builders rejected” (1 Peter 2:7), and His followers must not be afraid to be rejected by the world.
Even now, the Orthodox Church in essence is outside the law. As in the early Christian times, it has become necessary to lock the doors during the performance of Mysteries. We are already forced to enter into a semi-catacomb existence, because the features of our Church Service like partaking of Holy Communion, the kissing of icons, the cross, the blessing hand of a priest and mutual singing don’t fit into the narrow parameters of the law, established by the medical tyranny.
We have already become accustomed to being “little flock”. At the end, this “little flock” will be reduced to the extreme.
Saint Apostle Paul calls upon Christ’s followers: “Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come” (Hebrews 13:13-14). I.e. let us be ready to leave all that is regarded in this world as being desirable and highly valued, so as to become citizens of the future Heavenly Kingdom.
I congratulate all of you with the great Feast of Christ’s Nativity!