Nativity Epistle of His Eminence
HILARION,
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York,
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

Beloved in the Lord Brethren Arch­pas­tors, Hon­or­able Fathers, 
Broth­ers and Sis­ters, God-Beloved Flock of the Russ­ian Church Abroad:

It is with a feel­ing of the great­est joy that I express my heart­felt greet­ings on the Nativ­i­ty of our Lord Jesus Christ and the approach­ing feast day of the Bap­tism of the Lord!

As expressed in one of our church prayers cel­e­brat­ing this holy event, when God deemed it good to appear on Earth, the entire world has­tened to bring him gifts: “The Angels offer a hymn; the heav­ens, a star; the Wise Men, gifts; the shep­herds, their won­der; the earth, its cave; the wilder­ness, a manger.”

What will we offer as a gift to the Almighty God, Who is now born a help­less Infant? My son, give me thine heart, says the Lord. Our hearts, our love, is the only gift most wor­thy in the eyes of God. To offer God one’s heart means to give Him all of our­selves: our mind in obey­ing the Gospel, our will and obe­di­ence to the com­mand­ments, sub­mit­ting and active­ly striv­ing for God, not as a ser­vant but as His off­spring, for whom hap­pi­ness and bliss is to live in Christ and with Him.

In this past year, the full­ness of the Local Russ­ian Ortho­dox Church prayer­ful­ly marked the 100th anniver­sary of the sor­row­ful events con­nect­ed with the Rev­o­lu­tion and the begin­ning of the epoch of god­less per­se­cu­tions, but also the 100th anniver­sary of the reestab­lish­ment of the Patri­ar­chate in Rus­sia, when St Tikhon, Patri­arch of Moscow and All Rus­sia the Con­fes­sor, ascend­ed to the Patri­ar­chal throne, which was to be his per­son­al Gol­go­tha. In 2018, we intend to con­tin­ue this prayer­ful com­mem­o­ra­tion, remem­ber­ing the Holy Hiero­mar­tyrs Vladimir of Kiev, Andronik, Arch­bish­op of Perm, the Right­eous Roy­al Pas­sion-bear­ers, Holy Grand Duchess Eliz­a­beth and Nun Bar­bara, who offered their hearts to Christ, the Church, and their peo­ple to the extent that no earth­ly pow­er could tear them from God’s love, no earth­ly cir­cum­stances: not tribu­la­tion, or dis­tress, or per­se­cu­tion.2

And so as we cel­e­brate the Nativ­i­ty of Christ and par­tic­i­pate in the prayer­ful com­mem­o­ra­tions of this year, let us seek out the renew­al of our inner strength and edi­fi­ca­tion, let us pay heed to both Holy Scrip­ture and the his­to­ry of our Father­land, let us strive to learn of the lives of these holy peo­ple and con­tem­plate their per­son­al­i­ties in order to enrich our­selves spir­i­tu­al­ly and intel­lec­tu­al­ly. Let us bring these labors as a gift to the Child Who offered Him­self on the Cross, remem­ber­ing that we must remove from our­selves our wicked and dark hearts, so that in exchange for this Sac­ri­fice we receive the gift of peace in our hearts, bright and renewed, a gift earned by the Holy Mar­tyrs and Con­fes­sors of the Russ­ian Church.

As we bend our knee before the Christ Child and joy­ous­ly expe­ri­ence this world-sav­ing event, I prayer­ful­ly ask on behalf of all of you God’s mer­cies and bless­ings, heav­en­ly aid in your labors and good deeds, good health, joy­ful cel­e­bra­tions and a hap­py New Year!

With love in the Nascent Christ,

+HILARION,

Met­ro­pol­i­tan of East­ern Amer­i­ca and New York,
First Hier­ar­ch of the Russ­ian Ortho­dox Church Out­side of Rus­sia

Nativ­i­ty of Christ, 2017/2018