Metropolitan Nicholas of Eastern America and New York

The Crown of Wisdom is the Fear of the Lord

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

Emi­nent Fel­low Arch­pas­tors, Hon­or­able Fathers, Beloved Broth­ers and Sis­ters in the Lord,

In these days of great joy, the thoughts of the arch­pas­tors, pas­tors, monas­tics, parish­ioners, and faith­ful of the church­es and monas­ter­ies of our dio­ce­ses, scat­tered like God’s wheat over the vast earth, meet in the meek Beth­le­hem cave, in the semi-dark­ness in which was lit the unquench­able Light of the world — our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God! Spir­i­tu­al­ly gath­er­ing with all of you in the mod­est cave near Beth­le­hem, and kneel­ing down before the poor manger of the Divine Infant and His Most Pure Moth­er, I join my prayers to yours and implore God the Word incar­nate to grant His Church grace-filled mer­cies and blessed suc­cess in Her min­istry, and to all Ortho­dox peo­ples speedy deliv­er­ance from frat­ri­ci­dal war, restora­tion of jus­tice and peace, that peace of which the angel­ic choir sang over the city of David on that holy night of the Nativity!

As the Bib­li­cal book, “The Wis­dom of Sir­ach” nar­rates: “The crown of wis­dom is the fear of the Lord, which brings forth peace and unharmed health; but both are gifts of God, Who spreads the glo­ry of those who love Him” (Sir­ach 1:18). It is the fear of God — that is, sens­ing the Divine pres­ence in our lives and walk­ing rev­er­ent­ly before God, fear­ing to grieve Him through sin — that leads to peace; for “the fear of the Lord”, as the Old Tes­ta­ment sage writes, “is glo­ry and hon­or, hap­pi­ness and the crown of joy. The fear of the Lord will delight the heart and give hap­pi­ness and joy and long life” (Sir­ach 1:11–12). Oth­er types of fear give rise to all kinds of ail­ments, hatred, enmi­ty, divi­sions and ill will, but the fear of God promis­es health, joy, and longevi­ty. This is why it is so impor­tant for us to work on our spir­i­tu­al lives, to remem­ber God, His pres­ence among us and par­tic­i­pa­tion in our lives. We must stop neglect­ing our Chris­t­ian and Church duties, and instead return to the roots of our faith and hope in God, Who has always, as can be seen from our his­to­ry, helped us to acquire this peace. “Let us make our souls beau­ti­ful and let us cher­ish love for one anoth­er,” writes St John Chrysostom.

Cel­e­brat­ing these holy days when the Lord revealed Him­self to the world, and feel­ing His breath on earth, let us remem­ber the sick, the lone­ly and the poor, and refugees and dis­placed per­sons, our per­se­cut­ed and suf­fer­ing broth­ers and sis­ters in the Ukrain­ian Ortho­dox Church. Let us remem­ber the need always to sin­cere­ly pray for them and sac­ri­fi­cial­ly to help them to the best of our strength and abil­i­ty. With a mod­er­ate cel­e­bra­tion, let us not for­get to stop and hear with our hearts and under­stand with our minds that we are liv­ing in a time of the vis­i­ta­tion of the Lord. He vis­its us not only in our present joy, but also in the tri­als sur­round­ing us. And blessed is the per­son who meets and spends these fes­tive days ful­ly armed with Chris­t­ian virtues and spir­i­tu­al vigor!

Enter­ing the New Year, I am very hap­py to announce the cel­e­bra­tion this year of the 75th anniver­sary of the Holy Trin­i­ty The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary, found­ed at the monastery of the same name in Jor­danville (New York, USA) by the well-known head of the Pochaev print­ing broth­er­hood, Arch­bish­op Vitaly (Maxi­menko; 1873 — 1960). In this regard, I urge every­one to take advan­tage of the oppor­tu­ni­ty once again to take an inter­est in the unique his­to­ry of the Russ­ian Church Abroad and reflect on the great per­son­al­i­ties who assist­ed in the found­ing of this sem­i­nary, in the edu­ca­tion and nur­tur­ing of gen­er­a­tions of fine pas­tors, who worthi­ly car­ried out the work of God in the dif­fi­cult con­di­tions of the dias­po­ra. It is grat­i­fy­ing now to see seri­ous and con­sci­en­tious teach­ers, numer­ous stu­dents and young cler­gy­men, grad­u­ates of the sem­i­nary, togeth­er with their old­er brethren, nour­ish­ing the flock of Christ. For all of this let us give thanks to Christ the Chief Shep­herd, Who bestows His bless­ing on us! We thank­ful­ly remem­ber all those who have labored in the improve­ment and estab­lish­ment of our spir­i­tu­al school! We wish the present teach­ers and stu­dents boun­ti­ful suc­cess for the glo­ry of God and the good of the Church!

Once again con­grat­u­lat­ing all on the feast of the Nativ­i­ty of Christ, I prayer­ful­ly wish every­one good health, strength of spir­it and the help of God, so that the rays of this bright cel­e­bra­tion may illu­mine the first days of the New Year of 2023 and may warm our hearts.

With love in Christ,

Met­ro­pol­i­tan of East­ern Amer­i­ca and New York
First Hier­ar­ch of the Russ­ian Church Abroad

Nativ­i­ty of Christ 2022/2023