Rector's Message for January 2018
Beholding man perishing, whom He had made with His own hands, the Creator bowed the Heavens and came down; and becoming incarnate in truth, He took on the whole of man’s essence from the divine and pure Virgin; for He hath been glorified.
1st Ode, Canon of the Nativity by S. Kosmas
We have arrived again, by the mercy of the all-Provident God, at the sacred time of year in which we celebrate the Coming in the Flesh of His Only-Begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Whatever difficulties, sorrows, and limitations cloud our earthly lives, all of these things give way to the overwhelming joy we receive when we realize, once again, that God became a man for us.
What could be greater than this? What evil or sorrow can stand up against this? Can the pride of Satan overcome the humility of God? Impossible. Can man’s sin overwhelm us, if we have entrusted ourselves to the sinless God-man? In no way. Can our own limitations prevent our salvation if we unite ourselves to the Limitless One Who voluntarily limited Himself for us, in order that we might partake of His Limitless Divinity? Unthinkable.
Let us, then, give thanks continually to God Who became a man for our sake. In dark and lonely days, when all the world seems to be full of obstacles and sorrows, let us force ourselves to practice gratitude to God, enumerating aloud all that He has done for us. If only we will persevere in this salutary practice, we will inevitably feel God’s light shine upon us, as His Daystar, Christ, arises in our hearts, and we will know, not from books but from experience, that “the Lord is gracious.”
What kind of thanks, however, does the Lord desire most from us? Paradoxically and wondrously, He desires that we receive even more from Him, for He needs nothing and gives everything. He desires that we receive that which He came to give, which is Himself. The thanksgiving, eucharistia, which is most fitting for God, is precisely that Eucharist, eucharistia, which He established for man’s salvation unto the end of the world, which is the Divine Liturgy and partaking of His Precious Body and Blood, “unto the remission of sins and life eternal.”
Why did Christ consent to lie in a manger, that is, a rack from which animals eat hay? It was to show that He became flesh so that our animal nature could actually partake of His Divinity by consuming His Flesh. Why was the city of David providentially called Bethlehem, that is, in the Hebrew tongue, “House of Bread”? It was to show that the true and living Bread which came down from Heaven was, in that city, to be brought forth from the oven of the Virgin’s womb, so that, partaking of Him, man might die no more forever, for His death would become our life.
Let us then cleanse our bodies by fasting and our souls by confession and prayer, so that we might partake of Him who became flesh in order to sanctify our fallen flesh and make it capable of receiving His Divinity. To Him be the glory, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, unto the ages of ages. Amen.
A Merry Christmas and a Blessed AD 2018!
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On the Night of the Nativity
Pure is the present night, in which the Pure One appeared, Who came to purify us! Let our hearing be pure, and the sight of our eyes chaste, and the feeling of the heart holy, and the speech of the mouth sincere!
The present night is the night of reconciliation; therefore, let no one be wroth against his brother and offend him!
This night gave peace to the whole world, and so, let no one threaten. This is the night of the Most Meek One; let no one be cruel!
This is the night of the Humble One; let no one be proud!
Now is the day of joy; let us not take revenge for offences! Now is the day of good will; let us not be harsh. On this day of tranquility, let us not become agitated by anger!
Today God came unto sinners; let not the righteous exalt himself over sinners!
Today the Most Rich One became poor for our sake; let the rich man invite the poor to his table!
Today we received a gift which we did not ask for; let us bestow alms to those who cry out to us and beg!
The present day has opened the door of heaven to our prayers; let us also open our door to those who ask of us forgiveness!
Today the Godhead placed upon Himself the seal of humanity, and humanity has been adorned with the seal of the Godhead!
- St. Ephraim the Syrian