10 January 2013

2012/2013 Nativity Encyclical of Patriarch CYRIL of Moscow and All Russia

Patriarch KIRILL of Moscow and All Russia
to the Archpastors, Pastors, Monastics and All the Faithful Children
of the Russian Orthodox Church

Your Eminences the archpastors, honourable fathers, God-loving monks and nuns, dear brothers and sisters!

Today the Holy Church radiantly and with joy glorifies the mystery of the birth from the Most Pure Virgin of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The Creator, in loving his creation, ‘was manifest in the flesh’, ‘became man’ and ‘like as we are, yet without sin’ (see: 1 Tim 3:16; Heb 4:15). The Infant lay in a manger in Bethlehem. He did this in order to save the world from spiritual and moral decay, to liberate the human person from fear of death. The Maker lays before us the greatest gift of all: his divine love and the fullness of life. In Christ we can find hope that conquers fear, we can attain holiness and immortality.

He comes into our world torn apart by sin in order that, through his birth, life, sufferings, death on the cross and glorious resurrection, he may establish a new law, a new commandment – the commandment of love. ‘A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another’ (Jn 13:34). The Lord addressed these words to his disciples and through them to the whole world: to those who lived then, to those who live now and to those who will live after us, right until the end of time.

Each person is called upon to respond to this commandment through his own deeds. In the way that Christ showed to us true mercy and unbounded forgiveness towards our faults, so too we are to be merciful and forgiving towards people. We must care not only for our own and for our neighbours, although we are to care for them in the first instance (see: 1 Tim 5:8), not only for our friends and for those who think like us, but also for those who have yet to find oneness with God. We are called to imitate the Saviour in love, to pray for those who oppress and despise us (see: Mt 5:44), to have always in our thoughts the good of our people, the homeland and the Church. Each of us, in accomplishing good works, can change for the better, if only to a small degree, the reality which surrounds us. It is only in this way that we can become stronger together, for lawlessness can never vanquish love as the darkness can never engulf the light of true life (see: Jn 1:5).

The history of our homeland knows many examples whereby our people has placed its hopes in God and has overcome tribulations, has emerged from the most difficult trials with dignity.
We have recalled many of these events in the past year. We celebrated the four-hundredth anniversary of the end of the Time of Troubles, culminating in the invaders being driven from Russia and the restoration of national unity. We marked too the two-hundredth anniversary of the Patriotic War of 1812 during which our forefathers rebuffed the invasion of the ‘twelve nations’ – the huge army gathered by Napoleon from all the ends of conquered Europe.

The year 2013 will be marked by the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’ by the Holy and Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Vladimir. The acceptance of the Christian faith was the beginning of a new era in the life of our nation. The light of Christ’s truth that once shone forth upon the blessed hills of Kiev today illumines the hearts of those who live in the countries of historical Rus’, teaching us the way of accomplishing good works.

In summing up the past year we give thanks to God for his great and rich mercies and for the afflictions which he allowed us to endure. Throughout her entire history the Church has never known long periods of well-being: after times of peace and tranquility there have inevitably come times of discord and tribulations. Yet in all circumstances the Church has, in word and deed, proclaimed God’s truth; she proclaims it today, testifying that a society built on the principles of gain, moral chaos, unlimited freedom, disdain for eternal truths and the rejection of authority is morally sick and threatened by many dangers.

I call upon all people to have that patience which is commanded to us by God and pray for the Mother Church, for the people of God and for our native land. Have in mind always the words of the apostles to the nations: ‘Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity’ (1 Cor 16:13-14).

In expressing my heartfelt congratulations on today’s feast, I prayerfully entreat for all of us from the Divine Infant Christ spiritual and bodily strength so that each of us through his personal example may testify to the world that our Lord and God who has now been born is love (see: 1 Jn 4:8). Amen.

+ KIRILL
PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA
The Nativity of Christ
Moscow
2012 / 2013

莫斯科及全羅斯宗主教基里爾致俄羅斯正教會的

主教、司祭、輔祭、修道者與所有忠誠的子女的

聖誕節書信

在主內親愛的至聖主教們,可敬的司祭與輔祭們,熱愛上帝的修士及修女們,親愛的弟兄姐妹們!

現在聖教會光明並喜樂地頌揚我們的主及救主耶穌基督由至潔童貞女瑪利亞降生的奧跡。

創造者熱愛自己的受造物,顯現于肉身,成為人,除罪外在一切事上都與我們相似(提摩太前書3:16;希伯來書4:15)。聖嬰躺于伯利恒的牲口槽中。祂這樣做是為拯救世界脫離靈性與道德的敗壞,把人從死亡的恐懼中解救出來。造物主請我們接受所有恩賜中最偉大的:祂神聖的愛與生命的完滿。在基督內我們能夠尋到戰勝恐懼的希望,達致聖德與永生。

祂來到我們這個因罪惡而遍體鱗傷的世界,為能用自己的誕生、生活、磨難、十字架上的死與光榮的復活確立新的律法,新的誡命——愛的誡命。主向自己的門徒說:「我給你們一條新誡命,那就是你們要彼此相愛,就像我愛你們一樣,你們也應當如此相愛」(約翰福音13:34),並通過門徒向全世界言說:向過去的人,向現在的人,向在我們之後的,未來的,直到時間終結時的人言說。

每一個人都被召用自己的行為去回應這條誡命。正如基督對我們顯示了真正的仁慈,對我們缺陷的無限的寬容,那麼我們對人也應該慈憫、寬容。我們不應該只關心自己的親人、近人,雖然我們應該首先關心他們(提摩太前書5:8),也不應只關心我們的友人與志同道合者,也應該關心那些暫時還沒有與上帝合一的人。我們被召在愛裡效仿救主,為壓迫與欺辱我們的人祈禱(馬太福音5:44),時常在心中想到全民族、祖國、教會的福澤。我們當中的每一個人在做善行的時候,都能對周圍的現實做出哪怕是一點的改善。只有這樣,我們在一起才會變得更堅強。因為不義無法戰勝愛,就如黑暗不能吞滅真實的生命之光一樣(約翰福音1:5)。

在我們祖國的歷史長河中,我們的人民寄希望於上帝,克服了各種困難,成功、莊嚴地走出了最為困難的考驗,這樣的例子實為不少。

在過去的一年中我們紀念了很多這樣的事件。我們慶祝了混亂時期結束四百周年的紀念,混亂時期以侵略者最終被驅逐,民族統一重建而告終。我們也紀念了1812年衛國戰爭勝利兩百周年,在這次衛國戰爭中,我們的先民擊退了拿破崙從整個被他征服的歐洲召集的龐大的各國軍隊的進攻。

2013年標記著亞使徒、大公聖弗拉基米爾使羅斯皈依受洗1025周年的紀念。接受正教信仰成為我們人民生活新紀元的開端。曾經在基輔蒙福的山丘上閃耀的基督真理之光,現今也光照著曾屬於歷史上的羅斯大地的各國的居民,教導我們行走于美德之路。

回顧總結了過去的一年,我們為上帝偉大及豐富的仁慈、也為那些祂賜下讓我們忍受的痛苦向祂感恩。在自己整個的歷史中教會從沒安享過長時間的安寧:在安寧與平靜之後總是災難與考驗。但在過去所有的境遇中教會都以言以行宣告著上帝的真理,今天也依然宣告著、見證著:以逐利、放縱、無約束的自由、輕

視永恆真理、否認權威的原則所建立起來的社會在道德上是病態的,並受眾多的危險威脅。

我呼籲所有的人都按上帝的誡命去容忍並為慈母教會、上帝的人民和祖國祈禱。請永遠記住外邦人的使徒的話:「你們應當警醒,站立於信德,剛勇而堅固,你們中的一切都要以愛而成」(哥林多前書16:13-14)。

衷心地為如今的盛事祝賀你們,我們所有人向基督聖嬰祈禱,祈求靈魂與肉體的力量,為使我們每個人都能以自己的榜樣向世界作證:如今降生的我們的上主和上帝是愛(約翰福音4:8)。阿民。

莫斯科及全羅斯宗主教
基里爾
基督聖誕
2012/2013年
莫斯科

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