How are we to emulate the saints on earth? We should hold the Living God in our hearts, not abandon our interpersonal relationships, share heartfelt warmth and attention with our neighbors, help those who are in need, strengthen your parish families, and not distinguish between those born here and those who came from afar.
Embracing Your Beatitude with holy love, we joyfully congratulate you on behalf of the episcopacy, clergy and the Fullness of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia on the twenty-fifth year of your episcopal consecration.
In light of the continued turmoil and unrest that have beset the Ukrainian land, the First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York, released the following statement on February 26th.
With the simplicity of the shepherds, let us go to the cave in Bethlehem to worship the living God Who became a living Man. In other words, let us go to church bringing the Infant Christ the gift of warm tears of compunction, a heart enlivened with delight and boundless devotion; and to our neighbors and the needy – benefaction and love.
A wondrous energy lies hidden in these words and penetrates the whole soul: Christ is Risen! How joyous are these words for the soul of a Christian! Can more festive words than these be found in the entire human language?
Beloved ones, we are created for eternity. Therefore, we must lift our minds and hearts to heavenly things, especially as we prepare for the Sacraments; we need to leave behind all worldly cares, pouring our souls out before God in praise, gratitude and prayers of repentance.
Thank God, our unity was established long ago. One can say that it happened even before the signing of the Act. The Russian people who live abroad mostly awaited unification, and prayed for it. And it was finally manifested in the form of the canonical act, because there remained no other obstacles—neither dogmatic nor historic—connected with the tragic events in the history of our country. I can state with confidence that our unity is secure.
The feast of feasts and triumph of triumphs has arrived for us, brother archpastors, right honorable fathers, brethren and sisters beloved in the Lord! Let us all greet the Resurrection of Christ and not hide our feelings: "Let us be divinely glad, for Christ hath risen as One omnipotent.
We now have the fullness of joint celebration of divine services, in communion with the hierarchy of the Local Russian Church, with the clergymen who visit various countries. When we bishops, clergymen and laity, come to Russia or travel to other countries, we can participate in the fullness of ecclesial communion, visit the great monasteries, the holy sites of the Russian Orthodox Church. This gives us spiritual strength in our efforts abroad: educating people, providing spiritual nourishment and furthering the Orthodox mission.
Only in peace of soul is there true blessedness for us; only those who possess an untroubled conscience before God and their fellow man can really be called happy. It is never too late to obtain this happiness, this peace: one need only actively strive towards God to the limit of one's abilities, trying to live in love and peace with others and to resolve firmly to begin a new, pious life.
Each year the feast of the Nativity of Christ enters into our hearts with ineffable spiritual joy—the joy that came to earth when the angel of the Lord announced the birth of Christ the Savior to the simple shepherds of Bethlehem. The feast of the Nativity also fills us with radiant joy through the profound content of its divine services, which illumine our souls: the deeply edifying and divinely inspired hymnody of the Nativity and the readings taken from the prophecies.