Christmas/New Year decorations at the GUM mall in Moscow
Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, the patriarchal Locum Tenens, issued a call to the clergy to resist the temptations of division and jointly develop the mission of the Orthodox Church in Russia. “It was a very important step towards the rebuilding of Holy Russia and the strengthening of the Orthodox faith (in reference to the reign of the reposed Patriarch Aleksei: Interfax). Both parishes and monasteries were established and built so that we could accomplish the enormous task of bringing people to salvation, to enable them to encounter the Living God”, Vladyki Kirill said on Wednesday in his sermon after the Christmas Vespers at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow.
However, in his words, “There are still other steps that we must take, so that the churches and monasteries are always filled with people, that there are always children and young people present, so that the Church would have the potential to develop its great and saving mission in the years and decades ahead, and, if God wills it so, even for the centuries ahead of us. If we wish to continue to carry out the desires of His Holiness Patriarch Aleksei, to teach people and heal their souls, we must be able to talk to these people in an understandable way, we must show them that there is no other way to salvation, to fullness of life, except for the path that God Himself opened to us”.
Christmas Tree in Vorobieyevy Gory in Russia
Then, he went on to say, “All human conceptions of happiness are surprisingly cramped and distorted, their weakness and imperfection is obvious to all, in short, they lack the capability to truly lead people to fullness of life. Today, it shall only be when our brothers and sisters, those who have not yet found the road to Orthodoxy, accept these wonderful words of God concerning the Way, the Truth, and the Life, that change shall come into their lives and into our lives as well, in our personal lives, in the life of society, and in the life of the state. If the whole world comes to comprehend this teaching, then, we shall transfigure all of mankind”.
He pointed up that, today, much is being done in the parishes, parochial schools, prisons, hospitals, and in the forces. “We have done much to ensure that the coming generation would accept Christ into their hearts”, but, Vladyki Kirill considers, “We must do more. To ensure that our ministry would be successful, we must support and help one another, we must exercise our ministry in singleness of heart and humility. We must erect impenetrable barriers against the actions of those who would introduce temptation into the life of the Church, who try to divide our ranks, and who seduce ‘the little ones’. They forget the terrible warning of God addressed to those who would tempt and seduce their neighbour”.
Christmas tree in front of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Kaliningrad
He wished that all would “preserve unity, brotherly love, and openness to one another, to enable us to stretch out our hands to one another in our common pilgrimage to the Kingdom of God. We believe that, in response to the work of the Church of God, the Lord shall show us His favour, and the vision of His Holiness Patriarch Aleksei concerning the restoration of human souls will be fulfilled. We should understand that he will be with us as we walk this difficult, but, blessed, path”.
According to our Interfax-Religion correspondent, the church was filled to overflowing, and, in the centre of the interior, the icon of the Nativity of Christ was placed, decorated with white flowers. According to the traditional usage, the clergy served the services of Christmas in gold-coloured vestments (the golden colour symbolises the Sun of Righteousness, Christ: Interfax).
7 January 2009