Orthodox News

CHRISTMAS EPISTLE
 AKAKIJE
By the Mercy of God
True Orthodox Bishop of Resava and Shumadiya
SERBIAN TRUE ORTHODOX CHURCH

To All the Faithful Children of St. Sava’s Church,

By the mercy of God, one more joyous and comforting feast of the descent of
God the Word to earth, that is, of His most wondrous birth by the Holy
Spirit and Virgin Mary, has arrived. For our sake and our salvation, Christ
was born, took flesh, and dwelt among us, and we on earth beheld His glory,
as the Only-Begotten Son of God, full of grace and truth. All God’s
creation rejoices today and hastens to worship the King Who has been born,
their Creator: Angels offer their singing, the sky – a star, the Magi –
gifts, the shepherds – pious delight, the earth – a cave, the wilderness
– the manger, and the race of man – the Virgin Mother. And we True
Orthodox offer God the preservation of the True Faith given to us by our
fathers, at the head of whom is Saint Sava, and a sacrifice of thanksgiving
– the fruit of lips who glorify His name.

God came to save His creation from evil and destruction. Christ the Savior
came down to Earth, as He said Himself, to witness to the Truth (Jn. 18:37)
only by which it is possible to win salvation. All His faithful followers,
and even more the pastors of the Church, are obliged to follow His example,
to witness to the Truth, not allowing any falsehood, either in words or in
deeds. Today we celebrate the Incarnation of Truth, as Christ Himself is
Truth. We celebrate the birth of the Founder of the Church, which is the
only and irreplaceable instrument of the salvation of mankind. Along with
this, the Church is a treasury of divine truth; She is, according to the
Holy Apostle Paul, the pillar and ground of the Truth. She is overflowing
with divine truth, and everything in Her is only truth, and truth is one, as
is the ONE, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. There are not many truths,
nor do many churches exist outside the bounds of the truth of Holy
Orthodoxy. The Orthodox Church is one, but within the confines of Orthodoxy,
She is at the same time “many” (Local Churches).

In Orthodoxy, that is what is most important, that it confesses the only
True Faith, that which God revealed, which was not invented by people making
guesses about God and faith, but rather that which was brought from Heaven
to Earth by the Lord Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, God’s Logos,
Power, and Wisdom. This is the essential dogma of the Orthodox Church of
Christ, especially today, when “Orthodox” Ecumenists recognize grace
outside the borders of the Orthodox Church. We must humble ourselves before
this explicit teaching of the Church, that outside of Christ’s Truth there
is no salvation. The Orthodox Church is the indestructible keeper of the
truth, and those who are outside of it (heretics), as St. Cyprian of
Carthage says, could be saved only in the case that some were saved who were
outside Noah’s ark.
In our unfortunate and confusing times of the apostasy of the pan-heresy of
ecumenism, a life-or-death battle is being waged between light and darkness,
truth and falsehood. In the beginning of the 20th century a great division
appeared (similar to that in the 11th century), which one can now say is
fully accomplished: the so-called “World” or Sergianist,
New-Calendarist, Ecumenist “Orthodoxy,” separated itself from the
Orthodox Church – it lost its bond with the Church of the Holy Fathers,
the Holy Ecumenical Councils, and Holy Tradition. The foundation of the
“World Orthodox” consists of a hierarchy which has apostatized from
Christ, and which drags with itself people who consider themselves Orthodox,
but who do not know what Orthodoxy is in fact. For those people who
substitute mere appearances and some kind of Eastern-flavored Papism or
Protestantism for the patristic teachings about the Church, a bishop’s
significance boils down mainly to the function of church administrator, or
to the role of some kind of authority without backing, i.e., a bishop who is
not a link in the unbreakable chain of patristic catholicity. He can be a
heretic, or in communion with heretics, yet not fall under the judgment of
the canons because of his heterodoxy. For such people, the fullness of the
church is in a bishop if he is: “official,” if the mighty institution of
the state church stands behind him, and his seat is in some ancient
monastery or cathedral. According to the patristic teaching, however, as
expressed by St. Maximus the Confessor, the Church is comprised of “a
genuine and salvific confession of faith,” and therefore, of every man who
is a bearer of that faith. Still, it is true, that without a right believing
bishop, there is no fullness of the church; so, as long as the church on
earth exists, there will exist Orthodox bishops. God promised that the gates
of hell will never prevail against His Church, meaning solely that the true
Church of Christ will not disappear from the face of the earth until the
very end of this age, at the second coming of Christ; but this does not
exclude the appearance of a false church in Christian society, the church of
the wicked, which bears only the exterior marks of the Church, but is devoid
of Her spirit. The true Church of Christ will be preserved on Earth, even if
She has only one bishop with only a few priests and believers.

The True Orthodox Church separated from the Apostasy, staunchly holding fast
to the Orthodox teachings about Bishop and Church, as part of Holy
Tradition. We wish to be faithful children of the Holy Fathers, the teachers
of Orthodoxy, and to live in the very same Church in which live the Holy
Apostles, prophets, martyrs and all saints: that is why we will not go with
the apostate “Orthodoxy” of this world which arrogantly tramples the
Church teachings and mocks the saints, who spilled their blood and gave
their lives defending the stronghold of the Faith. We will not go with
so-called “patriarchates” with their hierarchy and “spiritual
elders” who emulate them, with their lost pastors and flock, because we
have been taught by the saints that there are two paths: the way of life and
the way of death; the way of light and the way of darkness; the way of the
holy fathers and the way of apostates and heretics, persecutors and haters
of the truth and lovers of lies. The way of Truth is the way of Golgotha,
the narrow, thorny path which is taken by the minority, just as in ancient
times a minority of people recognized and venerated the Divine Child Who was
born in Bethlehem. More than that, for Him, there was no room in people’s
homes, and when the shepherds who heard the singing of angels came to see
the One Who was glorified by Heaven, they found a child lying in a manger,
just as the divinely-inspired Prophet Habbakuk prophesied long ago: “O
Lord, I have heard Thy word and was afraid; between two living creatures
will I recognize Thee.” Between two animals lay the Heavenly King Who had
come to save the world, for people had abandoned Him completely. As the One
born of the Most-Blameless was persecuted, so in the same way His blameless
Bride, the Holy Church, is persecuted.

The battle which began in Bethlehem between the One Who brings heavenly
peace to earth and the terrestrial and sub-terrestrial forces of evil has
been conducted without ceasing and grows ever fiercer. Today we especially
feel this division which was proclaimed by the One Whose glory today angels
sing – “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will among
men.” As then it pleased the Incarnate Almighty to lie in a manger, so
today the Lamb of God lies on the modest altars in the little nest of the
Serbian True Orthodox Church. He is not in the sumptuous basilicas, sky-high
sanctuaries, cathedrals, in ancient, glorious memorials and churches adorned
with precious artistic treasures, gold, wealth, and ancient relics, which
are ruled by apostates from Holy Tradition and the Orthodox Faith, whether
from the East or West, because God does not abide where there is no truth,
or where truth is mixed with lies. Let us go, faithful children of St. Sava,
to the cave of Bethlehem hidden from this world, which our sanctuaries
represent, for the God-Child Christ, born of the Virgin, does not lie there
in appearance only, but in truth. Let us worship Him, removing ourselves
from evil and doing good. Let us offer Him as a gift repentance for our
sins, confessing them, and taste His Most Pure Body and Blood. Let us fall
before Him in fear, humility, and joy, for the radiant star of Bethlehem has
shown forth! “Glory to God in the highest, and on the earth, peace, good
will among men.”

May the peace of God be with you! Christ is born!
A very happy and blessed year of 2012!
 Bishop Akakije
Nativity 2011

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