Nativity Encyclical 2011

Protocol no. γ - 1540


To the entire Church.

“Be glad, O ye righteous; ye heavens, rejoice exceedingly; ye mountains, skip for joy, as Christ is born.”

Beloved children in the Lord,

In the midst of a dark night, when the frost of spiritual coldness and the palpable darkness of pessimism prevail in our daily life, we find ourselves in a situation similar to that of the Prophet-King David. In the Psalms he describes being chased by his enemies: ”Flight hath failed me, and there is none that watcheth out for my soul.” (Psalm 141) There is no way of escape, we feel that we are at an impasse and no one is concerned with saving us. But even if confusion surrounds us, if we find no recourse from men, there is always recourse from God, as the Prophet David continues “I cried unto thee, O Lord, and said, Thou art my hope, my portion in the land of the living.” (ibid) Hence, let us also turn to our God and Saviour Who alone is able to aid us in our difficulty.

The Lord became incarnate in order to aid us. On this wise we chant today: “From the heights our Saviour is come to visit us”, for truly the Sun of Righteousness shone forth in the cave, and we “who once were in the shadow and the dark, have now found the truth”, the path of salvation. In another place we chant: “When the Lord Jesus was born of the holy Virgin, all things were enlightened (…) For God hath appeared in the flesh, the Saviour of our souls.” The message of Christ’s Nativity is joyous and luminous and it fills our souls with hope, something which we especially need today.

Let us therefore glorify the King of the universe born today and let us learn from His example of humility which He teaches us. Let us see where He is born, according to the hymn: “Come, ye faithful, let us see where Christ the Saviour hath been born; let us follow with the kings, even the Magi from the East, unto the place where the star doth direct their journey. For there, the Angels’ hosts sing praises ceaselessly; shepherds in the fields offer a fitting song, while saying, Glory in the highest to Him this day born within the cave from the pure Virgin and Theotokos in Bethlehem of Judaea.” Seeing the humility of the creator and fashioner of all things, let us temper our ambitions. Let us set aside every passion born of selfishness and let us humble our hearts so that we also may also receive His infinite grace, because the aim of our existence is to reach divinization and to become like God: “God becomes man in order to make Adam God”. This is also the goodwill of God as the angelic hymn proclaims: "Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men."

Goodwill is understood as the "antecedent" will of God, His good, perfect and acceptable will which God truly wills without the interference of intermediate factors. The interference of intermediate factors causes the action of God's "consequent" will which is also called permission. For example, God desires that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, this is His "antecedent" will, His goodwill. However, since He has created man free, if some people make ill use of their freedom, and they do not desire to be saved, then God permits their own will to be enacted and He permits them not to be saved. God wills that we all be saved, but in order to be saved we also must will it. The Lord’s incarnation is the goodwill about which the angelic hymn speaks. God’s good will is the salvation of us all.

Let us unite our will with God’s goodwill and let us cooperate with the Saviour so that we obtain our aim. Therefore, bestowing on you all the prayers and blessings of our Holy Synod, we pray that He who was born in a cave and laid in a manger, the King of Glory, Christ our God grant you all His saving grace and a peaceful new year according to His goodwill. Amen. So be it.

On December 13/26 the year of our Lord 2011


The Archbishop

† KALLINIKOS of Athens and all Greece


† AKAKIOS of Attica and Diauleia

† MAXIMOS of Thessalonica and Demetrias

† ATHANASIOS of Larisa and Platamon

† JUSTIN of Euripus and Euboea

† PAVLOS of America

† GERONTIOS of Piraeus and Salamis

† CHRYSOSTOMOS of Attica and Boeotia

† MOSES of Portland and the western United States

† GREGORY of Christianoupolis

† PHOTIOS of Marathon

† THEODOSIOS of Bresthena

† CHRISTODOULOS of Theoupolis

† SERGIOS of Loch Lomond


Orthodox Awareness

Bartholomew Prays at Iftar

Iftar, refers to the evening meal when Muslims break their fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan. Iftar is one of the religious observances of Ramadan and is often done as a community, with people gathering to break their fast together. Iftar is done right after sunset.

We report the following unchanged as it was published:

"The leaders of the Armenian, Roman, Jewish and Syrian communities of Turkey sat around the fasting Iftar dinner in the Beyoglu district of Istanbul." Read more...


Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Mission, Tucson, Arizona

Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Tucson, AZ, is a beautiful mission parish near downtown Tucson, a city in southern Arizona. It was started in 1997 by Father John Bockman, who was a missionary priest formerly serving missions in Tennessee and Massachusetts since 1990. Read more...

Ask A Priest

Is the GOC Insular?

Q. In considering becoming part of the GOC in America, I am getting warnings from various circles that the attitude of GOC people is that of being “walled off,” “arrogant,” “judgmental,” and “in your face” toward those not in the Genuine Orthodox Church, with accusations such as “World Orthodox” priests are “not even Christians” and the like. Could you give me your personal, realistic assessment of this dynamic and possibly refer me to an official statement on how GOC members should and do relate to and communicate with those in “World Orthodoxy”? Read more...