A meeting of the Synod of the Patriarchal Exarchate of Southeast Asia was held on January 29, 2023, at the Church of the Life-Giving Trinity in Ostankino, Moscow, under the chairmanship of the Patriarchal Exarch of Southeast Asia, Metropolitan Sergiy of Singapore and Southeast Asia. The Synod was attended by Metropolitan Pavel of Manila and Hanoi, Archbishop Theophan of Korea and Bishop Pitirim of Jakarta, Vicar of the Diocese of Singapore. The Synod members expressed filial gratitude to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church for their attention to the Orthodoxy in Asia, the development of the life of church communities and the arrangement of their canonical existence. During the meeting, a wide range of issues of the life of the Patriarchal Exarchate and the further development of the parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church in the countries of Southeast Asia were considered. Upon completion, Metropolitan Pavel presented the Archpastors with the medals of the Philippine-Vietnamese Diocese.
On January 29, 2023, the 33rd Sunday after Pentecost, the feast of the Veneration of the chains of the Apostle Peter, Patriarchal Exarch of Southeast Asia, Metropolitan Sergiy of Singapore and Southeast Asia, led the Divine Liturgy in the Church of the Life-Giving Trinity in Ostankino, Moscow.
His Eminence was co-served by Metropolitan Pavel of Manila and Hanoi, Archbishop Theophylact of Pyatigorsk and Circassian, Archbishop Theophan of Korea, Bishop Pitirim of Jakarta, Secretary of the Khanty-Mansi Diocese Abbot Anthony (Kirpichev), clerics of the Church of the Life-Giving Trinity in Ostankino.
At the end of the service, Metropolitan Sergiy congratulated the faithful on Sunday and addressed the audience with an archpastoral word:
“Your Eminences, dear fathers, brothers and sisters, I am glad to welcome you on this Sunday, which prepares us for Lent. It has already smelled of spiritual spring. Today, I was happy to perform a joint divine service with the bishops, with co-workers in the lands of Southeast Asia and the lands of the Caucasus.
Vladyka Pavel, who heads the Orthodox mission in the Philippine-Vietnamese diocese, where there are already thirty-three parishes. Vladyka Theophan, who heads the Korean Diocese, which includes the countries of North and South Korea. On these lands Vladyka Theophan unites our compatriots, Orthodox believers on the Korean peninsula. Today, Vladyka Pitirim prayed with us here, who looks after parishes in Indonesia, which has about 300 million people. This territory is 20 times smaller than the territory of Russia.
Also, Archimandrite Oleg, the organizer of parishes in the Thai diocese, where eleven churches and one monastery have already been built, shared the joy of common prayer with us.
In Southeast Asia is the hardest mission of the Russian Orthodox Church. If someone had told me 15 years ago that Orthodoxy would flourish in Asia far away for us, I would not have believed it, but today the Patriarchal Exarchate of Southeast Asia includes over 80 parishes. And all this by the grace of God and by the labours, cares and prayers of the bishops of the Exarchate.
God is never wrong. If a person sincerely believed that God guides everything in our life, he would see through his life experience, that even sometimes via pain, a state of abandonment, the Lord leads us to salvation.”
Metropolitan Varsonofy of St. Petersburg and Ladoga met with foreign students of the St. Petersburg Theological Academy. The meeting was attended by applicants of the Patriarchal Exarchate of Africa from Nigeria, the Central African Republic, Madagascar, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya, the Patriarchal Exarchate of Southeast Asia from the Philippines and Indonesia. His Eminence congratulated everyone on the holidays of Christmas and Epiphany, and gave a parting archpastoral word. The group of students was accompanied by the rector of the Academy, Bishop Siluan of Peterhof.
On January 20, a meeting of foreign students of the Theological Academy with Priest Jacob Smuts (South Africa) took place in the classroom of the missionary department of the St. Petersburg Diocese. During the meeting, Father Jacob spoke about his life path and practical experience of conducting missionary work in Africa.
On the day of the memory of St. Pavel of Komel (Obnorsky), we congratulate our dear Vladyka Metropolitan Pavel of Manila and Hanoi on his Heavenly Patron Saint feast!
On February 2-20, 2023, after a long break due to restrictions caused by coronavirus infection, Metropolitan Pavel of Khanty-Mansiysk and Surgut, the Administrator of the Philippine-Vietnamese diocese, will pay an archpastoral visit to the Philippines.
Visits to parishes in different provinces are planned. Metropolitan Pavel will visit a number of Orthodox communities on the island of Mindanao, where he will perform divine services and hold a diocesan meeting of the clergy and laity of the Philippine–Vietnamese diocese. A number of ordinations of clerics of the Philippine–Vietnamese Diocese will also take place.
During his archpastoral trip, Metropolitan Paul will visit the island of Tubabao (Philippines) where the foundation stone was consecrated at the construction site of the church of St. John, Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco.
As part of the archpastoral trip to the Republic of the Philippines, the Administrator of the Philippine—Vietnamese Diocese will also hold working meetings with representatives of the state authorities of the cities of the Republic, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of the Philippines M. Pavlov and employees of the diplomatic corps of the Russian Federation, representatives of the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church.
The clergy and flock of the Philippine-Vietnamese Diocese cordially congratulate our dear Bishop Metropolitan Pavel on his 67th birthday. We sincerely wish him good health, providential help from above in everything, and look forward to his visit soon. Many years!
Beloved in the Lord archpastors, all-honourable presbyters and deacons, God-loving monks and nuns, dear brothers and sisters!
Today, as the Heavenly and earthly Church in conciliar unity glorifies God Incarnate, I extend my heartfelt greetings to all of you on the great and radiant feast of the Nativity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Once again we look back at the events that occurred in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago, beholding the meek Infant lying in the manger, surrounded by His Most Pure Mother, the righteous Joseph and the shepherds who were the first to hear the good news of the Saviour coming into the world. We join the heavenly hosts in praising the Most High Creator Who through His Begotten Son granted unto people peace and good will. St. Gregory the Theologian reveals the very essence of this feast, saying: we are triumphant today because God has come to mankind… for we might go back to God (Oration 38). Truly, the Kingdom of heaven is at hand (Mt 3:2); the long-expected Reconciler (Gen 49:10) has come to earth to fulfil the ancient prophecies; unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given… and His name shall be called… The mighty God, The Father of eternity, The Prince of Peace (Is 9:6). Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you (Jn 14:27), Christ says to us. What kind of peace is it, which the Lord granted unto man and which the angels were singing of at the time of the Saviour’s birth? Has there been less enmity or conflicts in the world since then? We hear all around: peace, peace; but there is no peace, as Jeremiah the prophet writes (Jer 8:11). Yet, the true peace of God that came down to earth with the Nativity of Christ surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7) and is unaffected by external circumstances or afflictions and hardships of this transient life. This invincible inner peace is in God Himself Who, having become a man like us in all things but sin, is not only active, but visibly present in the human history. The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth (Jn 1:14). The Lord is at hand, let us never forget that and be of good cheer! In Him is our strength, our firm hope and spiritual comfort in all troubles of life. Venerating the miracle of the Divine Incarnation in its humble greatness and magnifying the Saviour Who came into the world, we at the same time cannot but be troubled by the ongoing hostilities overshadowing the holy Christmas festivities, for, as St. Paul notes, whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it (1 Cor 12:26). In the midst of all the hardships that have befallen the peoples of the historical Rus’ it is of utmost importance for us to demonstrate in deeds our dedication to our Christian vocation and show love for one another. Sometimes it may seem that good is weak and helpless and that the little things we do cannot make a difference. But it is not true. There is an indisputable principle of spiritual life: love is multiplied when we devote ourselves to others, offering our time, financial help or just attention. Thus not only do we transform the world around us, but also find something precious within ourselves. In this simple but effective principle there lies a secret of genuine peace and real happiness that every person strives to achieve. This happiness is not to be found in far-distant lands, as some people think, chasing after illusions of material welfare and a life without sorrows. The true happiness is in sharing love and joy with those around and by good works glorifying God, Who became incarnate that we might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly (Jn 10:10). When we let Christ in and allow Him to act in us, the blessed peace and rest come to reign in our soul (Mt 11:29), and we become partakers of the kingdom of God which is within us (Lk 17:21). Do we want to embrace the Born Lord? If so, let us embrace the afflicted and comfort the suffering. Do we want to touch Christ and be like the wise men from the East bringing the gifts pleasing unto the Divine Infant? If so, let us give our love and care to our fellow human beings, show mercy and help the needy and support those who have lost heart. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me” (Mt 25:40), the Saviour says. St. Ephraim the Syrian calls Christmas the night of reconcilement that stills all. Daringly, he exclaims: this night belongs to the Meek One, let high or haughty be in it none! In this day of pardoning let us not remember sins against us! In this day of gladnesses let us not spread sadnesses! (Hymns on the Nativity, 1). Let us take heed of these amazing words of the “Syrian desert prophet” and open our hearts towards the Lord Who became incarnate for our sake. Let us rejoice, for the King and Lord of the universe Himself came meekly down to earth in order to grant unto us salvation and eternal life. So, responding with gratitude to the great love of the Creator, let us sanctify our souls by patiently enduring ordeals, as well as by heartfelt prayer and good works to the glory of God. Once again I extend my felicitations to all of you, my dears, on the radiant feast of the Nativity of Christ, wishing you strength in body and spirit and generous help from the Divine Infant Jesus, and wishing unceasing joy and welfare to your families. May the Creator, Lover of mankind, the True Lord of history, show His mercy on His peoples and bless us all with peace so that with one mouth and one heart we give praise to the Incarnate Saviour, bearing an earnest witness that God is with us!
PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW AND ALL RUSSIA
Most reverend archpastors, all-honorable fathers,
beloved brothers and sisters!
On this radiant day, I cordially greet all of you on the feast of the Nativity of Christ!
Today, people joyfully sing praises to the Lord, who for the sake of our salvation humbled Himself, became one of us, and thereby united all those who awaited His advent. In the present time the true unity of believers in Christ is especially important for each of us. The Lord asked His Father specifically for this unity, the entire fullness of the Church prays for it fervently, and the hearts of all who suffer from divisions, who love their neighbors and who want to be peacemakers and be called sons of God (Matt. 5, 9) are anguished. It is no coincidence that the word peace is so often found in the Gospel: the Saviour left His peace to the apostles, He met them with the greeting, peace be unto you, after the Resurrection – and it is not for nothing that this blessing sounds in our Church at every divine service.
What is required of us in the present difficult time, what contribution can we make to the establishment of peace and unity? Firstly, it is important not to give in to despondency and keep the strength of faith – the foundation without which it is impossible to build a life full of true meaning and spiritual joy. Secondly, it is necessary to devote your time not to endless reading and discussion of the news, escalating the situation, but to visit the temple of God and not lessen in prayer, working in good faith at the place of service where the Lord has set us. Thirdly, we need to perform deeds of mercy, treat our neighbors with patience and love, encourage the disheartened and support the weak, showing sympathy, benevolence and tenderness, in all of which may the Saviour who came into the world strengthen us.
Greeting you again and again on the feast of the Nativity of Christ, I wish all of you spiritual and bodily strength, peace and joy, prosperity and the generous help of the Merciful Lord, in Whom the whole visible and invisible world today spiritually rejoices.
Metropolitan of Singapore and South-East Asia, Patriarchal Exarch of South-East Asia
“…When the fullness of time came,
God sent His (Only Begotten) Son,
Who was born of a woman, obeyed the law
in order to redeem those under the law,
so that we might receive adoption.”
Beloved fathers, brothers and sisters in Christ! I cordially greet you with a great and joyful celebration — the feast of the Nativity of Christ! The Nativity of Christ was an event that confirmed the inviolability of God’s promises, but also a testimony of God’s incomparable trust in people. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). More than two thousand years separate us from that holy night when the angels sang: “Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth, good will among men.” During this time, much has changed in human life, but one eternal truth remains – the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now each of us hears the angelic voice again: “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, good will among men” (Luke 2:14). As we enter the new year 2023 and reflect on what it will be, let us offer our prayers for fraternal unity and mutual understanding, for patience and mutual respect in society, for peace between peoples. In our turbulent days, when the Gospel precepts of patience, humility and brotherly love sound so shrill, we are witnessing fraternal internecine strife, cruel persecution of Christians, all kinds of political passions and social disagreements. The heart of every man shudders at the thought of these great calamities. Involuntarily, at the sight of all this, we wonder: Is this how the world should honor its God, Creator and Savior? Therefore, celebrating this sacred event, let us unite these days in the temple, let us leave, at least for a while, our earthly worries and sorrows, bring the Holy Child a fervent faith, saving hope and fill our lives with Christian virtues. I would like to thank the clergy and laity from the bottom of my heart for their hard work for the glory of God, for the benefit of the Holy Church and the Orthodox people. I believe that the Lord will help us pass all the tests and grant us a prosperous and peaceful life. I sincerely hope that in the coming year the Lord will deign us to meet and share the joy of joint Divine Services together. When we celebrate the holy day of the Nativity of Christ with great joy, we often call it the light-bearing one, as the words of the festive prayer hymns teach us. Truly, the whole world shone with the unearthly light of the star of Bethlehem. This star not only brought the wise men from the east to worship the incarnate Son of God together with the shepherds, but since then, for more than two thousand years, it has been lighting the way for millions of believers. After all, the words of the Angel are addressed to us: “I declare to you great joy, which will be to all people: for today the Savior has been born to you in the city of David, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). Let this bright holiday fill our souls with joy and move us to deeds of faith and love, lifting our minds and hearts to Heaven. For from there the joyful angelic singing is heard: “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, good will among men” (Luke 2:14).
With love for Christ Who is born,
By the Grace of God,
METROPOLITAN OF MANILA AND HANOI
CHRISTMAS 2022/2023. Manila
On December 23, 2022, Metropolitan Pavel of Manila and Hanoi met with Igor G. Bailen, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of the Philippines to the Russian Federation. The meeting was attended by: On the part of the Embassy of the Philippines — Deputy Head of Mission Robert O. Ferrer, Vice Consul Catherine Alpay. On the part of the Khanty-Mansi Diocese — Secretary of the Khanty-Mansi Diocese Abbot Anthony (Kirpichev). During the conversation, the parties discussed the presence of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Philippine land and further cooperation