TO THE MOST PIOUS CLERGY AND GOD-LOVING FLOCK OF THE PHILLIPINO – VIETNAMESE DIOCESE.
“… In the manger of the poor, the Only Begotten Son is seen lying down and swaddled in swaddling clothes, the Lord of glory…”.
Beloved of the Lord, servants of the altar of the Lord, dear brothers and sisters! More than 2000 years have passed since the Nativity of Christ, but the Holy Church does not cease to proclaim to the world about the coming of the Savior into the world!The star of Bethlehem is shining again over the world, announcing the saving event of the Incarnation of God. Celebrating the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, we not only remember a historical event of incomparable importance, but also experience a deeply personal celebration for everyone.The Holy Gospel says that on the holy night of Christmas an Angel appeared from heaven and said to people: “I declare to you great joy, which will be to all people: for today a Savior has been born to you in the city of David, who is Christ the Lord; and here is a sign for you: you will find a baby in a cradle, lying in a manger” (Luke 2: 10-12). The Angel spoke of great joy: God appeared in the flesh – He came to us to show the way to heaven. How not to rejoice in it? The Holy Church calls us to this joy.The Son of God brought grace-filled peace to the earth, and every one can perceive it through faith and repentance. St. Theophan the Recluse teaches us that “the Peace of God is the peace which God made with people by sending His Son, to be reconciled to us; as well as the peace that He is sending to His faithful as the Savior said: “peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you” (John 14, 27).” And this gift, peace of God, abides with us not only in the earthly life, but it will continue in eternity. The peace proclaimed by the Angels on the night of the Nativity of Christ is given to us as the greatest heavenly treasure and blessing.My dear ones, for the past two years we have been experiencing a test that has befallen the whole world. The devastating pandemic has touched the lives of many people, it has changed the usual way of our lives. Today we live in unusual conditions, we visit our temples not as it was before. Unfortunately, during all this time, due to the current restrictions, I have not been able to visit you and, as it was before, perform joint services, visit our communities, pray with the flock entrusted to me by the Lord. But I want to assure all of you that every day I offer my prayers for every community, for every clergyman, for the peace and well-being of our countries. As children of the Church, we pray to the Lord daily and offer prayer petitions for the speedy cessation of the harmful plague and the healing of the suffering. Believers perceive events happening in the world as God’s last warning for the sins of the human race. In this period of universal trial, I call on all of you, my dear fathers, dear brothers and sisters, to offer your prayers with gratitude for those who, during this difficult period, show true Christian love for their neighbors, first of all for doctors and medical workers who do their work according to the word of the gospel, “There is no more love, if anyone gives his soul for his friends” (John 15:13).
Dear pastors, pious laity! With gratitude to God, let us enter the coming new year, let us pray to the God-Child Christ that the spirit of His holy love may settle in our hearts, again and again reviving them to a new life of grace. May our hearts become mangers ready to receive Christ, and may our good deeds become precious gifts that we are always ready to bring to Him. And may all those who need it feel our love and receive our help during these Christmas days. I cordially congratulate all of you, beloved brothers and sisters, on the blessed feast of the Nativity of Christ and the New Year, I call upon you the blessing of God and the generous mercies of the Blessed Child of Christ, born of the Ever-Virgin Mary!
By the Grace of God,
PAVEL, METROPOLITAN OF MANILA AND HANOI