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Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon

Sanctity of Life Sunday
January 20, 2019

To the honorable Clergy, venerable Monastics, and pious Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America,

For forty-six years, we have lamented the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the United States of America. And for forty-six years, those who consider life to be a sacred gift from God have gathered each January in Washington, DC and elsewhere in this nation to proclaim this most sacred gift. Created as we are in the very image and likeness of God, we turn to the One Whom we worship as the “Giver of Life” in thanksgiving for sharing His very life with “every man who comes into the world,” even “from his mother’s womb.”

In our liturgical worship, we continuously acknowledge God as the “Bestower of Life.” And in doing so, we recognize that His precious gift is imparted at the moment of conception—a reality underscored in Luke 1:41, in which we read that John the Baptist “leaped” in his mother Elizabeth’s womb, rejoicing in her encounter with the Mother of God. It has become increasingly evident, however, that proclaiming the sanctity of life involves much more than lamenting the legalization of abortion and protecting the unborn, crucial as these are.

While we so often speak of life “in the womb” and eternal life “beyond the tomb,” there are many related issues that are encountered “in between.” Our commitment to life of necessity extends to care for our infants, our infirm, our elderly—and ourselves. While expressing our concern and offering our prayers for the unborn, we are called to recognize that issues such as the opioid crisis, the cost of quality health care, capital punishment, the marked increase in addictions and suicide, to name but a few, are intimately connected to our recognition and proclamation of God’s gift of life.

Our Christian witness demands not only concern for the unborn, but a sense of responsibility to ensure that living a “life well lived”—seeking the blessedness to which we have been called—extends to the unborn and born alike. As we discern the will of God in our own lives, we are called to preserve and protect all life in recognition of God’s plan for His people on this earth and in anticipation of “the life of the world to come.”

As we mark this sorrowful anniversary, may we turn our attention to the “Giver of Life,” Who created us in His ever-abundant love. May we, each in our own way, proclaim His sacred gift. And may we embrace His will, that in all things He and He alone might be glorified as the “Fountain of Life” and the “Light of the world,” Who brings all mankind to that Kingdom which has yet to be fully revealed, but is already fully present in the life of His people, the Church.

With love in Christ,

+ Tikhon
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada

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December 20, 2018…

Nativity of our Lord 2018

Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon

Christ is born!  Glorify Him!

To the Honorable Clergy, Venerable Monastics, and Pious Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America,

My beloved brethren and blessed children in the Lord,

Holy Tradition offers us the account of the universal hush that took place at the incarnation, expressed in Joseph’s encounter with the stillness of the natural world: birds hanging motionless in flight, men and beasts frozen in their tracks and the waters ceasing their flow.  The continuous passage of time and movement of history came to a halt as creation paused in astonishment as the Eternal enters into the heart of time and the pre-eternal God is born as a little child.Today, the glorious feast of the Nativity in the Flesh of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ shines forth and brings joy to all of creation.  The sacred hymnography and iconography of the Church provide words and images to help us interpret the light-filled feast that we celebrate on this day, when He Who “has adorned the vault of heaven with stars has been well pleased to be born as a babe,” and He Who “holds all the earth in the hollow of His hands is laid in a manger of dumb beasts.”

This miraculous moment may be unique in history, but it provides us with some inspiration for the manner in which we ought to receive the sacred mystery that we celebrate today.  The Apostle Paul writes: “Be ye thankful” (Colossians 3:15) and “In everything give thanks” (I Thessalonians 5:18).  It is in this spirit of gratitude that we should receive this feast.

We live in a world in which the offering of thanksgiving has become a scarce commodity and a rare virtue.  In almost every aspect of our human existence, it seems that our first instinct is not to give thanks, but rather to reply, to respond, or to react.  At every second of our waking, we are compelled to reply to emails, to texts and to posts.  Daily, we respond to our own passionate desires, to every perceived threat and to every offense, and we are drawn to react to every instance of human fallenness, political division and ecclesiastical conflict.

While it may be easier to blame the world for these challenges, we should remember that it is from within our hearts that our actions and attitudes spring forth.  We may long for perfection, but we are confronted by our own weaknesses.  But even here we should remember, as Saint Barsanuphius reminds us, that thanksgiving intercedes before God for our weaknesses.  Thanksgiving is not the crown of the perfect but the strength of the weak.

Thanksgiving is what allows us as broken, sorrowful, hurting and frail human beings to join our voices to the rest of creation in singing:

Make glad, O ye righteous; Greatly rejoice, O ye heavens; Ye mountains dance for joy.
Christ is born; and like the cherubim the Virgin makes a throne,
Carrying at her bosom God the Word made flesh.
Shepherds glorify the new-born Child.
Magi offer the Master gifts.
Angels sing praises, saying:
“O Lord past understanding, glory to Thee” (Praises at Matins).

Sincerely yours in the new-born Christ,

+ Tikhon
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada

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December 2018

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