A New Light from the East?

Please read the inaugural archpastoral letter of the newly-elected Patriarch of Antioch. Its evangelical tone is refreshing to say the least.

Nativity Pastoral Letter of His Beatitude Patriarch-Elect John X of Antioch

His Beatitude Patriarch-Elect JohnX of Antioch and All the East

His Beatitude Patriarch-Elect JohnX of Antioch and All the East

Source: Antiochian.org

Nativity Letter in English (Following, and as PDF)

Nativity Letter in Arabic (PDF)

With God’s mercy

John X, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East 

To my brethren, the Shepherds of the Holy Antiochian Church And my children who belong to this Apostolic See

We approach these Holy and Blessed Feasts as we witness the crucial events our Antiochian Church has gone through recently, first and foremost with the departure of our Father, Patriarch Ignatius IVth who ministered the Church with patience and faithfulness for several decades. His memory shall remain alive in our minds and hearts, and shall be eternal before the Lord Whom he served all his life. At this time, our Church and our people are experiencing dramatic situations caused by violence and troubles shaking our region.

The Holy Spirit has willed that I be elected by my brothers, the members of the Holy Synod, to succeed this great Minister, in spite of my unworthiness. However, I rely on God and on you, my brothers and children of my Church, and this shall make me expect, with great hope, divine help, which will enable us to overcome these hard tests and look for a better future.

In the midst of these events, you have left in my heart the feeling that you have lived in this period as the people of the living God; you have expressed this reality in three responses: You were deeply moved at the departure of our great Patriarch; You maintained your fasting, prayers and hope before the elections; and finally you showed joy, exultation and peace after the elections. For all these three responses and your care, allow me to express my deep thanks to you, convey my pride in you and my steadfast hope in the one body of our Church.

Behold, the Child Who is coming to us in the cave to die for us; is reminding us that He is with us, talking to us, and entrusting us with conveying the message of peace and love, which He addressed to each and every one of us and to the whole world. He is coming to us as a humble one, knocking at the door of our heart with gentility as if He wanted to be born in it. The feast of Nativity is not a mere remembrance of Jesus’ birth in a cradle from the Virgin Mother of God; it was meant to be the feast of His birth in us, a birth that can only occur if we seek the purity that distinguished the Virgin Mary. The Birth of Jesus in us will invite us to renew our commitment to His teachings, and our struggle to become His unblemished Church, a Church that is free of weaknesses, pure in everything, and shining with the Holy Spirit. Together we shall be aware that the Church of Christ is our mother, and that the shepherds and the believers are called to be Christ’s messengers inviting their brethren in the world to reconciliation and to the rejection of violence so that His peace may prevail.

The world will not be convinced unless it feels that it is much loved by the followers of Jesus and that they are its servants.

The Church is our mother. Each and every one of you is important and has a unique position in it. You have the right to be ministered by its shepherds. All ministers, at all ranks, should go out to you, listen to you, to your problems, and should seek to help you and answer all your crucial questions.

You have the right, as believers who submitted themselves to the Word of God and sought to be like Him in everything, that you be included in consultations and the resolution of its issues; all the children together with the father, are supposed to keep vigilance for the future under God of the family.

We approach this feast as many of the children of our Church are displaced, away from their homes, enduring much suffering. Our duty as brothers and sisters is to support them and give them consolation, not only with money and necessary material help, but also by showing them care, love and compassion.

We approach the feast as our people are facing many changes and challenges in a world that is departing increasingly from traditional concepts, making violence, consumption and possession a new law for this life. Needless to say, the luxury with which we celebrate this feast, the feast of the poverty of Bethlehem, is a clear sign that we, also, have adopted this law in the conduct of our lives. As we are accustomed to exchange gifts in the manner of the kings who visited the Lord Jesus at His birth, let us express our love to the Divine Child, coming to us, by feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, offering a shelter to the homeless and doing whatever we can do.

We approach this feast as many in our countries are asking what might happen to them.

Brethren, the Child of the cave is saying to us: “Do not fear, I am with you. Do not fear because your brothers and sisters are called to help one another and support one another. Do not fear because you are the people of this region, in which God willed you to be born since ancient times. Do not fear, because you have in it many brethren who believe in love and peaceful co-existence.

Do not fear, lest you lose your dynamism; instead go to meet all with love, joy and full trust in your God, who is the God of love, Who is love itself. Be the heralds of reconciliation, and of a dialogue in depth.”

We celebrate this feast with our other Christian brethren. We pray to God that he may give us to deepen our dialogue with them all, in order to reach the unity God desires, the unity without which the world will not believe that Jesus was sent by God.

Let us also celebrate with our Muslim brethren who look highly at Jesus Christ and confess his birth from the Virgin Mary according to the will of God. This feast is in common with them if we know how to make with them a dialogue of life and co- existence on the notions that bring us together in our religion and in our world.

Brothers and Sisters, bow down before the Child of the cradle who willed to dwell in you.

I cannot but think here of our children who are awaiting us all over the world, our children in the Arab Gulf, Europe, Australia and the Americas. You are in my heart since I met you during my journeys and during my ministry of your churches. You are a real expression of the apostolic spirit of Antioch in the countries in which you are living. Your love for Antioch and the faith you are living makes me feel, more than ever, the necessity of working together in the service of the Church and of offering a living witness to our unity and love.

Thus we become true witnesses to the Lord in the world, and thus our Antiochian Church becomes faithful to its history which shines with the light of the martyrs and the saints. We have no other way but holiness, which makes everything possible.

I send to you the apostolic blessing assuring you that I carry each and every one of you in my heart, asking God to make me His faithful servant in you and to enable us to work together so that God may be glorified in the humanity he loved and in the Church which carries His name in this world.

Addressed from our patriarchal residence in Damascus. On 20th December 2012.

About GShep


  1. Gail Sheppard says

    How incredibly refreshing. Axios!

  2. Douglas C. says

    A wonderful message. Many years to His Beatitude!

    • Douglas C. says

      What is also significant is the fact that the Patriarchate released this message in several languages, including Arabic and English. A good way to reach out to the Antiochian community in all nations.

      • Archpriest John Morris says

        Why should that be significant? The Patriarchate of Antioch has parishes all over the world and worships in several different languages. Even in the most ethnic parish, they use mostly English in the U.S. because I have yet to meet an Arabic family in which the parents taught their children Arabic, or at least the formal Arabic used in the services. I have known Arabs who find it easier to read a book in French or English than in Arabic. Our Patriarchate has never emphasized the Arabic language. Besides all over the world, our parishes are filled with converts. In England, for example, we have one parish that uses some Arabic and 18 or 19 that use only English. I really doubt that they use a word of Arabic in the 20 or 30 new missions in the Philippines. His Beatitude Ignatius IV, who recently fell asleep in the Lord, lectured the clergy of the North American Archdiocese., telling us “We are not here to preach Arabism.” He was very glad that we have so many converts and serve in English. He took a special interest in the Evangelical Orthodox who met with him in Los Angeles.

  3. Alfred Kentigern Siewers says

    Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!
    The reference by His Beatitude to challenges of the faithful reminded me of this petition, which perhaps has already been linked to here, I’m not sure.
    It asks for support by the U.S. of the human rights of Christian minorities in the Middle East.
    There is a deadline of Sunday Jan. 6 for it to receive 25,000 signatures to be recognized as an official petition on the White House site, and sadly it has only garnered about 5,000 so far since it was posted Dec. 7.
    Surely even though there are only a few days left we can get 20,000 signatures from American Orthodox Christians and others in the U.S. concerned with persecution of Christians in the Middle East.
    Metropolitan Methodios of Boston and the American Hellenic Leadership Council, among others, have encouraged Orthodox faithful to sign.
    Please take a minute to read it, and if you feel inclined, sign it and circulate the link to your friends and any email or social media networks of Orthodox faithful and those concerned with religious rights.
    Thanks and a blessed 2013 and feast of St. Seraphim of Sarov to all!
    Alf Kentigern Siewers

    • Archpriest John Morris says

      This is the first that I have heard about this petition. Could you give me the web address so that I can e mail the members of my parish to ask them to sign it.

      Fr. John

    • Archpriest John Morris says

      I signed the petition, but am disappointed that it did not mention the Orthodox Christians in Syria who are being persecuted by the forces fighting Assad.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Well, actually it did, Father. It said: “In Syria’s civil war, Christians who make up 10% of the population are targeted. . . ” It was probably wise to state it that way since it isn’t always clear who is targeting whom in Syria. It has been suggested that the Assad regime committed some of the atrocities attributed to the rebels to discourage the West from intervening. – To our former Patriarch’s credit, he resisted (publicly) taking sides. Our new Patriarch seems to possess similar wisdom. It is in no one’s best interest to put a target on the backs of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

  4. Two Enthonements same Day in Wahington, D.C. says

    The Enthronement of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon as Primate of the Orthodox Church in America will be celebrated at Saint Nicholas Cathedral, Washington, DC, on the weekend of January 26-27, 2013.

    On Saturday, January 26, the Vigil will be celebrated at 5:00 p.m.

    On Sunday, January 27, the Divine Liturgy, followed by the Rite of Enthronement, will begin at 9:00 a.m.

    A banquet will be held at the Omni Shoreham, 2500 Calvert Street NW (at Connecticut Ave.), Washington, DC. A reception will held at 2:00 p.m., followed by dinner in the Regency Ballroom at 3:00 p.m.

    Banquet reservations and menu selection (meat/fish) should be sent to enthronement@oca.org . Tickets are $100.00 per person. Deadline for reservations is January 14.

    Hotel rooms have been set aside at the Omni Shoreham for those desiring lodging. A rate of $139.00 per night is available. To make reservations, log on to http://www.omnihotels.com/FindAHotel/WashingtonDCShoreham.aspx and use the code “Orthodox Church in America” or “OCA.”

    The Holiday Inn Georgetown also is available. To make reservations, log on to http://www.holidayinn.com/hotels/us/en/washington/wasgt/hoteldetail.

    Historic Enthronement of His Eminence Metropolitan Antony! Axios!

    St. Andrew Ukrainian Cathedral is honored to host the historic enthronement of our beloved Metropolitan Antony, sponsored by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of USA. We look forward to this memorable event and pray you will commune with us on this most joyous day in the life of our Church. We want your visit and stay to be a pleasant and comfortable one, so we have made the following arrangments:

    For hotel accommodations, we have arranged discounted rooms with Holiday Inn under group code “UKR” at the discounted rate of $79, including breakfast. The following link directs you to the reservations and includes the dates and group code: Online UKR Group Reservations. Their front desk number is (301) 776-5300. Our church bus will be available to run shuttles from BWI Airport to hotel and church. If you need shuttle services please contact our office at office@standrewuoc.org or call Iryna at 301-414-5458.

    Invitation: http://uocofusa.org/files/PDF%20files_news/2012/New%20Metropolitan/MA-Invitation.pdf
    RSVP with menu choices: http://uocofusa.org/files/PDF%20files_news/2012/New%20Metropolitan/RSVP-regular.pdf

    Note RSVP deadline is tomorrow but can be done by email (see form above) Note that the banquet prices are half the price of the OCA enthronement, have discounts for students and are free for children.

    http://www.uocofusa.org/news_121121_2.html and check out various parts of the page

    The choir at St. Andrews is well rehearsed under expert direction by a former OCA DC conductor
    The choir of the OCA will consist of a pickup choir y under the direction of David Drillock.

    • Things must be pretty bad in Syosset. Lefty Kishkovsky and Fr. John Jillions spent most of yesterday visiting the Greeks, Antiochians and ROCOR trying to drum up, or convince them to attend +Tikhon’s enthronement in DC. I don’t think the Ukrainians had to make the same visits to make sure people show up for Archbishop Anthony’s enthronement.

  5. South Carolina New Light says

    Y’all come!


    P.S. Was that Helga I spotted?

    • I hope this doesn’t give a certain Archpriest a heart attack! Thank you “South Carolina New Light says” and many years to Bishop George (Schaeffer), Fr. Mark Mancuso and all of them!
      They’re not afraid to be right out there and “in your face,” unilke the ‘We don’t want to alarm them’ folks.