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Christmas Encyclical - 1980

Grace and peace from the Incarnate God.  “All things are filled with joy today: Christ is born of the Virgin.” (Matins of Christmas)

My beloved faithful in the Lord,

Once again the entire Christian world celebrates the joyous and world-redeeming feast; Christmas: the feast of the renewal of humankind through the incarnation of God.

Today especially, the day of Christ’s birth, the universe is full of joy because Christ, the awaited Messiah, is born in an impoverished manger in the cave of Bethlehem, of the chaste Virgin of Nazareth; the Virgin who accepted to offer her cooperation in the work of divine redemption, renewal and theosis of man.  The Creator of this new, restored human nature is the Creator Word of God Who acts in cooperation with the Holy Spirit.  The word creates and assumes the new human nature from the pure, virginal blood of the Panaghia.  The Holy Spirit become the chrism of the flesh of the Incarnate Lord, from the very beginning of His seedless conception according to the flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

And it is natural for all things to be filled with joy at the unspeakable condescension of the Incarnate God.  He “whom nothing can contain is contained in the womb; He who is in the bosom of the Father is now in the arms of His Mother, this according to His good pleasure, as He knows and wishes.  For being without flesh, of his own will has he been made of flesh; and He who is (always exists) for our sakes has become that which He was not.  Without departing from his own (divine) nature He has shared in our substance.  Desiring to fill the world on high with citizens, Christ has undergone a twofold birth.” (Kathisma of Christmas Matins).

And this message of the joy of Christmas is heard again joyfully throughout the far reaches of the universe.  It is directed to the confused and divided world, to the world, which still is immersed in the evil, which stand in the opposition of the plan of God for the salvation of man, and which continues to reject the love of God as it was manifested by the incarnation of His Son.  All authentic visible and invisible creation rejoices at the event of the salvation of the world with the coming of the Messiah; it rejoices for the riches which the birth of Christ brought to our planet; and it proclaims the event to the rest of the world, with the hope that it will discover a solution to its evil and the source of its joy in its only true Savior, Christ.

Let us unite our voices along with the other proclaimers of the event of our salvation in Christ Jesus during this Christmas season.  Let us proclaim Christ as the sole Savior of the world to those who believe in false saviors.  Let us stand up against the false power of evil, which acts upon this fallen world, taking our strength from the source of true strength, the source of true, authentic life, the incarnate Lord! Let us allow Christ to become the fathomless source of our true, eternal joy, a joy founded in the authentic life, untouched by death, which his coming to earth granted us.  Truly, “let the world today be filled with joy.  For Christ is born of the Virgin.”

May the grace, joy, love and boundless mercy of the incarnate Lord always fill your lives, and especially during this Holy Christmas season.

With paternal love and fervent blessing in Christ born anew,

Bishop of Pittsburgh