CHRISTMAS PASTORAL LETTER
Recognizing the blessing of this feast
To the Reverend Clergy, the Religious and Faithful of the Diocese of Stamford, "in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ"_1_
As we draw near to the Great Jubilee, the beginning of the Third Christian Millennium that we shall celebrate in the year 2000, the Catholic Church now invites us to turn our prayerful attention to God the Father, Who has sent His Son to save us. As St. Paul exhorts us, we should "give thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."_2_
God the Father is "the God of peace and Father of mercies"_3_ Who sends us His Son to be our peace. By His incarnation, by destroying sin and death, and laying low the power of the devil, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, "has made the Father merciful to the creation."_4_ It is Jesus Christ who reveals the Father to us_5_ and who brings us back to the Father._6_
Our Christian faith is above all Trinitarian. The goal of all our faith and striving is to share ever more deeply in the life and mutual love of the Most Holy Trinity. We must have the Holy Spirit (Whom we have received in Holy Chrismation) dwelling and praying within us. We must "confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,"_7_ as we chant in the divine liturgy before Holy Communion. God the Son, Jesus Christ, was born of His Blessed Mother, the Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, to bring us the glory of God the Father. We who are baptized have been called, sanctified by God the Father and preserved in Jesus Christ, that God's mercy, peace and love may be multiplied in us._8_ "Christ our God is the Son and the Brightness of the Father ... and has redeemed us back again_9_ to our Heavenly Father.
As we prepare for Christmas, the Church sings "behold, the Son and Word of God the Father comes forth to be born of a Virgin."_10_ The Virgin Mary now becomes the Mother of the Son Begotten of the Father "before the morning star."_11_ In the words of the popular Ukrainian Christmas carols, the Immaculate Virgin bears a Son; the Word of the Father becomes a Man._12_ The Virgin Mary spontaneously turns to God the Father, asking God the Father to provide for her Son, and the Father at once sends His angels to bring clothes and gifts to the Blessed Mother._13_ The Holy Fathers and our liturgical texts dwell on the mirror-image, as it were, of God the Son eternally begotten by God the Father without a mother, and born in time of the Blessed Mother, the Ever-Virgin Mary._14_ The motherhood of the Virgin Mary as she gives birth to Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, revealed the fullness of the paternity of God the Father.
By the prayers and love of our Blessed Mother, through whom God has become man for our salvation, may everyone in our diocesan family know the joy and blessing of this Christmas feast. Grace, mercy and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love._15_
Bishop of Stamford
(New York and New England)
Given in the Cathedral of St. Vladimir the Great on the Feast of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, December 6, 1998.
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, January 3, 1999, No. 1, Vol. LXVII
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