Patriarchal proclamation on
the Nativity of Christ, 1998


By the mercy of God Archbishop of Constantinople
New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch:
unto the entire plentitude of the Church
Grace, Mercy and Peace from Christ our Saviour
Born in Bethlehem 

"Christ is born, glorify him!"

Christ the God-man is born and the melodist exhorts us all to glorify God.

Truly we all spontaneously offer praise for the great joy and for the miracle of creation, which is the birth of new life, of a newly born person, for it signifies the continuation of the natural existence of the human race.

However, on this day we do not rejoice nor do we offer praise for just any natural birth. Today is the birth of our Savior and the supernatural re-constitution of the human race.

The Pure Virgin is designated and shown to be the Theotokos. It is through her son that the human race is saved and the miracle concealed from all ages becomes a reality. The Logos, through Whom all things were created by God, becomes incarnate and man, for whom the universe was created, is divinized.

Man was created in the image and likeness of his Creator, having as his final and ultimate aim to become worthy of the ineffable joy of being divinized after having first given birth not to any simple man, but God Incarnate. It is this culmination that we celebrate today.

"Christ is born, glorify him!"

The Theotokos gives birth to the God-man, go out to meet him! The Theotokos, a human being and the immaculate temple of God, through her purity and humility, becomes worthy to embody the expectations of all humankind; to give birth not to an exceptional child nor to a God-bearing prophet, but to the God-man Lord.

In the Creed of our faith we confess our belief "in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God begotten of the Father before all ages." Today we have the joyous surprising event. The pre-eternal Son and Logos of God is born in human time, by his All Holy Mother, as the Incarnate God.

Today, humanity does not fashion by its own hands or mortal rationale something like the divine, but the Virgin, through the Holy Spirit, bears God the Logos Incarnate.

"Christ is born of the Virgin and Theotokos, give him glory!"

Through this wondrous birth everyone can become partakers of divine glory; to live the joy, not as simple psychological euphoria or temporary delight, but as heavenly power; a power that triumphs over death.

Each person who is inspired and guided by the deportment of the Virgin and who imitates her humility and extreme obedience to the will of God is able to find inner peace from the warfare of his or her own evil thoughts and to arrive at a point of spiritual rest, to be reborn from above and to see eternal life and joy in Christ born within themselves. The entire Tradition of the Church and the experience of our saints and righteous ascetics clearly assure us of this.

The life of each of us is one of asceticism and struggle, one of navigating high seas of life; the end result and hope is to reach the serene and well-lighted harbor of the love of God, which gives birth to our praise for Him.

"Christ is born, glorify him!"

God is born as the theanthropos. His glory is made manifest before all humankind. His divine goodwill fills the entire person; and the incessant doxology toward the All Good God for His extreme condescension flows spontaneously from within.

This eucharistic doxology purifies us. It enlightens our minds and reveals the fact that God created and creates all things to be "very good." This multiplies our holy delight and converts our human life into a life in paradise. Everything in the life of a faithful person is cause for eternal life and doxology.

St. John Chrysostom, whose 1600th anniversary since ascending the venerable and martyred Throne of Constantinople is observed this year, is for us all a bright example. The end of his life was the emergence of his unending doxology, which gushes forth from his heart. Having journeyed into long and harsh exile, somewhere along the way his venerable life ended with him offering his final chrysostomian utterance: "Glory to God in all things".

Beloved Brother hierarchs and dear children in the Lord,

"Christ is born, glorify him"!

Give glory extensively and unceasingly for Emmanuel has come to us and will remain with us; and glory of his divinity, the consolation of the Holy Spirit, and the warmth of divine love have come and will remain with us.

For this reason, with our whole heart we pray that, through the intercessions of our All Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-virgin Mary together with our Father among the saints, John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, we will all receive strength from the inexhaustible grace of Christmas, so that we might live our whole lives in a manner pleasing to God. Thus, may this fountainhead and endless doxology to God also be born in each and everyone of us, as a foretaste of the life to come and of the Kingdom, which we pray God the Logos, who was incarnate for us and for our salvation, will grant to everyone.

May His grace and infinite mercy be with you all.

At the Phanar, Christmas 1998
Your fervent supplicant before God
+Bartholomew of Constantinople
Protocol No. 1495

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