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The Bishop's Christmas Greeting

“He was created of a mother whom he created. He was carried by hands that he formed.” -Blessed Augustine of Hippo As we celebrate the Birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, dear brothers and sisters, we cannot but marvel at the Lord’s mercy and love towards mankind. Confessing our faith in that which He accomplished for us, we rejoice, for He takes on flesh that He created from His Mother, the Ever-Virgin Mary, and becomes the God-Man. This is the reason why the Lord’s incarnation is wondrous to us, for Heaven unites with the earth, bringing Life to us who are in the darkness of the world. The Sun of Righteousness dawns forth, enlightening all by showing us the path of salvation. In this world of great temptation and challenges, the Lord comes to us humbly, but with divine strength. He tells us: “Fear not!” He comes to us in order to bring hope and a promise that He will never leave us. As we struggle and maneuver through the different obstacles that come before us in this life, He reminds us that we are not alone. Instead, if we reach our hand out to Him in prayer and with trust, then He will guide us to spiritual peace and victory. It is up to us to accept Him, to make our hearts a manger ready to receive Him, so that He will abide in us and transform us from within. Let us not look to this world for guidance, for within it we will only find emptiness and darkness. Rather, by approaching and receiving Him, we will become not only His followers, but actually one with Him. We will abide in Him and He in us. With faith, this is possible, for it is what the Lord expects of each and every one of us. We can do this by making a fresh start this year, by making our participation in the life of the Church, and especially the Divine Liturgy, the center of our lives. Let it be that which we do regularly from our heart, and not only as a formality or annual tradition. By doing this, we will have truly understood the meaning of Christ’s nativity. May our Lord grant us peace, health and spiritual joy during this joyous time of year, giving us the faith and courage to help others by helping ourselves in starting a fresh spiritual life. In this way, we will transfigure ourselves from within, becoming Christ-like by the grace that He grants to us through His patience and kindness towards mankind. Peace of God! Christ is Born! Happy and Blessed New Year 2020! With prayers before the Christ-Child, + L O N G I N Bishop of New Gracanica and Midwestern America

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