Message from Mgr Jean de Doubna 2022 Christmas – Our Hope
To their Excellencies, clergy, monks and nuns, and to the faithful of the Archdiocese of Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition in Western Europe.
Hope for the Christian is far deeper than worldly emotions or thoughts.
Therefore, when our hope is challenged by darkness, despair and ignorance we must not be afraid. Rather, we remain attentive to all, for Christian optimism is not a feeling of euphoria which excludes all distress and suffering. To turn our backs on the tragic reality of mankind and of the world in favour of a certain naive optimism is an ever present temptation. But in Christian optimism alone lies the hope of victory; a liberation which transcends human and worldly tragedy, distress and suffering, because Christian optimism is rooted in the victory of Christ crucified and resurrected.
As we await Christmas, we remember these things, engaging with the seriousness of the times and the anguish which grips us as we do so, for the birth of Christ marks the beginning of the tragic and costly struggle between light and darkness. So, let us avoid being too caught up in the essentially misleading festival our commercial civilization has constructed, for we know that Christmas is not simply a celebration of innocence and of a certain view of childhood. The King, whose birth we recall, smiles in his cradle of straw but weeps too, as what begins with his birth takes him to the Cross.
So, the Church prepares us to expect the coming of a ‘great prophet’, the King of Peace and a Saviour, whose coming is foretold in the scriptures. As we await his coming, the Church invites us to shine the light of faith on the very meaning of life, of mankind, history and our whole being. Amongst all the unfathomable sufferings of this world, we witness to the presence of Christ amongst us, seeking not to escape the tragedy of the world, but to engage with it in communion with Christ.
“Are you the One who will come or must we wait for another?’ asks St John the Baptist. This question challenges us to consider again the extent to which we been transformed by the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection. St Gregory the Great wanted every Christian to continue the prophetic mission of St John the Baptist by showing the supremacy of God in the world. The Christian says: ‘I know that the One who was to come has come and that his mission has been accomplished for the world’. In our turn, we endeavour to convey this certainty.
The coming of Christ is an historical reality with which through baptism we are fully engaged. In this time of waiting and of reflection, we examine afresh our faith in this reality and welcome into the very depths of our being, Him who is the Light of the World and the salvation of all and in so doing we find joy. We pray for one another and for the whole world living through the ‘pains of childbirth’, that the Birth of Our Lord can be for all the Hope and Liberation that lead to the Kingdom.
Paris, 25 December 2022/7 January 2023
+ Metropolitan Jean of Doubna
Archbishop of the Orthodox Churches of Russian Tradition
in Western Europe