Bishop Ken's Christmas Message

Thursday, 07 January 2016, 14:52
Christ is Born! Glorify Him! The unapproachable God, out of mercy, wished to become visible for us. He comes in the flesh, to be born as a human being of the most pure Virgin, in the city of Bethlehem. Therefore, let us hasten with devotion to receive him. [Sessional hymn, pre-feast of the Nativity]

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus during this Christmas season, we find ourselves at the beginning of the Extraordinary Holy Jubilee Year of Mercy initiated by Pope Francis this past December 8th.  The purpose of the Holy Jubilee Year, according to Pope Francis, is to encounter the mercy of God. And the primary way we encounter God is through Jesus Christ, the face of the Father’s mercy. [Cf. Misericordiae Vultus 1]

Our rich and meaningful Ukrainian Christmas traditions call our attention to the birth in Bethlehem of the Son of God.  The liturgical texts, the carols and greetings, the special foods and decorations help remind us that “God is with us!” With the coming of Jesus Christ onto this earth with a human body, we have been given tangible proof of the love and mercy of our God.

One of the important symbols used during the Holy Jubilee Year is that of the “Holy Door”. In our Eparchy we will designate three churches where our faithful are invited to enter the church: Holy Eucharist Cathedral parish in New Westminster, St. Nicholas the Wonderworker parish r in Victoria and The Holy Dormition of the Mother of God parish in Kelowna.  If you are unable to make a pilgrimage to one of these three Holy Doors during the Holy Jubilee Year of Mercy, then I would invite you to go to the nearest Roman Catholic Church in your area that has designated Holy Doors. The Holy Doors stands as a symbol of the extraordinary pathway towards salvation that is offered to the believers, through prayer, penitence, and works of mercy. The Holy Doors become doors of mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons and instills hope.

At Christmas time the Holy Doors reminds us of the doorway into the stable at Bethlehem whereby the shepherds and magi entered to find the Christ Child, the long awaited Messiah.  All were welcome to enter through the door way into the stable: the poor and the rich, peasant and lord, saint and sinner.  And so we are challenged by our faith in Jesus Christ to respond to those who stand at the threshold of our homes and of our lives and who seek our mercy and love. Our Christian faith calls upon us to open the doors of our homes and of our lives and welcome them just as Mary and Joseph did in the stable of Bethlehem.

This Christmas season, in the spirit of the Holy Jubilee Year of Mercy, let us reach out to the strangers and to those in need, be they from Ukraine or from Syria, be they in prisons or homeless on the streets, be they sick or jobless, be they alone and near death. Let us show by our good deeds and by our love that we share with them the mercy of our Heavenly Father who shares with us his love and goodness.  And let us repeat the praise of the angels as they sang at the birth of Christ: Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. [Lk. 2:14]

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

With assurance of my prayerful best wishes and blessings to you and your family, I remain,

Sincerely yours in the Lord,

+Ken Nowakowski

Bishop of New Westminster

 

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