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TO ALL CLERGY, PEOPLE OF GOD IN THE ORTHODOX CATHOLIC CHURCH AND FRIENDS OF THE CHURCH

I GREET YOU IN HIM WHO IS THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD AND THE LOVE OF OUR HEARTS.

When Jesus opened his eyes to this world, he became part of a society not unlike our own today.  Oppression was heavy upon the people, excessive taxes were a burden, people were prey to clever money-making schemes and the multitude of the defenseless were victims of crime in every form. Political systems were built to dominate the general population. Truthfully, it was not a pretty world and it did not improve as Jesus grew  into adulthood.

Is it any wonder then, that the Apostles just assumed that Jesus came to fix this world completely or, at least, repair it until it could become a kinder, gentler world? 

After all, wasn’t he called a savior?  It required a lifetime for Jesus to convince his small band of followers that the answer did not lie in combating the outer world, as much as it lay in striking at the real cause which was buried deep in the hearts and the psyche of humankind. His life work was to teach us how to live an active inner life where love would feed the actions of our outer life.  Then, and then only, would the world become a kinder, gentler world because our actions would be born of love.

From the moment of conception, Jesus lived a life within.  The whole process of his growth takes place within, where silently and far from the eyes of the world, the infant form took shape.  Molecule by molecule, this tiny potential human being became whole until that moment when it declared itself ready to greet the world. 

The inner life was a familiar friend to Jesus.  From his earliest moments of awareness, he lived in that place of high consciousness where he would often go to commune with his Father-God.  In times of stress, of frustration, of weariness, he would go off to a clearing, or a garden or a lonely stretch of road to talk with his Father, the source of his direction, his fire and his power to create a deeper permeation of his message within his followers.

All of us have that place of high consciousness. Symbolically, we may think of it as a garden, or a walk along a seashore or a clearing in the middle of a forest where we can go in the midst of our daily work to seek direction, to open ourselves to divine thought  or to find the solution to a situation.  In that instant of communing, the Light Energy within burns brightest and we know the vibration of the Christ.  In this oneness, our interaction with others becomes a birthing of the Christ, a true Christmas to each person, a sending of the Light so that the outer world of our workplace becomes changed.  If this doesn’t happen immediately, do not be concerned.  We have implanted the Christ Light.  Remember, it takes time for a spark to become a torch, so be patient.

The life within, at the very center of the Presence, is a highly active life that always needs nourishment.  Therefore, it is essential to have a habit of regular meditation and prayer and a deep love for the Eucharist, where we find the spiritual food and drink for our journey. 

One of the greatest spiritual guides that God has given us to foster the inner life is Mother Mary. She is sometimes forgotten in the Christmas story because her Son is so prominent. In a real sense, a true Eucharist took place on that starlit night in Bethlehem.  With the coming of her son, Mary became the first priest to birth Jesus upon the altar of the omniverse, body and blood, soul and divinity so that all may come to know and love him, especially, through Eucharist.  She shows us how to live the Eucharistic life which feeds our inner being with wondrous food.  Mary tells us that we can turn every thought, every word and every action into an eternal miracle, simply by making each choice the choice that Christ would make.  But Mary goes beyond that. She prompts us to bring those choices to Eucharist and to place them on the paten and in the chalice where they will soon become the bread and wine for the sacred meal of remembrance.  There, it is our privilege to offer ourselves with all the choices and promises we have made.  That gift of bread and wine represents everything we are as spirit beings. We are Light-bearers who walk the human journey of permitting love to lead and to free us from all that stands in the way of a rich, productive spiritual life. It is an enviable life that allows us to give the Christ with abandon to all our sisters and brothers, without distinction.  The Child came in love to give Love. We, also, came in love to give Love.  Can you think of a better way to live out the meaning of Christmas? The Christ in us has no other desire than to give himself to others through us, whose mission it is to reveal our inner Christ.

During the coming year, believe in the best of who you are, for you are the Christ just as surely as it was the Christ who was born in Bethlehem.  As you look in the mirror many times every day, say to that reflection, “I AM THE CHRIST.  I am the Extension of God upon this earth.”  Is it possible to have a greater vision of yourself than that?  Let us birth this Christ to others with a divine generosity.  Then, our lives will be one continuous Christmas.

On every day of the New Year, I hope that you feel the special Christmas blessing that I send you with this letter.  May you live each day of 2008 with a passion for life and a fire in your heart.

Lovingly in Christ,

Most Rev. Marilyn L. Sieg
Most Rev. Marilyn L. Sieg
Presiding Bishop
The Orthodox Catholic Church

 
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