Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Christ is Born - Glorify Him!

Today is Christmas.

Many Orthodox believers will feel the need to explain the discrepancy, and I've heard some well-meaning Serbs even grumble about having to explain to their children "the whole two Christmases thing". But there are no "two Christmases", no "Serbian Christmas" or - as the above series of truly wonderful videos erroneously states - "Russian Christmas." There is just Christmas.

Simply put, today is December 25, 2014 - according to the calendar that was in effect at the time of the Church's founding. Most (though not all) Orthodox churches have refused, for reasons of faith and principle, to accept the modified calendar created by the Bishop of Rome (aka "the Pope" - whom they consider a renegade) in the 16th century. Eventually, most Western countries adopted Pope Gregory's calendar, and - through colonialism and globalization - it became the "secular standard".

The thing about Orthodoxy is that it doesn't care about secular standardization, trends or passing fancies. Because of this, it has endured horrific persecution by Catholics, Muslims, Protestants and atheists - and survived.

Here is an excerpt from this year's Christmas message by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus, Kirill:
At the bottom of all conflict, hatred and division is sin. According to St. Justin Popović, sin ‘exploits all its power to accomplish one thing: to render the human person godless and inhuman’ (St. Justin Popović, Philosophical Abysses). And we see in what infernal state the human person at times abides when he has lost the dignity granted to him by the Creator.

Yet the Church in the name of God, tirelessly proclaiming to people the ‘great joy’ (Luke 2:10) of the birth of the Saviour, calls upon each dweller on earth to believe and transform himself for the better. She offers to us the way of ascent: from seeking out God to the knowledge of God, from the knowledge of God to communion with God, and from communion with God to becoming like God [...]

In congratulating you all on the great feast of the Nativity of Christ and the New Year I would like to wish you from the bottom of my heart good health, peace, prosperity and abundant succour from on high in following our Lord and Saviour without stumbling.
So, as the Orthodox would say: Christ is Born - Glorify Him!

Merry Christmas.


Natalie said...

С Рождеством Христовым!

James said...

"...Even Serbian scientists were trying to reform this calendar, among which the most successful was Maksim Trpković. He noted that if we deduct 7 days during the 900 Julian years, we get an average error of only 2 seconds compared to the real year, and on that subject he published his paper "Reform of the Calendar" in 1900. However, his ideas were not put to use until 1923 and the Pan-Orthodox Congress in Constantinople. The delegation of the Serbian Orthodox Church, led by Metropolitan Gavrilo Dožić and the famous Serbian scientist Milutin Milanković (, came forward with a proposal that was based on Trpković's reform. Milanković accepted Trpković's calendar with some smaller modifications he introduced. Milanković applied his observations that the period of revolution, ie. a year, is increasing by 1.7 milliseconds during one century due to the tidal activity of the Moon and the Sun. With this it is achieved that the difference between the actual and the calendar year is only two seconds which is ten times more accurate than the Gregorian calendar."

This is taken from the "Meet the Serbs" Facebook site which has all sorts of interesting history, geography, photos, etc. regarding Serbs.

CubuCoko said...

James, thank you. "Meet the Serbs" is a great resource and I recommend it to all.

As for this particular event, there is more to it than just astronomy. The conference was called in 1923, as the Greek-Turkish war was raging, the Soviets had taken over Russia, and Europe was still sorting itself out after WW1. It was amid this chaos that Patriarch Meletius IV of Constantinople tried to "reform" Orthodoxy.

The only thing his initiative managed to accomplish was to divide the Orthodox and disrupt their liturgical union: he resigned later that same year, as the victorious Kemalists expelled nearly all the Greeks from territories that became modern Turkey.