The Russian Orthodox Church and a Russian community in Belgrade gathered today the faithful of the Russian and the Serbian Church at the Russian Hall in order to celebrate Christmas Eve. In an atmosphere of the traditional unity and love of Serbian and Russian people a concert of Christmas carols of the Belgrade Madrigal Choir with a conductor Aleksandar Brujic was held. In the full auditorium of the Russian Hall director delivered a speech, and then followed speeches of Rt. Rev. Protopresbyter Vitaly Tarasjev, a head of the Podvorye of the Russian Orthodox Church in Belgrade, and of His Grace Bishop Atanasije of Hvosno on behalf of His Holiness Patriarch Pavle of Serbia.
After the vesper , severalthousand faithful citizens gathered infront of the church. His Grace Bishop Atanasije blessed and set on fire the Yule logtogether with chanting the Christmas hymn: Your Nativity.
Stephen was a kinsman of the Apostle Paul and one of those Jews who lived in the Hellenic provinces. Stephen was the first of the seven deacons whom the holy apostles ordained and appointed to the service of assisting the poor in Jerusalem. For this, he is called the archdeacon. By the power of his faith, Stephen worked great miracles among the people. The wicked Jews disputed with him, but they were always defeated by his wisdom and the power of the Spirit, Who acted through him. Then the shameful Jews, accustomed to calumnies and slander, incited the people and the elders of the people against the innocent Stephen, slandering him as though he had blasphemed against God and against Moses. False witnesses were quickly found who confirmed this.
During the Angelus of the Epiphany Benedict XVI sends his greetings to Orthodox communities, thanks all those who are trying to build peace between Israelis and Palestinians and calls for the release of tens of children abducted in the DRC. He also talks about the "disarming meekness of love" and the world's hostility.
Christmas by Eastern Churches (which falls tomorrow), the violent armed clashes in the Gaza Strip and the abducted children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are some of the issues the Pope mentioned in today's Angelus as he spoke to the faithful in St Peter's Square.
Before greeting thousands of pilgrims in various languages, Benedict XVI sent his greetings to the brothers and sisters of the Eastern Churches (especially that of Russia) who, "following the Julian calendar will celebrate Holy Christmas tomorrow. May the memory of the birth of the Saviour rekindle in their hearts more and more the joy of being loved by God."
An Interview of His Grace, Dr. Irinej, Bishop of Bačka with Mr. Milorad Vučelić, the main Editor-In-Chief of PEČAT. This interview was published in the 44th issue, p. 17-25, of December 26, 2008.
Interview of His Grace Dr. Irinej, Bishop of Backa may read in PDF.