On January the 14, 2012, when the Church celebrates the Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord and the commemoration day of St. Basil the Great, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations, marked the 10th anniversary of his the episcopal consecration by leading the festive Divine Liturgy at the church of Our Lady the Joy to All the Afflicted-in-Bolshaya Ordynka in Moscow.
Among his concelebrants were guests from Local Churches including the Patriarchate of Georgia, Greek Orthodox Church, Polish Orthodox Church, Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands of Slovakia, as well as Moscow representatives of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, Bulgaria, the Czech Lands and Slovakia, and Georgia. He was also assisted by church officials in holy orders.
With the blessing of Metropolitan Constantine of Kuwait, Baghdad and all Persian Gulf of the Antiochian Patriarchate; hieromonk Jefrem served on Christmas the Holy Liturgy in Kuwait. The Liturgy was served mostly in Church-Slavonic, with chanting of faithful people and reading of the Christmas Enclytical of Serbian Patriarch Irinej, which woke particular emotions in Serbs there.
On 8 January 2012, the Second Christmas Festival of Religious Music opened at the Moscow International House of Music with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. Vladimir Spivakov, president of the Moscow International House of Music, a member of the Patriarchal Council for Culture, and Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, act as artistic directors of the Festival.
Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk read out greetings from the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church to the organizers, participants and guests: “On these radiant days we have gathered together to share the joy over the incarnation of God the Saviour of the world and to sing songs of praise to Him.” His Holiness Patriarch Kirill noted that the Moscow Christmas Festival has already made a name for itself in the world music community and expressed his hope for the Festival, held annually, to foster moral health of our society.
“Singing, especially choral singing, is the most natural expression of unity and accord. It is not fortuitous that the Holy Bible regards singing as the best form of praising God by human beings and angels”, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia underscored in his greeting.
Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk told the audience about the versatile programme of the Festival, which includes performing of different kinds of religious music: Byzantine and Old Russian hymns, and modern compositions, such as American spirituals.
The Moscow Synodal Choir conducted by Alexei Puzakov, an honoured artist of Russia, sang hymns by Pavel Chesnokov, Alexander Kastalsky, archpriest Nikolai Vedernikov, Nikolai Golovanov, and Georgy Sviridov. In the second part of the concert the Moscow Synodal Choir and “Musica Viva” Moscow Chamber Orchestra (headed by Alexander Rudin) performed the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, composed by Alexander Grechaninov in 1917 on the basis of ancient plain chant “Demestvo” for choir, string orchestra and organ (opus 79).
Performing at the next concert of the Christmas Festival to be held on 14 January will be “La Cappella Silvanensis” vocal ensemble of the Sylvanès Abbey (France).
Source: DECR of the Russian Orthodox Church
On Christmas Eve, on January 6, Patriarch of Tbilisi and All Georgia Illia II conducted Christmas Liturgy together with Their Graces Bishops, members of the Holy Synod and priests at St. Trinity temple. Christmas epistle was read at the temple.
Talking about social problems like mass unemployment, a high level of emigration, an increasing number of prisoners, and the low level of education, His Holiness highlighted territorial integrity as the main problem for our country in his traditional Christmas Epistle.
Catholicos-Patriarch Ilya II blessed the participants in the Christmas procession in the Georgian capital. He greeted the festive procession and distributed sweets and gifts, reports the website, Kavkazsky Udel.
Every year on the feast of the Nativity of Christ, in Georgia people take to the streets in order to take part in the procession called Alilo, bringing gifts for the needy.
Members of the clergy lead the procession bearing icons, crosses and banners, while the laity follow behind them either on foot, or in bull-drawn carts. Children play one of the leading roles in this Christmas procession.