The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace (Ps. 28:11).
PATRIARCHAL ADDRESS ON THE NEW YEAR
Dear Children of our Holy Church,
Beloved in the Lord children of our Church,
We glorify and sing praises unto our highly generous and most merciful heavenly Father, as He has been preserving us by His graceful providence during the year which passed away in peace, keeping us in safety and protecting us from every harm and destruction, maintaining us consolidated in our faith and diligent in good works and patient along the way of truth and justice. The days past however sink not into oblivion and our responsibility binding us to the course of these days makes for our feeling great satisfaction about every success we have achieved as well as for our feeling high regret over every failure we have experienced in the hard struggle against the worldly passions and temptations. The New Year’s Eve is distinguished not only by noisy celebrations, for we refer to it also as time of detailed reconsideration of all the past months as well as of an exciting coming together the new annual ring which we are to join regenerated and pure in heart (cf. Math.5:8) in order to experience the new creation (cf. Gal. 6:15).
Our holy Church ceased not its salutary mission in the past year of the Lord, and particularly its work for the revival of the constitutional bond between Bulgarian education and Orthodox morals and culture and learning, as it was greatly concerned about the future of our children and students. With regard to the draft bill upon school training and preschool instruction and preparation, the Holy Synod of Bishops emphasized that the Church and parents and teachers and national leaders are being called upon to work together in cooperation and with all our might in supporting Bulgarian children in their advance as selfless, noble, harmonious and highly patriotic persons. Assimilating Christian ethics in their childhood will enable them to build up moral powers and high resolution in standing their grounds and overcoming the numerous temptations and enticements of today which involve acts of cruelty, brutality and violence. We are the witnesses of a number of serious crimes committed by young people, even by children, taken up with the luxuriant existence of criminal circles. But the Very Sage advises us: do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord (Prov. 23:15), for the fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble (Prov. 19:23).
The past year was rich in jubilees and anniversaries duly marked by our Holy Church and all Bulgarian people: the 150th Anniversary of the Paschal divine service officiated by the Bulgarian hierarchs at Istanbul (1860 A. D.), giving an impetus to the activities for the establishment of an independent Bulgarian Church; the 140th Anniversary of the release of the Sultan’s Firman (1870 A. D.) establishing the Bulgarian Exarchate and restoring the autonomy of the Bulgarian Church; the 200th Anniversary of the great martyrdom of the holy and venerable martyr Prokopy of Varna and many other significant anniversaries which proved good occasion for remembering in appreciation glorious deeds and achievements.
Pastorally concerned for our fellow-countrymen abroad, the Holy Synod of Bishops did its best to arrange the ecclesiastical administration order of our West and Middle Europe Diocese and also made formal representations to His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel of Romania for building up a Bulgarian church house at Bucharest which is to bring together the people of the Bulgarian community there for carrying out Church education projects and patriotic activities in order to support brotherly relations between these two holy Churches and Orthodox nations.
In pursuit of successful and good fruit-bearing life in the coming year, we do hope that the Lord of energies is supporting us, as He is our strength and our shield, our hearts trusted in Him and we are helped (cf. Ps. 27:7). Even though we are weak, we do believe that His strength is made perfect in weakness (cf. 2 Cor. 12:9), provided we depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it (cf. Ps. 33:15).
May it be a happy and peaceful and mercifully blessed year 2011, a good and profitable one to our Church as well as to our Fatherland, to all our compatriots living here or far from our lands!
Many Happy Returns!