Holy Ascension Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
“Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Thy glory above all the earth.”
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The Divine Services of the Holy Church testify that “Bethlehem has opened Eden: come let us see! We have found joy in a secret place: come, let us seize Paradise hidden in the cave! There the unwatered Root has appeared, blossoming with forgiveness. There is found the undug Well, from which David longed to drink of old. There the Virgin has borne a child, quenching Adam's and David's thirst. Let us hurry to this place, where the Eternal God was born as a little child!”

Adam of old, before his fall and expulsion from Paradise, knew no sickness, nor sorrow, nor sighing. He was being sweetened not only by the delights of that wonderful, holy place, but moreover, he delighted in sweet conversation with God, he shared a union with the “Gentle Light of the Holy Glory.” Having lost this light and existing as a fallen man in a fallen world, he had a deep yearning to return to that former beauty. The Divine Services call it a thirst. And this thirst was quenched by the “Eternal God [Who] was born as a little Child.”

If Adam had brought upon himself fallen nature, David who had come many generations later had inherited it. Within the depths of his soul, David had the same yearning, longing, and thirst that so needed quenching as our forefather Adam did. David stretched himself beyond human limits and heights of repentance and knowledge of God that few could ever hope to equal. Yet, the yearning of this prophet of God could not be satisfied by anything earthly or even heavenly as he thirsted for the Creator Himself. And God the Word without beginning and outside of time, entered into this created world through the Ever-Virgin. The Son of God born in a cave of the earth is that unwatered Root that blossomed forth forgiveness, the undug Well that quenches the deepest of thirsts.

Who does not know a deep thirst, an unbearable yearning, which is sometimes expressed as loneliness, sorrow, or even boredom? Anyone who suffers from one addiction or another is trying to quench that thirst.

Tragically, many do not know how to quench this thirst, to satisfy the profound yearning, which can only be resolved in God, with God, and by God. Anyone who has succumbed to a passion, senses that to deny God is to deny and destroy oneself.

Man is created in the image of God and to the measure, we achieve His likeness we quench that inner thirst. We are taught by the Saints that holy desire is the impetus that lends the soul its movement toward God, the Divine Archetype.

God Himself being desire and love, moves towards us as desirable and beloved. God moves all those creatures toward Himself who are capable of desiring and loving. Saint Paul came into possession of divine desire: “it is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives within me.” The Saint is no longer living his own life, but instead, that of the Beloved, which alone is beauty surpassing speech.

We can find no rest in created things that pass away. “The thirst of human souls requires infinite waters” (St. Nicholas Cabasilas).

“What shall we offer Thee, O Christ, for Thou hast appeared on earth as a man for our sake? Everything that is created by Thee brings Thee thanksgiving. Angels hymns; the heavens a star; the magi gifts; the shepherds their wonder; the earth a cave; the desert a manger; we the Virgin Mother. O Thou Who art before the ages, have mercy on us.”

Archpriest Paul Volmensky, Rector
Nativity of Christ, 2022/2023

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