December 29, 2015
Christmas is always distinguished for the festive atmosphere it creates and the sense of joy it brings for everyone everywhere. Its spirit can be felt long before the feast, in the particular Church services of this period, such as the Hours, the Holy Unction etc, but also in the festive attire with which the capital of Albania is decorated in this season, not to mention the numerous activites organized with the Orthodox children and young adults, such as concerts, carol singing, and charitable activities, such as paying visits and delievering gifts to nursing homes, prisons, centers for children with disabilities, etc.
All of the above culminates with the brightness and joy that the 25th day of December brings when all Christians celebrate the Nativity of Christ, the Savior. The day begins with the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil, which this year started at 6.45, in the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Tirana. Archbishop Anastasios celebrated the Divine Liturgy with other members of the Holy Synod: Bishop of Apollonia Nicholas, Bishop of Kruje Anthony, Bishop of Amantia Nathanail and Bishop of Byllis Asti, as well as numerous clergy. The Church was full of people from the early morning, but also during the day there were many Orthodox faithful and citizens of other religions, who came to light candles and say their prayers. Those faithful who were unable to come to church, had the opportunity to attend the Liturgy via live broadcast on public television, but also through direct links or archives on private television channels.
This year, the Christmas message of Archbishop Anastasios was about trials and the presence of God in our lives. Among other things, he preached:
Let us pray that God in Trinity give us His power, not to surrender before sorrows, injustices or sufferings that arise in our path; to support the feeling of the presence of the heavenly Father, assuring thus that in the center of human history, there is Emmanuel- there is Christ. And with the grace of the Holy Spirit, may the trials be transformed into spiritual maturity and opportunities for sanctification.
On the same day, at 12:00, at the headquarters of the Holy Synod, which is also part of the complex of the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ, Archbishop Anastasios received congratulatory visits by representatives of various religious communities, state dignitaries, representatives of political parties, famous intellectuals, faithful etc. Also the President of the Republic, Mr. Bujar Nishani came to congratulate the Orthodox faithful as well as the President of the Assembly, Mr. Ilir Meta, former President, Mr. Alfred Moisiu, the Mayor of Tirana, Mr. Veliaj, Ministers Blendi Klosi, Ermonela Felaj and Englantina Gjermeni in representation of the Socialist Party, but also Genc Pollo, as Democratic representative and the President of HRUP, Mr. Vangjel Dule, etc.