Sunday, December 24, 2023

With Message of Love and Peace, H.H. Bishop Rutherford Leads solemn Matins and Lauds for the Vigil of Christmas

By M. Derosiers

ROME-RUTHENIA 24 December 2023 (NRom)

Today saw a significant event in Orthodox and Catholic liturgical life as His Holiness Bishop Rutherford I led the Divine Offices of solemn Matins and Lauds for the Vigil of Christmas. In a heartfelt display of faith and unity and a message of hope and compassion, this ritual marked the final part of Advent before we enter into the joyful Nativity season. Bishop Rutherford emphasized the importance of embracing love as a guiding principle in our lives, especially during these challenging times.

As the candles flickered, casting a warm glow throughout the sacred space, Bishop Rutherford urged people around the world to extend kindness not only to their loved ones but also to those who may be marginalized or forgotten in society. He encouraged acts of generosity and reminded everyone that even small gestures can make a significant impact on someone's life.

Bishop Rutherford's leadership during this solemn occasion exemplifies his commitment to fostering unity and understanding among all people. His ability to convey complex messages in a clear and down-to-earth tone resonates with individuals from all walks of life. In a world often plagued by division and discord, Bishop Rutherford's constant and consistent message of love and peace is a much-needed reminder that together, we can create a better tomorrow.

The Divine Offices of Matins and Lauds are an integral part of the liturgy of the United Roman-Ruthenian Church. Matins, also sometimes called Morning Prayer, was traditionally recited before daybreak, but now may be any time in the morning. It consists of psalms, hymns, readings from scripture, and prayers. Lauds, on the other hand, traditionally celebrated at dawn, now typically follows immediately after Matins and consists of psalms, hymns, and thanksgiving.

This solemn occasion holds great significance in preparing our hearts and minds for the upcoming celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Through the Divine Offices, we are reminded of the anticipation and hope that filled the hearts of Mary and Joseph on the eve of our Savior's arrival.

One unique aspect of this occasion in the United Roman-Ruthenian Church is that it grants us the rare opportunity to witness His Holiness in the majestic cappa magna. The cappa magna is a voluminous and ornate cloak worn by bishops during certain special occasions and liturgical celebrations. Its grandeur symbolizes their role as shepherds guiding their flock through faith. By the ceremonial rules and tradition, it is only worn by the Bishop of Rome-Ruthenia for the solemn offices of Christmas and Ash Wednesday, and on penitential occasions. 

Bishop Rutherford leads Matins and
Lauds for the Vigil of Christmas.

The Vigil of Christmas is a time for reflection, spiritual preparation, and joyful anticipation. It serves as a reminder to embrace the true meaning of Christmas – the birth of Jesus Christ, who came into this world to bring hope, peace, and salvation to all humanity. As His Holiness Bishop Rutherford I led the prayers of the Divine Offices, his words resonated with a clear and direct tone. The prayers, psalms, hymns, and readings of the offices allowed for a deeper connection with the message of Christmas on a personal level, reminding us of the humility and love that lie at the heart of this holy season. These offices serve as a beacon of hope for those seeking solace in their faith. It is through events like these that we are reminded of the power of love and the potential for positive change it holds. May this sacred moment inspire us to embrace the spirit of Christmas in our daily lives and share its joy and love with those around us.