Source: Basilica News Agency
December 16, 2015
A portion of the speech of His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of Romania, delivered at the traditional Christmas carol concert of the Romanian Patriarchate entitled "The Dayspring From on High," organized by the Basilica Press Center at the Romanian Athenaeum, December 16, 2015.
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Christmas carols represent the liveliest expression of the tradition of the Romanian people through which the mystery of God’s love towards mankind shown in Jesus Christ is poetically presented.
In the Romanian tradition, carols are characterized by their theological depth and by the simplicity of their form, as a lively manifestation of popular theological and spiritual culture.
The multitude of Romanian popular carols, their abundance of meanings and the love of Romanians for carols can be explained by the familiarity of simple persons with the difficulties and the hardship of poor families; a similar situation was well known to the Virgin Mary and Righteous Joseph, when baby Jesus was born in a sheep stable in Bethlehem.
The indifference of the citizens of Bethlehem regarding the housing of the pilgrims, the coldness of the cave, the simplicity of the manger, the poverty of a mother giving birth to baby Jesus during a journey, the wickedness of King Herod of Judea, and the flight of the child Jesus to a foreign country due to persecution: all these were trials similar to those suffered by many Romanians throughout history. Witnesses of the faith enduring suffering, placed in a beautiful and rich country, but geographically located "in the way of all evils," as the chronicler (NT: Grigore Ureche) says, meaning that the country is located at the cross-section of migrating peoples and of invading wars, at the intersection of often hostile empires, a people mistreated and humiliated by oppressive dominions and harmful ideologies, although having endured much suffering and crucifixions throughout history, Romanians have always kept their apostolic faith in the Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus Christ, holding fast to the hope of abiding even in suffering.
Creations of ancient Romanian folklore, but always enriched by new songs, carols were born from the profound experience of the mystery of the purity of the child Jesus and of the goodness of St. Nicholas, as a light of the merciful love of the heavenly Father.
The custom of singing carols, of visiting different houses and heralding by song the birth of the child Jesus in the cave of Bethlehem, is still kept in Romania today. It is our specific way of delighting in the feast of Christmas. Although some old customs and traditions have disappeared in urban areas, caroling has remained a component of the feast, a joy for the children and youth that sing carols, and also for those who receive the carolers and offer gifts as a recompense for their labor.
This beautiful tradition must always represent a renewal of the calling of each Christian to be a messenger or an apostle of Christ’s love into the world. That is why the Church urges us all to become carolers, witnesses and messengers of Christ’s coming to earth, in order to grant peace and joy, salvation and eternal life to the entire world!
Let us keep, cultivate and promote these carols and holy hymns, inherited from our parents and ancestors, because by using simple words they carry essential truths and teachings for our faith and life. These essential truths represent the foundation stones on which we can always build our loving communion with God and with our fellow man. In this respect, faith in God, merciful love, the kindness of the heart, sincere love without hypocrisy, and all other spiritual values promoted by Christmas carols represent rays of light, of peace and joy, of hope and courage, that spring forth from the humbleness and the holiness of the child Jesus, born in the cave of Bethlehem.