"Behold, the time of our salvation is near!
"Behold, the time of our salvation is near! Prepare yourself, o cave, for the Virgin is approaching to give birth."
With this hymn, the sacred hymn-writer is inducting us into the supreme feast-day of the Nativity of our Saviour Jesus Christ. On hearing these beautiful words, we instinctively bring to mind a similar hymnological phrase of the Great Lent:
"Behold, a welcome time; behold, a time for repentance".
The connection between the two is a profound one, given that there would be no sense in the material cave of Bethlehem preparing itself. The inference here is for us to prepare the cave of our hearts, and this can only be achieved through repentance.
It is not our desire that our wishes for these holy days be the conventional ones, as they are a given fact, and from within our soul. Our wish, and our exhortation to all, is that "we make a beginning", as we say in monastic terminology. In other words, may this Christmas be a new spiritual beginning, with even more zeal for struggles, so that the Nativity of our sweetest Jesus may continuously take place within the caves of our hearts.
With heartfelt wishes and love in the new-born Christ,
† Archmandrite Cyril