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The birth of our Lord Jesus Christ as an innocent child is the greatest witness of God's love for us. Therefore, this festive day filled with joy and light makes up one of the most beautiful celebrations of our Church, on which plenty of Orthodox faithful but also other religious believers gather together to celebrate. The Divine Liturgy, in Tirana, was celebrated at the "Resurrection of Christ" Cathedral and presided over by Archbishop Anastasios, who was assisted by His Grace Nathanail, Metropolitan of Amantia, Bishop Asti of Bylis and the clergy of the city.

In front of a crowded church, Bishop Asti read the Christmas message of Archbishop Anastasios, titled "The Transformation and the Essential Meaning of Christmas". In his message, His Beatitude emphasized that "Christmas celebrations, in traditional Christian societies, maintain something special. Christmas radiates light, peace, love, and hope. But because of the way we celebrate it in our secularized societies, the meaning of Christmas is often alienated and gets lost within the many decorations. The hysteria of consumerism and spiritual indifference undermine religious interest. Luxury and glamor distort the beauty of simplicity and innocence. And it is not about the outer part....” “The Church however insists on revealing the essential meaning of the celebration which is "God is love". God manifested His love to us sending His only-begotten Son to the world so that we could live by Him experiencing His truth, power, and grace. "God appeared in the flesh" (1 Timothy 3:16). This is what specifically distinguishes Christian faith from any other ideology or religious system. By emphasizing that God is love, it is clearly proclaimed that the Creator and Lord of the universe is not a personal and abundant energy, knowledge or power that man could approach through his intellectual abilities. But it is a personal God who shows His love establishing concrete relationships with the human race ...”

After the Divine Liturgy. Archbishop Anastasios informed the faithful about President Ilir Meta's decision to grant him Albanian citizenship. He thanked the President and recalled how this long-awaited decision was reached. Then, Bishop Asti read President Meta's letter addressed to His Beatitude, which was received with applause. Mr. Meta stated on his website the following, "Dear friends. On Christmas Eve, I am pleased to make public my decision about granting Albanian citizenship to the Archbishop of Tirana, Durres and all of Albania, His Beatitude Anastas Jannullatos. His contribution and dedication for 25 years has served not only the canonical and spiritual revival of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania and the education and preparation of the new generation of Albanian clerics but also the international affirmation and recognition of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania throughout the world. His Beatitude, in close collaboration with other religious leaders in Albania, has made an extraordinary contribution to strengthening the harmony, tolerance and inter-religious coexistence, which is a national value of our country. Blessed be the harmony and religious coexistence among Albanians!"



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