Before us is the Cross. This is the Cross of Christ. But on Golgotha there were two more crosses: Christ in the middle and on either side of Him were crucified two thieves. Christ on the Cross performed the sacrifice of redemption for the whole world. But what brought those crucified with Him to these crosses? Their crimes — after all, they were thieves.
What made them thieves? There was a time when they were innocent children and maybe even played together. This was the bright time of childhood. And later, they felt, as each of us does, two opposing forces influencing them: a good one and a bad one. And their will had to yield to either one or the other side. In the beginning they wavered, but later on, because the evil appeared more alluring, they began more and mc/e often to consent to the evil. At first, conscience reproached them, but later it became hardened and stopped tormenting them. And then, without a backward glance, they completely took the side of evil. First, in the realm of will and feelings, and later they fell into open crimes which brought them to these crosses, to death sentences. And here they were both dying. Not only their hours, but even their minutes were numbered. And between them the Lord was dying on His Cross. One of the hanging criminals reviled Him. But the other, on the contrary, silenced the abusive one and said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise" (Lk. 23:42-43).
Brothers and sisters, we have lived this week in the light of last Sunday — the Triumph of Orthodoxy. A wonderful feature was pointed out to us in the Gospel which was then read:
Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found Him, of Whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? (Jn. 1:45-46).
Today, brethren, we celebrate the beloved feast day of the Triumph of Orthodoxy. Every year, cathedral churches are over-filled with pious throngs of worshipers, and the most fervent of them, especially in the God-beloved city of Moscow, gather long before Liturgy begins in order to occupy a choice spot, in order to see and hear everything; those who come later can barely enter the church.
This year the Triumph of Orthodoxy is being celebrated in our capital city under two exceptional circumstances. The first one is that this year the Sunday of Orthodoxy is celebrated not where it has been over the course of four and a half centuries, not in the ancient Uspensky Cathedral, but in our new Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ. Of course, this church is four times larger than Uspensky, where the multitude of clergymen are provided with a much grander venue then in the old smaller cathedral. But this is not the reason why the celebration of the Sunday of Orthodoxy was moved to the new cathedral. It was not external accommodation that forced the Church of Moscow to change its ancient tradition, to celebrate Orthodox Christianity before the miraculous relics of great Saints and the miracle-working image of the Mother of God.
Probably many of you know that in one of the monastery, when there was a quarrel between one of the brothers, between the monk or novice, the spiritual father would not let them read the Lord's Prayer. Why? Because we pray this prayer: "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive our debtors." Ie, forgive us our sins (debts that - sins), because we forgive our debtors. Or, insofar as we forgive our debtors. "So," - said the spiritual father of his spiritual son - "if you leave it to your neighbor sins, it means that you ask the Lord that He would not forgive your sins. And I do not want you to pray about it. Therefore until you make up, do not read the Lord's Prayer. " Himself understood that immediately becomes restless and always came to mind: "What I actually Christian, if I do not have the right to read the main Christian prayer?" And it quickly led to realize the necessity to reconcile.
Thus, the Lord's mercy, mercy forgiveness of our sins, posing in full communication with the way we ourselves forgive those who are against us guilty.
Now that Great Lent is just about to begin, on the last Saturday before Great Lent the Church commemorates together all the holy fathers who shone forth in the ascetic life, that is, all our great ascetics and venerable God-bearing fathers throughout all of church history, as an example to us of how we should discipline ourselves with prayer and fasting. These were saints who fulfilled the Gospel words “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Mt. 11:29-30). They came to the Lord and learned from Him, became gentle and lowly in heart, and found rest for their souls because His yoke is easy and His burden light.
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Because of my office as Metropolitan I visit many parishes and serve not only in this holy Temple, but also in other Churches, I must say that in other churches I find the people there to be more attentive listeners than here. There I never see people leaving before the sermon begins. The clergy and servers in the altar, the singers in the choir and all the praying people listen to the sermon. Unfortunately, in the Synod Cathedral Church we observe something different. Just now quite a few left the church, probably thinking they know everything anyway and need no instruction. And it is possible also that they did not hear today's Gospel and so they will not even learn what is awaiting them at the Last Judgment. The Church however offers us this discourse by Christ concerning this Judgment to make us note what will be expected of the human race at the threshold of eternity; at the end of mankind's history.
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
This is not the first time we have spoken in this sacred church about the impossibility of grasping the unapproachable and incomprehensible nature of the Divinity, concerning which the Church says that “it is impossible for men to see God.” God’s infinite glory and holiness can not be contemplated even by the holy Angels and Archangels. But the MORAL essence of the Divinity is revealed to us, and thus we know from the Holy Scriptures that God is Love.
It is often said that man can not be an adequate object for divine Love, because there is an immeasurable abyss which lies between creation and the Creator. But there is a power which somehow eliminates this abyss and makes man closer to his Creator: it is love. This can be perceived through this im¬perfect analogy: Let us Imagine a grown-up and stable man who enjoys a respectable place in society, but who all of a sudden should start to play with soap-bubbles; everyone would laugh. But under different circumstances, this kind of activity would be perfectly understandable. This reliable and responsible worker comes home after a hard day’s work, tired and just want¬ing to rest. He sees his little child at play, and the father begins himself to play with him, forgetting his tiredness and heartily sharing the excitement of his baby son. Why? Because when man loves, then he experiences and loves the same as his friend. Parental love eliminated the difference between a grown¬up man and a little boy. Of course this is only an imperfect analogy.
God, I thank Thee, that I am not as other men are,
extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
To understand the meaning of this parable, we must first eliminate the erroneous interpretation of it. This erroneous interpretation dominates in our secular society, which is not averse to mentioning it in idle talk about the Pharisee in question; but in a totally wrong view of his personality. For our contemporaries, the very word “Pharisee”, before they are conscious or it, conjures an understanding of Pharisees in general as conscious hypocrites…. evil, envious, and dissolute.
The Council of Bishops of The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in 1956 Mahopac, NY.
1. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is an indissoluble part of the Russian Orthodox Church, and for the time until the extermination in Russia of the atheist government, is self-governing on conciliar principles in accordance with the resolution of the Patriarch, the Most Holy Synod, and the Highest Church Council [Sobor] of the Russian Church dated 7/20 November, 1920, No. 362.
2. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is composed of those who are outside the borders of Russia and are guided by the lawful hierarchy of a diocese with their parishes, church communities, spiritual missions and monasteries.
3. The basic task of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia is the preservation abroad of complete independence of the Russian Orthodox Church from atheistic and anti-Christian forces and the overall spiritual nourishment of the Orthodox Russian flock in the diaspora, independent of nationality; and in particular, the preservation and strengthening in the souls of the faithful flock the purity and wholeness of the holy Orthodox faith; and the encouragement of devotion in the flock, dispersed throughout the world, to the suffering Mother Church.
On January 23rd (the 10th by the old calendar) the Church commemorates the holy Russian hierarch Saint Theophan the Recluse.
St. Theophan was born Georgiy Vasilyevich Govorov on January 10, 1815 in the Chernavskoye village of the Yeletsk county in the Orlov province. The young Georgiy received his primary education at home. In 1823 he entered a religious school, while in 1829, as one of the school’s top students, he was transferred to the Orlov Seminary. The latter was headed by Archimandrite Isidor, who later became a well-known hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. After graduating from the seminary with top honors in 1836, Georgiy Govorov was assigned to the Kiev Theological Academy. In his last year of study Georgiy Govorov decided to dedicate himself entirely to serving the Church in a monastic capacity. In 1841 he was tonsured a monk with the name of Theophan, was subsequently ordained a hierodeacon, and soon afterwards became a hieromonk. In that same year Hieromonk Theophan graduated from the academy among its top students and began his service in the pedagogical field in various religious schools and academies. In this endeavor he showed himself to be a talented educator and a wonderful teacher. Being aware that the spiritual education of youth constitutes a great responsibility before God, Father Theophan tried to treat the future pastors primarily with kindness, love, and meekness.