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.
"And when the centurion, who stood near Him,
saw that He so cried out and gave up the spirit,
he said, 'Truly, this man was the Son of God'".
Thus began the faith of the centurion. It is clear that this cry of Christ expressed a treasure of moral content in a spirit which the centurion understood. Such a connection between a tormenting cry of the soul and the beginning of a new grace-filled life in one who has heard it, is found repeatedly in the Holy Scripture. We will begin a survey of these places in the Scripture with the most dramatic one, found in the Book of Esdras:
I lifted my eyes, and on my right hand I saw a woman, and behold, she mourned and wept with a loud voice, and was deeply grieved in heart, and her clothes were torn, and she had ashes upon her head.
As the Fathers say, the extremes from both sides are equally harmful ...
We must) go on the royal path, avoiding the extremes on both sides.
St. John Cassian, Conference II
ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS live today in one of the great critical times in the history of Christ's Church. The enemy of man's salvation, the devil, attacks on all fronts and strives by all means not merely to divert believers from the path of salvation shown by the Church, but even to conquer the Church of Christ itself, despite the Saviour's promise (Matt. 16:18), and to convert the very Body of Christ into an "ecumenical" organization preparing for the coming of his own chosen one, Antichrist, the great world-ruler of the last days.
Of course, we know that this attempt of Satan will fail; the Church will be the Bride of Christ even to the end of the world and will meet Christ the Bridegroom at His Second Coming pure and undefiled by adulterous union with the apostasy of this age. But the great question of our times for all Orthodox Christians to face is a momentous one: the Church will remain, but how many of us will still be in it, having withstood the devil's mighty attempts to draw us away from it?