Dear Mother Abbess, fathers, brothers and sisters! First of all, I would like to congratulate you all with the feast day, for today is the day of the discovering of the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God. That miraculous event happened in our Motherland 100 years ago. […]
100 years passed since the moment when the enemy of the humankind tried to destroy our Holy Church and our Motherland, to devastate Orthodoxy. However, with God’s help and under the protection of the Mother of God, people managed to save the Church with their effort, sufferings and standing by their faith. Many of them reached salvation through that.
It was a hard time. A lot of blood was spilled. People suffered and had to face, often unfair, exiles, concentration camps and even death. Many people can ask a question: “So, where is God? Why does He allow such horrible sufferings to happen? If He is Love, then why is blood spilled? Why do people kill each other? Where is God, Who is called the Perfect Love by the Church?” Difficult questions. They are especially difficult to those who are far from the Church. However, for those who live a true Christian life, everything is clear.
Imagine yourself that we will look through the camera on mute at what is going on in a hospital. A doctors receives his patients. We cannot hear what they are talking about, we can only see. We understand that the doctor wants to do good for people who come to him. How can we react if we see without hearing that for one people he prescribes a trip to a rest home, for the second person – in-patient treatment, while the third one has to be got on the gurney and brought to the operating table? Unwillingly we begin to wonder, how can this be so that one person gets a ticket to the rest home or some special pills, while the other one is going to be cut? Insanity! What a disgrace! What for should this person be cut?
In fact, here we can see an example of a wise attitude towards all people. All patients are sick, but they all need a different treatment. One needs curative muds and mineral waters, so he is sent to the rest home; the other needs some meds; the third needs vitamins, while it comes out that the fourth person is gravely ill: his organs are in bad condition and this is why he needs a surgery. Is this doctor unfair or severe? However, we do not what is going on in the doctor’s cabinet and can misunderstand it. The main thing any doctor tries to achieve is to help a person to recover, to stay alive.
Around the same happens in our spiritual life. We could not understand why the Lord allowed those troubled years, the October revolution and the internecine war happen. If the Lord is really the Perfect Love, then everything what happened was because of our sins and crimes. The Lord is looking for salvation for every person. Looking back at the past 100 years of our Motherland’s history, we can say: “O Lord, You are really merciful, You are the Loving Father, You want to give every person a possibility to save their souls”. With all those exiles and sufferings, some people redeemed their sins. At the same time, those people, who committed all those horrifying crimes and murders, became the instruments of the judgement of God. If we study our history thoroughly, we can notice that many of the people, who had killed clerics, monastics and simple people after the October revolution, were exiled or executed during the 20-30s; those of them who participated in murders during the 30s, died during the Great Patriotic War; and those of them who survived, suffered much during the years of collectivization and after-war period. God gave everyone an opportunity to go through the way of purifying fire and sufferings to save their souls.
I had an opportunity to communicate with many clerics. Fr. Leonid, a well-known local archpriest, with whom I had very good relations, died in Moscow last year. He passed away in his old age. During the last years of his life he told me: “Your Grace, how much our Lord loves His children! If only you knew, how sincerely all those people, who had mocked the Church, repented before their death. We, priests, do not repent as those people did! I guided many of them in the sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion, I also performed the burial services for many of them. If only you knew, how sincerely they repented! How great if our Lord! He wants everyone to be saved!”
Maybe not all people know about this… Maybe many people condemn them. But the Lord knows everyone and knows the feelings of any person: why did they reject God? Why did they leave the Church? The Lord wants every person to be saved and knocks at every person’s heart. We only need very little: to feel this knock inside and hear the appeal to salvation and open the heart for Christ and say: “O Lord, I want You save my sole, too, and bring it to the Kingdom of Heaven. But I am unworthy of it, so You forgive me and be merciful upon me!” Then the Lord, as the Loving Father, will forgive anyone who wants to be with God.
I would like to wish that the lesson of the 20th century becomes an example for those who wants to live according to their own will, passions and human desires. May this lesson be a precaution for other people, so that they do not repeat the mistake of the previous generations. Thank God, today we are not persecuted, tortured or exiled. We live in a free country, where you can believe in God, come to a church and pray, do good deeds of love and mercy. The doors are open for every one of those who wants to devote his life to serving God in our holy monasteries and churches. So, I would like to wish that this God’s grace always remains on our blessed land! Amen.
An excerpt from the sermon by Metropolitan Paul of Minsk and Zaslavl
on the feast day of the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God
March 15, 2017
St. Elisabeth Convent