My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
A SERMON ON FAITH
[A sermon given during a service for the taking of Monastic vows in Sretensky Monastery]
Our Lord expects faith from us. Faith, and nothing more. Faith in the spirit of God. Faith in Him, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Today in our monastery we have a special occasion--a new monk has appeared in this world. In detail we heard from the Scripture today; the Lord has placed a child before him and has said: "Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven" (St. Matthew 18:3).
Everyone after taking his vows appears before the Lord like a child, innocent--with a new life opening before him. And now it all depends on the monk himself: will he remain as pure of heart as a child standing before his Savior? From our teachings we know that the innocent boy set before the Lord was the future Saint Ignatius, who suffered martyrdom for Christ, and yet remained true to Him in spite of everything. Or will he choose a different path, and be true only to his own desires that he will hold u as a law for himself and the entire world? Will he try to deceive everyone and in the end deceive only himself?
Our Lord expects faithfulness from us. And from you, our new brother monk! Faithfulness above all. To your monastic vows. To obedience. Faithfulness in humility. Faithfulness to your commitment to love above all else in this world our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, and to prefer nothing and no one else in this world to Him.
If you can remain true to this, your new covenant with God, which you have made today upon taking your vows, then many people will come through you to salvation and eternal life. Yet if, God forbid, the human heart and the heart of the monk are focused on himself and not upon the Almighty, if we do not keep faith with God, then the very worst possible thing that could happen to us will occur--the senseless life of a monk. And there is absolutely nothing worse than that! But you have been given all the weapons you need to help you to victory.
The Lord has encouraged you with the remarkable words that you have heard upon taking your vows. We have all prayed for you. A remarkable and beautiful path is opening before you. It is full of struggle and of temptation, but it is also full of incomparable meaning, joy, and happiness that the rest of the world simply cannot comprehend.
May God help all of us, brothers and sisters, to be faithful to our calling: After all, "the vow of faithfulness is not just for us monks alone." As Saint Ephraim the Syrian wrote: "the Lord does not seek the monk or the layperson, the scholar or the simpleton, the rich man or the pauper, but only the heart that thirsts for God, full of a sincere desire to be true to Him and His Commandments!"
May God give us understanding of this faith, for it gives our lives meaning. In exchange for our faith in Him, Christ gives His disciples and students everlasting joy and strength and courage to surmount all temptations we will face as we go through life. Amen. (Source: "Everyday Saints and Other Stories," by Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov) )
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God