Sometimes I come to a confession and tell about things that I did but this is not repentance, it’s a report of my actions. Repentance begins when my soul starts feeling sad because I did something wrong; it begins when I ask God to correct me. There is no set standard for it. Everyone has his own measure and of course it keeps shifting all the time. It does not originate from us: we ask God to give us this opportunity to see and repent. (Sermon Before a Confession in the Boarding Home for Children with Special Needs on December 30, 2016)
The world is always trying to keep us on leash, it keeps saying, “Live and be happy but never look higher than your own nose.” The Church, on the other hand, calls us to “lift up our hearts.” The Church offers us – the dirty ones, defiled and deformed by sin – to taste the holies of holies. Just come and partake of the Body and the Blood. This is the Life, the New Life that must reign supreme in each one of us.
We must become free. We can achieve this freedom only when we start following Christ till the end, when we begin to trust God. It takes a lot of pain. You can’t achieve it on your way to something else: you have to sweat and spend years struggling for real prayer – for these three words “Lord have mercy,” which must take roots inside your heart and not just be uttered by your mouth. (Sermon after the All-Night Vigil on August 27, 2016)
Andrey Rublev, a classic film by Tarkovsky, contains a horrorful episode when the Mongols break into the city. We see a devastated church. It is snowing inside the church because the dome is destroyed, and icons are burning… Something similar happens to our soul when we allow sin to dwell in us, when we give in to a temptation. It takes a lot of effort to restore everything after such rampage. This is why we should try to keep the enemy, who always besieges our inner city, at bay; we should try to keep up our defence. We should remember that God’s presence inside a human’s heart is sacred, so we should treat it with immense care. We should also treat people around us with great care, because people are sacred, too. However, we often treat each other with little respect. Our close and not-so-close friends and acquaintances annoy us, and we sometimes want to simply be let alone. In fact, if we attempt to see God in the people around us, if we recall that the Lord dwells in their hearts as well as in ours, this will help and invigorate us. (Sermon after the Divine Liturgy on October 16, 2016)
By Father Sergius Phalei
The Lord wants the soul of every person to be God’s dominion. He wants us to do all it takes to make sure that our hearts are always open to the Lord. This is why we undertake this labor - spiritual labor. We learn to live with God. We learn to preserve and value what we receive (and we mostly receive it in the church) thanks to our living as Christians, thanks to our trying to do more good in our lives, trying to support, help, and comfort our neighbour. May God help each person to have a heart like this - a pure, humble, and loving heart. (Sermon after the Divine Liturgy on January 13, 2017)
We believe that sorrows and even death of a believer who tolerates everything with faith and accepts everything as if from God’s hand will eventually turn out as joy for him: joy in the Lord, joy from inheritance of eternal life.
It will cost us a lot of sorrows to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. We have a lot of troubles but in these troubles we have the Lord and the Church, which protects, cares, cleanses, restores us and gives us life like a loving mother. (Sermon after the Divine Liturgy on January 6, 2017)
By Father Dmitrius Basalygo
Humans have known about asceticism, purity, and freedom from passions long before the advent of Christ. Think Buddha, yoga masters, Oriental religions and philosophies that are older than Christianity. People felt that they had to struggle for their lives, their purity. They felt that passions could kill a man and break him into pieces. However, it wasn’t until Christ came to this world that this struggle started to make sense. You see, you can fight your passions, and more than that - you can even win and become free from them - but you can still be thinking like flesh. How is this? It means you can still be unable to grasp what salvation and unity with God means and what the purpose of Christian life is, but instead trust yourself, your natural qualities, your own purity. Isn’t this self-hope a characteristic of flesh? True asceticism is always an endeavour to free oneself from everything that separates us from God and other people, namely, passions and sins. We receive the fullness of life through the Divine Liturgy, through the Eucharist, but we still continue to put our hopes on ourselves even in the midst of it, and we queue for confession hoping for our inborn qualities and expecting to improve them. In fact, we walk past the Life itself. Aren’t we driven by the flesh, all the while thinking that we are led by the spirit? (Sermon after the Divine Liturgy on January 10, 2017)
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