Excerpts from Sermons: It is impossible to live in the past.



By Fr. Dimitrius Basalygo

If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (cf. Matthew 16:24). Where shall we go, O Lord? The Lord replies, “I will lead you into My Kingdom, into the eternal life, into your resurrection.” The Lord leads us to our resurrection and into his Kingdom. We must not doubt it. However, it always means carrying our cross, although it doesn’t always imply extreme suffering and temptations. 

The path of following the Gospel commandments is already the path of the cross in this world that lies in iniquity and follows a totally different set of rules. The laws of the Heaven, the commandments of Christ are always a cross. “Let him deny himself” – that is the beginning of our journey, the journey according to the Gospel, the journey into God’s Kingdom. When we are born in this world, we inherit the pathology of self-centredness, egoism, egocentricity, self-promotion and rejection of others. We are living in the survival mode. This eat-or-be-eaten approach is emblazoned in our minds. However, the beginning of a new life lies in self-denial. The cross of Jesus Christ, his death and Resurrection have given us the opportunity to live a different life, a life that adheres to different rules – the rules and laws of the Heaven. It is hard to discard one’s own self. Even if we come to the Church, even if we turn to Jesus, even if we find a different way of life, we can still be infinitely centred on ourselves, on our own spiritual issues, and fail to notice anyone else, fail to attend worship and therefore be unable to drink from the source of Life. This focus on our own spiritual life is also a fallen path. We are saved in the Body of Christ. It is thanks to his wounds that we are healed. This is what we should discover. This is what we should experience. We claim this victory every time we enter a church. This is the victory that we partake of when we attend the Divine Liturgy and take communion. This is what every holiday, every divine office, every Liturgy is about – the Cross of Jesus Christ, combined with his victory and his permission for us to enjoy the fruit of that victory.

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You can waste your entire life sleeping. Your rank or post doesn’t matter: you can waste your life by walking past Christ even if you keep doing something all the time and don’t even have a moment to spare. (Sermon after the Divine Liturgy on April 11, 2017)

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St John Climacus writes in the beginning of his book The Ladder that it is not because we didn’t make miracles or didn’t raise people from the dead or didn’t heal the ill but because we did not repent that we will be judged on the Judgement Day. Repentance is available to everyone but it is not like we often imagine it to be – a formal description of our sins or circumstances of our lives. It is an inner transformation, when we are terrified at how bad we are. It is thanks to this realisation that our lives and thoughts are transformed. Repentance is a change of mind, and thus, a change in our actions and relationships with God and other people. Meanwhile, we would like to purify our souls easily just by listing our sins. We have turned our relationship with God into a mere formality, a mere bureaucratic procedure. It is easier this way, indeed. It is easier for us to look for guarantees in the Sacrament of Repentance, in the absolution prayer, instead of transforming our lives, changing our minds, and starting to look at ourselves, our neighbours, and the entire world differently. We may never do anything great but repentance is something every one of us can do. (Sermon after the All-Night Vigil on March 25, 2017)

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Christians nowadays are afraid of the Second Coming of Christ, the Last Judgement, and the end of the world. The very things that used to bring us joy and hope, the things that made people excited, are perceived very differently. Yes, Lord, we believe and anticipate the Kingdom of Heaven, of course, but not here and now. We don’t want to experience everything that precedes it – the sorrows, the suffering, and the agony of this fallen world. This can be attributed to the fact that we Christians have lost the sensation that the Kingdom of God is coming, and that it has already come into this world, and it is in our midst, as we become its members each time we partake of the Sacraments of the Church. The Church is the Kingdom of God that comes with power and might. The Good News is that the Kingdom of God is not just anticipated but that it is the meaning and the main value of our Christian life. The Kingdom of God is already in our midst. (Sermon after Vespers on April 10, 2017)

By Fr. George Glinsky

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh told his audience about a conversation that he had had with a young army officer in Moscow in Soviet times. The young man asked him, possibly not fully aware of what he was saying, “Please tell me: you believe in God but who does God believe in?” Metropolitan Anthony replied, “We believe in God; and He with all his omnipotence believes in us. He believes that we will become the kind of people that we must become, that we will really be his children, that we who carry his image will also grow into his likeness, like children who grow and gradually take after their parents both in their appearance and behaviour.” Similarly, we who call ourselves Christians should also become like God in our life one day. 

We should learn to become merciful and compassionate. If one can show compassion; if one is not afraid to admit his weaknesses; if one supports the rejected and those who are in extreme life situations, those who are oppressed; if one risks becoming unpopular by helping such people – in so doing he demonstrates great power and wisdom. This is the wisdom of Christ. Suffering for the sake of the rejected is a great feat for God’s sake. If we alleviate the suffering of the people around us just a little, we will accomplish something that is greater than all fasts, prayers, and everything else. This is because our Christian asceticism is entirely rooted in our neighbour whom we are to see in spite of the obstacles of our daily routines, our own personalities and everything that blocks our eyes and prevents us from seeing God. (Sermon after the Divine Liturgy on March 29, 2017)

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If you read the Gospel attentively, you will see that the Lord tells us that we should do our best to lay our souls for the sake of our neighbours. It means that we should devote our lives to serving people around us. The Lord says that whatever we do for one of these small people, we do for his sake. If we devote our entire lives to helping the light of the Resurrection of Christ to shine in the people who are around us, at least those who are especially close and precious to us, we will do it for the sake of Christ Himself, who died for our sins, rose from the dead, and granted us the Heavenly Kingdom and the eternal life. (Sermon after the All-Night Vigil on March 28, 2017)

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The Church reminds that the purpose in the life of a Christian is to strive for inner changes. It is impossible to live in the past. Sure, you may and should remember the past. You should remember who you used to be, or, more precisely, who you used to turn yourself into when you disfigured yourself with sin. However, you must realise what God calls you up for, go forward and trust God without doubt or fear. There must not be any obstacle on this path. (Sermon after the All-Night Vigil on February 9, 2017)


By Fr. Valery Zakharov

Why is despondency such a terrible sin? It is because it amounts to not trusting God.

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We repent but remain unsure if the Lord forgives us or not. We call upon God but we still doubt whether God can hear us. The miracle is not that the Lord is capable of everything. Regardless of how much we doubt his love and question his actions, He keeps showing his mercy, his trust, and his boundless patience to us time and time again. Having endowed us with the right to choose, He expects us to start using it properly and to lay our cares upon him at last; He wants us to submit our lives into His hands, and, seeing his attitude towards us, feeling his love, to try and respond to it with gratitude. The road to God has to be more than just an effort but also give us an opportunity to enjoy meeting him even here, on Earth. (Sermon after the Divine Liturgy in the Boarding Home for Children with Special Needs on April 8, 2017)

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Suffering makes our road to God shorter.(Sermon after the Divine Liturgy on March 21, 2017)


By Fr. Andrew Lemeshonok

We should build our lives on love but what do we build it on? We build our lives on human knowledge and experience, which cannot be used for building our innermost temple and the eternal life. Our knowledge and skill is not enough to defeat the devil and to be free. This is why of course, we need Christ. Yes, He is always with us but we are not always with him. He is always waiting for us and is always calling, “Come to Me.” Unfortunately, we do not always want him to be so close and we hide from him. This is because we want to justify our sins, we want to insist on our own way of doing things, even though the love of Christ admonishes us, and we understand that if we accept him, then we will have to deny our own opinion, our own desires, our own plans, and to say, “Lord, my life is in your hands, instead of mere chance or luck. It isn’t in my plans that I make, especially given that I make them totally wrong.” Therefore, my dear parishioners, we learn to live this new life, and the Lord gives us this new life in abundance. We must accept it and tend to it with care, keeping it deep inside our hearts.

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A human being is just a creature but it is God’s creature. It is in the Creator, in God, that we find the new life, the fullness of life. It is thanks to him that we realise that all our problems can be attributed to the fact that we lack peace, we do not trust God and we doubt and hesitate.

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We often tell God, “We’ve got no time, we are tired, we have so much to do in our lives. See you later.” God keeps waiting and waiting for months and years. He waits for the time when a person eventually says, “Lord, save me, help me, make me wise, teach me.” This is when his life certainly changes.

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The Convent is not a brick and mortar building. Neither is it the gold on the domes and crosses. The Convent is love, which we must experience. Unfortunately, we do not experience it today, and this is our problem. However, we’ve got some time for repentance, for correcting ourselves and changing our lives. We have a lot to change, rebuild, and refurbish in our current life. The Lord will always help us. (Sermon after the All-Night Vigil on April 8, 2017)

May 18, 2017

St. Elisabeth Convent



CONVERSATION

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