Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

All Russian Saints Day

Fr. Sergey Hakkel's parish
20 June 1982
Theme: Saints and Holiness   Place: Churches, religious bodies   Period: 1981-1985   Genre: Sermon

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

The piece of cloth upon which the Holy Mysteries are celebrated, which is here, on the Holy Table, was blessed by Metropolitan Boris of Odessa when he was our Exarch. He was a man tall and strong and one could feel that nothing could break his strength – he stood like an oak in the field of God. And now he is dead and nothing is left of him physically but a handful of dust. And yet, this small piece of cloth has survived him and may survive tens of years and perhaps a century or more. The Saints, whose memory we keep today, were in their time like him; people around them saw them standing tall, reaching heaven – and they have died. But it is not only a memory, a reminiscence that they left behind them; their bodies have been deposited in the earth, in that earth which God has made, in that earth out of which the first man was shaped and they sleep their earthly sleep. But they sleep, in a words of Christ, as a seed, deposited in a reach earth. They have died and yet they have borne fruit: a vast harvest of faith and of holiness, and of sacrifice, and of love, and of greatness of heart. They have died, but their words have remained; they have spoken words of life, words untainted with deceit, words as pure as gold, words as cutting as the edge of the sword; that sword of which Paul speaks when he says that the word of God divides everything within us… And they have left an example: like a seed, they have accepted to be sown, scattered, like a seed they have accepted to be broken and to die; like a seed they have brought fruit. It is in vain that we sing the praises of saints if in nowise we attempt to be like them, as they are like their Lord and their Savior. We also must be prepared to be sown and scattered; we also must be prepared for the Lord to take possession of us and break everything in us which is self, so that the light and the life of God may flow freely within and beyond us… When we think of the saints, let us remember their frailty, more frail than a cloth as light and frail as ashes and as dust and yet by the power and spirit of God – so strong that their names resound through the ages, their teaching is life for us, their example is a call for us, as Paul puts it, to be followers of them, as they were of Christ… Let us take these words seriously and truly… We have kept last week the feast of all saints; we keep today the memory of the saints of Russia; in a week – of those who have been the glory of this land and of Ireland; but the saints have this wonderful quality: that they are simultaneously the most wonderful expression of the spirit of their own country, and are as vast, as the whole world. They can contain it, they can reveal Christ Who lives in them to the world, while they remain faithful to their country, to their land and are the glory of this land. Let us thank God for all the Saints of God: for the Saints of Russia, we have so many followers now – millions who have followed in their footsteps, carrying their cross, shedding their blood in faithfulness and love; and the Saints of these Islands, Orthodox saints, in whose footsteps we are called to walk. Amen.

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