Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

Remembrance Sunday

November 14, 1999
Theme: Death, Human values, Current events   Place: London Parish   Period: 1996-2000   Genre: Sermon

We are keeping today the Remembrance Sunday. We remember, yes, we must remember and never forget all those who in the wars, in the horrors of the revolution, through illness, through hunger, through wounds and what is perhaps more terrifying – in concentration camps, in prisons, in the horrors of mutual hatred, in torture have died in the course of centuries but particularly in the two last wars which some of us still remember. We will pray that after what they have suffered they might be given by Christ peace, a peace which their bodies are waiting for in the graves, waiting for the resurrection, but peace of heart, a peace which is not forgetting but can not be acquired unless looking at what happened and at those who have been the cause of their death, who have been their torturers, who have broken their lives, who before their eyes have made their beloved ones die horrible death of hunger and torture, pray that those people who have endured that may have the greatness of heart to turn to God and say, “Lord, they did not know what they were doing!” But we have no right to forget, we must remember because it is forgetfulness that made it possible for the horrors of the world to take place again.
We must remember and we must learn to face the horror and if we were victims of it, to the extent to which we can try to forgive because as one modern theologian had said, even God can not forgive if the victim does not forgive.
Let us pray for the repose of all those who have perished in the course of history but particularly of the last hundred years, in the First, in the Second World Wars but not only in those wars. Don’t we remember what happened in the Russian revolution: the camps, the torture chambers, – don’t we remember what happened in Hungary, in Czechoslovakia, what is happening now in the Balkans? Can we forget?
Let us therefore pray for the eternal repose of those who have suffered and died and pray that nothing of the sort could occur again. We will be standing with lit candles testifying our faith in the Resurrection but also testifying that everyone who died a martyr’s death has been a light before our eyes, has lit our way, has kindled a spark of generosity, of courage, of faithfulness in us also. And let us try, let us try to become such candles shining before all people so that others may be kindled and learn from the suffering of others.
And it is not only alien people who are responsible for what had been happening in the centuries. In the last two thousand years more than three thousand wars have opposed Christians to one another and being the cause of murder of a Christian brother by a Christian brother. That should never have happened but we must rather die than allow it to happen again.
In Russian history we have the example of Boris and Gleb whose brother wanted their death to take their place for the throne of Kiev. They could resist and one of them said to the other and to those who surrounded them, “Let us die, let him kill us without resisting so that if blood is to be shed it should be ours.” This is the example which we can keep in our hearts and which can bring to Christ Who also has joy to die for us to live, because the Cross is His death and our resurrection. Amen.

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