On June 10, on the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost, as well as Sunday of All the Saints of the Land of Rus’, our Parish family gathered for the liturgical celebration at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily in English:
“Today’s 2nd Sunday after Pentecost is dedicated to All the Saints which were glorified in the Lands of Rus’. To be precise, this is the holy day to honor the Saints of our local Church, the Russian Orthodox Church.”
“Holding such celebration today, we should consider what do we have in common and what makes our spiritual past unique and special? Every nation or every culture contributes something to the treasury of human existence. It is agreed that the Jews gave the humanity the true faith in one God; the Greeks gave the wisdom of philosophy; and the Romans gave the order of the law. If we think of Italy, we call it beautiful. If we think of America, we appreciate its good business. If we think of Germany, we know it is famous for order and neatness. And when we think of Rus’, we recall that it used to be called “Holy”. Our spiritual heritage is the Holy Rus’. This is our uniqueness, to be part of the culture of holiness. Of course, Rus’ and Russia had never been truly holy. There were a lot of terrible crimes and transgressions committed by its rulers and by regular people in the course of history. However, to be holy was the ideal to which our ancestors were striving despite their weaknesses and errors. If we think well, we may see that not all Italy is beautiful. We may also see that not every American is a good businessman: in fact, lots of Americans are lazy and living on a welfare programs. Even in Germany, not everything is so neat and in order. But there is a tendency, an ideal to which those nations are striving. Same is with our spiritual culture.”
“Unfortunately, many of the heirs of the Holy Rus’ are now not living up to their spiritual ideals. Today’s stereotypes suggest that if we think of a Russian, it is a drunkard, a lazy man or even some villain. Take modern jokes about different nationalities: they all say that. But there was a time in the past when the jokes were different. And not just jokes. Some European thinker in the 19th century wrote: “The Englishman wants to see the world as a factory, the Frenchman as a salon, the German as a barracks, but the Russian as a Church”. Thus, it was so different some two hundred years ago. The ideals of the Holy Rus’ were so alive but spiritual wellness of the Russian people so deteriorated that today we may only feel sorry about our glorious past.”
“But it would be incorrect to seek the solutions in the past only. As I said, Russia had never been really holy. And what happened to it a century ago – all those terrible events such as revolution, civil war and the years of a godless regime – all this was a result of that insufficient holiness. We need to look at the future but to learn from the past. And if we wish to restore our ideals of the Holy Rus’, we need to embrace the attitude of true Christianity, not an attitude of this world. We need to seek God and His Kingdom. Our call not to be so beautiful, not to be so successful in business, not so neat and orderly, but to show the world holiness. This is a very difficult path but we should go through it.”
“If we feel weak and unsure, we need to recall our Saints whom we honor today. They were our relatives either by blood or by common culture. They were able to please God by their lives, so can we. Every century and every period of history our Church bore many holy men and women who dedicated their lives to God and to Christian ideals. Even in modern times when so many heirs of the Holy Rus’ became unholy and turned against God and His Church, we know about a great number of our Saints. Fearsome times of the godless power revealed so many New Martyrs and Confessors that their number impresses everyone. Their testimony shows that despite the dominant tendency of atheism and despite the temporary victory of godless powers, many faithful souls chose to belong to God and to suffer for Christ.”
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us pray to the Saints of Rus’, so they may intercede for us before the merciful Lord, that they may ask Him to restore our sanctity, that the light of holiness in the lands of Rus’ would not fade away and that our future would see the Russian Church continuing to shine with its holy men and women!”
The choir beautifully performed the hymns dedicated to the Russian Saints during preparation for Holy Communion.
Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian conveying the ideas of his English homily.