St. John of Kronstadt Cathedral, City of Gai, 07.01.2023


It happens that in our life, in our everyday life, there are not many holy things, or something lofty and inspiring, but everything is mundane, ordinary and common. While our souls yearn for something… such as some holy moments. This happens because, as Dostoevsky said, our soul is Christian by its nature. It needs these feelings. Sometimes it wants to raise itself a little above this mundanity; it wants something high-flown.   We try to do this in some earthly things: someone becomes fascinated by art, poetry, or falls for philosophy. However, a soul needs God. A soul does not simply need some high-flown thoughts. Thoughts are just thoughts. A soul needs the Person. 

Every nation on earth without exception, even if we take the most remote island with savage people into account, has an intuitive sense of God. This cannot be eradicated. The sense of God and yearning for God are present in every nation. Although, not every nation has knowledge of God, the knowledge of God as a Person. There can be many talks, speculations, wise and thick books about God, but they are only ABOUT Him. At a certain moment a person comes to a point where he or she says, “Well, that’s enough. I am fed up with the information about God. Show me Him Himself.”  

Many nations have the notion of One God Who is the Creator. They are the nations from the Bible: Hebrews, Muslims, and Christians. But very often this God is… somewhere far away. Too far away. 

Once I visited Jerusalem. My guide was a Jewish man. Considering that I am a priest and he is an orthodox Jew, we had spiritual talks. He told me, “You know, we take God in the following way: He is everywhere.” I said, “Yes, everywhere, and He seems to be nowhere.” This “everywhere” blurs God so much that He cannot become God or a Person at all. He cannot become a Person Whom we can look in the eye, ask a question, and receive an answer. 

People who seek God throughout the major part of their lives often prove to become unsatisfied with mere information about God. They begin to long for Him. In the Old Testament, God was mostly the One Who was very far away. People longed for God Whom they could take as a Friend, a Father, and a Person. Answering for this longing and search of such a relationship, God humbles Himself and reaches out to people so much that comes into a human flesh. This meeting does not take place somewhere up there, but it happens right here inside of us. God ceases to be the God “before” us and becomes the God “inside” of us.  

The Old Testament righteous people knew such a notion as walking before God. There are the following words there, “Abraham was righteous and walked before God. Isaac was righteous and walked before God.” This walking before God, the feeling of having Him watch them, made them be righteous. They found themselves before the eyes of God all the time and thus regulated their behavior. In the New Testament, things changed drastically and the God “before” us and became the God “inside” of us. He became a man inside of human flesh. 

There is a notion of the Holy Fathers called “deification.” This is a union of two natures, a Divine and a human, into one.  The first miracle of it happened in the Body of Christ. The Church teaches, He is the Perfect God and the Perfect Man. But this did not stop in Him. He made it possible for all of us. This happened to saints. Saints are not simply great righteous and wise people. Every human has his or her limits.  Saints are those people who unite with God. God became their God “inside” of them and enlightened them. Saints do not shine by themselves and draw glory above themselves. The Glory of God reveals itself through them.  

This is how close the Lord came to us and this happened on this very night of His Birth. The first miracle of union of flesh and Divinity worked in this little Baby Who laid in the crib. Then it took place first in those who desired it and second in those who made great effort to attain it.  As our desire is one thing, but we need to apply effort to reach it.  

It became possible for everyone to repeat this miracle of deification. This is when God is not before you, but inside of you. 

Our church is dedicated to St. John of Kronstadt. This miracle took place in him too. All of a sudden, a simple man born from an earthly mother came to live a supernatural life, do supernatural things, and say wise words, which did not come from him. 

God approached a human this much on this night. For Him this was humbling and even humiliation of Himself in a sense. God is the Creator of the Universe Who cannot be limited by anything. Any limit will humiliate Him. However, He voluntarily goes for this limitation for our sake, for the sake of love for us. This is the kind of holy and festive night we have today. 

I wish you to bring home these enigmatic thoughts and feelings after this service. Walk down the street and keep silent, enter this Mystery and bring it with you. If someone in your family stayed at home, come to them gently, kiss and say, “Christ is born!” Let them feel this is not a madness of a sleepy man, who has come from the service, but a particle of his happiness.  

Happy Nativity to you, dear! Have a blessed Feast!



Sermon after the Liturgy on the night of the New Year 01.01.2023


In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!

I cannot be excited about the holiday that recklessly began tonight. When the fireworks began to go off, I thought at first we were people who are far away from the war. We feel good when we hear them. Oh, it is midnight already, here are the fireworks, we are having a holiday, and we are celebrating the New Year. We have subtle, deep, festive feelings inside. Meanwhile there are people who are close to the war. They must think at once, “grenade launchers are at work. It is an attack.” Artillery is louder, it makes windows crack. And this, this resembles… Look, how differently we feel.  We are so far away. We have not experienced it yet because we are far away. At the same time, this is an issue for everyone. There are secular people who are standing here. Some of them may have children or husbands there; somebody might have lost someone.  Someone has not dealt with it yet. To them, life seems to be a roulette. It might not happen to me. But it turns and it happens to you today. 

It seems, there is war, and one could have thought about this before. But don’t you think there was no war before the war? Don’t you think there was no spiritual war? Spiritual war goes on all the time. Why doesn’t it concern us? Because we capitulated. We surrendered and made an agreement with another party. We will bow to you, drop on our knees when it is needed, and say and do what is needed. Just do not kill and torture us, we are ready to yield ourselves prisoners. 

I am talking about a war before the war, about an inner, spiritual war. Just try and declare spiritual war on yourself, the world, satan with his troops, just try. Such a war will begin at once! Your friends, close people, relatives, and even those people you have never expected will be on the war-path. I tell you. Even those you have never expected to. And you yourself will be in this war against your habits and egotism. I want this and I don’t want that. Such a war will begin and how! Such bombs will hit simply to death.   

Why does it seem to people who live in times when there is no external war, that these times are peaceful? This is because they live in captivity at that moment. They surrendered and agreed to the conditions. But if you do not agree to these spiritual conditions of slavery, being a captive of satan, you will always have a war. And you will always have the remembrance of death, because you will always have an internal and external war. 

It is very sad to hear when Christians say, “You should not go deep into spiritual life, otherwise, you’ll have temptations.” What does it mean? You better capitulate, agree, and live quietly. Make a deal. This is the sense of these words, when Christians say, “Do not say the Jesus prayer, or else you will have temptations. Do not pronounce the Name of God at any cost, or temptations will come.” Well, you will not have temptations if you bow and scrape before the other side and say, “I will do what you will tell me to do.” In this case, you will not have any temptations, except for a constant humiliation. But if you will finally find some strength to say “no,” you will have temptations and a big and terrible war will begin, to the last drop of your blood. 

You will have both external and internal temptations. Your children will be sick, your closest friends will betray you, people will slander and chase you, and everything inside of you will burst, as there will be inner war. If only you allow yourself to declare this war. Not just declare, but simply say “no.” You will simply say “no, I will not do this anymore” addressing yourself to satan.  “Well, you will not! Then I will change my note. As long as you agreed to be my slave and to my conditions, I threw you a crust of bread and gave you a glass of water every day. I even let you stay on a heap of straw in that warm corner. But you said “no” and I’ll change my attitude.” 

The major part of humankind lives in consent to this slavery. Lest we have no troubles and temptations, we agree to anything. However, there has always been a part of humankind, a small part of heroes. They are the heroes who allowed themselves to say “no” for Christ’s sake, for the sake of truth, conscience, their neighbors, and love. For them the New Year fireworks become an artillery attack.  

Some people hear them now and have some good associations from their childhood with these fireworks. Meanwhile those children, who live there, people who live there, the soldiers who are there, involuntarily huddle up and make themselves as small as possible on hearing this. 

We should enjoy this life, but not as carelessly as we can. We should remember that we are far away from God due to our fall and we need to apply a great effort to come back to Him. It will be hard and painful. It will be unbearably hard. But there is no other way.  “The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”1

So, I cannot say with a broad smile “Happy New Year to you.” Glory to God, the New Year has come. Falling into despair is the other extreme. And rejoicing too much at this moment is insane too. I think we should do everything moderately now. 

Glory to our God now and ever, and onto the ages of ages. Amen!

1 Mt. 11:12



St. John of Kronstadt Cathedral, Gai City, 31.12.2022


People have always worried that God is somewhere far far away from them. We threw back our heads, and God seemed to be so far, that sometimes, we got the desire to approach Him, even a little bit.  You might remember among the multitude of altars in the Areopagus in Athens, there was one dedicated to the Heavenly God. Even pagans somehow perceived with their “sixth sense” that that was the God, the Only and Main One, Whom they could not fathom. This yearning for approaching God made them create an idol. An idol was easier to understand. You can stand near him, touch him, and venerate him. While that God, Who was somewhat unfamiliar and far away, did not always satisfy that thirst for being together with Him. 

In a few moments, a special part of the Liturgy will begin. We have just announced the Ecteniae, “Catechumens, depart.” Who are the “catechumens?” In ancient times, those people, who were not yet the members of the Church and who were not yet baptized, had to undergo the period of catechesis. This is not because the Church disregarded them or treated them as some kind of sub-humans or sub-Christians, but because the Church wisely gave them this thirst for approaching God, so they wanted to be closer to Him. The Church saw this and created this pause and distance on purpose, so a person could yearn and had a burning desire to approach God a little at last. After the Sacrament of Baptism they became members of the Church. 





St. John of Kronstadt Cathedral, Gai City, 19.01.2023


In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!

The Lord says in the Gospel that those who believe in Him will have rivers of living water flowing out of their hearts.1 He says, “I am the truth and the life.”2  In the Gospel and in the Church people talk more about life, but I would like to ask you a question now. We have a little bunch of people here, who are not sleeping, and the whole city, which is sleeping. What is the difference? Or this bunch of people will not suffer from diseases, have misfortunes in their lives and die? They will have all this all the same. 

Once a man told me, “Father, I am an unbeliever, but I have lived happily all my life long. I have a wonderful family, good work and everyone there respects me. Glory to God, the Lord gave me good health and well-being.”  Being a common human, he sincerely does not understand why he should not sleep tonight, for example. Some people will need to go to work tomorrow, as it is a working week. While this is a relative feat and a limitation of oneself.    

What is this all for, if we see that those people, who do not go to church and do not remember about God, live as happily as churched people in earthly terms. Sometimes their life is even more calm and stable. This is why the question rises, “What life does the Lord talk about when He says ‘I am the truth and the life. I give life?’”  

Churched people who do not get the meaning of these words wonder, “The day before yesterday we buried an unbeliever, today we bury a faithful person. It’s all the same.” There are more unbelievers than believers among the patients of the hospital, which is just across the road from us. Faithful people are its patients too and they suffer from different diseases as well. What life does the Lord talk about? Even we, churched people, do not always understand what He speaks about. The Lord speaks about spiritual life.    

There is a simple physiological life. Animals live physiologically. One may say, this kind of life is full, but on the other hand, it is only a part of life. This is because animals are deprived of something, which a human has. They live only in the format of physiology, but are deprived of something belonging to the soul. Animals take no interest in music, they do not understand poetry, and they will never stop in admiration before a painting of Aivazovsky, as they simply do not see it. This is because they live only in the format of physiology.  And they live happily in it. A calf comes to this world, he grows, runs on grass, grows more into a huge bull. And that’s it. People live more widely and deeper. They live in the format of physiology too, but they also live in the format of soul.  People are capable of listening to music; they may write music, can communicate their thoughts and enjoy sunsets. There is something more deep in people than a simple physiological existence. However, the format of soul is still a limited format.  

You know, I am an iconographer. I paint icons and have some success in it. I wrote books, painted icons, and filmed movies. Some pieces of my art found recognition at some festivals. As an iconographer, I was trusted to paint frescoes at churches on Holy Mount Athos in Greece. It would seem one could be happy about all this. Believe me, today you receive the Nobel prize, but in a week you cool down and everything becomes common and usual as it used to. Yes, you have it. Today you jump with joy, call everybody, receive calls and congratulations, and in a week there is nothing. 

A human can live not only in the format of soul. Our soulfulness will die together with us. You will simply die a good person or a person, who wrote poems or music. People might listen to it after your death, but for you this will be the end. People, and particularly nowadays, very few people, can live another kind of life. They can have not only physiological and soulful life, but they also have an ability to come into spiritual life. But, unfortunately, I repeat, these people are very few now. For those people who have never entered this spiritual format of life, it seems to never exist. They  cannot fathom how the Venerable Seraphim of Sarov lived, what feelings he had, what visions and thoughts he experienced. Because for us this is beyond comprehension. We simply live physiologically and soulfully. Spiritual world is closed to us. 

When the Lord speaks about life, He doesn’t speak about physiological life, as even Holy Father Seraphim of Sarov suffered from diseases and died. When the Lord speaks about life, He does not speak about soulful life, or a life filled with creativity, philosophy and something high-flown. The Lord speaks about spiritual life, for which many of us are simply dead. It does not exist and it is like a parallel world for us. However, some people, and the Lord calls them “little flock,”3 entered that world. The Lord says, “there will be a few of you,” and those rare people, who were few in their number, entered this world and began to understand there was something and that this world existed simultaneously. It exists to its own laws, it is real and very objective. And you are vegetating here, underneath it. Some people become inflamed with the desire to fathom this world, enter it and become a part of its laws and existence. And they succeeded in this. 

You didn’t need something  to sleep and to come tonight forming this little bunch of people. You may not have a certain ability to experience this spiritual world yet, but you have a sense of it. This sense made you come. You feel there is something more high than eating, drinking, listening to music or looking at something beautiful. Churched people feel there is something more high. Even in the format of a church. Our church is decorated very beautifully. There are beautiful ancient churches with a marvelous interior, but this is not primary, this is not the main thing, this is secondary. You may find yourself in an old dilapidated church and feel you are in the Tsar’s Chambers. Holy Father Seraphim was in a wild forest, in a very poor cell, but felt like he was in the Tsar’s Chambers.  

We will take the holy water now. For some people this does not mean anything, but for some this is today’s real miracle. 

The day before yesterday we inspected these holy water tanks. No one washed them for two years and we were very worried that everything began to foul during this period and we would need to cleanse and wash everything thoroughly.  When I removed the lid, I saw clean and fresh water in the bottom of the vessel. There was no smell or decay inside. This happens every year on the nineteenth. Nevertheless, this touches only a small part of the population. Some people take this event indifferently.  Every Great Saturday on the eve of Pascha, in Jerusalem, the Holy Fire comes down. There are thousands of witnesses. But for some people this means nothing. Some people will not even cross their forehead on Pascha, even Russian, baptized people. However, for certain people, this is a miracle. 

Today we have a little miracle, we bless water, and, as it is said in the liturgical text, “today the essence is changing.” Something happens to water. What? Something unfathomable for us. No physicist or chemist will tell you what is happening there. But for a faithful person the explanation is very simple: the Grace of the Holy Spirit touches water and changes its spiritual nature, but not a physical one. A little miracle takes place. Now someone will receive the Eucharist and a little miracle may happen to them. Inside of them, when they receive the Body and the Blood of Christ, it may happen.  I say this for faithful people who always take Communion. We often take Communion traditionally, by habit. But real Communion happens very seldom.  

Have a blessed feast! Happy Holy Theophany to you!

1 Jn. 7:38

2 Jn. 14:6

3 Lk. 12:32



Sermon on the Day of the Venerable Saint Seraphim of Sarov.  15.01.2023


In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!

There is a moment in the Gospel where the Lord says, “Assuredly, assuredly I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not see death till they see the Kingdom of God present with power.”1 Many Christians, unfortunately, even Christians, did not understand the words of the Savior and thought that the Second Coming of Christ would be in the first century, while the Apostles were still alive. But the first century passed, and then the second, the tenth, the twentieth centuries passed as well, and those people who do not understand the words of Christ still wonder. Right after these words, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will see the Kingdom of God even now”1 Christ takes the Apostles, who were the closest to Him, ascends Mount Tabor with them and transfigures before them. As the Gospel says, they see the Glory of God and the Uncreated Divine Light. The first words of St. Peter the Apostle, which precisely described that moment, were, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.”2 

When a person comes into the Glory of God, into this miracle of the Uncreated Light, when he or she is shrouded with the Grace, the first and the most precise thing (as the rest happens later and is secondary) he or she says, “It is good for me to be here.” The Apostles were not the only people who saw the Kingdom of Heaven present with power in this age. After them there were thousands of saints in the first, fourth, and tenth century. In the tenth century, St. Symeon the New Theologian, an outstanding person, all of a sudden, said the following, “If you have not met Christ in this life, then everything in your future life is in doubt.” If there were no miracle of your personal transfiguration in this life, then everything will be very unstable in your future life. 

First century, fourth century, tenth century, St. Symeon the New Theologian. Thirteenth century, St. Gregory Palamas. And finally, very-very close to us, the Venerable St. Father Seraphim. He entered the Grace of God to such an extent as the Apostles did on Holy Mount Tabor. Although, one might wonder, he lived in the nineteenth century! Nineteen centuries separate him from the events, which took place on Mount Tabor. And suddenly, he repeats the state of the Apostles almost to the full extent. He does not keep this for himself, as his personal secret, but shares this through his close novice Motovilov; through him, he shared this to us.  In a snowy forest, he takes Motovilov by his hands and the miracle of transfiguration works. Everything becomes enlightened with this Uncreated Light. When Father Seraphim asked Motovilov, “What do you feel?” There were different words, “warmth and light,” but the main point was the same, “Father, I feel so good here. I wish I could stay here forever.” Just as St. Peter the Apostle says in his childish naivety, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah2 and we can sit outside and be happy.” This is his involuntarily childish exclamation.   

Every one of us hears the appeal of the Lord to cleanse ourselves, as the Lord says, “Anything that defiles shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”3 This is why He says, “Do you want to enter? Then cleanse yourself.” Every one of us, on hearing this appeal, becomes sincerely inflamed with the desire, “I want, Lord!” and tries to cleanse himself, but comes to a dead end. Nothing works. If we succeed in accomplishing some external efforts and observing some external things, we cannot do anything about our inner world. At this moment, all Christians come to a point of desperation and say, “Lord, You see, I want to do this sincerely, but nothing works.” They start to struggle with this internal shame and always remain defeated; they cannot overcome this at all.  

I would like to tell you one important thing. At least, from my experience this is the main notion, without which no one can cleanse himself. The most exact definition of Christ is Christ the Sweetest. When Christ becomes the Sweetest for you, not just Sweet, but the Sweetest, when His sweetness becomes bigger than any earthly sweetness, than the taste of any delicious food we overeat, than the taste of lust we revel  in, than the taste of vanity, which soothes us and turns our heads; nothing affects people like vanity does. So, only if Jesus becomes sweeter than anything else, He will win and prevail inside of us. He should become real and the Sweetest for us. This is why all those Christians who simply fight and contradict sin may attain something, but will never do it to the full extent. At least, I can sincerely say so about myself. Until we realize that all our efforts should be directed not only at a struggle with sin, but all our force and attention should be directed at seeking Christ and reuniting with Him. Having reunited with Him, we begin to feel He is really the Sweetest. And His sweetness intercepts all earthly sweetness. Everything earthly becomes bitter in comparison to the sweetness of the Sweetest Jesus. This is the only way to overcome sin. Christ should become the Sweetest for us. Everything else, everything earthly, all our passions may simply remain sweet. But Christ should be the Sweetest.  

This happened with Holy Father Seraphim of Sarov. He did not beat sin by himself, but he fathomed Christ, learned how sweet He was, and everything earthly became tasteless and even bitter for him. 

Venerable Father Seraphim, pray to God for us! Sweetest Jesus, do not leave us! Mother Theotokos, save us!

Have a blessed Feast!

Having touched Christ, Father Seraphim became sweet, as he touched Him. He became very-very-very sweet.

1 “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.” (Mk. 9:1)

“Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Mt. 16:28)

2 “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (Mk. 9:5)

3 “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles.” (Apoc. 21:27)



Sermon after the Liturgy at our skete. 

The township of Kherson 08.01.2023


God gave people the miracle of confession. What is its essence? When people understand its meaning, they begin to treat it differently. If they do not get the point of it, then they do not understand why it is needed at all. 

Sin enters inside a human as something foreign and unnatural, as sin is not a part of the human program, of our life. When sin enters a human as something unnatural, it contaminates the whole organism and stagnation begins. The place around the sin rots and resembles a big boil, bringing pain and suffering to a human.    The temperature rises and the human suffers from more pain and discomfort and becomes restless. And the more they delay… There are cases when children hide their sores from their parents. They do not want to go to hospital and undergo different procedures. Out of this fear, children hide their sores from their parents and all this ends in contamination of the whole body.  The inflammation spreads throughout the body, the children’s temperature rises, and they may even come to a life-threatening state. The same thing happens when people hide their sins from their spiritual guide. It seems to be awkward and inappropriate to tell him; they do not want to upset him and put this off until tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Meanwhile, the contamination goes on and the boil becomes bigger and bigger. It becomes an abscess, the temperature rises and the person is not simply sick, but he or she may even die. 

What happens during the Sacrament of Confession? During this Mystery, a priest, who acts like a surgeon, opens this boil. I remember, some years ago, my mother-in-law was dying. She had a big abscess, a boil. She had a high temperature and all of her body ached. She suffered a lot. I brought Father Vyacheslav, a priest and a surgeon from Orsk, to her. He opened it and I was kind of his assistant. He opened it and took a big amount of puss out of it. The surgery seemed so scary to me, but it took place not at a Surgery Department, but in a bed at home, where he also administered a painkiller to her. It would seem, there was such a surgical interference, as if a part of her body was taken away with a spoon, but as soon as we did it and put on a dressing, she immediately sighed with relief and said, “I felt better at once.” Blood circulates all over and brings contamination from this boil to every part of our body and it all begins to suffer very much.  

A priest does the same thing at a confession as a surgeon does with an abscess. A priest makes an incision and opens this decay, the puss goes out and… I do not need to tell you about this, you are churched people, moreover, you are monastic and all of you experienced this state. Remember how you come to and leave a confession. We come to it as if we enter a surgery, but when we come out… we say, “Glory to God, that’s it, it has been opened and everything is taken away. A new life has begun!” Some faithful people may contradict me and say, “There are unfaithful people who do not know God, sin throughout their lives, and have neither boils nor contamination.” At this moment, I will quote St. Symeon the New Theologian again, “A part of people, maybe the majority of people, simply live physiologically. Their souls have been long dead. They are dead.” They live on the level with animals. Animals have no sense of consciousness, nor a sense of sin, they do not have a notion of confession and do not ask anyone for forgiveness. This is not because animals are bad, but because they simply do not have this and they do not understand this. So, what is the difference between animals and us? Thanks to our likeness to God, we can sense sin and feel the presence of it. On the contrary, we can feel the presence of God, when there is no sin. This is why some people live and don’t bother about anything, nothing hurts them, they feel no discomfort and say, “I have been drinking throughout my whole life and I’m ok.” 

My uncle was an alcoholic; he said, “Sereja, I drink all my life. Only once did my tooth ache. They say, vodka kills, but I feel seek only in the morning-after.” He died. He walked in the morning-after and his heart stopped beating. This is about physiological individuals, who live physiologically. However, people are created in a different way. People are created to have a relationship with God. No animal has a notion of God; they have no religious sense. This is why they are merely animals. Meanwhile all human beings, even the farthest savages, have their sense of God. It may be perverted and twisted, but it still remains with them, as it was present since creation. 

This is why for a churched and baptized person, whose soul was reanimated and came to life a sin will come as an unnatural state, which causes pain. The longer he or she does not cure this pain, the more this boil will grow, until it drives the person crazy or ends in a shock.  

God gave us such a precious thing! The only thing we need to do is to go to a surgeon. We simply need to be decisive: raise yourself and go. “Please, open this for me. I have a boil.” That’s it. You simply come and go. This is the mercy of God. 

Glory to our God, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages!

About the feat in Christianity

It takes courage to give one’s life. But Christianity values more than just courage. Agree that non-Christian religions and even atheists have also known such a feat. One can give one’s life for an idea, for people. You can give your life inspired by the idea of hatred of the enemy, superiority over him, feeling his wrongness, his nothingness. But there is a salt to this feat in Christianity that no other religion has. It is not just to give one’s life, but to do so without becoming embittered, even with sympathy for the enemy. And if this is the most extreme feat, the lesser feat is to give of one’s strength, attention, means, inspiration to something. But it is possible, in giving, to admire oneself, to observe oneself from the sidelines, to exalt oneself over those who are unable to give. And this feat the Lord does not kiss, this feat is like a sakura tree that blooms beautifully, but does not smell or bear fruit. Everything that is not in Christ can sound, fly by very beautifully, solemnly, enthusiastically, but give no fruit. And it is only the feat in Christ that is special to this main attribute – without hatred of the enemy. This is how Christ died and said: Lord, forgive them, they do not know what they do, they are madmen. In the same way and with the same words, the first martyr Archdeacon Stephen died. And there were many martyrs – on the one hand, martyrs for Christ, and on the other, just martyrs who blossomed like cherry blossoms and flew away – they were distinguished only by their lack of hatred for the enemy.

Recently a very young unbeaten and unsophisticated man said to me that if we had remained pagans like Prince Svyatoslav, we would have been strong, conquering the whole world. I replied, “We have been Christians for a thousand years, weak as you think, and for a thousand years no one has been able to conquer us. For a while they bent us, humiliated us, then we stood up. What is our strength? That there is no hatred in us. Men know that when your opponent starts to get nervous, turns on you, it means he’s already losing. And if you stay peaceful, calm, then you’re still going to win.

Some may say that atheists already fought in the war. But the leaven was still pre-revolutionary, almost everyone still had a cross, “Alive in Help” (Psalm 90) was in his pocket. In the worst years of persecution of the Church, ’37-’39, this state, which was literally destroying the Church, on the eve of the war conducts a census of the population, in which it deliberately puts a column “religion”. And most of the Russian people in these circumstances writes: Orthodox. That is why the war was not won by atheists, there was the leaven of their mothers, fathers and grandfathers, which can not be simply eradicated in ten years. They poisoned us for seventy years, and only for the millennium of Baptism of Russia churches were opened, and immediately we opened our eyes again, we began to breathe and build temples, receive Holy Communion and confess. It was in us, at the genetic level. After all, we were Orthodox for a thousand years, you can’t eradicate that so quickly. Christian gratitude is a very good quality. We will be grateful to our grandfathers, grandmothers, those who fought for us and gave their lives.

Archpriest Sergiy BARANOV
May 9, 2021

Monasticism is a great joy

Speech on the day of another monastic tonsure

“…All the sisters came to me at one time to be near me, to be instructed, to be inspired, and so to improve themselves. Sometimes I heard from some sisters the alarm: “Father, if suddenly we are separated, if suddenly you are not there for some circumstances, we are anxious, how should we be then?” Mark my word now: It’s not scary at all, but it’s scary if you yourself leave me. No one can separate, and not even death can separate. You can be in my spirit, in my outlook, even if we are far away, even if circumstances separate us. That’s not a big deal at all. You can always be there for me. The scary thing is if today you came to the monasticism, made me throw, told me to be faithful, and after a while, after one thought, a second, a third, you begin to leave – that’s when you will be separated from me. I may be at arm’s length, eye to eye, but you will not be with me – that’s what’s scary.

Everyone very often says in monasticism about obedience: obey, obey… It is impossible to obey if you do not hear, or if you do not want to hear. You can’t obey, believe me. We already have a small, but our own experience. Yes, our monastery is young, only ten years old, but we have our own little experience, and from that experience I tell you: it will not work. I was just reading a prayer, and there were the words: work, pray, abstain, be patient, and at the end the most key word: HOLY. That is the goal of monasticism. Whoever understands all these things in monasticism, but whoever drops this last key word HOLY, he gets some terrible monasticism – a monasticism of some laws, rituals, rules. But in his monasticism, if there is no joy – joy in his relationship with Christ, joy in his relationship with his confessor, joy in his relationship with his sisters – it is not monasticism, it is ugly. If you lose joy just a little bit – this is a reference point for you, that you start to do something wrong, somewhere you allow yourself slyness, somewhere you allow yourself to understate things, you lose joy. AND MONASTICISM IS JOY.

…God give you spiritual joy, that you may have prayer. Prayer is possible only in a heart that is not troubled by thoughts. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God… The sight of God is already heaven. This is the kingdom of heaven. Just looking at God is already heaven.

You want to be led. At some point, take your hand away, say: “That’s it, I’ll go on by myself.” Well, come on, I’ll wait for you later … with bumps, with broken knees … ”


Archpriest Sergiy Baranov

July 4, 2022