Holy Trinity Cathedral, Iveron Monastery of Orsk



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

Congratulations on the Transfiguration of our Lord!

On this day, the Lord takes three of His disciples, ascends Mount Tabor, and transfigures before them. Why does He take only three disciples when He has twelve of them? Does He give prominence to them? Does He love them more than the others? He has twelve but takes only three of them. However, we know that the Lord is unprejudiced. He cannot love one more than another. God is Perfect Love. Perfect Love cannot be less or more, it is always perfect. 

Why three disciples? The remaining nine must have had temptations, as they were humans anyway. Perhaps, there was a little envy, jealousy, or even some simple human offense. Wasn’t there any space for twelve on the mountain? There was space but He took the three. The Lord seeks the one who is able to accept. However, this does not mean, the three were perfectly able to accept.  

Once I heard the following story on Holy Mount Athos. In one skete, the Holy Fathers were serving the Transfiguration of the Lord. It was a small skete church, where a hieromonk was reading the Gospel for the Transfiguration describing how the Lord transfigured, “And Peter says, ‘Let us make three tabernacles.’”1 Tabernacles, or huts, in other words. The hieromonk read this passage and became silent for a while. At that moment, an Elder said, “Peter, Peter, what are you saying? Do you really want to hide the Glory of God into a tabernacle?” How earthly you think. Does the Glory of God need a booth? Where do you want to hide it? Let it shine for everyone.  

This proves that the Lord seeks the one who can accept. Anyway, He takes those three chosen with Him and even they are not able to encompass. Just in a few days, we see that they are not able to accept. Peter betrays. As far as the rest two of them are concerned… The Lord tells them, “I am going to be crucified.” To which they say, “Grant us that we may be, one the first and the other the second in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Look, how earthly they are. On the other hand, shame on you, the Teacher tells them He is going to be crucified and you should cry bitterly because of this but you annoy Him all the time asking, “May James sit on Your right and John on Your left in the Kingdom of Heaven?” They cannot encompass it yet. The Lord is seeking someone who is able to encompass but cannot find even among them, even among those He takes with Him to Mount Tabor and transfigures before.   Meanwhile, they experience this in an earthly way. “Let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” It might seem they should be in awe and speechless because of the event, but they think about such earthly things. 

The Lord says, “Do not cast your pearls before swine.”2 He said so not because He despises pigs nor does He give offense to people, whom He compares to swine. This is only a comparison. A pig does not understand what pearls are, it prefers lentils, it is of interest to it. People often think the same way, “Give me something, so I can feel it and put it into my pocket. What are You saying about some high things? We cannot touch or smell them, or deposit them into our account. This is all very vague and uncertain.” It cannot be accepted. Our mind cannot accept it. 

When were they able to accept? Someone will say, on the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended on them.  Is this all? But before Pentecost, Peter betrayed. Do you remember how Apostle Paul speaks about himself? “I am one of the Apostles and one of monsters, as I persecuted Christ’s Church.” The Lord gave him so much Grace and he wrote so many holy words. But after what did God give it to him? After this suffering feeling of his cruelty. Peter changed. “Feed My lambs,”3 – the Lord tells him. But before this, He tests Peter’s repentance, “Peter, do you love Me?” “I love You but I feel very ashamed.” He cried throughout his life. Apostle Peter always had red eyes as he cried often.  

The Lord did not simply give His Holy Spirit to the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost, but He gave Him after their deep repentance. It was not for nothing, otherwise, they would not have accepted. 

Look, throughout the Old Testament, the Lord tries to give to the chosen people of Israel the promise. They cannot accept it. This is because they are damaged by pride. They are the nation chosen by God. And this drives them crazy. Believe me, they are the same way now, in Jerusalem. They cannot help being the Peculiar people. This is why they cannot acquire the Holy Spirit. As to encompass the Holy Spirit, one should squeeze oneself out of this place. This place should be vacant for the Holy Spirit. Drive yourself out of this place, and the Holy Spirit will come in. As long as you and your “I,” which is embroidered, adorned, and written with the capital letter, is there, it is impossible for the Holy Spirit to enter. We say, “Come and dwell in us.” To which He answers, “I would like to come, but there is no place for me there. I would have come. I am not proud, I am humble, I am kind, I am loving. I would have come, but there is no place for me there. You are there and do not yield to me.”  

Transfiguration of a person is possible only after repentance. Once I heard the following horrible words from my spiritual child, “My conscience does not reprove me.” You are dead, my dear. You are dead. Conscience is the gift of God to people, so they might feel pain. Conscience is a pain, which indicates your sinfulness. But if it is silent… Look, let us compare ourselves to Holy Father Seraphim. Who he is and who we are?   His conscience ached. A thousand days and a thousand nights on the rock, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.” A thousand days and nights… Do you think he was standing on that rock, simply practicing asceticism, and admired himself thinking what a great ascetic he was? Not at all! All these thousand days and nights were full of sorrow and pain about himself. This is why there were those thousand days and nights.  But if he did all this for the sake of mere asceticism and admired himself thinking how he would fly up into the sky in a rocket, these thousand nights would be worth nothing. How did he pray? Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner. One cannot say this commonly or theatrically. These words can be uttered only through great sorrow, when your conscience aches. If your conscience does not ache, you are dead for the Kingdom of Heaven. You see the miracle of Transfiguration but say, “Let us make three tabernacles.” Let us hide all this, let us deposit it into our bank account. Lord, have mercy. 

Everyone of us is called for the miracle of transfiguration of our own nature, which is fallen, worthless and rotten. However, this is possible only for those, who have repentance. For those who have only prayer, asceticism, and vigilance, it will not work. It works only if one has repentance above all. There is no repentance without acceptance of our own sins, without feeling horrible about ourselves, without crying over ourselves. There is no repentance in those who do not cry.   

Sweetest Jesus, forgive us.

Blessed Feast to you all.

1 Mt. 17:4, Mk. 9:5, Lk. 9:33

2 Mt. 7:6

3 Jn. 21:15



Archpriest Sergiy Baranov

Holy Trinity Cathedral, Iveron Monastery of Orsk



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

If a person saw God, he or she would have been in such an awe, in such an extraordinary state, that if someone told him some news, he would not hear it. People would ask him what was going on in politics or economics, or even they would ask if he had eaten anything that day, he would not remember whether he had eaten or not. He would have even forgotten his last name. This is the great admiration a person would have on seeing God.  

However, there is one more state. It is when a person sees his or her fall in all its depth and feels a deep pain, to the bottom of his heart.  At this moment, if someone asks, “Have you eaten something?” he would have answered, “I do not remember. I am so sorrowful, I do not remember anything.” This is because he has an acute vision of his worthlessness, which overwhelms everything. “Let’s go for a walk,” “let’s have some rest,” “let’s have some meal,” “you know,” “you see,” nothing is important for him, as he has a great sorrow deep down in his heart. 

I am telling you about these two visions: when a person sees God and forgets about everything and when a person sees himself, in all the depth, unadorned, without hypocrisy, in the raw. In both cases, he would have forgotten anything because these are so strong feelings, just as a blow on one’s head. He forgot everything. People ask him and have no reaction from him. 

Many people who come to church become obsessed with the idea to see God. This vision is impossible without the other vision. Before a person sees his worthlessness, the vision of God will be dangerous for him. It will deprive him of eternity. This is because people are gravely sick, sick with vanity through and through, in every cell. If he suddenly sees God, his vanity will simply tear him apart, he will burst and go mad.  

We all move towards God, but without passing through this first point to the depth, to the very truth, the highest vision will be devastating for us. We all move towards God, but we should pass this point of repentance. This is how the highest will be safe for us, so no one above shows us the depth of ourselves. The deep vision of ourselves will always bring us down to earth. 

Often Christians want to skip this first point and fly up high at once. You know, the reason, among all the others, why people need a spiritual guide? To give a pull at the leg, when you fly up without having repented. Sometimes, one should pull very hard, and the person will fall and hurt himself and ask in amazement, “I wanted to fly to God and you pulled me by the leg. And you were so rude and cruel that I bumped and hurt myself.” 

I remember, when we were young priests, our spiritual guide told us, “It is better to lose your leg or hand, or, as the Lord says in Gospel, an eye, than to lose your soul through vanity, through your pride.” It is better to lose your hand or leg than your eternal life. 

You should not go to the Kingdom of Heaven by the way round. This will be a great mistake; a great and, perhaps, irrevocable mistake. Because there is nothing that will help a deluded and proud person, who has a stable self-opinion as of someone spiritual. This happens because he would not listen to anyone. There is a definition given by the Holy Fathers. They explain shortly how vanity develops. First, a person says during an obedience, “I do not care about my superior.” Then he will say, “I do not care about my spiritual guide.” And then, there will be, “I do not care about the Bishop.” And then, “I do not care about the Patriarch.” Finally he will say, “I do not care about Apostle Paul. He was a human too.” In the end, he will say, “I do not care about Christ.” That’s it. Amen. The end. There is no way back. If he reaches this point, there is no way back.   

We want to see Christ very much and we are eager to see the Uncreated Light. But the Uncreated Light is unreachable without immersion into a deep darkness. The deep darkness of our worthlessness, shame, filth, and corruption. Those who do not immerse in it will not find it possible to ascend to Christ. There is no other way. Do not try to deceive God or yourselves. Do not elude or skip it. There is no other way. 

Sweetest Jesus, save us!

Glory to Thee our Lord! Glory to Thee our Lord! Glory to Thee our Lord!



Archpriest Sergiy Baranov

For the day of Saint Prince Vladimir, the Equal of the Apostles 

St. John of Kronstadt Cathedral of Gai

July 28, 2023


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

I congratulate you on the Patron Saint’s Day! Today is the Feast of Saint Prince Vladimir, the Equal of the Apostles. What is the difference between real faith and religious fanaticism? The latter always invites aggression. Fanatic people wish to prove, oppress, and convince someone that they are right. But people of true faith share their joy, the joy of faith they have obtained. This acquisition is something light and kind, indeed. That is why if you are a really faithful person and you are in the Holy Spirit, you will never invite aggression, prove your faith, or hammer your world view into the heads of other people. A real believer wants to share his delight and his small miracle of faith with other people. 

Prince Vladimir was surrounded by malicious tongues, and now he is surrounded by modern neopagans or, so called, Russian heathens. They try to convince us that Prince Vladimir Christianised Rus’ by force. So there is this question here if he was a religiously fanatic person or a man of proven faith, who just sincerely wanted to share his joy, his small miracle of faith which he had obtained.

Heathen people were not so simple. They were people of rigid rules, often even violent. Well, do you think now that it was so easy to Christianise these people? One day these heathens killed Vladimir’s grandfather, just like that, without any civil deals. And they were imposed to abjure their religion. Do you really think that these people would give up so easily? They would have never done it if they had not seen some reasonable core, some light in Christianity, at first. Second, they would have never abjured their existing views if they had not respected their Prince Vladimir and followed him willingly. 

Surely, we cannot say that all heathens followed him immediately. But evidently there was some critical number of people who could accept the sincere faith of their Prince, and follow him. In this religion, which was new to Russia and which the Great Prince brought from Greece, they saw some advantages. They saw how proven faith can be superior to fanaticism, I mean, they saw how love trumps aggression. I say it again, fanaticism invites aggression, it forces, convinces violently, stresses out, feels angry when proving something. Proven faith lives differently, it has a different nature. People of proven faith share their joy, their treasure. You cannot prove it, you cannot impose faith forcefully. It can be imposed, but when the oppressor goes away, this imposed faith will collapse. However, Christianity was instilled into the Holy Rus’, and people have been living with this faith for a thousand years. 

But at the same time, there are these frenetic people who made up the neopagan religion of their ancestors. Where did they take it from? There are no written sources which can present the beliefs of their ancestors. Suddenly they made up a new religion which provokes aggression towards Christianity. They made it up. Now they force themselves to believe it and make other people do it also. They say that Prince Vladimir made a mistake and Christianity is a religion of weak people. That is why the history of our country is a bit flawed. But how can it be? Christianity has already been in this country for one thousand years. So many saints were born here. If it is a religion of weak people then check the history. You will see how many victories there were, how many conquerors were defeated. There were so many attempts to destroy our country, subjugate and eliminate its people, but we rise up like that Russian vanka-vstanka doll. They try to destroy us but we rise up again, they try again but we rise up. And that is our power. Our power is not an aggression, our power is truth and the truth is in Christ. 

Our country and its people should be really grateful to Prince Vladimir, who turned around the way of Russian history. God gave us Orthodox Christianity through this historical figure. Our Orthodox culture gave us so many pieces of art. The Trinity of Andrei Rublev, our Dostoevsky, Pushkin – all of them were Orthodox Christians. Our scientists, our clerisy. Some people say that the Great World War was won by the atheistic USSR. But look, that was the 40’s. There were people who had been Christianized before the revolution, they were fighting. Their mothers would give them the “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High” prayer and Crosses. It was still that same Holy Rus’, which was continuing by inertia. Christ’s commandments were in our intuition even when these atheistic times took place. Atheists, when they were fighting against the Church, could not create anything new. They replaced the Trinity by three portraits, remember? They could not create anything new. Cross Processions were replaced by demonstrations. They even tried to replace relics by the dead body of Lenin. The whole institute is working there in order not to let this poor thing fall to pieces. They process it somehow, process it, embalm it. They could not create anything here as well. 

There is a story. I do not know if it is true or not but it is said that in the 20’s something happened with a drain system and the mausoleum was flooded. When people reported about it to patriarch Tikhon, he said, “The way the relics are, the way the myrrh flows.” Saint people’s relics emit myrrh which smells nice and pleasant but that body in the mausoleum emits, you know, “The way the relics are, the way the myrrh flows.” 

In Soviet times, we were brought up at schools, but if we look at it differently, we were brought up on Gospel commandments which were paraphrased a little bit. Humans cannot create anything. Something that was created by God and embedded into the sense of our lives by His Providence cannot be altered. The modern scientists, these frenetic people, quack that there is no God but they do so great discoveries. Look at this word “discover”. So you only discover God’s commandments, you only discover them. And then, you may create something inside of these commandments. Change this commandment and everything will collapse. 

Once I gave this example. Have musicians ever thought about whether musical stuff was created or discovered?  Try to change it and there will be cacophony. The laws of music, colours and shades in painting. A painter creates a piece of art inside of these laws. Let him change the laws and there will be something ugly. Scientists make their discoveries inside of these laws, but they call them “the laws of nature”, we call them like the “commandments of God”. Nevertheless, they do not create these laws, they only discover them. That is why we use this word “discovery.” Change this law and everything will collapse. 

Glory to God, always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen!



Archpriest Sergiy Baranov

Saint John of Kronstadt Cathedral of Gai 



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

Slaves work for food and because they do not want to be beaten. If they work poorly, they are beaten. Servants work for a salary; they earn as much as they work. This relationship is different and more profitable. The philosophy of the Old Testament people made them be either slaves or servants. Their relationship with God was slave-like, “Lord, we will behave, may earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and illnesses never come to us. If we misbehave, we know punishment will follow.”  

The Old Testament people lived somewhat like servants, “Lord, I will behave, and You will not only punish me, but also give me something in this life.” Even in the Psalter King David says the following words, “I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread.”1 In other words, righteousness itself presupposes some kind of prosperity.  

Christ comes and brings a new religion, a new philosophy, and, as it might seem,  His disciples should have even more. However, His very first followers have the same thing He does: a cross, crucifixion, humiliation, persecution, beating, and the most extreme of this all – death. During four centuries, the first four centuries, Christian blood flew like water only because people were Christians, only because they confessed their faith. You do not protest, do not organize any demonstration, but the mere fact of your Christianity is the cause for persecution, tortures and killing you. What kind of religion is it? One might be confused.  

What did Christ bring to us? What did He offer us? Before Him, people at least had a status of slaves: behave and you are fed and not beaten. Moreover, they had a status of servants: work properly and you earn a lot, you are rich and your family is prosperous. But suddenly Christ brings this confusing religion. Certainly, at first He heals the blind, sick and lepers. In the beginning, people respond to this and follow Christ, but suddenly His gospel ends with Cross, Golgotha, and the very shameful death. A Roman could not be crucified. Only outlaws and the most worthless people could find their death on a cross. But we have this absurdity. What did He bring to us? If He did not bring anything, it’s absurd again, then why did so many people voluntarily die for Him during those four centuries? In the Lives of Ancient Saints, we read how Christians were tortured at the Amphitheater of Athens. They were torn to pieces by lions, crucified, cut into pieces. Meanwhile, a woman was running there with her child across Rome. “Where are you running?” “There, to the place where they torture Christians. I am a Christian too.” “Mad woman! Don’t you realize they will kill you too?” “I understand this.” “But you are twice mad! You go there yourself and you bring your child with you!”   

This is not fanaticism. There should be some deep and strong reason why those people did so. On no account, some people will not do or tolerate something, much less go to death. In no way they will do this, as this is madness and nonsense. But what did saints have? Perhaps, they had something more than the Old Testament people. They did not only have a contract with God for not having earthquakes, plague or flood; or receive a remuneration in the format of this world and then not to sleep overnight thinking how not to lose this money but multiply it, scaring the inflation and considering what to do with it at all.      

One of our priests told me about a ridiculous situation. When there was instability in 2008, a director came up to and asked him, “Father, how do you keep your money?” (He thought that the priest had a lot of money.) The priest joked, “I keep them in gold bars, as they are not prone to inflation.” He joked and forgot about it, but in a month, the director came up to him again and said, “Ok, describe me the process how you recast the bars and where you hide them.” The priest said he did not even understand if the director was joking or not. He only answered, “Are you serious? I only joked. I do not have gold.” 

Those Christians might have had something. No one should live in illusion. Perhaps, it is possible for some time but then the illusion will fade away like a mist. They had something very real and dear. The Lord says in the Gospel, “A man sold all that he had and bought a pearl.”2 Only one pearl. The man can give his money for it because he knows its price. He can tell an imitation, a mere bead, from a precious thing which costs all his possessions.  

Christians understood what was their priority and the most precious thing on earth. Some people will say family is the most precious. Go to the cemetery, look at the graves of your parents – this is your family. A husband lost his wife, a wife buried her husband, or the most horrifying thing – some people have lost their children. This is the scariest thing – to outlive your children. Priests constantly stay by the coffin. Well, very often. By the coffin, all meanings and values go to pieces together with the deceased, who goes to pieces too. Some people dedicate their lives to art, science or social service. Believe me, everything goes to pieces. All this can be and should be, but this is not the major thing for a human.  

By Christ, Christians acquired the most valuable treasure – Him. After the Ascension, He remained with them with His Holy Spirit. They acquired the grace of the Holy Spirit and were ready to die for this real treasure… Fanatics have some spiritual ardency but they go to pieces. In order to test whether this is an imitation or a precious pearl, there is only a cross.  Illusions go to pieces on a cross. Everything you fancy, dream and worry about will go to pieces when you are on a cross. Only a true treasure will stand out. It is strong and unshakeable. This is why Christ brings Himself and the theme of a cross. To be with Him, one should go through a cross. Cross is His theme, it is inseparable from Him.  

Today we commemorate the Passions of Christ again. The Apostle says, “It is foolishness to the Greeks, to us it is the power of God.”3 It is foolishness to the Greek because they do not know and do not understand this. How can you understand something you do not know, what does not have any shape in the format of this world, and what is beyond the world? They do not understand.  Apostle Paul comes to the Areopagus of Athens, to the wisest people of Athens, who constantly meet to share wisdom with one another and compete in their thoughts, and tells them about Christ. To which they say, “You behave like a madman, Paul. Come next time, perhaps we might listen to you. You behave like a madman now.” These wisest people on earth, exactly on earth, cannot encompass Christ with their earthly heads. Their heads are too narrow for Him.   

Some people who come to Orthodoxy want to be either slaves or servants. You should understand Orthodoxy is not a religion of slaves or servants; it is the religion of children. A child will follow his Father wherever He goes. If a father goes to war, his child will share his fear and fate. If a father goes to cross, his child will unconsciously share it; the cross will come through his heart anyway. If we set our priorities right and realize what is primary and secondary in our life, then we will win through these hard and horrible days because we will fight for the highest Value. If we fight for something earthly, we will lose, because this war does not make sense.   

Glory to our God, always, now, and unto the ages of ages. Amen!

1 Ps. 36:25

2 Mt. 13:46

3 1Cor. 1:23-24



On the Day of the Venerable Saint Sergius of Radonezh and Grand Duchess Elizabeth the New Martyr 

Church of Saint John the Warrior, Chelyabinsk 



In the Revelation of Saint John the Theologian, in the passage about the Day of Judgment and the last days, there are the words describing thousands of righteous people in white garments who will come to the Lord. As it is said there,These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation.”1  

Today we commemorate Grand Duchess Elizabeth the New Martyr. Grand Duchess Elizabeth had all earthly happiness. She had a wonderful, dear, and loving husband, a very noble person, Sergey Alexandrovich Romanov. Their marriage was very good. It is not often that spouses are completely like-minded. They had no contradictions, she agreed with him, and he agreed with her. This was the way they lived.    Their marriage was blessed by God’s grace because both he and she were faithful people, sincerely and deeply faithful people. She used to be a Protestant since birth and no one statutorily claimed that she should convert to Orthodoxy. She could have remained in her own faith but she desired to be together with her husband in full measure, all the way through. She studied the Orthodox faith (perhaps, first of all she studied the faith of her husband) and then chose it, even though supposing that her relatives who lived in Germany within a different tradition might judge, reject and become sad because of this. She followed her husband not only in earthly and existential things, but also in the spiritual realm, embracing Orthodoxy. 

I repeat once again: this was a happy marriage. But it happened that her husband, the Governor-General of Moscow… There was much evil in Russian people in those times and this evil was like a plague. These new revolutionary ideas contaminated people. They spoke about liberty, equality and fraternity, but in reality, there was anger, hatred and aggression. They spoke about one thing, but in fact, there was something absolutely different. Those people who spoke about liberty, equality, fraternity and love, suddenly allowed themselves unimaginably horrible things. A revolutionary and terrorist, Kalyayev, threw a bomb into the carriage of the Grand Duke and the Governor-General of Moscow Sergey Alexandrovich. This carriage had just left the Kremlin. Elizabeth Fyodorovna heard the explosion and her loving heart realized everything at once. She ran to the place in the dress she had on and was the first to arrive. She found nothing but the pieces of the carriage and her husband’s body. She did not find the whole body, but the pieces of it scattered across the square.  She was shocked and strained so much that she walked around  and collected the remnants of her husband into the bottom of her gown, being as if in a mist. It causes me pain to speak about this now. Can you imagine how she felt?   It is even hard to imagine. Nevertheless, in a few days, the person who had come through such a tragedy, horror and extreme degree of sorrow, came to the cell of the murderer, brought him the Gospel and said she forgave him. 

This is beyond our comprehension. This murderer should be punished in the cruelest manner, so no one else had any desire to do so. However, she acts most unnaturally: goes to the cell of her husband’s murderer, asks him to repent, brings him the Gospel, and says she forgives him. She brings him forgiveness from her deceased husband.    

Do you remember what I told you when I began this sermon? I said, these righteous people who will come to the Kingdom of Heaven, come there out of the great sorrow. This is what we can attribute to Elizabeth Fyodorovna first of all. As far as this sorrow is concerned, she did not run from it then, but involved herself into it further on. She did not seek the quiet and solitary life of a widow to heal her broken heart with silence and some simple comfort. She goes in for this sorrow again. She goes to the humiliated, miserable and sick. She comes out to meet the sorrow of this world. She comforts people when one might think she and her heart needs comfort itself. The wounds in her heart take time to heal, but she goes in for sorrow and visits the most terrible places in Moscow. She visits the homeless, killers, fornicators, all those people who have dehumanized themselves, people like those who killed her husband.   

There are the following words in the Psalter: “We acquire by wasting.” Elizabeth Fyodorovna acquired not according to earthly, but spiritual law. She began to waste herself and through this “wasting” she began to acquire her inner person. She began to acquire Christ, God’s grace, into herself. It strengthened her and gave meaning to her life. It gave life itself because Christ is Life. Without Christ everything dies. He is Life. He is Eternal Life. She was striving after this Life. She was not only striving after it but invited everyone to this life. She called there the Sisters, who gathered around her at the Convent of Martha and Mary, and  everyone whom they visited and helped.  

Have you got sisterhood here? She is your great protectress and beautiful example. 

How should we live our life? When we were children, we looked forward and life seemed to us an everlasting chain of events. When we are old, we look back, and it seems to us our life was a little flash in eternity; it flared up and died out.  Life is Christ. Without Christ it is a mere flash; it flares up and goes out. No matter what we do, what vacation we choose, everything should be in Christ. To have everything in Christ, we should first find Him. Many people talk about Christ but very few know Him. This is true.

Blessed Feast to you! Today we have two Feasts: the Day of Elizabeth Fyodorovna and Venerable Sergius of Radonezh. I have just told you about the great sorrow which Saint Elizabeth was bearing. She was bearing it voluntarily and with joy. However, we can also say the same thing about Saint Sergius. The words “the Bleeding Heart of the Russian Land” are often attributed to him. He went to Christ and did not ask for joy, he went to Christ in order to share Christ’s grief over this world. Sorrow. 

We often come to church with an expectation that everything should become alright at once, that we should find consolation, comfort, and our life should improve. But look, Venerable Sergius goes in for the sorrow for the Russian Land consciously. Venerable Elizabeth does it consciously as well. And from this sorrow, they draw joy, but this joy is of a different kind. There is the joy of acquiring and the joy of giving. It is more pleasant to give presents than to receive them. Isn’t it? Give, and the Lord will replenish it immediately. The more you give, the more the Lord will replenish for you. If there is a gap, something will fill it.  

Glory to our God, now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages! Blessed Feast to everyone of you!

People are often proud of the great name of the saint they have. You know, it is not an honor, it is a big responsibility. Perhaps, it is not a joy, but a great shame to bear the name of the Saint who is worlds apart from you. This should not elate a person, but make him or her humble. May us all think about our heavenly protectors, compare our lives to theirs, lower our eyes, and humble, humble, humble ourselves.   

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

1 Rev. 7:14



Archpriest Sergiy Baranov

Holy Trinity Cathedral, Iveron Monastery of Orsk

July 16, 2023


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

A person, whose mind is not enlightened by the Holy Spirit, who thinks in terms of this world, has a myriad of reasons to argue with God. This person falls out with God, which is the worst thing that can happen, this person rebels and accepts distrustful thoughts. It may happen to people whose mind is not enlightened by the Holy Spirit. If we look at this world, we will see that it is not perfect, though it is the creation of God. There is a confusion and misunderstanding in an instant, “God, You are so Almighty, You created this world in such a wise and thorough way, why does this world happen to be so awkward in the end. Why is it imperfect and why are there so many misunderstandings?”  Earthly people think this way, and they will always alienate God, they will always have reasons not to trust God. If one thinks in an earthly way, then this person is going to see flaws and imperfections all-around him. 

Someone can object to me, in the heat of the moment. Well, if a person is not a believer, unspiritual, so this kind of person looks at this world and says,  “Why are there so many misunderstandings? There are wars, and betrayals, and cataclysms, and earthquakes, and floods. God, is it right for all these things to be in Your wise plan?” If you think in an earthly way, you will always have a reason to fall out with God, there will always be some reason for it. And this reason will be quite objective if we consider it in an earthly way. Whilst a believer understands that creativity in relation to a person is ongoing. Creativity is still happening, your soul is being refined. The soul of a person can be refined by love, and love is a cross. 

How can we build a simple and trusting relationship with God? How can we throw away all these mistrustful thoughts? How can we learn not to see those things, which we should not see in order not to lose a trusting relationship with God? 

The only simple way — the only one, there is no other — is to build a relationship with God in the spirit of love. Why do I say this? Only this can help. One loves not for something, but just because, for nothing. If relationships are built in order to get something, which is, – this I can understand, but this no, this I can accept, but this no — well, this is not love, this is already commerce. Love lives briefly and simply. I love Him. Amen. That is it. I do not need anything else. Maybe you have some questions, maybe you have, but I do not. God, I love You. That is it. I do not need any explanations, my Lord, because You cannot explain everything to me, because I have a very small head and it cannot comprehend all Your Wisdom. Trying to understand everything is not right. The right way is to trust through love. I simply follow You because I love You and I need nothing else. I do not need any ideals from You, none…let there be some misconceptions, imperfections, it does not bother me because my love is above it, my love is stronger than this.  

If you are going to build a relationship with God in this way, nothing will disturb you. Your faith will not be shaken, because it will be deprived of  thoughts about Him such as: Why did He do it this way? Why did He make this mistake? Mistake? Yes, mistake, because the result is bad. Today there is this war – so He made a mistake somewhere. A close relative died – He made a mistake somewhere. Brother betrayed brother. Doesn’t He exist at any point of the universe and in any moment of it by means of His Providence? He does. So, if we see imperfections somewhere and God exists in it, it means that He is guilty. What’s the use of us? We are imperfect and prone to make mistakes. But God, if He is present with His Wisdom in every situation – He is wrong again then!

If I am going to think this way, I will be immersed in distrustful thoughts towards God.  Well, we can assess each other, but God, through our love to Him, should have such a great meaning for us that it will be just blasphemy to assess His actions. Do you understand? Who am I to assess God? This is blasphemy! Was He right, was He wrong, what did He do right, what did He do wrong. How can I avoid this blasphemy? How can I avoid this temptation of thoughts?

I should learn how to love Him just because, for nothing. You love for nothing, just because. It should be brief and definite. That is it. Nothing else. I do not want to say anything else, I just love Him. If we build a relationship this way, it will make it all easier. We always feel pressure in our heart, the pressure of these thoughts, temptations, which destroy our simple and sincere relationship with God.  These are thoughts, overthinking. There are things, which are a shame even to think about. There are things we can consider…for example, mother and father — they are holy, but it is for those who have a good upbringing. And God — we do not even dare to reason whether He did something right or wrong. This is above all for us. I do not reason here, I just love Him and accept everything the way it is. 

If we are always going to look at misunderstandings, we will always be tempted. God, give us a pure mind. A pure mind thinks simply, briefly, it does not go into these riddles of thoughts. This kind of mind cannot be directed by evil or become involved in these riddles, from which we cannot escape. 

Love God selflessly. Love Him when you have joy, or when you have sorrow, when you are happy, and when you are miserable. Love Him not because He gave you something or promised you something. One loves not for it. Love God just because. It will make it all easier.

Glory to God, always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen!