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

Today we commemorate All Saints of Russia. In addition, it is the day of the Venerable Fathers of Holy Mount Athos. We commemorate the people who were just like us, but who succeeded in becoming saints then.  The foremost heresy dwelling in our contemporary Church and difficult to turn out from it is the conviction of many people that the time of saints passed long ago and became a part of history, and that we cannot live like saints, because we have fundamentally different conditions. How different are they? They are different due to our slackness and hypocrisy. I can understand when people neglect their salvation and feel sorry for that or keep silent with shame at least. However, some people hypocritically find excuses for their negligence in spiritual life providing some theories about being in such a time and conditions and appealing for taking this as a fact.   

Excuse me, these phrases, which pass on from one Christian to another, do not agree with my heart. “The only thing left for us is repentance. We can find salvation only through overcoming sorrows.” I have a question, “What do you mean by repentance?” If we have a look at the root of this word, we will find out it comes from the Greek “metanoia” (μετάνοια), a “change of heart.” Change requires a feat and an action. If we understand repentance only as admittance of our sins, it means nothing. Do you think demons do not know they are sinful? They do know, but they do not do anything about this. This is not repentance; this is demonic repentance. In the Holy Gospel, we read that Judas, who betrayed Christ, repented and hung himself then. (Mt. 27:3) He repented. But was this repentance? No, it was not.  

When we say, “Only repentance is left for us,” I always want to interpret this phrase. What do you mean by repentance? Could it be that Saint Antony the Great did not practice repentance? He did it in the IV century, 1600 years ago. What do you think Venerable Sergius of Radonezh did? He repented. What is the difference between our and their repentance? They differ only by our hypocrisy, which we mix in this word. 

Repentance in its full meaning is an action. This action is executed within asceticism and spiritual life. The Holy Fathers came through this repentance, gained the experience of it and passed this experience on to us. Do you want to have repentance? You should act the way the Holy Fathers did. In order to act you should have determination and courage. Not simply, “Lord, I am sinful.” And what of it? What have you done to change, to have this metanoia? You should act correctly, and your acts should bring the result. “We meant the best, but it turned out as usual” will not do. You should have the result. Throughout two thousand years saints have come this way through sweat, sorrow and tears and left you their experience and you thoughtlessly say, “This experience will not work for me. It is obsolete and a part of history. We have only repentance.” But what is repentance? 

It may seem that our ancestors, who led saintly lives in Ancient Rus, had different conditions. What conditions did they have? You may try to imagine yourselves in the shoes of those who lived during the Tatar-Mongol yoke. Those were horrible times. It was not convenient at all. An enemy could enter your house any day, abuse your wife, take her captive, kill your children and parents, humiliate and simply tread you to pieces. In the first centuries of Christianity, people could be deprived of their lives for belonging to Christ through terrible and unimaginable sufferings. Was that time convenient?  You should compare that time to ours. We do not have our pension increased and think this is the end of the world. At that time, if you were a Christian, the main issues were life and death. In addition, you should try to love your enemies.  

It seems to me our time is not inconvenient by its external conditions, the matter is in our hypocrisy. We allowed ourselves hypocrisy; we have let ourselves deceive ourselves, people surrounding us, and God. Moreover, lying, we quote the Holy Gospel and the Holy Fathers, this is shameless. I can understand a sinner, who realizes his or her sinfulness and drops his eyes, remaining silent and humble. On the other hand, when a Christian pours quotations and some fine words, but does nothing – this is a shame. Shame is a gift of God, given to a human from the moment of creation, and we have lost this gift. Discredited it as useless. St. Symeon the New Theologian asked his teacher St. Symeon the Devout, “How should I find salvation?” To which the latter answered, “Always judge your conscience and call Jesus all the time.” Our conscience gives us discomfort, which is why we have hidden it in a wardrobe. It makes our life a misery. First of all, we would like to live comfortably, but it does not let us. Even in prayer, we seek warmness, tenderness and joy. It concerns our asceticism as well. When I ask, “What do you want from your spiritual life?” “I want everything to be peaceful, comfortable and kind.” I say, “You need to go to Buddhism then.”  If you want Christ, Who bears the sorrow of the world every day and every moment, are you ready for accepting Him with all this? At this moment sometimes, it happens like in the Holy Gospel, “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.” (Jn. 6:66) Only a few stayed. 

Let us come back to our consciousness. Let us stop saying that we have different times. Holy Father Seraphim contradicts us saying, “Times are the same. There is no determination.” In comparison to me, Holy Father Seraphim of Sarov has indisputable authority, and he says these words. The matter is not in the times, it is in our indetermination. We have the necessary conditions, the same help God sends us, and the same love of the Holy Trinity, which has not diminished. Something happens inside of us. 

Father Philaret tells me, “I stand within the new church and there are so many saints surrounding me. I even feel a little ashamed.” Let us look at them more often. Not in the eye of one another, being hypocritical, but at them. Many of them hold crosses in their hands; this is the sign of martyrdom. The venerables have crosses too, as being a venerable equals martyrdom as well.  In fact, Christianity is martyrdom, as the Lord says, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mt. 16:24) There are no other ways or conditions. Ready for the cross, then follow! If not, go and consider.  

All Saints of Russia, pray to God for us! Most Holy Mother Theotokos, Protectress of our Holy Homeland, save us! Holy Trinity, our Lord, glory to You!



Every one of you might have tried to pray and keep the commandments not only visually, but in your heart, and realized that your head is a mess. We cannot separate our thoughts from intentions, extract what God says from what comes from the devil, our passions. That is the reason why we cannot decide how to act, as before any action there goes a thought. It seems to us that we sincerely want to change, but we have no opportunity for that.  We say to ourselves and to God, “O Lord, I want to resist this intention, but I do not know why it is not listening to me.” We resemble a blind in a forest who bumps into trees, goes the wrong way, changes direction, slides down the slope and hurts himself. 

The Holy Fathers came through this path and told us based on their experience: child, do not get desperate, something can be done about it, if you act right. If muddling starts in your mind, then the act should be directed inside your mind. We should practice mental prayer that puts everything in place for us. 

All starts with verbal prayer, and one has to get used to it.  At the beginning, when the prayer is verbal, it helps, but not completely. You call Christ: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, but muddling in your heads does not stop. You should pronounce it a considerable number of times, but should not get desperate as nothing significant happens to your mind. Those who tried to do it, might agree with me. 

It will start to help when the prayer becomes mental. Because if the problem is in the mind, then the prayer should reach the mind. At that point everything is going to change, and you will find it pleasant. Through the Jesus prayer Christ will come into our disturbed mind, and as the Light, He will separate thoughts from intentions. And you will understand when to resist your sin.  Then our mind will have the power of accepting a thought or not. But this prayer is only a mental, not a tacit one. If any evil thought will make its way to the heart, it will respond with sympathy, as the mind has been partially enlightened by Christ, while the heart has not.  

I ask you to forgive me for touching such high-flown issues, but we should have a sense of purpose and see the line of work. A heart becomes passionless when Christ has already come into it and there is no space left for sin. That is why, I remind you, for those who want to practice the Jesus prayer, all should start with a verbal prayer. You should pronounce a million times, ten million times: Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ and you will get used to it and it will become natural to you. After that it will gradually come to be mental. When it comes into your mind, enlightens and separates your thoughts, all will become obvious to you. At that moment, in some measure, you will be able to fight for the pureness of your mind. Do not get discouraged by the fact that you cannot change at once.  



We have one more great patron now. This fact melts our hearts and brings hope. We have one more protector of our monastery, to whom we may come running, tell everything and receive his help.    

Today I would not like to talk about Saint Nicholas as a wonderworker above all. Many people have spoken about this, and even the definition has stuck to him: Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker. Because a number of wonders and quick help are related to him. 

Today I would not like to speak of him as a great wonderworker, but as a happy person. This man did not have wonders in the first place in his life, but he had happiness instead. This is the main thing in the life of every Christian and every saint who is striving after God. Wonders are not the main thing. A person, being a wonderworker, may be unfortunate. Meanwhile, some other person, being absolutely far from supernatural, may be very happy, as there, in his or her inner world, everything has taken place. Even now, we addressed him in our prayers and asked to relieve us from diseases, fire and earthquakes, and help us while traveling, in our family life. We come to him like any saint, and sometimes do not see that their lives were not all roses.  They were persecuted and misunderstood, fell ill and suffered from different troubles. Those people, whom we ask to relieve us from all this, bore this during their lifetime. They suffered from various diseases, persecution and defamation. Nevertheless, they were happy at the same time. Their happiness did not depend on external well-being, it was built deep inside. The Lord says, “Where thieves do not break in and steal” (Mt. 6:20). Their treasure was there and they were attuned to it. Having external troubles and burdens, they could be very happy.   

Saint Paul the Apostle, when he listed his grievances, which he came through in his Christian life, said the following words, which may even seem immodest, “I might have endured more than any of the Apostles” (“I labored more abundantly than they all” (1 Cor. 15:10)) But he was a very happy person, as Christ dwelled in him. This is the most significant and convincing reassurance, when Christ is inside. In this case, even if Christ asks, “What would you like to change?” this person, who has exclusively met Him, might answer, “No, no, I am fine, I will endure all this. I have you, and this is so important that I can put up with anything. My patience is proof of my sincere attitude towards you. I am ready to overcome any grief, which You allow to come and which is within the power of Your good providence, so that I only had a relationship with You, so that I would never lose You, and this is my proof.” 

So, I would not like to say that Saint Nicholas is first of all a Wonderworker. You know, I have met different wonderworkers during my spiritual life. Happiness must be nothing but pure, not mixed with anything else, without falsehood, implications or notes. A person is either happy or not. Moreover, if he or she is really happy, nothing can steal their happiness. “Neither illness, nor hardship, nor distress, nor persecution, nor famine, – nothing will separate us from the love of God, Who is in Jesus Christ Our Lord.” 

I do not know why, but today I wanted to tell you about Saint Nicholas as about a happy person, who succeeded in his life. I am not talking about his external well-being; I mean that he acquired the Kingdom of Heaven inside of him. That is why he shares it so generously with us. As soon as we call him, he shares it at once. Nevertheless, sometimes we diminish this saint by asking too many worldly things from him. He has an incorruptible treasure, heavenly wealth, but we come and ask for some trifle. However, he helps us even with this and gives generously. We should not stop only at this; otherwise, it will diminish our relationship. Ask him for heavenly things, he has them in abundance and is ready to share.  

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



Tonight I would like to refer to a historical moment when humankind was damaged for the first time, to refer to Adam and Eve and their Fall, after which all humankind was damaged. And due to this, suffering, sorrow, and death filled its whole nature. What happened to Adam and Eve then? I’m not going to describe the Fall; it’s already known all over. I’d like to draw your attention to the issue: why wasn’t this conflict settled at once and the wound healed? What happened to them? What were they about right after the Fall? They hid. They didn’t come out to meet the One whom they hurt, offended, betrayed, but they went the opposite way. God walked around Eden searching for them and asking: “Where are you, Adam? Where are you, Eve? I can’t see you.” But they decided to hide, to walk further away. That was the problem. 

In contradiction to the above, I’d like to remind you of an absolutely different case describing a man who committed a grave sin. He betrayed in a very ugly and pitiful manner. But his move after he’d sinned, was absolutely opposite.  He didn’t run, but moved towards the One who should have burned him with shame, punished and turned away from him. However, in spite of everything, he moved towards, not away from Him.  Thus, I remind you about the fall of St. Peter and the moment in the New Testament when after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, His disciples found themselves alone, lost, disappointed, anxious. But they were still humans. They needed to take food. And so, St. Peter said he was going fishing and the rest of the disciples decided to go with him. They were fishing when all of a sudden, Christ appeared on the shore.  They didn’t see Him clearly, only the shape of a man on the shore, and this Man asked them from the shore, “Have you caught anything?” And St. John, as the closest disciple, not with his eyes, but with his heart saw Who it was and said: “It’s Our Master, it is Christ on the shore.” And St. Peter, without getting dressed, without tying up, jumped into the water and swam. He couldn’t wait before the boats came to the shore. That is why he swam towards the One who should have burned him just by being there, by the recollection of betrayal that had happened only three days before when he denounced Him thrice.  But St. Peter acted in spite of everything. 

What is the fundamental difference between the states of Adam and Eve and St. Peter?  And what’s wrong with our repentance? It’s wrong when we, after having sinned, after getting dirty once again, look ugly and pitiful, and even feel shame to look up at an icon, when we start to keep distance between us and God. We think: “I’m nobody. I’ll stand aside. I won’t approach the icon. I’m not worth it.” It’s wrong when we come to confession and feel shame to confess our sins. This “repentance” is of evil. The sort of repentance that makes us move away from the One whom we should ask to forgive us and make peace with Him right away. St. Peter can’t wait; he is ready to explode; he needs to make peace right away, drop to his knees and kiss His feet. And yes, he realizes his nothingness, but he doesn’t want to remain like this, he wants to change it. You see, the most important mistake is when it seems to us that we practice repentance. When we admit our sin and highly recognize and feel sorry for our nothingness, we take it for repentance – when we presume we can do it on our own and hide from Christ. But it is impossible to repent on one’s own. Our repentance is Christ. It doesn’t matter how deeply you feel sorry for your sin, how disgusted you feel about it, how you want to get rid of it and change, you can’t do it on your own.  All you need is to follow Christ in spite of your shame, your nothingness. Here and now, stand before Him, not hiding from Him, as if considering yourself unworthy. The most important thing is that He accepts us, doesn’t push us out or turn away from us as an offended person. He accepts everyone. We just don’t need to hide, to avoid Him, but come back at once. Yes, it is shameful, it is hard, it hurts so much and burns you from inside, but you can’t cope with it on your own. He is your salvation, He is your repentance, He is your reformation. It’s not enough just to admit your sin, you need to change yourself, but you can’t do it on your own, without Him. 

At that instant, we run to Christ: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Yes, I’m nobody, just like that lost woman who knelt and washed His feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. She realized she was not worthy to sit down at the table among them, but at the same time, she didn’t hide from Him. She approached Him, though burned with shame, though she expected someone who knew her to give her away, and that was exactly what happened. “How can He let this lost woman come to Him? Her shameful and dirty life is well known to us.” Against all odds, she doesn’t run away from Him, doesn’t hide, but comes to meet Him. That is repentance. 

Please note. No one can confess and change on one’s own. We can only admit our sins. It’s good to cry over sins, but also we need to change, which is not possible without Christ. That is the reason why, no matter how it hurts and how shameful it is, we should move towards Him, not in the opposite direction. Moreover, the more ugly we look today, the faster we need to run to Him. Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me. 


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Бегите ко Христу.

Я хочу сегодня вас направить в историческое место самого первого повреждения человечества, к Адаму и к Еве, когда они совершили грехопадение, после чего произошло повреждение всего человечества. И в связи с этим, страдание, скорбь, смерть вошли и во всю природу . Что тогда произошло с Адамом и Евой? Я не буду говорить о грехопадении, это у нас у всех на слуху, а хочу сейчас обратить ваше внимание: почему сразу не уврачевался этот конфликт и эта рана? Что с ними происходит, как они действуют дальше, сразу после грехопадения? Они прячутся.  Они движутся не на встречу Тому, Кого оскорбили, обидели, предали, а от Него. Господь ходит в раю, ищет их, говорит: Адам, где ты? Ева, где вы, Я вас не вижу. И их мотивация (вопрос к этому слову, скорее, не мотивация, а реакция, что ли. Подумай, предложи свой вариант,пож.) – спрятаться, уйти дальше. В этом была вся проблема. В противоречие этой ситуации, я хотел бы, сегодня, напомнить совершенно другое действие человека, который тоже очень сильно согрешил. Согрешил предательством, некрасиво, ничтожно, но его мотивация (действие?) сразу после греха была, наоборот. Он не бежал, а двигался навстречу Тому, Который, казалось бы, должен сжечь его стыдом, наказать, отвернуться от него. Но он, наперекор всему, двигался не от, а вперед. Я хочу напомнить о грехопадении Петра, и этот момент в Евангелии, когда, после распятия, после воскресенья Христа, ученики одни, в недоумении, в разочаровании, в тревоге. Но они всё равно, люди, они должны принимать пищу. И Петр говорит, иду рыбу ловить, и другие ученики говорят, и мы с тобой. И, вот, когда они ловят рыбу, вдруг на берегу появляется Христос. Они Его ещё не различают, только видят Его фигуру на берегу, и Эта Личность с берега говорит им: Вы что-то поймали? И апостолу Иоанну, как самому близкому ученику, не глаза, а сердце подсказывает, и он вдруг говорит: Это Учитель, это Христос на берегу. И Петр, даже не одевшись, не подвязавшись, сразу бросается  в воду и плывёт. Он не может ждать, пока доплывут лодки, поэтому плывёт навстречу Тому, который, казалось, должен его сейчас испепелить, просто своим бытием, воспоминанием: Ты предал Его три дня назад, ты отрёкся от Него, публично три раза. Но Апостол Петр совершает это действие наперекор, казалось бы, всему.  В чем кардинальная, разница состояний Адама и Евы и апостола Петра?  И в чем неправильность, как часто бывает, нашего покаяния? Когда мы, согрешивши, испачкавшись в очередной раз, выглядим очень некрасиво, ничтожно, уродливо, когда мы стесняемся поднять глаза на икону, когда мы начинаем держать дистанцию между нами и Богом: Я ничтожество, я буду в стороне, я даже не подойду к иконе, я недостоин. Когда мы стесняемся подойти на исповедь и покаяться в своих грехах. Это «покаяние» в кавычках, это покаяние от лукавого. Покаяние, которое движет нас не в сторону Того, у Кого мы должны попросить прощения и тут же с Ним примириться, вот, прямо, сию минуту. Апостол Петр не может ждать, у него всё внутри горит, ему нужно тут же примириться, тут же упасть в ноги, облобызать их. Да, он ничтожество, но он не хочет таки оставаться, а он хочет что-то изменить. Знаете, самая главная наша ошибка – это когда нам кажется, что мы занимаемся покаянием, кажется, что признание своего греха и сугубое переживание  своего ничтожества – это уже покаяние, что мы можем что-то сделать сами – и прячемся от Христа. Но никто не может произвести покаяние сам. Наше покаяние – это Христос. Как бы вы глубоко ни переживали, ни признавали свой грех, как бы отвратителен он вам ни был, как бы ни хотели вы от него избавиться и измениться, вы не сможете. Нужно наперекор стыду, своему сраму, своему ничтожеству, следовать в сторону Христа. Тут же, сию минуту, не прятаться от него, якобы, я даже не достоин приблизиться. И самое главное, что Он это принимает, Он не отпихивает нас коленом, не отворачивается от нас, обиженной персоной. Любого принимает, только не прячься, не удаляйся, а сразу возвращайся. Да, это стыдно, да, это очень больно, это жжет тебя изнутри, но ты сам не справишься, Он твоё спасение, Он твоё покаяние, Он твоё изменение. Просто признать свой грех, это ничто, нужно изменить себя, а изменить без Него ты не сможешь ничего. Тут же бежим ко Христу: Иисусе, Иисусе, Иисусе. Да, я ничтожество, как та блудница, которая встала на колени и слезами омывала Его ноги и власами своими отирала. Она не считала себя достойной сесть рядом со всеми за стол, но в то же время, она не пряталась от Него. Она приближалась, хотя её жег стыд, хотя она понимала, что сейчас, вот, кто-то из знакомых воскликнет, и так оно и было: Как Он может приблизить к себе эту ничтожную женщину? Мы же все знаем её жизнь, её срам, её грязь, и она наперекор этому не бежит от него, не прячется, а идёт, навстречу.” Вот в этом покаяние. 

Запомните, пожалуйста. Никто из нас не сможет принести покаяние, как изменение. как признание греха – да. Как плач о грехе – да, но нужно принести изменение, и Без Христа это невозможно. И, поэтому, как бы больно и стыдно не было, мы должны идти не от Него а к Нему. И чем хуже мы сегодня выглядим, тем быстрее мы должны бежать в Его сторону. Господи, Иисусе Христе, помилуй мя.



On the Feast of All Saints. 19.06.2022


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

Today is the Sunday of All Saints. All Saints from the beginning of the Church until now. We commemorate, venerate, glorify and try to imitate them. In this respect I would like to tell you a couple of things about  the nature of sainthood. What is this? 

The pursuit of sainthood and a thirst for it have been a part of our nature since creation. God gave this aspiration for sainthood to us. But, as it often happens in our life, the satan distorted this force given by God; he just gave it some other direction. That is why people do not succeed, even if they desire sainthood and make efforts to achieve it. Unfortunately, even those who understand what we are called for, try hard, but go in the wrong direction . 

The very first mistake was made by our First Parents Adam and Eve in Heaven, when the satan deceived them, saying “Eat of the forbidden fruit, and you will be like gods.” (Gen. 3:5) What was their mistake? People after them also  made similar mistakes. Remember, when people in the Old Testament began to build the Tower of Babel? The nature of these mistakes was the same. What is their essence? People decided to become gods without God. They wanted to attain deification through their own efforts. Moreover, this happens from the time of Adam and Eve and those poor builders of the Tower of Babel until the present.   All people who seek God make one and the same error and thus do not succeed. They apply effort and zeal, and use some spiritual practices in order to attain deification by themselves. But they make the same mistake and their Tower of Babel ruins, and ruins, and ruins. 

We Christians, need to understand the main point of sainthood. The Holy Fathers call it theosis or deification. I use this term on purpose, so that you can get the essence of sainthood. Sainthood is not one’s personal righteousness, or spiritual talent, or something else.  Sainthood is a prerogative of God, but not so for  humans . 

True sainthood, not distorted, not delusive, is when we restrict and compel ourselves, trying to come to the Holy Spirit. The Lord says, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (Jn. 14:23) People cannot be saintly by themselves. Only God is a saint. Remember when a man came up to Christ and said, “Good Teacher…” (Mt. 19:16) And the Lord said, “No one is good but One, that is, God. (Mt. 19:17) If you recognize Me as a teacher, you are wrong. If you see Me as God, this is true.” 

Spiritual life is not a pursuit of personal sainthood by means of some spiritual practices, zeal, stability or stubbornness – none  of this will work and you will not succeed. Rather, and even worse, you will succeed in having delusions  about yourself. Sainthood is when God dwells in us. We have a very exact prayer: “O Heavenly King…, come and dwell in us…” This is the essence of sainthood; He comes and brings this sainthood. And due to our pride, boldness, and arrogance He may step  aside, and our Tower of Babel will be ruined  at once. People strive and make the same mistake. They think sainthood is in their power and they can attain it through their zeal, sincerity and stubbornness. However, sainthood is when God dwells in us. The Lord says, “But this is the one to whom I will look, to the humble and contrite in spirit.” (Is. 66:2) There is one more statement from the Holy Fathers, “I have not fasted, I have not been vigilant, I did not lay on earth, but I humbled myself, and the Lord has saved me.” (St. John of the Ladder) The main condition of sainthood is a humble heart. A humble heart crying from the depth of its nothingness to God, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” A heart having a sense of grandeur about oneself and seeing something in itself is not capable of crying in this soft and humble way, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” Its egoism stands in the way between it and God.  

The main condition is to realize that sainthood is when God dwells in us. He will do so when we start to write our “I” in lowercase, and the word “God” capitalized.  And repeat all the time, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”  Surely, I compel myself to act, but no matter how much effort I apply, I need to understand: compulsion is on my part, while the result is God’s part.   The result is not in our control.  It is at the mercy of God. What we do is to compel ourselves. We fall and rise, confess and cry again, “Jesus, Jesus.” We should crush our knees in prayer and cry, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” Sainthood is not our nature.  

I will return to this word, the synonym of the word “sainthood” again – “theosis” – the dwelling of God in us. God is saintly, we are not. 

Sweetest Jesus, save us!



Sermon after the Sunday Liturgy 26.12.2021

Today as per church calendar we revere the memory of the 4th century ancient Greek martyr Eustratius. But we also have our Russian venerable monk and martyr Eustratius who lived in Kiev Monastery of Caves (also Kyiv Pechersk Lavra). The story of this martyr is the following. The Cumans invaded Kiev, robbed and took captive a part of its inhabitants. The captives included both laity and monks of Lavra, and saint venerable monk and martyr Eustratius was among them. By the way, a small part of his relics is kept here, in Orsk, under the altar of the Transfiguration Cathedral.  In the Circum-Pontic region the Cumans sold their captives in slavery to a Judaize. One part of the bought people he used as slaves and the other part, as he hated Christians so much, he decided to torture so that they disowned Christ. Therefore, he put them in prison and started to starve them. St. Venerable monk and martyr Eustratius, who had been a fast during his life in Lavra, inspired our Russian captives: “Let us not disown Christ, let us stand to the last. This man won’t stop, and we will die anyway. But if we denounce Christ, eternal death will be left to us”. And so he inspired everyone and all the Russian captives were strong, they starved and died one by one.

At last St. venerable monk and martyr Eusrtatius was the only one left, as being a monk he was tempered by fast and asceticism. He didn’t just die, but even more his body didn’t show any sign of weakness.   Then, that Judaize torturer decided to aggravate the torture and nailed St. Eustratius to a cross making him suffer badly like Our Lord suffered. He thrusted nails through the martyr’s palms and feet. You know, when a man dies on a cross he doesn’t just feel great pain. He dies of suffocation, as his body is in such a position that, in order to breathe in just once he needs to raise himself on his wounded extremities causing unbearable pain to himself. And so, St. venerable monk and martyr Eusrtatius after being crucified started to shed tears. The Judaize approached him and said: “At last I broke your Christian courage and made you cry”. To what St. Eustratius answered: “You are a stupid man. I’m crying for joy as I’m dying like My Lord Jesus Christ”. The Judaize got furious and said: “You want to die like your God, don’t you? But I won’t let you”. And in his rage he stabbed the martyr under his right rib with a knife. Without realizing it he drew a line under the imitation of St. Eustratius’ sufferings to the passions of Christ. 

Why have I retold you the life of this saint in detail? Look, in a hopeless situation a man, who doesn’t see the providence of God, may become desperate, his faith may falter: I dedicated my whole life to You, and where are You now, at this horrible moment? In fact, God with all His might is always by your side, even in the most desperate situations, which we may not understand, misestimate, God may even seem to leave us. In the end He can turn the most hopeless situation to an advantage for eternity. 

I would like to inspire you. There is plenty of sorrow now. And a special and greater sorrow may come soon. Remember, when it seems that it’s all lost, at this very point God stands by your side with all His might. And He can at once turn any desperate situation to good. Just like it happened to St. venerable monk and martyr Eusrtatius.  O Lord, make us strong by his prayers! Sweetest Jesus, save us.



(a sermon after panikhida)



I would like to read for you a note that moved me.  Panikhida for the repose of the deceased servants of God: Stepan, Matrona, Pavel, Foma, Parfyon, Vindey, Irina, Filka, Lyuba, Kuzma, Anna. I remember it so well: when I was a very young man I caught the time when these names of people born before the revolution were on everyone’s lips. I was a boy, but I remember at my granny’s village there was a grampy Filka, both Vindey and Parfyon were there too.  Yes, we are the witnesses of the time when those people lived. Just look, some people still use this specific transcription of the names. Grampy Filka and Parfyon are still present in somebody’s life. I tell you about this, and even though I’m not so old, I caught those times, but it is all gone. Those people born before the revolution, half a century ago were called like that, but it will never happen again. We pray for our grandmas, parents who are gone and will never come back again. Everything is gone. There is only one way there, never back. Young ladies, where are our young ladies? You will all grow old soon, believe me, trust me, before you know it.  In this respect, when we have the sense of time, all momentary pleasures are no match for eternity, just waste of time and fuss. Yes, Sarah, it must seem you haven’t lived yet. Only yesterday you walked holding on to your mother’s hand, and now you are old, very very old. 



Sermon on the day of the Monastery’s patron saint venerable Gabriel of Samtavro, 2.11.2021


Just try, it is easy to recall the state you had when you were a child. Not an event, but the state of childhood in your mind, in your heart. This recollection brings such joy and carefreeness. Afterwards the difficulties and problems of adult life appeared and smothered us a little bit.  But then, back in our childhood, this state of lightheartedness gave such a sense of freedom that it makes you feel nostalgic for it. You want to experience it once more, but the time has passed.  

One may experience this state in a monastic life, through the mystery of obedience.  Speaking of childish carelessness, I do not mean idleness, as we used to help – we washed dishes, swept the floor, went shopping. But we did our chores carefreely. We bought a loaf of bread and ate half of it on the way home, forgetting ourselves. This carefreeness gave us simplicity. In monasticism, through the mystery of obedience you can bring this state back – not the state of idleness, but the state of carefreeness, and become little children again. Our parents will take care of us. It’s like when we were kids, our parents took care of everything. And you do what you are told and think good thoughts.  

In addition, one may experience this state in a tacit prayer. It feels like when you sit down by the side of your dad, he takes your hand in his, and you sit together silent. You say: “Daddy, and this is…” And he hushes you: “Shhh”. In a few minutes you start to wiggle: “I want to confess”. And he whispers: “Later”. And again you wiggle. “Hush, later, later”. Those people who didn’t pray tacit prayer do not understand what St. Venerable Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia meant when he said that in the tacit prayer even repentance may not be welcome.  God may even hush your repentance and then add: “Do not lose this moment of silence, when your hand is in Mine”. At this moment nothing else matters, even our repentance. There are no more problems, it matters neither what you did yesterday nor what you are going to do tomorrow.  This is the same state you had in your childhood. As Our Lord says: “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:3).  All Christians read these words, but there are only a few who experience, I do not use the word “understand”, this state of childhood. When there is a moment of carelessness and you feel your hand in the hand of God, nothing matters.  You don’t need to ask Him for anything, as He knows all your needs. Any pleading will disturb the silence.  Leave all your concerns to God, He will deal with them. We will wake up and He will say: go buy some milk. This state is very joyful. We have too many concerns, they tear us apart and sometimes make our life unbearable. Thank God, we have it, it is very pleasant to come back to our childhood and unload our worries on to our parents, on Our Heavenly Father, and just live. 

Elder Gabriel was a grown up child too, his hand was in the hand of Our Heavenly Father, that is why he could let himself be a child. And even eat half a loaf on the way back from the baker’s, knock something over, because God, as his Father, set him right.



Holy Father Seraphim of Sarov used to say: “when I spoke for myself, there were mistakes; when I spoke on behalf of the Holy Spirit, there were no mistakes”. We often hear and repeat this phrase, but hardly often everyone perceives the depth of it.  What did Father Seraphim mean? We do not understand due to our inexperience. What does “for myself” and “on behalf of the Holy Spirit” mean? Our head is constantly bustling with thoughts and ideas while Our Lord speaks gently, delicately, but very definitely. But being always busy with ourselves we do not hear what God says. Nevertheless, it’s very important to learn it, as the most essential in our life is what God says, but not what we would figure out ourselves with our fallen mind. 

In fact, our mind is gravely damaged. We are always inspired to do good, but inspiration is not enough, we need to realize what to do and how it has to be done, we need to have a sense of purpose. But our head is a mess. How is that, speak on behalf of the Holy Spirit, and how not to speak and stop dwelling in your own thoughts and ideas? You need to slow down your thoughts that keep pouring like a flow, spinning and making noise, and let yourself hear what God says. In order to hear God, before we put our thoughts on pause, we need to fall silent. 

We jolly fine understand the visible part of the act of faith; we realize that in order to take control of our flesh we need to fast, so that our body was satisfied with less food and not to become immodest from excessive amount of food. Practically the same goes for our mind. Our mind needs to fast. For the body it is food restriction, for the mind – restriction of thoughts.  But not all of you will understand what I mean. How is that, to restrict our thoughts? It’s very good to practice Jesus prayer. This prayer is short and always the same. It doesn’t give space to thoughts as owing to its shortness it keeps moving and moving. Any complicated, long praying such as reading of the Psalter or canons is surely necessary, but it distracts our mind with its width… 

The wider is the thought, the more our mind gets disturbed, the farther it goes. And the shorter is the thought, the more we restrict our mind. And so, Jesus prayer is very short, it is unchanging and doesn’t make our thoughts broaden: Jesus, Jesus Jesus, Jesus, Jesus… That was the way Holy Father Seraphim lived, that was the way all venerable people lived. Not only their flesh, but also their mind fasted. They gave very scarce food to their mind, and it did not get immodest. Their mind was not cultivated, but was set at rest, it rested upon this one short thought “Jesus, Jesus…” At that point they started to hear God – what He says, speaking gently, humbly, quietly, inconspicuously. Why don’t we hear God all the time? It is because we think loudly while God speaks in a low voice. That is why we can’t possibly hear Him. Many people even come to say there is no God, He doesn’t address us in any way. But venerable people restricted their mind and started to hear the word of God. It was very definite and exact. At that point, when they heard Our Heavenly Father, they understood what He wanted from them and how it had to be done. And they got good results.

Glory to Our God, always, now, and ever, and unto ages of ages.




Consider this, a great number of monasteries are dedicated to Holy Theotokos. Our ancient Russian Kiev Pechersk Lavra (Kiev Monastery of the Caves) of the Dormition of Our Most Holy Lady Theotokos, the Pochaev Lavra, and the whole Holy Mount Athos are under the protection of the Mother of God.  Monks do not just live under the wing of Holy Theotokos, they imitate Her purity. In order to encompass the Deity and not to desecrate Him it is necessary to keep chastity both of body and soul. Church people might know that when a woman is pregnant, according to church rules, she has an admission for living in separate rooms with her husband. And it has a profound meaning. A child connected to mother by an umbilical cord perceives everything that she perceives.  If the mother is sad, then the child gets sad too, so it is recommended to avoid upsetting pregnant mothers as it can influence their unborn babies.   If the mother gets angry, her anger bears down upon the baby, as well as the rest of her feelings. That is why during those 9 months our Church advises pregnant women to keep purity both of soul and body. 

And now, can you imagine what kind of responsibility was taken by Holy Theotokos Who carried God 9 months after the Annunciation? It was chastity, and not just purity of body, but a great purity of mind and heart that prevented the Fetus from desecration even by a subtle thought. Why is She considered to be a protectress of monks and nuns? Because the purpose of people leading a monastic life is not ascesis, retreat, self-forgetfulness and chastity of body. You can preserve your virginity being ascetic, but you need to understand what for. You keep your chastity for your Heavenly Bridegroom. I speak of the people of both sexes as monasticism is such a mystery where people imitate life in the Kingdom of Heaven. Remember what Our Lord said: “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven” (Mt. 22:30). The purpose of monasticism is not just ascesis, it is achieving and preserving maximal purity of body and soul in order to encompass God and so that deification of a human took place. It is shameful, sinful and graceless to invite a Dear Guest to a messy house, isn’t it? Thus you show your attitude to Him. If we always pray: “Come and dwell in us”, we should clean up the room. But, in the end, there is not much difference between monasticism and the life of laity. The laity have the same commandments, we also seek the reunion with God and have the same purpose – to guard our soul pure so that the One Who will come and dwell won’t be dishonored. A great purity of God and, for example, blasphemous thoughts are incompatible. They desecrate the Precious Fetus. That is why we are all without exception given the commandments to keep our body and soul pure in order to avoid desecration and reunite with God. As Our Lord said: “[If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him,] and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (Jn. 14:23). Holy Theotokos was the first who did it. And She was higher than St. John the Baptist.

When we start our relationship with Holy Theotokos we ask Her of different things: “O Most Holy Theotokos, help, protect, give”. But when we get to know Her better our prayer to Her changes. At some moment that “give” stops and transforms into “forgive”. We start to feel shame for addressing Her our requests and we pray: “O Most Holy Theotokos, forgive me!” Then our prayer becomes deeper and deeper and we don’t feel like guilty servants, we start to perceive Her embracive holiness, Her decency and purity and we don’t even say “forgive” we pray with reverence: “Glory to You! O Most Holy Theotokos, glory to You!” We should leave that “forgive, forgive” and come further and higher. 

Holy Fathers when they practiced Jesus prayer experienced that. And even now there are arguments about what kind of prayer to read: a long or a short variant, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner” or the traditional Athos prayer – “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me”. When Holy Fathers left the shape of word, the prayer became a part of their nature that merged with the nature of God and got shorter and shorter. They didn’t even say: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me”, but: “Lord, Jesus, Jesus Christ”, and then: “Lord, Jesus, Jesus”.    After that the prayer in the shape of a word ceased and they fell silent with veneration perceiving the presence of God, and couldn’t talk any more.

Elder Paisios used to say: “Our Sweetest Mother!” But in order to feel Her sweetness we need to work very-very hard. We need to purify ourselves so that we won’t besmear Her by our touch, by our nullity and filth. I don’t say we can fully cleanse ourselves, but this sigh of repentance, this urging on purity are already purification.  

O Most Holy Theotokos, save us! I wish we could leave this way of addressing Holy Theotokos: give, help, protect, heal, and enlarge. I wish so badly that we could leave all those requests behind and just stand with veneration before Her. When the Holy Fathers came into this state they could only utter: “O Most Holy Theotokos…” and fell silent. Glory to You, O Most Holy Theotokos!





In order to totally change our lives and bring them from hell to heaven, our repentance is not enough, as Judas repented as well, but didn’t do anything else and descended straight into hell. Surely, he was confused by the depth of his sin. But, consider this, those days a soldier also committed a grave sin piercing Christ’s side with a spear.  Judas sold Him for money, but physically he somewhat didn’t take part in His crucifixion. While the soldier pierced the side of Christ himself. Judas became desperate in that situation and stopped. The soldier was shaken as he saw the heavens shaken and exclaimed: “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” And he not just repented, he tried to change. That is why when we come to God, to His Church we don’t just repent, we don’t just declare our sin, admit it, feel sorry about it, but we need to do something about it.   Then after trying to act, we realize that we can’t do it perfectly. We can become pious, simply righteous. We can be good citizens, good husbands or wives, good employees, but Christ says, in order to find salvation we are meant to be not just righteous, but saint. And this is a drastically different state. To be all the time with Our Eternal God we need to adopt his qualities, that is to become part of His nature. That is why you need to understand it is important to go to church, as nothing will work without church. Supernatural things happen in church. I repeat it once again, being simply righteous is natural for a human, even irreligious people know what righteousness is, but being a saint is supernatural.  And for that you will need supernatural help. Not only your sincere efforts to bring your life to order, but a supernatural connection with God.  What is natural is accessible to a human, what is supernatural is not accessible to a human, but accessible to God. That is why we go to church not just to admit our sins, but to change, change something dramatically, and for this great change we need to draw a supernatural power, which church people call the Grace of God. This Grace that we draw changes something deep down in our hearts. And we can’t even give a definition to this change or reasonably describe it. It happens there and a man or a woman may really change.



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

These days one of the most frequently asked questions is the question about the war. What can we say about the war? It is hard to take a phrase from its context and say something objectively. It is hard to separate one event from a succession of events and say something definite with responsibility.  People are designed in a way that they always reside in the format of time and they evaluate events according to the moment, the way they feel it here and now. While God is beyond time and He looks at any event from the past, the present and the future simultaneously, without dissevering events and meanings from their contexts, but giving everything one general meaning. That is why everything is right and very precise with God. However, with us things are twisted. Due to our habit of taking a notion from its context and giving it another sense. It is a high responsibility to say something. We should better trust everything in God and pray hard. The situation is complicated, unclear, and we always make mistakes when we try to determine the course of history with our limited minds.  We can’t set out our own lives, not to mention the estimation of historical events. Owing to our narrow-mindedness, we don’t go through those events correctly. Our estimation, impression, judgment, rage and excessive sorrow bother us. While God lives any tragic event through pain for humankind.  When we try to sympathize, so many thoughts come to our mind, and they blur this simple short and sincere sympathy. It happens due to our being too complicated, while God is simple.   We can talk for hours without giving the issue any definite esteem. While God just lives through every moment. And He lives through the moment of people’s sorrow without long speculations, but with a pang of pain. Therefore, in order to live through these events we should leave our ego and join God. But it will cause pain. Our hearts will simply bleed. And this is the most true definition of any war. Your heart is bleeding and you pray: “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…” At this moment we need to trust in God and pray sincerely. However, we shouldn’t pray on our behalf, we should let Christ in our hearts and permit Him to pray. His prayer is pure. While ours… It’s even hard to call it a prayer.  Our prayer is just dwelling in our thoughts. If we only knew the real pure prayer of saints, we would realize that our prayer is only a train of thoughts and nonsenses. O Lord! It all will be over, we just need to trust in God’s providence. No one will bring balance, but God! No one will resolve the problems, but God! Let us just trust in Him, pray and wait patiently.  And everything will be alright. 

Time will pass by and we will look back and see the whole picture. I think, both the Ukrainians and us, will look back and say: “It’s all over, it’s ok, we suffered it, we overcame it”. The main thing is a good ending. Unless we put hope in God, there will be no point to live, there will be no strength to live.  Everything will become absurd. And living in absurdity is a profound despair.  That is why let us pray and not fall into despair and trust in God. 

Glory to Our Lord, always, now, and ever, and unto ages of ages!