ON SPIRITUAL WARFARE – Иверский Орский женский монастырь



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