SERMON ON THE NIGHT OF THE TONSURE 03.04.2022 – Иверский Орский женский монастырь


These are the following words of the Holy Gospel in the service of tonsure, which we have just heard, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Mt.10:37) People often hear these words, but only some of them – perceive. I deliberately say “perceive” instead of “understand” them; as “understanding” relates more to one’s mind, but “perception” is about one’s heart, which is more sensitive and lives in subtle and delicate states. Not everyone is able to perceive the meaning of these words intended by God. There is no disrespect for parents, or any desire for excellence on the part of God.   These things are alien to God’s nature. The essence of these words can be explained as, when people get to know God through spiritual life, they have such a joy of Heaven, being close to God, that they simply forget everything, even their fathers and mothers. 

      Nevertheless, not all of those, who come to serve God, even after having been tonsured and having lived a monastic life, come to this state. As a rule, everything stays on the level of mind and in a raw state. The purpose of a life in monasticism is to come closer to God, as much as possible. When people achieve this, they have such a spiritual delight, that they even forget their fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, and everything, which used to be dear to them; and they do not need to compel themselves to do it. For them, God pushes everything into the background and nothing else matters.    

However, I need to make an important remark here – a monk or a nun should not come to be indifferent to the world. He or she reunites with God in the mystery of monasticism and starts to perceive the world through God. While God is not indifferent to the world, He worries about it and takes care of it. God loves the world, even if it has walked far away from Him.    

      You need to understand this important issue right now, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Mt.19:26) If you think, “I will pray for the whole world and I will embrace everyone with my kind heart” – it will not work, as all of this is nothing, but your imagination. Only God can embrace the world. And the purpose of our monasticism is to reunite with God, and love the world through God, but not by ourselves. We should not play and pretend to be in love. In fact, this is all not true when you love for five minutes, then you do not. When you are in God, you will have it all. But the way to God goes through a cross, that is why you received these crosses tonight. 

       “The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” (Mt.11:12) The Kingdom of Heaven should be gained through suffering: through your tears, pain, sweat, and blood. At the same time, Our Lord says, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Mt. 11:30) When someone makes you do something, it is hard. When you are supposed to be paid for your work, it is easier, as you have motivation, but it is still hard. But when you do something out of love to your Heavenly Bridegroom, you try to please Him day and night, because you are a slave of this love, and all your efforts become blessed. Even though the notions of “work” and “effort” remain, they become blessed, as you give yourself to God all the time; and the more you give, the more you gain. I wish your monasticism were not some tragedy, and, at the same time, I would not like it to be gained without suffering. You should understand, it is hard work. But we should voluntarily give our consent to it. In this case, this work becomes a great pleasure and transforms into a big joy.