TRUTH IS OUR POWER
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!