Father Valery Zakharov, is one of the priests who serves at Saint Elisabeth Convent.
Father Valery was ordained a priest in 2001.
Father Valery Zakharov has served in the Convent since its foundation 23 years ago. His obediences then have ranged from clearing the yard for the future churches and, helping at the construction site, to working in hospitals, boarding schools, and farmsteads. Father Valery has also always actively participated in the life of the Convent and the Sisterhood.
For many years now, he has been responsible for our small church in honour of St Nectarios of Aegina. This church is located on the grounds of a psycho-neurological boarding home for children with special needs, suffering from mental and physical diseases. Fr Valery also provides spiritual guidance to the lay brothers and sisters serving in the mentioned facility.
His words are always wise and profound.
Please find below one of Father Valery’s recent homilies about service, repentance, and holiness:
Each person serves God according to his capability.
The Body of Christ has many members, and they are all arranged so that the Body is complete. We all require the grace of God. All of us are turned to Him. We look at others and see a mirror. If we see beauty in people, then it is present in us. If we see sin in people, then it is our own sin; otherwise we would not notice it in others. Everyone sins, but, unfortunately, not everyone repents. We need to join those who are willing and able to repent.
We have to make an effort to see ourselves realistically, and not the person that we try to show everyone or the person that we want to see in ourselves. Only then can a person change something in himself.
Repentance is not a statement of fact. It is the desire to change one's condition. We cannot change it ourselves, but the Lord can, as long as we give Him this opportunity.
If we constantly compare ourselves with the saints and the way they lived and laboured, I think that our spiritual advancement will be successful, because these examples are given to us so that we can make an effort and take a step towards God. Sometimes this step seems to us like a decisive and an irrevocable one. However, some time passes, and we understand that the efforts that we are making are not enough for what we have in mind.
Clearly, we do not realise ourselves in the state in which the prodigal son saw himself. We think that we are better. Perhaps, holiness is when a person looks deeper into himself, and the saints are those who managed ‘to keep their minds in hell without despair’. It is important not to despair and to trust not in ourselves, but in God, knowing that even in a state of extreme sin, making it impossible to live, there is One Who will take you in His arms and carry you to holiness through the abyss of the impossible.
The most basic thing is to build a church inside ourselves. The Convent was built in 20 years, but the church inside our soul may take a lifetime to erect. Of course, we would like everything to be quick and easy… We hope that the residents of the boarding homes in our care will help us with this.
Let's hope that by their prayers the Lord will have mercy on us, fill us with His grace and give us an opportunity to see the unfading light in eternal life.
The Mother of God prays for us, showing us the power of the prayer to change us from within, transform our lives and make a positive difference to the world.
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