We all enjoyed today the majestic singing of our children's choir. It reminded us of the light and joy of heaven and gave us the inspiration to press on with our journey. Burdened by the hardships of our everyday lives and our arduous but fruitless search for meaning, we all welcomed this opportunity to rise above the mundane and imagine ourselves in a life of eternity in Christ. May we all draw our inspiration from these words in the book of Psalms, «Lift your hearts to the Lord!»
When a ship is sinking, its crew will throw overboard all its cargo, including gold, money, and other valuables. Who needs all this wealth, when the sailors' lives are at stake? In our spiritual lives, we give up our worldly acquisitions to keep our souls alive before God.
On the day of the Ascension, the Lord departed to heaven, and the Holy Spirit descended upon His church and its members. Together, we constitute the Body of Christ. In this world, the Body of Christ is hanging on the cross. Each of us is bearing our cross, and sometimes our burden seems too heavy. But we must not lose heart. The Lord is near us. He knows what we need and when.
We must lift our hearts to the Lord by learning to put all our trust in Him. Let us be honest with ourselves. Do we believe in life eternal? Are we ready to submit our lives to God, fully and with no reservation?
Often, we complain to ourselves and others, "My body is aching. Life has been hard on me. I cannot bear it anymore. Pity me!" We are preoccupied with our problems at work, in the family and our daily affairs. But at our most difficult moments, when we feel most burdened, we hear the call, «Lift your hearts to the Lord!»
In this world that lies in sin, we are not always happy with our lives. But we need not let ourselves stick to our sinful ways or persist in them. Instead, we should seek the Kingdom of God in ourselves; we should work to reinvent ourselves as temples of the Holy Spirit.
For many years, I have kept in my memory the following episode as my source of inspiration and encouragement. My spiritual father, Elder Nikolai Guryanov was anointing the people after a liturgy. I was standing next to him. Because of his illness and old age, he was having great difficulty and was in visible pain. At some moment, he turned to me and said with eyes full of anguish, "They think that I am fine!" Less than a second later, he continued what he was doing smiling radiantly and saying kindly to everyone who approached, "Glory be to God! You are wonderful! May God be with you." He shared his warmth and kindness with everyone at the church.
We, too, must find warm words to say to our brothers or sisters, even we are in sorrow and pain. Our aim is not to compliment them, but to pursue our struggle against evil, sin, and death. Aware of multiple weaknesses in our neighbour, we still say to him, "What a nice person!" And our words will inspire him to grow. A smile will come on his face, and a gentle light will appear in his eyes.
Let us spend the rest of the day on high ground. Let us be inspired. Let us see the light in the darkness and defeat evil with our good works and intentions. Let us smile more often and always find something good to say to one another. God help us all.