My spiritual father, elder Nikolai Guryanov told me this story about a man walking in the forest. "Walking across the forest, he is shaking trees and breaking branches along his way. He is leaving a lot of mess behind him. He is not doing do it for any specific reason. He is just bored, and his hands are itching." Someone who appreciates life and its beauty will not engage in destruction.
The fallen world has lost its original beauty. The fallen man leaves a desert behind him. In this world that lies in sin, might makes right. What does it teach our children? If you are strong, you are a hero. If you cannot destroy your enemy, you are a loser! Increasingly, these messages are becoming models of human behaviour.
There are two worlds of God - the visible and the invisible. The invisible world, the world of the spirit, is lost for us. Instead, we choose to live in a world of illusions. Glued to our screens, we cannot stop ourselves from following the news. We come to believe that somewhere else our lives could be better, more comfortable and more abundant. The world puts us on an abundant diet of entertainment and pleasure, creating an illusion of happiness. Let us not fall deceive ourselves: illusions pass quickly. They disappear like smoke and leave our souls miserable and frustrated.
Illusions are the weapon of our enemy in our spiritual battle. The enemy wants us to be selfish and live for ourselves. He wants us to stop having families, and forget about loving another. He wants everyone to live by the flesh, as gluttons and pleasure-seekers.
But we have come to church. We have not come here to ease our worries or to think about the future. We have come to be reborn, to regain the invisible spiritual world that he had once lost. Beside us are our guardian angels, whom we cannot see, but whose existence we do not doubt. We cannot see the angels themselves, but we have their images on icons. We realise that amid the people who have come to worship are many angels and saints.
To enter our new life in the spirit, we must turn our backs on sin. We must cleanse our hearts and minds of all impurity and filth. We have to do so during our very limited lifetimes. Some can expect to live to sixty, some to seventy, others may be fortunate to live to one hundred or a hundred and twenty years. Good for them! Still, our years are numbered, and we cannot buy ourselves any more time. We must use this limited time to be reborn and reform ourselves, to overcome this world full of temptations, sin and deceit.
We seek rebirth and reform, and this puts us on a collision course with the rest of the world. We stand out because we are not advocating a change to human laws or the ways of this world. We reaffirm the ultimate love of God that makes all of us equal. Because Jesus Christ is our King, who is always the same yesterday, today or tomorrow. We are His followers. On the great feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, we are raising the cross above the world, to the chagrin of our enemy. We are raising it with our pure hearts, prayer and love of God.
My beloved brethren, hold on to the truth of our Lord and remember that the enemy has no power over us. Do not be afraid to oppose him. If there is one fear that we should have, it is the fear of hurting our neighbour. By serving our neighbour, we are serving God. So let us be vigilant. My sister and my brother are my life. Let the wisdom of these words be our guide.
God help us all.
Is there any problem that God could not resolve? Is there a question that He could not answer? We only need to ask the right questions and be open to hearing the answer.
We should have a purpose to our lives, and do all we can to live up to it. Yet some lives look more like an abandoned corner of a field overgrown with weed. People seem to be living them without a sense of purpose, and some may have given up.
In our lives on this earth, the lobby of Heaven, are we not like these invalids at the pool? Are we not waiting like them for some Angel of God to perform a miracle that will make us see, hear and live?
To grow up spiritually is to develop the habit of spiritual life. You start small but practise every day. We all took the Holy Communion today. To remain with Christ, we must all take communion at every Liturgy.
We should all keep the fire of life within us, and not let it die out. A sparkle of this fire is present in each of us, we just need to let it grow. The Divine Liturgy is a shared blessing. We celebrate the liturgy just as we live our lives.
We are working hard to make our lives better to the best of our ability. We are not wrong. Yet, in a sense, our hard work and our lives tend to lose focus, and we risk losing our direction by not following the goals given to us by our Lord.
At the beginning of the Dormition Fast, a liturgy and a holy cross procession on the second-highest point in Belarus has become our good tradition. It reminds the people of their ascent to heaven, it calls on them to rise above their everyday…