Today is a beautiful day, the great feast of the Pentecost. The Holy Scripture tells us all about it. Many years ago, a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the house where the Apostles were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them (Acts 2: 1-3).
The Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and the Holy Church. Our churches and chapels are overflowing with flowers and beautiful green garlands of eternal joy, youth, and love. Likewise, the blessing of the Holy Spirit brings beauty and a glimpse of paradise to our hearts.
The Lord bestows upon us the abundant gifts of His Holy Spirit in different colours, shapes and hues. Every human being is a universe. No two are alike. As the Apostle Paul teaches us, there are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them, there are different kinds of service, but the same Lord; and different kinds of working, but in all of them and everyone, it is the same God at work. (1 Corinthians 12: 4-6). In the eyes of God, every person is one of a kind; everyone is beautiful and precious. Everyone is God's beloved.
All too often, people distort this wonderful image of God in themselves by separating themselves from Him. A life without God is self-serving, self-centred and egoistic. In it, there is no room for sacredness or the sense of His presence. Sometimes, people cannot get themselves to spend some time alone and concentrate instead on impressing others. They make their lives look like a boxing ring, a theatrical stage, or a window shop. Days and years go by as if in a dream, and drowning themselves in their passions becomes their only purpose.
The enemy deceives us into thinking that there will always be time to change our ways, so we need not hurry. He makes us believe that we can forget about our imminent departure. Yet the Russian classic Nikolai Gogol cautions us that believing our enemy's lies will make us think of nothing else but fun and merry-making. Our hearts and souls will become insensitive to the pains and sorrows of others. Our souls will overgrow with flesh, and there will be no room left in them for God. The Holy Church keeps our souls awake and reminds us that the Kingdom of God is not just about good food and drink but also about righteousness, peace and joy in the Spirit.
Not coincidentally, the Serbian elder Thaddeus foresees that we will be asked on Judgement Day how we had used our God-given life, His Divine energy and our time on earth. Did we make use of those gifts to seek the grace of His spirit or to let destruction, chaos, hate and despair reign in our hearts?
We live in a troubled world full of complex politics, international tensions and endless struggles over markets and resources. But humanity's most fateful struggle is the invisible battle for our souls and humanity.
May our churches bask in the lush green and in beautiful flowers. May faith and love adorn our hearts, and the flames of the Holy Spirit give us the strength and inspiration to proceed on the arduous journey of our lives.
Hegumen Tikhon (Borisov) of Optina Pustyn Monastery
An interview with Matushka Olga Sholkova, the precentor of the Parish Choir of the Church in honour of Pantanassa icon of Theotokos (Minsk), which will participate in the Majestic Sound Festival this year.
Many years have passed since Belarus was freed from fascism. But we hold close the memory of those who did not live to see the Victory. In our fast-paced world everything changes, but the truth. It is therefore important that the memory remains.
Christ's gift of immortality was not a discovery of the human mind. It was not the result of some grand experimental project. Immortality is as real as life itself.
God allows the devil to do evil to make a man fight. After all, you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs. Had the devil not tempted us, we might have imagined ourselves to be saints. That is why God lets him pester us with his anger.
Our meeting with Martin Go who came to St Elisabeth Convent as a pilgrim allowed us to learn more about China. His father is a Communist but he has accepted his son’s choice. Martin plans to return to China in the future.
What happens when you spend your life acquiring material wealth? Read this cautionary tale about one possible outcome.
Brother Georgy Yurkevich is a long-time member of our monastic family. We asked him about his passion for flying, his discovery of God, and how his experiences at the Convent helped him become a better father, husband, and Christian.