A tribute to the patron saint of Saint Elisabeth Convent

The saint whose prayers have kept our faith alive

July 22, 2021

feast day sermon

Today, we honour the memory of the Holy Royal Martyr Elisabeth and her cell attendant, Nun Barbara. We have all come to church to venerate these great saints of our time. They and others like them are the ones who keep our spirits alive in the most trying times when everything around us crumbles, is desecrated and defiled. They rise like stars on the celestial horizon to warm with their love all who are weary and burden. They bring wisdom and consolation to people who are lost and disoriented. They come to return meaning to their lives and relieve their despair and panic.

A centuries-old empire was breaking down in their view. The Church seemed to be falling apart along with it. On the one hand, Orthodoxy was the state religion. Magnificent churches stood everywhere. However, there were no people to pray in these churches. The elites considered Orthodoxy as backward and irrelevant.

Saints like Elisabeth Romanov and Barbara appeared in the Church at this lowest point in history. By their existence, they showed that people still needed Christ. They still needed to partake of His Body and His Blood in the face of mortal danger. This utter need for Christ presaged the revival of the Church. At that time, a schema-monk on Mount Athos wrote:

"Nothing has been destroyed. Russia has not perished; rather, it has become stronger with the advent of a large number of martyrs and ascetics praying for their country and people!"

We have assembled at the Church today. It might seem that disbelief in God is thriving. Yet with their exploits, the new martyrs remind us after many decades how much God matters in our lives. Their prayers have saved their country from being trampled upon; they have stopped us from forgetting that we are images of God, and have helped us preserve our humanity. We have kept our faith in the essence, not just in form. If we continue to seek a peaceful spirit, thousands around us will find salvation.

We are still gathering for common prayer. We pray for ourselves and for all who are still ignorant of God and everlasting life. Let us continue to pray fearlessly, disregarding the terror of the night. Congratulations on this glorious feast day, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ.

May God save and protect you.

Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok

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