[Father Andrey: “And eternal…” Parishioners: “...Love!” Father Andrey (laughing): “That’s right”.]
I congratulate all of you, as today we commemorate the Holy Royal Martyr Grand Duchess Elisabeth.
We have two nuns in the Convent named Elisabeth, and they celebrate their patron saint day today, as well. But it is a great feast for all those who are inspired by the life of this great ascetic. Indeed, her whole life was a service to God and to those around her.
And this is all that matters: love to God and to those around us.
All laws and prophecies are about this and should enter our lives and become our deeds.
We thank God for the fact that maybe we (our Convent and Sisterhood) were able to somehow help people. It probably wasn’t much, but the way we do our ministry when each person has a specific place and a specific job, may have helped someone. Imagine a piggy bank. We try to help those around us and whenever we do, we put a small coin inside of that money jar of God’s love. Even though the coins are small, we continue helping because this is the foundation of our Convent and our Sisterhood.
We build our ministry on serving others.
We are here to show that we should not serve mammoth, but we should rather serve God. Serve Him primarily with prayers and good deeds so that we might have clear and bright minds, as well as peace in our hearts and other fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Around us, there are so many lost, desperate, hopeless people who suffer and who do not know where to go. They need our prayers and our faith so much. This is why it is essential for us to learn how to live, not just exist.
We need to make Christ the only goal of our lives.
So we follow those who walked this road to Christ before us - the Holy Royal Martyr Grand Duchess Elisabeth and Sister Barbara, the Royal Martyrs, Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, all the Saints who are here inside this church with us.
Look at how many Saints are around us. It is God’s mercy. This can only happen in Orthodoxy, nowhere else in the world. Only an Orthodox person can be in such a relationship with God when the Lord says: “I am in you, and you are in me. Here is My Blood, here is My Body.” There’s nothing that’s more important than this. We should stop looking for it elsewhere because we won’t find anything there. The grass may be greener on the other side, but it doesn’t nourish, doesn’t warm the soul.
Let us feed on the love of God which leads us to Eternal life. Let us feed on humility that the Lord shows to each one of us. But when we start arguing, cursing, we turn away from God because we stop looking for God’s will. We instead start following our own desires, being selfish. This is unacceptable for Christians.
We need to strive for the unity in Christ.
Yesterday, one of our sisters told me that one of the biggest problems she sees is that, sometimes, there’s no unity between our Sisters, they are divided. People praise themselves, think that they are heroes, think that they are good. But in reality, it’s the devil’s job to divide and conquer.
But we must remain united, as the people of God who have the Blood and the Body of Christ. This is our strength. It doesn’t give us the right to boast and lie, saying that we are full of mercy and great ascetics. Without God, we have nothing. Only in God, we find the fullness of life.
Once again, I congratulate all of you, and I thank the Sisters who have been working and continue to work hard, following the example of Saint Elisabeth. Unfortunately, some people have told terrible things to them, called them money-traders or scoundrels. And the sisters must endure it with love.
During her life, people said terrible things about Saint Elisabeth and the Sisters of Martha and Mary Convent of Mercy. So much so, these people destroyed the Convent and killed her. They said that the Great Dutchess and the sisters are rich people and they use the property and the money for their own needs. They said that the Church takes away people’s freedom and prevents them from living by enslaving them. It was absolutely terrible. We all know what the result of all this was.
We should not listen to our enemy, the devil.We must do our jobs and not be afraid about what other people might say or think about us. The most important thing for us is to be with God and in God, and this is our greatest strength. Nothing else matters. Today, as they do, people can praise us, but tomorrow, they may scold us. Today, they glorify us, but tomorrow, they may say that we are the worst. This is normal for this fallen world.
If we want to follow the saints, we must be ready for these persecutions. We simply don’t have a choice.
May God bless all of you. Once again, congratulations to those who celebrate their Patron Saint day today. May the Lord grant you many years. Happy Feast!
Glory be to Thee, O God. Glory be to Thee, O God. Glory be to Thee, O God.
Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok
We will be Live Streaming this Friday's Vigil for the first time from our English YouTube channel with ENG subtitles. We invite you to watch our Livestream to this Friday's Vigil on July 17 at 6 PM Minsk time / 5 PM Stockholm / 4 PM London / 11 AM New York / 10 AM Chicago / and 8 AM Los Angeles.
If you happen to miss the live stream, you can replay the video of the service whenever it is convenient for you.
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In the Scripture readings, our actions are likened to a tree, and their outcomes to the fruit of that tree. It can be very difficult for us at times to decide if we should act or wait. The right answer may not be obvious.