DIOCESE OF BERLIN AND GERMANY: December 5, 2007
The Sermon of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II Read During the Moleben and Akathist Before the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God at the Cathedral of the Diocese of Berlin and Germany
On the evening of November 29, 2007, His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, in the presence of a great gathering of Orthodox Christians from throughout Germany, officiated at a moleben and akathist before the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God. The icon was brought from Ireland to Munich and displayed for veneration in the Cathedral of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia and Chapel of St Nicholas of the Diocese of Berlin and Germany of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad participated in the moleben: His Eminence Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany; His Grace Bishop Agapit of Stuttgart; Senior Priest of the Cathedral, Protopriest Nikolai Artemoff; Protopriest Nikolai Zabelich of the Resurrection Parish of the Moscow Patriarchate in Munich; as well as other clergymen and monastics of the Church Abroad and the Moscow Patriarchate, and local priests of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
Your Eminence, Your Grace, Reverend Fathers, Dear Brothers and Sisters!
Today I visit this holy temple, where over a period of ten years prayers of Russian Orthodox Christians living far from Russia have risen to the heavens.
This year was special for all of us, including for me. On May 17, the day of the Ascension of the Lord, together with the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus, I placed my signature under the Act of Canonical Communion. We celebrate divine services together, and consecrated a newly-built church over one of the Russian Golgothas, Butovo Field. I often say while serving Liturgy in this church that this place is both holy and historic: over 300 New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, already canonized, lie within the ground of Butovo. This is also a tragic place: tens of thousands of innocent people were shot there.
On the first Sunday after the reestablishment of unity within the Church, we celebrated Divine Liturgy together with the bishops and clergymen of the Russian Church Abroad in the main temple of the Russian Church—Uspensky Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin, sealing thereby the unity which was long and difficult to attain.
This year, the Lord enabled me to visit the Diocese of Korsun. I met there with the people of the countries of Western Europe. These Russians are both descendents of the first waves of the Russian emigration and those who recently found themselves abroad. But they all congregate around Orthodox churches and through them share a living bond with their Homeland and their Church.
In one of the final days of my sojourn in Paris, I performed a pannikhida at the cemetery of Ste-Genevieve-des-Bois, where tens of thousands of Russians who were forced to leave their Homeland in the difficult years of the Revolution and Civil War found their final resting place. They found their second homeland in the countries of Europe: in Yugoslavia, in Bulgaria, in Czechoslovakia, and a great many of them in France. In the 1960's, I was able to visit Ste-Genevieve-des-Bois. This year, once again walking the pathways of the cemetery, I read the names of the people who created Russian history. That day I met with those who are preparing to depart from this world—representatives of the first wave of the Russian emigration, those who are in their nineties and older. They live in an old age home, and despite their age, they preserve within their hearts love for Russia and for the Russian Church.
And today I again meet with my compatriots living in the diaspora! I express my heartfelt thanks to Vladyka Mark for his invitation to lead the moleben and akathist before the Miracle-working Kursk-Root Icon of the Most-Holy Mother of God. I express my heartfelt gratitude towards you all, dear brothers and sisters, for our common prayer, which arose from each of our hearts, which attests to our unity, no matter where we might be. Wherever there are Russian people, they always find consolation, support and edification in their beloved Orthodox churches. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia nourished the Russian people who found themselves beyond the borders of Russia in the times of trouble in the Fatherland. Thanks to the archpastors and pastors of the Russian Church Abroad, they were able to preserve their faith far from their Homeland.
I will cherish in my heart today's prayerful communion as a special gift from God, because it is within such prayerful communion that we find unity and garner strength to continue to bear our earthly cross.
I prayerfully wish you, Vladyka Mark, Vladyka Agapit, Rector of the Munich Cathedral, pastors, all the clergymen and laity God's help in continuing your labors for the benefit of Holy Orthodoxy and our Church.
I would like to give this ancient icon of the Queen of Heaven in blessing to the entire parish, to those who gather here in prayer and find spiritual peace here, in prayerful memory of today's joint service.
A few years ago, when I underwent a cardiological examination here in Germany, you, Vladyka, told me that had you known, you would have brought the Miracle-working Icon of the Most-Holy Mother of God. And now, a few years later, the Lord has allowed me to venerate this great holy icon of Russia Abroad and lift up my prayers before it, that through Her prayerful intercession, the Queen of Heaven would preserve us both in the Fatherland and abroad.
I wish for all of you that the words we sing in prayer: "Behold, I am with you all days," be preserved in your hearts, and that you feel that we are not orphans on earth, but that the Heavenly Mother is always with us. She supports, bolsters and grants strength and courage to all who come to her for her intercession, who is worthy of her prayer for all of us.
I thank you for our prayers together!