NEW YORK: October 23, 2008
The First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad Sends an Epistle to the Youth Symposium Dedicated To the 100th Anniversary of the Repose of St John of Kronstadt the Miracle-Worker
Beloved in the Lord Fathers, Brothers and Sisters, peace unto you and God’s blessing!
I express my heartfelt greetings to the participants of this symposium, dedicated to the life and legacy of the great man of prayer of the Russian Land, St John of Kronstadt the Miracle-worker, who was an example of the prayerful life and of churchliness, an epitome of holiness.
It is interesting to note that the altars of our churches are oriented to the East. When we pray in a place that lacks an icon, or in the countryside, we face East. Why? It is because the Eden of old, in which people had direct contact with God, was located in the East, as Holy Scripture tells us. That is why, as we pray facing East, we express our yearning for returning to that existence in Eden, in which mankind is most closely in contact with God, where mankind experienced blessedness and bliss, and was holy. St John achieved this holiness through earnest prayer and a churchly life. You and I can also achieve this holiness, beloved ones, if we immerse ourselves in the essence of the teachings of the Orthodox Church, and live its life, commune with God through prayer and the Mysteries, towards which Righteous John called us.
Upon this path, which, God willing, will lead us towards holiness, we must support each other. We must learn together and pray together at divine services. Unfortunately, due to human feebleness, we cannot maintain constant mental vigilance towards God. We falter upon this path. As a bird soars towards the heavens, its wings tire, and it returns to earth, and so it is in our church prayers: we cannot pray constantly, we are distracted by icons, or by singing, or by our own thoughts, and our prayer weakens. But beside us may stand a person who is praying at that moment. That is the meaning of the words: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
And so, these next few days, as you pray and learn together, I wish for you that Christ be with you, so that the lectures on the life and legacy of St John would inspire all of you to labors and podvigi in your church life.
I invoke upon you God’s blessing!
With love in the Lord and a request for your prayers,
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
October 12/25, 2008