NEW YORK: June 22, 2016
Epistle of Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York on the Day of Orthodox Youth of the Russian Church Abroad, Celebrated on the Sunday of All Saints
Beloved in the Lord Brothers and Sisters:
I send my heartfelt greetings on the feast of All Saints, and the Day of Orthodox Youth celebrated on this day, which was established by the Russian Church Abroad seven years ago.
There is not one day of the year when we do not celebrate the memory of one saint or another. On most days, we commemorate several saints.
There are as many saints as there are stars we see in the heavens. Some are known to us by name and by their spiritual feats, some are known only to God. If we read the lives of the saints and think about them, we will see that although their lives were very different, some of them lived very much like we do, but they came to love Christ, heard His call, dedicated themselves to God and devoted their lives to fulfill His commandments.
This is what sainthood means.
And so Christ the Savior summons us to sainthood: He calls upon us to completely change our attitude towards life, to repent of our sins, correct our errant ways and follow the saints into the Kingdom of Heaven. As Apostle Peter said, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation” (1 Peter 1:15 ). And we must learn to repent and fulfill Christ’s commandments from no one but the saints themselves, for by learning about their lives and through conversation with them in prayer, saintliness is communicated to us.
How are we to emulate the saints on earth? We should hold the Living God in our hearts, not abandon our interpersonal relationships, share heartfelt warmth and attention with our neighbors, help those who are in need, strengthen your parish families, and not distinguish between those born here and those who came from afar.
All of you young people must become the most dynamic, most blossoming foundation of your parishes. This is especially important for us who live far from our historic Homeland, where it is so important to bear witness to Christ before the world, to preserve our Russian legacy, Russian culture, language, and the wonderful tradition developed over decades within our Russian Church Abroad of volunteer service.
Remembering the wishes of Metropolitan Laurus of blessed memory, that “youth is not only our future, it is our present, which deserves special attention” as well as pastoral care, I call upon our clergy and faithful to double your prayers for our young generation, that the Lord strengthen in their young hearts faith and love for God, that He grants them the strength to follow the path of the Gospel. I call upon you to support the missionary youth programs and all good efforts.
I call upon you young people to be worthy of the lofty call of Christianity, to maintain a fervent heart, genuine love for God and neighbor, I wish you success in your studies, in prayers and good deeds, to learn to discern good from evil in these wicked times, truth from deceit, to try to make this world better and kinder, in other words, to emulate the saints. I invoke the abundant aid of God in all your good deeds and efforts.
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York,
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.