PRAYER OF REPENTANCE - Sermon of Metropolitan Vitaly (Oustinov, +2006) of blessed memory on the feast day of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God (on his Namesday)


I greet you, beloved brothers and sisters, on our feast day, the feast day of the entire Russian Church Abroad. The Mother of God has led us now for 70 years on the path of righteousness, and we are filled with a profound sense of gratitude towards the Mother of God for Her protection, Her mercies towards us sinners. Almost 700 years ago, when all of Rus’ lay in ruins, an icon of the Mother of God, the Kursk-Root Icon, was found under the root of a tree in the outskirts of the city of Kursk, which was razed by barbarians. It is worth remembering this, since our homeland is now in similar ruins—moral ruin.

We must turn to prayer, prayer for Russia. What does it mean to pray for Russia? We pray: Lord, save Russia. The Lord does not look upon a geographical map of Russia, but upon each Russian person. If each Russian is occupied with idle things, then where is the Russia that amazed the world?

Beloved brothers and sisters, we must repent, we must all repent. Every evening, we must sink to our knees and plead with the Lord from all of our hearts: Forgive me. And we must remember our sins, each of us has something to remember: our faults, our errors, our hatred, our jealousy, our countless sins which darken us all. If we repent this way: Forgive us, Lord, save our Homeland, each individually and all together, that means our Homeland is repenting, the Russian Land is repenting. Every evening, on our knees without fail, with humility and repentance we will ask that our sins be forgiven—not the sins of Russia, or of others, but our own, our own individual sins. If each of us prays for our sins, then the entire nation will be forgiven. And a miracle will occur, and then all will see that Russia’s fate is not only crucial to Russia, but that the whole world will depend on it. This is no small nation. Russia is not only a nation, it is a spiritual phenomenon. It was the protector of the true Church that stretched across the breadth of the Russian Empire, which preserved her, and as long as it preserved her, God protected the Empire.

Let us remember that the finest of all church music came from repentance, the Psalter stemmed from repentance, the cry of repentance burst from the chest of King David.

Let us ask the Lord to grant our words the power of the Spirit of God, the grace of the Holy  Spirit, then we will pray for our nation. And when the heart prayers, then everything in us lies silent. Our memory is silent, our mind is silent, everything is silent…

Let us ask the Lord to grant us prayer of the heart, when we pray with our very existence, and in this prayer, on our knees, we will ask for our sins to be set aside: only our own, necessarily our own, each of us who prays and repents. There you will have Russia in repentance. And the Lord will look with mercy upon this Russia and He will perform a miracle. Everyone else has abandoned her, everyone has surrounded her, everyone has sentenced her to death, but we will say: No, we live. So here, beloved brothers and sisters, this is what the entire Russian people are called towards—repentant prayer. Amen.

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign, New York, December 10, 1992



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