Epistle of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York on the Day of Orthodox Youth, Celebrated On the Sunday of All Saints
Dear in the Lord Brothers and Sisters:
I send my heartfelt congratulations on the feast day of All Saints, and also on the Day of Orthodox Youth, which was established eight years ago in the Russian Church Abroad.
It is no accident that all of our saints are commemorated by the Church a week after Pentecost, for on the Pentecost, the Church herself was established, the shoot was planted into the earth. And we see the brilliant blossom that sprang forth: the holy martyrs and confessors, monastics and prophets, fools-for-Christ, holy hierarchs, hieromartyrs and confessors of the Church.
The holiday of All Saints is combined with the first Sunday (day of Resurrection), after the Pentecost, for holiness is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. This fruit did not emerge among demi-gods, but among ordinary people like you and I. Yet we must understand that almost none of these saints became saints suddenly, without the strong desire to be with God. At the same time, while striving to “obtain Divine grace,” the saints remained common, everyday folk in their habits and human weaknesses. The Church specifically teaches the fact that each one of us is summoned to holiness. History provides many paradoxes: it has often happened that people utterly lost to society have become saints. In fact, the very first person to enter Heaven was the Thief, the one who was crucified next to Christ. “Remember me, o Lord, when you come into Thy kingdom” proved enough for him to enter Heaven.
Beloved brothers and sisters! This May we marked the 10th anniversary of the reconciliation of two branches of the Russian Church. Each of our churches, the Church Abroad and the Church in the Fatherland, thanks to this event, thanks to the good will of our beloved hierarchs, His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia and Metropolitan Laurus, have been doubly enriched. Now we share common all holy things, common holidays, we share veneration of the same saints and righteous people of our time. This demonstrates for us how close the Grace of God is to us, and that the Kingdom of Heaven is likewise accessible to us, for that is the chief goal of Christian life.
Let us therefore construct our life’s path on their example, witness to peace in Christ, let us preserve the Russian legacy: Russian culture, language, and the tradition of volunteer youth service.
Preserve in your hearts the words of Holy Scripture: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect,” love God and your neighbor, strive towards true and fervent prayer, “obtain,” in the words of St Seraphim of Sarov, “the spirit of peace,” and this will suffice to ensure that a thousand around you in this world will be saved.
I wish you the abundant aid of God in all your well-intentioned and saving works, and invoke upon you Divine blessing.
Metropolitan of Eastern America and New York,
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia