Sermon on the Sunday of All Saints of the Russian Land
Bishop John of Caracas and South America
Today in the Russian Church we celebrate the memory of all the Saints who shone forth in the Russian Land. Two weeks ago we celebrated the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, and the founding of the Church in general. A week later, we celebrated the fruits of the Descent of the Holy Spirit – the memory of all the saints.
And today we celebrate the circle of saints on a little narrower scope. This holiday is relatively new, which the All-Russian Council of 1917-1918 established as a holiday, in imitation of the feast of "all the saints who shone on Mount Athos," which is celebrated there.
The idea is that we are all called to holiness, and we celebrate all the saints first, and then those who are closer to us geographically. On Mount Athos, next week they will celebrate the memory of the saints of each monastery separately, that is, on an even narrower scale.
In the Russian Church we celebrate the memory of all the saints who illuminated the Russian Land, and here we must pay attention to the fact that this is not just the memory of all Russian saints. Our Church is not ethnic, but local. Ours is an Ecumenical, Catholic Church, and each Local Church is a part of that Universal Church, but only geographically.
The Apostle Paul, when he wrote his epistles, wrote to all Christians locally, such as those in Rome, for instance, there is an "Epistle to the Romans," that is, he did not address any special people, a special nationality, but to all the Christians who lived there. And we must understand that the Church cannot be ethnic, and the Church is Universal, including all Christians in a given place.
It is also necessary to note the fact that a modern person, of course, when talking about Russia, immediately thinks about the Russian Federation - but this is a relatively new phenomenon, which has existed only for 30 years. And when we talk about the Russian Church and all the saints of the Russian Land, we are talking about a spiritual concept.
A few years ago, on the feast of St Sergius of Radonezh, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill said that Holy Russia is neither historical nor mythological, but a meta-reality. Therefore, it is impossible to limit it to any state or political borders. Holy Russia was born spiritually in the font of the Dnieper River, when she was baptized under Grand Duke Vladimir, and since then she has existed and seeks salvation, but not in this world. This, as His Holiness Patriarch Kirill said, is a meta-reality. There is little that is sacred on this earth, and more often than not, the world persecutes and oppresses those who are being saved, and the saints. Until the twentieth century, most of the saints of Russia were monastics. They renounced this world, sought the Kingdom of Heaven, and found it. But the twentieth century witnessed great bloodshed, and many martyrs found salvation by suffering for Christ. They found the Kingdom of Heaven, but also broadened Holy Russia.
Today we often hear these blasphemous words: "We are Russians, God is with us." That is, as if God is with us because we are Russians. This is said by the heirs of those who, during the twentieth century, tortured the servants of Christ, destroyed churches, and tried to destroy the Church of Christ, and now they say that God is with them. If we really want to be Russian and participate in Holy Russia, we must live with God, and then God will be with us. Simply belonging to a nationality does not help, and can only lead to the same disaster as during almost the entire twentieth century, when people did not rely on Christ, but on something earthly.
Buenos Aires, 2023
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