Orthodox America

The Temple of the Soul
"My Lord and My God"

From A Pastor's Reminiscences

I delivered my last sermon in my parish on the day of the Holy Spirit, little suspecting that my pastoral days were numbered and that I would soon be sent to distant parts. My message to my kind, unforgettable, like-minded spiritual children was approximately the following: Nowadays we are all witnesses of how rapidly the visible Church of Christ is being destroyed in our country. Churches are being closed, God's pastors are being driven out, while others-former hirelings-are renouncing the faith and their ministry. Unbelief is boasting of its great successes.

And in fact, is there anywhere that the Church is not scorned? The tempest, raised against the Church by the devil and his minions, is intensifying, and who knows what is soon to become of us. Perhaps we shall be without a church, without church services, without the blessing and nurturing of a pastor. Maybe subtle heresies will surround us and will try to draw us into their nets. Maybe the enemies of Christ, in order to annihilate faith on earth and destroy Christ's Church, will resort to frightful deceptions, counterfeits and wonders.

What, then, shall we do in order to be with the Lord? How shall we live so as not to be separated from Him? Let us remember that besides the temple where the Church gathers for prayer, besides the visible dwelling of the Holy Trinity here on earth, we have a similar dwelling, invisible to others. Sometimes those who bear this dwelling place within themselves aren't even aware of it. Sometimes, because of their neglect, it is kept dirty, dusty and full of cobwebs. Many remember about this dwelling only on big feastdays, but other times it is heaped with the trash of worldly concerns, the manure of carelessness and absent-mindedness. This other, invisible dwelling of the Holy Trinity is the temple of each and every Christian soul. And then, when that frightful time comes when all the churches are closed, when we have nowhere to go to slake our spiritual thirst, when to speak about God will be a crime, then this invisible dwelling will shine for us, will warm our hearts, will preserve our hope for deliverance and salvation. And if, in this terrible time of the trial of our faith, this inner dwelling of the Holy Trinity will hold its ground, will be spared in our souls and preserved in a heavenly brightness, then we will have no reason to fear.

If, before that frightful time, the life of the Holy Trinity does not become extinguished in our hearts, then we shall surely survive all our spiritual misfortunes and dangers. And we shall live to see the time when the bells once again will ring out, calling Christ's true servants to prayer.

But if today we neglect our holy inner dwelling place, if we are careless and indifferent, how will it be holy? How then, in those cruel times which await us, will it be able to invigorate our souls?

My dear children! While we still have time and opportunity, let us sanctify our spiritual temple, that the Tri-hypostatical Divinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit might find a permanent dwelling there. Above all, let us sanctify it through contact with the grace of Christ, which His Church offers to all who ask.

If you are anxious for the fate of the physical temples of the Church, you ought to be even more anxious about that temple which no one, except you, can destroy, and thanks to which your hope of acquiring an eternal blessed life will never die.

(Translated from Nadezhda #13, Possev-Verlag, Frankfurt; p. 247.)