Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Dimitry, living In the midst of the world not only in cares, but in daily
persecutions – has a very practical approach to the problem of lay people
trying to survive spiritually in the midst of hectic circumstances. The
following is an abridged translation of one of his Sunday sermons on the subject
Sunday . the
day of Resurrection--this is not just a day with a particular name: it is a
special day,. a day that reminds us that we must attain our own resurrection
from the dead.
Of course, it
is our herd Jesus Christ Who raises us from the dead; but we must not remain
indifferent. Without us, without our consent, without our will, the Lord wil1
not resurrect us. We, being created in His image and likeness and endowed with a
free will, must consciously, one might say creatively, take part in our
resurrection from the dead.
ln order to
take part creatively one must be aware of this creativity of ours. God is the
Creator, and man is also a creator. Atheists say that Christianity diminishes
the creative principle in man, but let them hear this: Christianity develops the
creative principle in man. Man differs from God in that God creates out of
nothing; He makes everything out of nothing, and this man cannot do. Man creates
from the material given to him by God. The image and likeness in man point
precisely to the creative principle. To become like unto God does not mean to
become outwardly like God, for we do not see this external image: rather, it is
to develop in oneself spiritual qualities. Be ye perfect, even as your Heavenly
Father is perfect. The Church also expresses it in another way: God became man
so that man might become a god. Atheists distort this idea and say that man
himself is God and that there is neither God. Man is indeed a god, but only when
See to what heights
God raises man!
But let us
descend from such dizzying heights and take a look at ourselves. Who in fact are
are sinners, weak people. mortals, a prey for worms... But this should not be.
We must be resurrected!
I.et us look at
what means the Church offers us today for our resurrection.
The first thing
is that we have participated in the Sunday liturgy. We must take part
consciously and creatively. What does this mean? Consciously--this means that
our prayer must resurrect our soul. We must therefore pray attentively, with
reverence, entering into each word of the service, let us at this moment check
ourselves: how have we prayed? Did we concentrate, did we understand the
service, or did we just listen to the singing, gazing about, indulging in
scattered thoughts? Very likely this is the case. We were present here in our
bodies, but our souls were elsewhere. Today we must make a note of this.
Prayer--this is our resurrection from the dead. If today during prayer you were
distracted, you did not resurrect your soul. But it must be resurrected. How
much we must work upon our soul to raise it from the dead! If we count this day
as lost, let us redeem It by promising right now that the next time, if the Lord
grants us to attend service, we will concentrate, we will pray as we ought. It
helps us to pray properly if we understand the Service.
Many of us do not
understand the service; in our
next talks we will try to explain the service. Meanwhile let us be aware that we
must penetrate deeply with our spirit into the service, we must not become
distracted. We understand at least something here. Everyone understands that he
should pray not only for the physical health of himself and others, but also for
spiritual health. For nowadays we are all spiritually ailing. We ourselves are
sick as well as those around us. This is why there are so many vices among us,
When “Lord, have mercy” is sung, let us understand by these words that the
Lord must help us to be delivered from all our vices. Prayer is good when we
come here already prepared, “Prepared in what way”? In such a way that we
come not for entertainment, but to pray to God. Prayer is the breath of life, as
St. John Chrysostom says.
We must prepare
ourselves also by making our family a house church. If the family is a house
church, then in coming to the church building, we actually come to church. There
is a church al home and a church in the church building--this is the normal
situation for a Christian.
Of course, here
I might be called an idealist, a dreamer. What kind of a house church is
possible nowadays, when it's a good thing for even one member of a family to be
a believer, but mainly you have unbelievers, drunkards, hooligans...
All the same, there
must be a house church! Let us who are in attendance here, make a note to
ourselves, that the next time we come to church we will pray that each family be
a house church. If there is at least one believer, a true believer, in a family,
you can count that within a short time all will become believers.
I will tell of
one case observed by a contemporary writer.
He spent time in
prison and was then exiled. Among those exiled was one believer. a real one;- At
first, of course, there were arguments, quarrels, each had his own opinion; and
then the question arose – which is, of course, the chief question--is there
life after death, is there resurrection from the dead? Everything else is dust,
but what is important is--to rise from the dead. And within two years, thanks to
the efforts of one believer, all the rest became believers.
I am speaking
of a case which is not invented and which did not take place sometime in the
past, but in our own time.
And so, if
there is only one true believer in a family, one may say that, given time, all
will become believers.
may object; they laugh at believers, they consider them stupid.
One is not a
true believer if he fears mockery. A true believer must know the words of the
Apostle: I can do alt things through Christ Who strengthens me. Only we must
begin to act.
What do you do?
You pray for enlightenment?--this is good, but it is not enough. Prayer means a
lot, but how do you yourself act?
If you just
pray and at the same time quarrel, you are jealous, you fight, you answer bad
words with more bad words, you will not reform your family, but only corrupt it
all the more. A Christian must approach everyone with love and kindness...
Children should be raised in a Christian spirit; children especially will
understand your Christian attitude. Perhaps you won't even have to say anything
to them, but simply act towards them in a Christian way. And everything will be
fine, especially for chi1dren , their soul, still relatively unspoiled, is
sensitive to what is good.
everyone knows the prayer of the last Optina elders . The Optina eiders --this
was a special grace bestowed upon Russia. Perhaps it is due to these Optina
eiders that there are still people who believe here on our earth. An elder is
not someone who is old in years, but one who is filled with spiritual wisdom.
Here, then, is
the prayer which was left to us by the Optina elders. Let us listen carefully:
each word comes from spiritual experience.
grant unto me that with Thy peace I may greet all that this day is to bring.
Grant unto me grace to surrender myself completely to Thy holy will, in every
hour of this day instruct and guide me in all things. Whatever tidings I may
receive during this day, do Thou teach me to accept tranquilly in the firm
belief that Thy holy will governs all. Govern Thou my thoughts and feelings in
all I do and say. When unforseen things occur, let me not forget that all is
sent by Thee, Teach me to behave sincerely and reasonably toward everyone, that
I may bring confusion and sorrow to no one. Bestow on me, O Lord, strength to endure the fatigue of the day
and to bear my part in its events. Guide Thou my will and teach me to pray, to
believe, to hope, to suffer, to forgive, and to love.
wonderful prayer. What courage, what understanding are implanted in our souls by
such confidence and devotion to God’s will!
Thus we see that the means given , to us today for our resurrection is prayer. In addition we have each day readings from the Gospel and the Lives of Saints. These are also important...
Let us use these means, let us act in such a way that our souls might be resurrected from the dead; that we and those around us might seek the Kingdom of God and its righteousness. All else ends in nothing, but seeking the Kingdom of God and its righteousness, and paying heed to the resurrection from the dead--this leads to everlasting joy.
Translated from: Nadezhda, #1, pp. 153--162. It is also published as one of the ten "Sunday Talks" published by the St. Job of Pochaev Brotherhood, Montreal; an English translation of the whole book is being prepared for publication in the near future.[OA/_private/oabot.htm]