Homily delivered by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia in Kiev Laura of the Caves on the commemoration day of St. Vladimir Equal-to-the-Apostles
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia delivered this homily after the festive liturgy celebrated by the heads and representatives of Local Orthodox Churches and an assembly of bishops from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Moldova, who came to Kiev for the celebrations marking the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’, at the cathedral square of the Kiev Laura of the Caves:
I wholeheartedly greet you on the occasion of the feast of the Baptism of Rus’!
We have counted off 1025 years of our common history which has developed under the cross of St. Andrew the First Called. And today the whole plenitude of the Orthodox Church, through her primates, bishops and priests, has assembled here, in the Kiev Laura of the Caves, to thank God before this very cross of St. Andrew for the fact that the apostle’s prophecy about Orthodoxy in our lands, about the truth shining forth in them, has come true.
We all have been brought together by the power of God as One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. What is the foundation of our unity? Why are we all together in the Orthodox Church despite the hard conditions of our life in history? – Because the foundation of our life is the foundation stone which is our Lord Jesus Christ. Precisely for this reason the word of God states: On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it (Mt. 16:18). They will not overcome it because what lies in the foundation of the Church is not human wisdom or human power but the power of God. This power of God is almost never realized in human power because the Lord said, My power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).
The whole history of Christianity in Rus’ shows this human weakness of ours. But if we were the only foundation of the building that Christ has built, would it withstand the pressure of various ethnic and cultural factors and especially the tremendous influences from outside, which for centuries have worked to undermine the unity of the Church, to weaken her witness? Christ is the foundation stone of our Church’s and our life.
How then to come to this stone, how to touch it, how to enter the Kingdom of God proclaimed by Christ? Today’s Reading of the Gospel answers this question: I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved (Jn. 10:9). There is no other door to salvation. And this is confirmed by other words of the Gospel: I am the way and the truth and the life (Jn. 14:6).
We as Orthodox Christians of the 21st century experience a colossal impact of different thinking, different philosophies, a different understanding of life, especially the one that does not recognize any objective truth but links the truth with human dispensation. That is why they say: ‘There are as many truths as there are minds’ or ‘Each has his own truth’. This destructive philosophical idea offered today to the whole human civilization, being falsely justified by personal freedom, leads to the disappearance of truth, its minimization; you cannot discern it amidst other points of view. It is precisely what the struggle against the Church is aimed at so that the truth and the way of truth and life could not be seen.
However, today we show our commitment to Christ. Through Him we enter into communion with Triune God, into the Kingdom of God. It is on Him as the foundation stone that we build our life. We remember, believe and confess that He is the way and the truth and the life.
It is not easy to confess this gospel’s truth today. In some places and in some countries there is even a conviction that those who insist on their possession of the truth should be punished. They should accept the truths held by other people – false truths even if these truths belong to a minority but are included in the life of society and state through law. And if some people speak of the truth of Christ and reject these false truths, in some countries they can already be subjected to legal persecution.
We believe that Jesus born from the Virgin Mary is the Lord and Saviour. There is no other saviour; He is the one. And that is why He is the way and the truth and the life.
We proclaim our faith without hesitation or fear, just as St. John Chrysostom states this in his instruction to catechumens on the Easter day. It is quite clear that the Church as Divine organism living in history among people also has human nature, just as the Lord Jesus Christ had human nature. This human nature of the Church is vulnerable as was the human nature of the Saviour. Indeed, He was beat up, outraged, nailed to the Cross. And the Church bears these wounds of Christ, this weakness of human nature. We are witnesses to a great deal of consequences of this weakness, human weakness. Perhaps more relevant for us today is the sin of schism, division, when people motivated by political or ethnic interests destroy the one body of Church. But no one is ever given to destroy the foundation stone, just as no one is given to destroy the invisible body of the Church which is the Body of Christ the Saviour Himself.
In celebrating the Divine Liturgy today together with Primates and representatives of all the Local Orthodox Church, we confess the faith in One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the foundation of which is Christ. Today just as in the past, she is able to overcome schisms, divisions, heresies and temptations. For the Church is the place of salvation. However strongly the everyday life of sin may rage around us, we find our salvation in this island of freedom, the island of salvation called the Church of Christ.
I extend great gratitude to all the Holinesses and Beatitudes the Patriarchs, their Beatitudes Primates of Local Churches, His Eminences the representatives of Local Churches who share in this great festivity in Moscow and Kiev and, by God’s grace, will share in them in Minsk. Today we have not simply celebrated this universal Liturgy, but we strongly prayed for the whole Orthodox Church, for her unity, so that no human temptations – no pride or suggestibility from outside, nor weakness of the human spirit – may destroy our unity. And we believe that it will never happen because the Church is created by Christ Himself on His foundation stone.
I would like to thank His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir for his courageous and wise service of the Church of Christ in the Ukrainian land. We preserve the unity of our Local Russian Orthodox Church, the very Church which came out of the Kiev baptismal font and is supported by venerable fathers whose relics rest here, in the Kiev Laura of the Caves – the very Church whose glory was clearly seen by St. Andrew on Kievan hills.
I thank you, Your Beatitude and the episcopate of our Church in Ukraine and all the people who, in spite of temptations and pressures, preserve the unity of One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church dwelling here, in the Ukrainian land.
I would like to thank Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich, the authorities of the country and representatives of the public for the excellent organization of the feast, which contributed to these celebrations. God grant that on the basis of peace, mutual understanding and non-interference in each other’s affairs, the cooperation between Church and State may be carried out not only in all the vast lands of historical Rus’ but also throughout the Orthodox world.
I wholeheartedly thank you once again, my dear Patriarchs, Metropolitans and Archbishops, for the joy, ease and excellent mood with which you have come to our land and share with us and our devoted people in the feast of the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’. May the experience of catholic, pan-Orthodox prayer we have had these days, be not overcome by any external circumstances, even the most severe ones, like those we hear from reports about the developments in the Middle East.
May the Lord preserve us. May the Protecting Veil of the Heavenly Queen cover us all, preserving our unity which can be the only guarantee of the unity of the entire human race. Amen.
- 01.08.2013 15:35His Beatitude Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria: I have given my heart to Russia
- 31.07.2013 19:34Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Slutsk meets with Metropolitan Tikhon of All America and Canada
- 30.07.2013 16:36Patriarch Kirill: By celebrating the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’ we close the link of times
- 29.07.2013 23:25His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and Primates of Local Orthodox Churches meet with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko
- 29.07.2013 19:24Primates of Local Orthodox Churches celebrate the Liturgy in Minsk Old Town
- 29.07.2013 18:29Patriarch Kirill’s homily after Divine Liturgy in Old City in Minsk
- 28.07.2013 19:20Homily delivered by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia in Kiev Laura of the Caves on the commemoration day of St. Vladimir Equal-to-the-Apostles
- 28.07.2013 19:13The Day of St. Vladimir Equal-to-the-Apostles marked by Divine Liturgy celebrated by heads and hierarchs of Local Orthodox Churches at Kiev Monastery of the Caves
- 27.07.2013 22:28Ukrainian President awards Primates of Local Orthodox Churches
- 27.07.2013 16:48Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church meets for regular session at Kiev Monastery of the Caves
- 27.07.2013 16:27Thanksgiving celebrated on St. Vladimir’s Hill in Kiev
- 26.07.2013 22:52His Holiness Patriarch Kirill meets with delegation of Orthodox Church of Czech Lands and Slovakia
- 26.07.2013 22:14His Holiness Patriarch Kirill meets with delegation of Albanian Orthodox Church
- 26.07.2013 17:17His Holiness Patriarch Kirill meets with delegation of Greek Orthodox Church
- 26.07.2013 16:54Patriarch Kirill meets with delegation of the Romanian Orthodox Church
- 26.07.2013 00:49Patriarch Kirill meets with Patriarch Neophyte of Bulgaria
- 25.07.2013 23:40President Putin meets with heads and representatives of Local Orthodox Churches
- 25.07.2013 20:02Statement by Heads and Representatives of the Local Orthodox Churches Assembled for the Celebration of the 1025th Anniversary of the Baptism of Russia
- 25.07.2013 17:12Patriarch Kirill meets with the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria
- 24.07.2013 23:00His Holiness Patriarch Kirill meets with delegation of Ecumenical Patriarchate
- 24.07.2013 17:21Primates and Hierarchs of Local Orthodox Churches celebrate Liturgy at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour on the commemoration day of St Olga Equal-to-the-Apostles
- 24.07.2013 04:04Meeting between Primates of Russian and Georgian Orthodox Churches
- 24.07.2013 03:25Patriarch Kirill’s meeting with Archbishop Chrisostomos of Cyprus
- 24.07.2013 02:43Patriarch Kirill meets with Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem
- 23.07.2013 10:08His Holiness Patriarch Kirill greets delegation of Orthodox Church of Antioch
- 22.07.2013 23:29His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia meets with His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon of All America and Canada
- 22.07.2013 21:48Delegation of Orthodox Church of Jerusalem arrives in Moscow
- 22.07.2013 17:43DECR chairman meets with His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon of All America and Canada
- 22.07.2013 12:55Delegation of the Church of Antioch arrives for the celebrations of 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Russia
- 22.07.2013 12:22His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon blesses memorial plaque honouring the 220th anniversary of the Russian Orthodox Mission in America
- 21.07.2013 16:11Primate of the Orthodox Church in America arrives in Moscow