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On 1 September 2013, the 10th Sunday after Pentecost and the commemoration day of the Synaxis of Moscow saints, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations DECR), celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Church of the ‘Joy to All the Afflicted’ icon of the Mother of God.

Hegumen Philip (Riabykh), rector of the parish of All Saints in Strasburg and representative of the Moscow Patriarchate to the Council of Europe, ordained members of the DECR, and clerics of the church concelebrated. Puzakov

The Moscow Synodal choir conducted by an honoured artist of Russia, Alexei Puzakov, sang during the service.

After the communion verse, Hegumen Filaret (Tambovsky) read out an appeal of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia to raise money for the victims of the flood-2013.

After the Liturgy, Metropolitan Hilarion celebrated a prayer service for the beginning of a new school year, sprinkled the worshippers with the holy water, gave them his archpastoral blessing and delivered a homily, in which he said:

‘A new school year and a new liturgical year begin in September. This is not fortuitous, as we rest in summer and prepare ourselves for studies and for learning something new in autumn.

‘This concerns both children and the adults, as all human life is a school. Every new year, be it liturgical or academic, is a new stage in our life and a new step to the knowledge of God, Who dwells among us, acts through us, and loves us. God is the most important in our knowledge: if a man does not know God, his studies would not bring any good to him since he would not know how to use them. This man would study without knowing the purpose of his studies.

‘If we enhance our faith, all our life will be a school, and each day will be a lesson.

As we are praying for our children, whom we should educate in the Orthodox faith, we ask the Lord to grant them wisdom, to fill them with the spirit of reason and the spirit of piety.

“Let us beseech the Lord for granting wisdom to us, the adults, so that we take our life as a school and be able to learn something new about God, about our life and its meaning through divine services and church feasts, and through reality into which the Church brings us.’