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Metropolitan Hilarion: The main thing in a pe…

Metropolitan Hilarion: The main thing in a person's life is their relationship with God

DECR Communication Service, 20/03/22.

On March 20th, 2022, on the 2nd Week of Great Lent, the feast day of Saint Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica, Metropolitan Hilarion, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, celebrated the Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great in the Moscow Church of Our Lady of the Joy of All-Afflicted on Bolshaya Ordynka St.

The archpastor was joined by the clergy of the church.

After the Litany of Fervent Supplication metropolitan Hilarion read the prayer for peace and the cessation of internecine hostility.

At the end of the service, the archpastor addressed the faithful with the following sermon:

“In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!

You have probably noticed, dear brothers and sisters, how long does the sunny, lucid weather last: for the third week the sun has been shining, there is not a single cloud in the sky. Under the life-giving rays of the sun, buds have begun to blossom on the trees and spring has finally arrived. This, of course, does not mean that clouds will not come again, that snow will not fall again and short-term frosts will not set in, but after them the sun will surely shine again, and then after spring, a fertile summer will come.

This is what happens in the spiritual life of a person. There are periods when a person seems to be shackled by darkness and cold, he gives up and it seems to him that the circumstances of life are developing in such a way that it is impossible to live, because so many difficulties, problems, trials fall to his lot. And he does not find the strength in himself to cope with all this.

But a believer knows that even if the whole sky is covered with clouds, the sun shines behind these clouds. Those of us who fly a lot on airplanes often see this: when a plane takes off into the air, it first falls into the thick of clouds, and then into a sunny clearing; the earth is all covered with clouds, it is gloomy on the earth, but the sun still shines.

The same thing happens in the spiritual life of a person. When it seems that there is no light in life, a person turns in prayer to God, proceeds to the Sacraments of confession and Holy Communion, and suddenly either he remains on earth, but the clouds disperse and the sun shines, or his soul soars up to God, overcoming the thickness of the clouds, and man enjoys the rays of the sun.

There is a sensual sun, and there is a mental sun, as the holy fathers tell us. There is a sun that gives life to all life on earth, and there is a sun that animates the soul of every person. And this sun is the Lord God Himself. As Holy Scripture tells us, “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1.5). Darkness can be present in human life, it can embrace our souls, but God by His nature is the Light that illuminates the human heart, enlightens and sanctifies human nature from within, allowing us to see the presence of God, the hand of the Lord in everything that happens.

The revelation of Divine light is sent down to people in different ways. Some of the saints were honored to contemplate this light. The Holy Fathers left us their writings about how this light illuminates the soul and heart of a person. St. Simeon the New Theologian wrote about this in the 11th century, St. Gregory Palamas in the 14th century, whose memory we celebrate today. Already in the 20th century, the ever-memorable Father Sophronius, a disciple of Elder Silouan the Athos, wrote about this. This experience is transmitted mainly in the monastic tradition from generation to generation. People who reach great spiritual heights contemplate the Divine light in the same way as the apostles contemplated the Light of Tabor emanating from the Lord Jesus Christ, when they were with Him on the Mount of Transfiguration.

Many people do not see the Divine light in the way that the saints contemplated it. But this does not mean that the light is not present in their lives, because God reveals himself to each person in different ways. Very often the Lord reveals himself through the events of our lives. God is always near us, He is always close to us, but we are not always near Him and we are not always close to Him. The Lord is always ready to open up to us and enter into our hearts, but our hearts are not always open towards Him. And sometimes sinful darkness covers our sky and the sun's rays cannot break through it. The light of the Kingdom of God cannot break through our earthly concerns, when, for example, we stand at a divine service and hear sacred words, but our mind and our heart continue to live on what we left behind the threshold of the temple: worries, memories of what has passed or fears of what has not yet come. And instead of using precious minutes of prayer to join this mental Sun, we continue to dwell inwardly in darkness, overwhelmed by extraneous thoughts, thereby robbing ourselves, depriving ourselves of the treasures of prayer, communion with God and contemplation of God.

During the days of Great Lent, the Holy Church reminds us that the most important thing in a person's life is his relationship with God. Today, on the second week of Great Lent, it is no coincidence that the Church invites us to remember St. Gregory Palamas, who defended the doctrine of Divine light and left us his writings. If you haven't read them yet, be sure to read them. They have been translated into Russian, they can be purchased in Orthodox bookstores, as well as found on the Internet. Through these scriptures you will learn a lot about how the Lord illuminates the human soul with His Divine light; you will learn about the purpose of the Christian life and the purpose of monastic ascetic work.

The Holy Church reminds us of St. Gregory Palamas so that we can be inspired to our own fasting feat and realize that the path of Great Lent is not just a time when we deprive ourselves of some earthly joys and pleasures, refuse fast food; this is the time when we can draw closer to God, flourish under His life-giving and saving rays, and at least a step or a few steps closer to what is the goal of the Christian life - the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen.

I congratulate you all on the holiday! God bless you all!"
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