Homily on the Day of All Saints

This sermon was delivered on the day Patriarch Alexy
II was enthroned. Fr. John
talks about our apocalyptic times, and our calling to
submit to God’s will as it is expressed in divine
Providence.

Fr. John (Krestiankin)
Fr. John (Krestiankin)
The
Entire Orthodox Church today celebrates the memory of
all saints from all ages who pleased God, the leader
of whom is the Most Pure Mother of God. This day is
memorable for us every year, because although each of
us marks his or her own name day—or angel
day—on a specific day of the Church calendar,
when the heavenly patron is celebrated, but on this
day we also glorify all the saints who pleased God
throughout the ages, including our own heavenly
patrons, whose names we were given at the Sacrament
of Baptism and given again to monastics at the
tonsure into the ryassa, monasticism, or the great
schema.

But today’s commemoration of all saints is
particularly solemn for us because on this day in the
cathedral church of Moscow our father and master Patriarch
Alexei, who was chosen at the Council of Bishops, is being
elevated to the patriarchal throne. At that Council of
Bishops and during the following days there were present
members of the clergy from all dioceses. Participating in
this election were not only bishops and priests, but also
laypeople. Therefore we all with one mouth and one heart
chose the successor to the reposed Patriarch Pimen for the
patriarchal throne.

For some, doubts have already arisen. Some speak about
these doubts, some are already rushing to voice them
through one or another printed page, that the election of
a Patriarch took place too quickly this time—that it
took much less than it did for the patriarch who preceded
him. But apparently we have to proceed not from our own
feeble, limited minds, but from a comprehension of
Divine
Providence, from the comprehension according to our
strength and ability of the dates that are sacramental,
hidden and known only to God, which we only later
understand in times to come, so that we may mark them with
prayer and the honoring of one or another chosen person.

If we take the period from the election of His Holiness
Patriarch Tikhon, who is now a canonized saint, we have
his successors Patriarch Sergei, Alexei I, and the
newly-reposed Patriarch Pimen, whose forty days are
commemorated tomorrow. Those periods were longer than what
we have today. What is this sacramental event, hidden from
many, about which the Lord says, “You can tell much
about the world around you by one or another sign. How is
it that you cannot discern the signs of the times?”
(cf. Mt. 16:14). It is about this discernment of the signs
of the times that the grace-filled monk of Holy Mount
Athos, St. Nilos the Myrrh-gusher, spoke when he said that
the time is coming (he did not say it but only confirmed
it), and it will happen in way visible to all people, and
not only to certain individuals. But what precisely is it?
The speeding up of time.

From the pages of Holy Scripture
we know that for the sake of the elect—and these are
God’s own words—that the days of our earthly
sojourn and our lives on earth will be shortened (cf. Mt.
24:22). And we know by such sayings that a year will be
like a month, and a month like a week, a week like a day,
a day like an hour, and an hour like a minute. It would be
in vain, a waste of time to try to convince anyone, for we
are all convinced of it by what we see before our very
eyes. Those of you standing here beneath the domes of this
holy church who are in your old age know that there were
boundaries in time. There were boundaries for morning, for
midday, for the afternoon, for evening, and for night.
There were invisible boundaries. And it was as if someone
slowly, quietly, and reverently turned the arms of time
over the clock face. Now this is gone. We rise at dawn, go
to bed at midnight, and are ever debtors in that we have
not finished even a tiny part of what we were supposed to
have done. This means that those words are already visibly
being fulfilled; and in connection with this, if in fact
the election of the predecessor to the newly-elected
Patriarch Alexei took a whole year to complete (His
Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexei I died
in April, and the election of the new patriarch took place
exactly a year later). So why did it happen that way? As
if we were going to search for a whole series of reasons
with our curious but limited minds that are allowed to
comprehend only a little and that in part. We would put
our strength and energy into this, and for nothing. So,
you’ve fit a year into a month—into forty
days. Today is the enthronement of the new Patriarch, and
tomorrow is forty days since the repose of his
predecessor, Patriarch Pimen. But no, it seems to us that
it shouldn’t have been done that way—because
we do not know the sacred mysteries and do not know the
hidden, most important reasons, which prompted those
involved to speed up this matter, so that it would happen
now, without delay.

And it would not be superfluous to fix your attention on
the fact that the repose of His Holiness Patriarch Pimen
happened at the very hour and minute that the Holy Synod
was meeting. They did not need to be informed by telegraph
or telephone, or any other means of communication. They
were all assembled here, at the Patriarch’s
residence, at that very hour and minute—this is why
I am focusing attention on it—when they were on a
lunch break, resting, and His Holiness Patriarch Pimen
departed to the Lord, on May 3 of this year. Therefore
there is no need to strain your mind, no need to waste
your energy, no need to come to any of your own
conclusions, but simply to give praise and thanksgiving
for all that has happened.

Many consider that a different person should have been
chosen. Perhaps you don’t know that throughout
history this always happens when one or another person is
chosen: The question arises: “It seems to me it
should be thus and thus,” but it’s happened
otherwise. We should remember the Savior’s words:
“I give to whom I want. I do not ask anyone for
advice and am accountable to no one. For I am God, the
Ruler of life and death. I am the Chief Pastor of the
Church both Heavenly and earthly” when you are
filled with such confusion we as Christians might have,
and peace will settle into your hearts and submission to
God’s will settle into your inner man. Today we are
speaking also on behalf of our ruling hierarch and our
father abbot Archimandrite Pavel, who are now present
there during these minutes among the many thousands of
people who are praying and celebrating along with the new
Patriarch being enthroned. This is what we should be
thinking about right now.

This is not baseless talk, and there is a reason why I
will reveal to you this inner secret—that on that
very day and hour [of Alexy II’s election] the holy
hierarch, chief hierarch, numbered among the saints,
Patriarch Tikhon appeared, and near him was an enormous
walking staff. A bishop has two staffs. One is used while
celebrating the divine services, and the other is what he
carries when walking in and out of the church. This staff
was so large, so tall, and so heavy, that it could not be
lifted. This is what we need to think about right now, so
that with our prayers to the Lord (and not those made
according to a special formula but from a pure heart)
during these days, which are complicated days—even
very complicated—we should pray and be obedient to
the Mother Church and its first hierarch with the hosts of
bishops and all the church clergy. We should pray that we
would be obedient to God, the Mother Church, and hold
sacredly to the purity of Orthodoxy. This is our task
right now. Not in much talking, not in our discussions,
which are of no use and have no firm foundation; this task
in fact obligates us to penetrate with our attention all
that is happening in our days and in life around us, both
Church life and general human life, in our own country and
throughout the world.

Therefore, this [patriarchal] staff is very heavy and
complicated for the newly elected Patriarch, and we cannot
carry it. It has been entrusted to him, and we should help
him according to our strength with our prayers and
obedience. And we should uphold the commandments given to
us by the predecessors of the newly enthroned Patriarch
Alexei to keep the old style [Church calendar—the
Julian calendar]—we cannot accept a different one;
to be strictly Orthodox. We have never related to any of
the heterodox with aggression. Our conscience is clean in
that respect. But we have walked our strictly marked
path—as our predecessors did, so have we. And so we,
ready any day now to depart to the other world, call upon
you: Preserve the purity of Orthodox! And thirdly, that we
would sacredly preserve the Church Slavonic language.

And the year that some are fearful about, the Eighth
Ecumenical
Council—do not be troubled over it, but only
calmly believe in God. For the Patriarch who recently
departed for eternity spoke to me in a personal
conversation concerning these three questions also named a
fourth—that if anything at the expected Eighth
Ecumenical Council is passed that is not in agreement with
the previous seven Ecumenical Councils, we have the right
not to accept it. This was his testament, albeit spoken in
a personal conversation, and I am repeating it for the
second or third time as my conscience dictates, for I
asked these questions and I received an answer to them.
Therefore nothing troubles me now at all—neither the
cutting short of time, nor the election. What has been and
what shall follow can be summarized by understanding one
thing: We are living in apocalyptic times. And therefore,
what Patriarch Pimen, who was departing to eternity and
whose fortieth day after reposing is tomorrow, said, is
said again in the same words by the newly elected
Patriarch Alexy of All Russia: Be vigilant! Stand firm in
the faith! Be courageous and steadfast! And let all you do
be with love (cf. 1 Cor. 16:13-14). Then we with the
co-action of the grace of the Holy Spirit will fulfill
both as a whole and in part the path of our journey, the
path of our salvation leading from the earthly Church to
the Heavenly Church, through our third birth—that
is, the mystery of death.

It is also very significant that this very election as if
coincides with the day of All Saints, although that is
only according to our superficial understanding. Now we
especially need the intercession of the Heavenly Church,
so that the earthly Church would sacredly carry out the
purity of its Christian teaching in the presence of
various differences of opinion, discrepancies in
interpretation, dialogues, and all possible expressions of
our opinions. This should be for us a commandment from the
one who has departed to eternity and the one who is now
entrusted to lead the earthly Church. Therefore we shall
now sincerely, from a pure heart, not allow any such
thoughts, since our Chief Pastor is Christ. And I will
remind you on behalf of the slain Metropolitan Benjamin of
Petrograd, who was the deputy of Patriarch Tikhon. He said
that the Church is ruled not by people but by the Lord
Himself. And if He rules then why would we be troubled, as
were the holy apostles in the terrible storm at sea. For
the Lord said: “I am always with you. Be not afraid,
it is I.”

Shouldn’t we recall the words of St. Ignatius
(Brianchaninov), who wrote, “What should we do? With
all the current apostasies which are already in action
perhaps for more than one century now, each one of us
should preserve himself and not be drawn into this stream
that would carry us away from the path that the Lord
Himself named: I am the way, the truth, and the
life
(Jn. 14:6). Our help cometh from the Lord,
Who hath made heaven and the earth
(Ps.
120:2).” Therefore together with the Heavenly
Church, we in the earthly shall send up our prayers. Those
who have boldness at the throne of the Most Holy and
Life-creating Trinity shall send up their prayers, and we
here, celebrating the Bloodless Sacrifice made for our
sins and for human darkness shall also pray. And we will
not try to strain our mind and heart. Everything is
happening that should happen, and all in its own time.
Then perhaps much that is now hidden from us will be
revealed; but right now we need to remember these words of
the apostle about which I have reminded you many times:
Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men,
be strong. Let all your things be done with charity

(1 Cor. 16:13-14). And may this love of Christ, filling
our souls and hearts, be with us to the end of our lives,
to our very last heartbeat, until our eyes are forever
closed, so that we would be this way. And so that when we
are asked the question, “Who are you?” we
might answer, “Baptized, Orthodox, and following the
path shown to us by the Lord and the Mother Church who
loves her children! Yeah, Lord, let it be so. We today
have already prayed, and even this is so pleasant. Could
it be that no one perceived this? First the choir, right
and powerful, then we clergy, and then the children with
their children’s voices. It is as if everyone
expresses this truth in his own way. This is connected
with the seventh ode of the canon: “O ye children
bless, ye priests chant, and ye people exalt Christ
forever.”

Thus, we wish many long years to the new
“rudder” of our Church, the Patriarch, and
pray for the repose of the newly-reposed Patriarch. Our
prayers will be made together with the prayers of the
whole Church. Let us note that Patriarch Pimen’s
funeral was served on Sunday, when in all churches the
Bloodless Sacrifice is made. … That Sunday was also
the feast of Great-Martyr George. And today is also
Sunday, the feast of All Saints. If all the saints
participate invisibly in the services on this solemn day,
the enthronement of the new Patriarch, then might they
abandon us? As we read in the Akathist and canons, these
are our brothers and sisters. Next Sunday will be the
feast of all Russian saints. Therefore, remember that the
first pleiades of ten Patriarchs began with Holy Patriarch
Job. The second pleiades, after two hundred years, began
with the Holy Patriarch Tikhon [who died under the
Communists]. Although, in between them was Holy Patriarch
Hermogenes. Therefore today we will be filled with
spiritual joy and at the same time concerned with our
Christian duty—ceaseless prayer, in God’s
churches as well as at home, in our cells, and other
places where we turn to the Lord with prayerful sighs.

So, the Lord will prolong the life of our Patriarch and
help him. We can only ask the Lord, but help will come to
the Patriarch from the Father of Lights on high, from the
Chief Pastor, Christ, and from the Holy Spirit. And
Patriarch Pimen who bore the Patriarchal staff for twenty
years will tomorrow be sent on to eternity and receive the
reward for his labors in guiding the ship of the Russian
Orthodox Church…

Let us pray to the Lord. May the Lord grant all that we
have asked of Him today at the moleben of thanksgiving.
Everything is set forth there, for whom and for what. We
have asked on behalf of the whole Church, of our
monastery, and of each of us individually that the Lord
would not deprive us of His mercy. And since He will not
deprive us, since He will be with us, then we have nothing
to fear—not in the past, nor in the present, nor in
the future.

I congratulate all of you with Holy Communion. May the
Holy Mysteries of Christ bring you health of soul and
body… Note also, that tomorrow is the day we
commemorate the icon of the Mother of God, “Surety
of Sinners”. His Holiness Patriarch Pimen especially
loved and venerated this icon, and this will be his
fortieth day after his repose. I again greet you all with
your name day. Amen.

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