Love the Church of God: On the Sunday of All Saints of Russia

Christianity is not a doctrine, but life in the Holy Spirit, Who is the Giver of this life. He gives people a new spiritual birth, filling the entire human person with His grace: his soul, his mind, and his body. Therefore, the Holy Church glorifies the saints not for their teaching, but for their spiritual life.

“Giver of life, come and dwell in us.”

Today the Russian Orthodox Church continues its celebration of the Holy Spirit, inasmuch as today we are commemorating all the saints who have shown forth by the Holy Spirit in the Russian land. We prayerfully honor our Russian saints, who acquired the grace of the Holy Spirit while still living on earth.

Christianity is not a doctrine, but life in the Holy Spirit, Who is the Giver of this life. He gives people a new spiritual birth, filling the entire human person with His grace: his soul, his mind, and his body. Therefore, the Holy Church glorifies the saints not for their teaching, but for their spiritual life. The majority of Russians who came before us – our grandfathers and great-grandfathers – were unlettered. They did not study, say, the geography and history of Russia. But they did know Kiev, for instance, through Sts. Anthony and Theodosius of the Caves; they knew the Trinity Lavra (Sergiev Posad) and Moscow through St. Sergius and the Holy Hierarchs of Moscow. They heard of Solovki in connection with Sts. Zosima and Savvaty; for them the Siberian lands were connected with the names of Sts. Symeon of Verkhotursk and Innocent of Irktusk. From year to year, and from century to century, our ancestors visited the holy places that had been glorified by the ascetic struggles of God’s saints; and here, in these holy places, the multitude of miracles about which Christ speaks in the Gospel was performed: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached (Luke 7:22).

Our holy God-pleasers taught people not by words, but by their God-pleasing lives and by the acquisition of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This, in the words of St. Seraphim of Sarov, is the meaning and purpose of the Christian life: “Acquire the Holy Spirit and your entire life will become renewed and holy.” Elder Silouan, the Athonite ascetic, writes that the saints live in a different world, where they see God’s glory and the beauty of God’s face by the Holy Spirit. They see our lives and deeds, too, in that same Holy Spirit. They know our sorrows, hear our fervent prayers, and help us by their love. They see and know how we are worn out from sorrows, how our interior lives have withered, and how despondency has gripped our souls – and they intercede for us before God. They regret that people live without mutual love, since people do not know that, if only they would love one other, the earth would be freed from sin and filled to overflowing with the joy and gladness of the Holy Spirit.

Dear brother and sisters! Love the Church of God, for only in the Church does the Holy Spirit teach, enlighten, and nourish us. Read the Holy Scriptures and the lives of saints more often, drawing grace-filled help from them.

Translated from the Russian

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