On September 11, 2020, the feast day of the Beheading of the Holy and Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia officiated the Divine Liturgy at St. Alexander Nevsky Church in Moscow, reports the official website of the Russian Orthodox Church.
On this day, the Russian Orthodox Church prays for those suffering from the ailment of wine drinking or drug addiction. The celebration of the Day of Sobriety on August 29 (September 11) on the day of the Beheading of St John the Baptist was established by the Russian Holy Synod in 1913. Its celebration was interrupted in Soviet times, but reestablished by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church on July 25, 2014
During the Liturgy, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill offered prayers for the healing of those suffering from the pernicious passion of wine drinking and drug addiction.
At the end of the service, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church delivered the following sermon:
On the feast day of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, the Church prescribes strict fasting so that, as the typikon says, “we would not become accomplices to Herod’s gluttony.” After all, had King Herod abstained from winebibbing, which inflamed his pride and other passions, then perhaps he would have come to his senses and not given the order to behead St. John, whom he himself revered as a righteous man.
Unfortunately, people often commit irreparable sinful acts under the influence of alcohol; in a state of intoxication, they do things they would never allow themselves to do when sober. Sometimes, such acts destroy not only their lives, but the lives of those around them. Discussing this, St. Tikhon of Zadonsk warns: “A drunken man is capable of all kinds of evil; gives in to all kinds of temptations” (Homily on the feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple).
As a reminder of the harmful consequences of intemperance and indulgence in the passions, the Holy Synod of our Church decided to celebrate Sobriety Day every year on the feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist.
Today, many people who suffer from various types of addictions are aware of their harmfulness and turn to the more than 600 Church organizations for help. It is obvious that not only medical technology is needed in the fight against addiction. A change in worldview is one of the most important conditions that help a suffering person overcome the inertia of sin.
By the prayers of the Baptist of the Savior John, may God help us ever overcome our passions and, according to the advice of Apostle Paul, be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:19).