Bishop Varlaam at St Anthimos Monastery: “We Should Chase Holiness by Using the Gifts of the Holy Spirit”

Aurelian Iftimiu | 16 June 2020

The patriarchal auxiliary bishop Varlaam of Ploiesti urged Sunday to set the sanctification of our lives above all personal ideals. His Grace presided over the Divine Liturgy at St Anthimos Monastery in Bucharest on the front steps of the church dedicated to the Synaxis of All Saints.

Bishop Varlaam said we should chase holiness by using the gifts of the Holy Spirit poured out over Christ’s Church on Pentecost. ‘Especially the gift of the Seven Holy Mysteries of the Church in which the eternal grace is communicated to us mortals through visible actions.’

‘Let us strive and run in our lives not only for fleeting things that are worthless in the hour of our departure from the world but especially for holiness, for the resemblance to God,’ His Grace stressed June 14.

Bp Varlaam of Ploiești censing during the Divine Liturgy. © / Raluca Ene

The ultimate purpose of life

The patriarchal auxiliary bishop went on to explain that “by using the gifts left by the Holy Spirit to the Church we can transform the image of God – received at birth – into a likeness to God by grace.”

“This is the ultimate goal of our lives. Our fulfilment as human beings on this earth is the sanctification of life.”

Another advice offered by Bishop Varlaam to the people present at St Anthimos Monastery was to follow the example of the saints.

“Let us consider each of God’s saints as role models for us, let us follow the example of their lives, and let us strive to sanctify our lives as they sanctified their lives in the time and place where they lived!”

“There are many obstacles against holiness, but none are invincible,” said Bishop Varlaam of Ploiesti.

“Therefore, we find among the saints of the Church: emperors, kings, czars, voivodes – such as Saints Stephen the Great, Neagoe Basarab, army generals, officers and simple people, peasants, soldiers, stonemasons, hierarchs who shone through their holy life and through the effort to preach and defend the true faith, venerable fathers and mothers who have renounced the world by retiring to caves, deserts or forests not out of selfishness but out of an extraordinary love for God and for the world.”

Young girl making the sign of the cross in front of the main church of St Anthimos Monastery in Bucharest. © / Raluca Ene

“Because far from the world they prayed for the salvation and peace of the world,” His Grace added.

The hierarch said that we could sanctify our lives “through prayer, through the purification of the soul, through the tears of repentance, through the mystery of confession and especially through our communion with the Body and Blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ.”

“How I Wanted to Become a Saint”

In the context of celebrating all the saints, Bishop Varlaam of Ploiești also addressed people who do not have the joy of bearing a saint’s name. He told those with “less traditional” names: “It is important to sanctify your life so that others who will bear your name know that they have someone to protect them.”

“The great Romanian writer from Paris, the priest Virgil Constantin Gheorghiu, was animated by this desire”, said His Grace, reminding of the famous work “How I wanted to become a saint.”

The patriarchal auxiliary bishop ended his speech by inviting believers to sanctify their lives. “Let us sanctify our lives and, as the saints are models for us, let us be models for those in our families, for those close to us, for colleagues and so on.”

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