34th Week after Pentecost. The Pharisee and the Publican, 2012
The Holy Church on behalf of believers calls out, “Open the doors of repentance to me, O Giver of Life.” Since we are prone to laziness and passivity, this prayer reminds us to pray to God for help. When a person does not go to confession for a long time, he needs God's help to realize that he needs to go.
To show us how to repent and to pray the Holy Church offers us the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee. Both came to the temple to pray. In his prayer, the Pharisee listed his virtues and condemned the Publican.
The Publican dared not to raise his eyes to heaven; he beat his chest while praying, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”
External virtue is not enough if it does not express inner virtue. The foundation of virtue is repentance, and therefore the Publican was in the right.
Genuine virtue always manifests in sacrifice, especially when times are tough, during periods when the Christian faith is persecuted. Such persecutions were visited on Russia during the more than 70 years of godless government, especially at the beginning.
These persecutions befell the Russian Church first of all, on the hierarchy, on the priests, and then on laymen.
Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev was the first to be killed, then Benjamin, Metropolitan of Petersburg. Patriarch Tikhon was not left in peace and finally poisoned. Foreseeing difficult times, the Patriarch appointed four locum tenentes. Metropolitan Agafangel and Metropolitan Kirill were already in exile. Metropolitan Peter (Krutitskii) assumed more and more responsibility, but he too was not left in peace. At this point it's worthwhile to recall the miracle associated with Metropolitan Peter. On thew way to exile in Siberia, he was pushed out of his railroad car at full speed with the idea that he would be killed. But there was abundant snow along the railroad line and he received no injuries whatsoever. However, since he was lightly clothed in only a cassock without a coat, he was in danger of freezing to death. Then he noticed a bear approaching. At first he was afraid, but there was no point trying to run. The bear had already reached him and laid down right in front of him. Seeing that the bear did not demonstrate any aggression, he snuggled up to its warm belly, later turning over. When the dawn came he heard roosters crowing and got up quietly so as not wake the bear. But the bear suddenly got up and walked away in the opposite direction. Metropolitan Peter let his sister know where he was, but the KGB immediately found out and sent him even farther into exile, where, finally, he was tortured to death.
It's worth noting the today is Vladyka Peter's name day. We wish him many years for the good of the Church and our parish.
The Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia canonized all those martyred by the Soviet authorities, in this way authorizing them to pray for the suffering Russian land; and the Soviet state soon started to show cracks and finally, to everyone's amazement, collapsed.
The Soviet State collapsed, but the evil it committed has still not been overcome. But now, thanks to the efforts of Metropolitan Laurus, we are in unity with the Moscow Patriarchate. Now in a combined effort we will pray to All the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors that by their prayers a normal existence comes to our common homeland. May the Lord help us in this.