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NEW YORK: October 24, 2006
His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus Sends a Greeting to the World Congress of Compatriots in St Petersburg, Opening Today

From the Editors: Today, the Tauride Palace in St Peterburg hosts the opening of the World Congress of Compatriots. Representing the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in this forum will be His Grace Bishop Agapit of Stuttgart, Vicar of the Diocese of Berlin and Germany; Protopriest Gabriel Makarov, Rector of St Nicholas Cathedral in Brisbaine, Australia; and Priest Serafim Gan, Rector of St Seraphim Church in Sea Cliff, NY, and personal secretary of the First Hierarch of the Church Abroad.

GREETING FROM THE FIRST HIERARCH OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OUTSIDE OF RUSSIA TO THE WORLD CONGRESS OF COMPATRIOTS

Your Eminences, Your Graces, Dear in the Lord Fathers, Brothers and Sisters, Participants of the World Congress of Compatriots!

From distant Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, USA, which Blessed Metropolitan Anastassy (Gribanovsky, +1965) called the "Lavra of the Diaspora," I greet you all on today's opening of this forum, thanks to which the Russian Emigration is now given new means of serving our God-preserved people, aiding in their rebirth and renewal.

We hear the words sung in church: "our Fatherland," "our Homeland." Love for our homeland and service to our Fatherland is the direct duty of every Orthodox Christian.

The concept of "fatherland" includes not only certain territories and the people living therein, but the soul, the spirit of the people. Consequently, serving ones fatherland is not limited to defending its borders and the people living within them, not only to participating in its industry and economy or politics, but also by preserving and enriching its spirit, its soul.

The Russian emigration always strove to serve Russia not only by preserving her soul outside the borders of the Fatherland, but through communicating to our compatriots, and to the local population, the great legacy we received from our ancestors, who lived by the ideals of Holy Russia. Glory be to God that during the godless regime, those of us living in exile had the opportunity, as we lived in freedom, to preserve the Faith of Christ and the Church, we were able to preserve the language and culture, we were able to speak the truth about the persecution of Orthodox Christians and provide religious literature to Russia. Now the time has come when we must join forces to recreate that which was destroyed and to pass on to all Russian people this great legacy, both that which was preserved in the emigration and that which was preserved in difficult years in Russia.

Great and glorious is the spiritual treasure of our people, expressed in but two words: Holy Russia.

We must serve this Holy Russia, as our saints did: the bishops, princes, holy monks and righteous laity. But it is not only the saints who can serve Holy Russia. Her "little people" can serve as well: by singing, participating in divine services and working at the church, helping the needy and performing other acts of mercy, by teaching and rearing the new generations in the spirit of our people, through silent prayer for our homeland and her children. We are all called upon to serve Holy Russia. That is why personal moral and spiritual dissolution is not only the private matter of each sinner, but an offense against the spirit of our Fatherland. That is why spiritual vigilance, the performance of good works and the bearing of our daily cross with humility are not only a matter of personal salvation, but all serve to strengthen and enrich the spirit of Holy Russia.

All of the saints of Russia summon us to this great task through their personal lives. Our Homeland calls upon us all to do the same. The Lord Himself called us to this! I pray to Him that He grant the participants of this Congress blessed success in their labors, and bestows upon you also His many mercies and His gifts!

+ Metropolitan Laurus,
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

October 11/24, 2006