MOSCOW: February 27, 2008
Metropolitan Laurus' Acceptance Speech For Receiving the International Award of the Fund of Apostle Andrew the First-called at Marfa-Mariinsky Convent of Mercy
Your Eminences! Your Graces! God-loving Vladimir Ivanovich, Oleg Yurievich and Sergei Evgenievich! Reverend fathers, dear in the Lord brothers and sisters!
I could not express my gratitude better than to wish all of you God's grace, I could not find a more appropriate request today than to ask for your earnest prayers, that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with me and with the flock of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Grace, given to us through faith, originates, continues and completes the salvation of our souls. Today it is worth remembering that one thousand twenty years ago, "the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men" (Titus 2:11) through the baptism of the Kievans, revealing its power in the lands of our forefathers. The seed planted by Apostle Andrew the First-called brought the bountiful fruits through countless examples of the greatest self-sacrifice, of images of Russian holiness which amazes the world with its loftiness.
One of the spiritual qualities of the first-called disciple of Christ, according to Holy Scripture, is very important to underline, since it is my profound belief that it relates to the witness of this apostle in Scythia. This is his deep faith; faith in the sense described by Apostle Paul: "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). It is this confidence in the unseen that Apostle Andrew had in its full sense, for the very next day of his summoning, he shared the tidings with his brother Peter: "We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ" (John 1:41).
Apostle Andrew, among the other disciples, asked Christ about the future of Jerusalem and of the whole world (Mark 13:3-4), accepting the unseen with faith. Apostle Andrew's spiritual sight shows him the great miracle of the multiplication of the loaves (John 6) even before it occurred. It is no wonder that Divine Providence chose this apostle in particular to preach in the future Russian lands, who could not be hindered by the specifics of this region.
Yes, indeed, the preaching of Apostle Andrew here was different, since, at first glance, it bore little fruit; we are not afraid to call it in this sense a failure: for it is a historical fact that cannot be refuted that the Russian Orthodox Church came into being only 900-some-odd years after the time of the apostles, while the origins of the Church in the Greco-Roman world dates from their time.
What this means is that the apostle who spread the Word in the Scythian lands must have possessed genuine spiritual vision of the future triumph of Christianity in these lands, that his words did not prove pointless and futile. It is this vision, according to Holy Scripture, the Holy Apostle Andrew had in all its fullness, it is the presence of this gift of otherworldly sight that underscores the tradition that states that the apostle foretold the glory of the Kievan lands: "Upon these hills the grace of God will shine, there will be a great city here and God will erect many churches." This shows us that Apostle Andrew stood at the origin of the great Russian Orthodox Church, a man who saw the Word of life with his own eyes, who beheld and witnessed and confessed "that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us" (1 John 1:2).
We hope and believe that Apostle Andrew stands at the wellspring of the rebirth of the old glory and spiritual beauty of Holy Russia, which began on the year of the celebration of the Millennium of the Baptism of Rus. We see that the Fund dedicated to this apostle supports the spiritual renaissance of the Russian Orthodox Church and of the peoples of our much-suffering Fatherland in every way. We rejoice that we in the diaspora are now given the opportunity to actively participate in this process, thanks to the reestablishment of full brotherly communion within the Russian Orthodox Church.
The Grace of God does not run dry, and while the Church of Christ exists on earth—and she will until the end of time by the unfailing promise of the Lord—all of us within her bosom, my dear ones, will find streams of Grace which strengthen us in our service to God and mankind. As I enter my fifth decade of episcopal service, I recognize my poverty, but with faith and humility I rely on the assistance of the Grace of God, the omophoros and intercession of the Most-Blessed Virgin Mary, the prayers of Apostle Andrew the First-called and the saints of the Russian land.
"So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase" (1 Corinthians 3:7). In You, o Lord, is the strength of Grace and our strength, too; let it bolster my weakness to carry forth of the difficult burden of serving as Primate of the Russian Church Abroad. "Look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine; and the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted" (Psalms 80:15). Strengthen the flock of the entire Russian Orthodox Church with Your Grace and establish it in faith, in fear before Thee and piety to Thy glory, for the good of the whole Orthodox Church and the Russian people.
He shall behold us and visit upon us His Grace if we make ourselves whole in goodness according to Divine Law in the communion of prayer, peace, love, patience and humility. Amen.