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MOSCOW: February 19, 2008
Metropolitan Laurus' Speech at the Awards Ceremony at Moscow's City Hall

Thank you, dear Yuri Mikhailovich, and thank you, members of the International Council of Compatriots, for your kind words. I bear the cross bestowed upon me to the best of my ability, thanks to my assistants: the members of the Synod of Bishops, the episcopate, the pious clergymen, and the many thousands of faithful whose prayers help me in my work. Therefore, I accept this award as a symbol of the lofty recognition of the labors of the archpastors, pastors and flock of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, which always suffered for Russia, always burned with the desire to serve her, preserving and multiplying the great legacy left to us by our forefathers. I would gladly prostrate myself before all the clergy and flock for the earnestness with which they help me as they serve the Russian Orthodox Church to their salvation. I hope this continues forever. And if it does, it will be easy for me to bear upon my shoulders the service of Primate of the Russian Church Abroad.

The main Orthodox Christian dogma of the Holy Trinity, that God is one, but of three Faces, is not a dry tenet having no meaning for us. This dogma tells us that God is Love. What unifies and binds the three Faces of the Holy Trinity? Love. Nikolai Gogol, trying to understand and explain this unfathomable mystery, wrote that God the Father loves, God the Son is the beloved, and the Holy Spirit is the Love that binds and connects the Father and Son. And so, dear brothers and sisters, if we wish to draw nearer to God, we must live by the law of love and unity, in which the Triune God lives internally. This dogma also tells us that we must find salvation within society, that we must save our souls in love for one another and in unity. This demands colossal labor, patience and understanding. Let us actively strive to these good works, to develop and strengthen the unity and ecclesiastical peace we have achieved with God's help, that the divisions that afflicted the Russian Orthodox Church and the peoples of our Fatherland in the tragic 20 th century would not be repeated. Let each of us tend to his inner peace, to peace with his conscience, that is, personal peace and accord in life with God. Striving for this peace and obtaining it, we will thereby also strive to broaden peace and unity in social life. Without that, no matter how we try, divisions and conflicts will continue to exist.

Abba Dorotheus once used a circle as an illustration. In the middle of the circle was God. Along the radii of the circle are we humans. How do we draw nearer to each other? We must move closer to the center, towards God. The closer we are to God, the closer we are to each other. That is how I see the path to spiritual unity of the peoples of our Fatherland. Traveling along this path, we will truly participate in the great deed of “unifying all.” Amen.