Sermon by Hieromonk Methodius (Yogel, +1940) on the feast day of St Ermogen, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
This year (1937), the Russian Orthodox Church marks the 325th anniversary of the martyrdom of Holy Patriarch Ermogen. The image of this saint is very edifying for us today, for in his person, the traits of righteousness, personal ascetic living, social service and selfless service to his homeland are combined.
Any earthly career contains the temptation of utter devotion to it, the wholesale dedication to it of all one’s spiritual and emotional powers. Most often we see this in national service. We often see a person, earnest and conscientious, with genuine love for his country, even in this uncorrupted state leave in his wake thoughts of eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33), this is the Gospel commandment. This does not mean that man should turn away from all earthly cares.
No, this burden, too, must be shouldered. But the priority in our life must be obtaining the Kingdom of God. This ideal must illuminate and control all other ideals, we must lay our service to the earthly kingdom before the judgment of the Kingdom of God. This is the podvig of the conscience, which is illumined by the light of the Gospel, and we must carry this light into the life that surrounds us.
It is just such a national servant that St Ermogen was. He loved God through his ascetic love, he loved his homeland as well with the fullness of his Russian heart. He gave his life serving his homeland. But this service did not confirm earthly, temporal values.
His was a service to God first and foremost. That is why St Ermogen is not simply a national hero. He is a saint, an ascetic and true hierarch of the Church of Christ.
His person is of great import to us today in that he teaches us to confirm all temporary values in God, and to allow the light of the Kingdom of God to shed light on them. For only then will our love for homeland be a true, Christian love, which will be the cornerstone of faith and true Christian hope.
May by the prayers of St Ermogen, Ascetic of Your Church and “Griever for the Russian Land, the Lord help us to love Him and by the light of His love warm our earthly love and all our relationships.
March 15, 1937