POCHAEV: May 28, 2007-05-29
EPISTLE OF HIS EMINENCE METROPOLITAN LAURUS, FIRST HIERARCH OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OUTSIDE OF RUSSIA, ON THE FEAST DAY OF THE PENTECOST TO THE BRETHREN AND PILGRIMS OF HOLY TRINITY MONASTERY
I greet you from the geographically-distant but spiritually-close city of Pochaev, dear in the Lord fathers, brothers and sisters, on our faith's great holiday, which honors the Holy Trinity! Today we perform Divine Liturgy at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Pochaev Lavra, built and consecrated in 1912 by Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky, +1936)) of blessed memory. We also raise our prayers and the crypt of St Job, Abbot and Miracle-worker of Pochaev, the heavenly protector of our monastic publishing house, which for many years was headed by Archbishop Vitaly (Maximenko, +1960) of blessed memory. He labored greatly for the sake of Russian Orthodoxy, first in Little Russia and in the Carpathian Mountains, later in American Russia, where, as a young bishop, he gave this oath before God: "To lend all my efforts to the work of making peace in the Church."
The holiday honoring the Holy Trinity, when we remember how the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles, speaks to us on this greatest of events in the life of mankind. The world, saved by the invaluable Blood of the Divine Man, the fullness of God's love ran through the Holy Apostles during this event. From this day forward, the "grace of the Lord our Jesus Christ and the love of the God and Father and the communion of the Holy Spirit" are and will forever be in the Holy Church, and so, with all of us as well.
What can be greater than this mercy? For Orthodox Christians, this day is the beginning of new life. This is the springtime of Christianity.
After a long, sinful slumber, after a long, sorrowful life separated from God, under the grace-filled action of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, a new, never-before-experienced life began for mankind. The sin of the first people distanced them from God, it stained the soul of mankind. In the gloom of unending night, in the joyless grieving over their lost bliss, the soul of man suffered, weakened, starved, deprived of the invigorating power that is God's love and grace. But the Son of God came down onto the sinful earth, took upon Himself the sin of the whole world, covered man's falsehood with His love. And as evidence of His act, He, ascending in the flesh to Heaven, promised His disciples that He would beseech the Father to send another Consoler down to earth, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, Who would guide them and all the faithful towards all truth and "shall reveal all unto them." And so on this day we celebrate that this promise was fulfilled by the Holy Spirit, Who came upon the Apostles in the form of tongues of flame; in His grace-filled action upon the Apostles, the properties of fire were revealed, for it illuminates and warms, it burns and cleanses. He illuminated their minds, reminded them of and fully clarified for them the teachings of Christ. He ignited them with love for the holy work of preaching the Gospel, with a fiery zeal, courage, fearlessness, with a readiness to suffer all for the holy truth, in the name of the Resurrected Christ. Nothing could now stop them on their mission, neither prison nor chains nor torture, not even death. "Righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17) is what filled their souls. They left behind for the Christian world the unconquerable certainty that only "Through the Holy Spirit every soul is quickened [receives new life] and through purification is exalted, and is illumined by the Triunal Unity in a holy mystery" (antiphon, 4 th tone), that is, is sanctified by the Trinity through a mystery.
The fruits of the Holy Spirit are these: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, blessedness, mercy, faith, humility, restraint. If we do not have these fruits, if in our personal, family and social lives, enmity, hatred, anger, cruelty, deceit, falsehood, sin and transgressions reign—what a horror that is! For then we have emptied our souls, we bear Hell within our hearts. Unfortunately, we think little of this. Evil is spreading more and more among us, and infects us. We have forgotten the legacy of those who have planted the Holy Spirit within our hearts.
Let us pray to the Lord that He cleanse us from sin, that He draw us closer and saves our souls with His grace. During Great Vespers, which is performed right after Divine Liturgy, when, as our ancestors believed, the Holy Spirit was especially present in His Church, we bring to God everything we have in our soul. Let us bring Him our repentance, our supplications, our gratitude, our words of praise and our love. Heeding these words of prayer, which some considered to be a Mystery, let us pray with our words and with our hearts, and receive special blessings from God, special mercy from God. This I wish all of you with all my soul today, on the feast day of our holy monastery, that He help you "impart all strength to the work of peace in the Church," manifesting the legacy of our Abbot, Archbishop Vitaly.
With love in the Lord and asking your holy prayers,
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
Pentecost, 2007, Pochaev