четверг, 31 декабря 2009 г.

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh. NEW YEAR. 31 December 1981.

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
                         NEW YEAR
                     31 December 1981
                           ----

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

Before we pray, I should like to introduce our prayers so that when we
pray,  we  do  it  more effectively, with one mind and with one heart.
Year  after  year  I  have  spoken of the New Year that was coming, in
terms  of  a  plain covered with snow, unspoiled, pure, and called our
attention  to  the fact that we must tread responsibly on this expanse
of whiteness still unspoiled, because according to the way in which we
tread it, there will be a road cutting through the plain following the
will  of  God, or wandering steps that will only soil the whiteness of
the  snow.  But  a  thing  which  we cannot, must not forget this year
perhaps  more  than  on many previous occasions, is that, surrounding,
covering  this  whiteness  and  this  unknown as with a dome, there is
darkness,  a  darkness  with few or many stars, but a darkness, dense,
opaque, dangerous and frightening. We come out of a year when darkness
has  been  perceived  by all of us, when violence and cruelty is still
rife.

How  shall  we  meet  it?  It  would  be  naive,  and it would be very
unchristian, to ask God to shield us against it, to make of the Church
a  haven  of peace while around us there is no peace. There is strife,
there  is  tension, there is discouragement, there are fears, there is
violence,  there  is  murder. We cannot ask for peace for ourselves if
this peace does not extend beyond the Church, does not come as rays of
light  to  dispel  the darkness. One Western spiritual writer has said
that the Christian is one to whom God has committed responsibility for
all  other  men,  and  this  responsibility  we  must  be  prepared to
discharge.  In  a few moments we will entreat for both the unknown and
the  darkness,  the  greatest  blessing  which  is  pronounced  in our
liturgical  services,  ╚Blessed  is the Kingdom of the Father, the Son
and the Holy Ghost╩ - blessed is the kingship of God.

These  words  are  spoken rarely: at the beginning of services, at the
outset of the Liturgy, as a blessing upon the New Year, and at moments
when  eternity  and time unite, when with the eyes of faith we can see
eternity  intertwined  with time, and conquering. The Christian is one
who  must be capable of seeing history as God sees it, as a mystery of
salvation  but  also as a tragedy of human falleness and sin. And with
regard  to  both  we  must  take our stand. Christ says in the Gospel,
╚When  you will hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled╩;
lift  up your heads. There is no space in the heart and in the life of
the  Christian for cowardice, faintheartedness and fear, which are all
born  of  selfishness,  concern  for self, even if it extends to those
whom  we  love.  God is the Lord of history, but we must be co-workers
with  God,  and we are sent by Him into this world of His, in order to
make  the discordant city of men into the harmony which will be called
the city of God.

And  we  must remember the words of the Apostle who says, whoever will
wish  to  work  for  the Lord will be led into trial, and the words of
another Apostle who tells us not to be afraid of trial by fire. In the
present  world  we  must  be  prepared,  ready for trials and ready to
stand,  perhaps with fear in our heart for lack of faith, but unshaken
in the service of God and the service of men.

And  when we look back at the past year the words of the litany hit us
and  accuse us. We ask God to forgive us all that we have done or left
undone  in the past year. We claim to be Orthodox; to be Orthodox does
not  mean  only to confess the Gospel in its integrity and proclaim it
in  its  purity,  but  it  consists,  even  more  than this, in living
according  to  the  Gospel.  And  we  know  that  Christ  comes  to no
compromise  with  anything but the greatness of man and the message of
love  and  worship.  We  can indeed repent because who, looking at us,
would  say  as  people  said about the early Christians, ╚See how they
love  one  another!╩  Who  would  say,  looking  at us, that we are in
possession  of  an  understanding  of  life,  of a love which makes us
beyond  compare,  which causes everyone to wonder where it comes from?
Who  gave  it to them? How can they stand the test of trial? And if we
want  this  year to be worthy of God, of our Christian calling, of the
holy name of Orthodoxy, we must singly and as a body become to all, to
each  person  who  may need us, a vision of what man can be and what a
community of men can be under God.

Let  us pray for forgiveness, we who are so far below our calling, let
us  pray  for  fortitude,  for  courage, for determination to discount
ourselves,  to take up our cross, to follow in the footsteps of Christ
whithersoever He will call us.

At  the  beginning  of the war King George VI spoke words which we can
repeat  from  year  to  year.  In  his message to the Nation he read a
quotation:  ╚I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: give
me  a  light that I may tread safely into the unknown, and he replied:
go  out  into  the  darkness and put your hand in the hand of God that
shall be better to you than light and safer than a known way.╩

This  is  what we are called to do, and perhaps we should make today a
resolution, determined to be faithful to our calling and begin the New
Year with courage. Amen
                           ----

 * All texts are copyright: Estate of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

           Metropolitan Anthony of  Sourozh Library
                   http://www.mitras.ru/eng/

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