Beloved brothers and sisters! Today the Holy Church celebrates the Synod of NewMartyrs and Confessors of Russia, who has suffered from the godless persecution in 20th century. In this day we should listen to their appeal, look on the example they set for us.
Every Saint has a special grace to help us in those our needs and living conditions, that he or she faced in his/her own life, and the time of NewMartyrs is so close to us! Let's
look at the history of Russia . During the last 300 years it's
continuous trials, permanent temptations. Starting from the reign
of Peter the First and up to the World War II, the population of
Russia has grown more than 10 times much, but the number of orthodox
churches in the same time has increased only 4 times much, and the
half of this increase falls at the reign of two last Russian Tsars.
If we look at the state of monkshood, this soul of the Church, we'll see the embarrassing figures. There were 1200 cloisters in the year 1701, their number has reduced to 380 to the second half of 18th century, and only at the end of the reign of Tsar-Martyr it has nearly restored (to 1025). The number of monks decreased from 25 thousands to 6 thousands, but in the time of the last Emperor it was already 95 thousands. Notice it: it's similar to the actual situation - the same great increase of the number of churches and cloisters after persecution. But it's only outer increase, that doesn't yet reach the necessary inner depth. We are yet far from the spiritual attitudes that our forefathers stood at.
But, unfortunately, the time of revival of Russia at the beginning of 20th century and in our days has one more feature in common: now, as well as then, along with the pleasant revival of spirituality develops the so-called "freedom", but it's a freedom for sin. Now we've faced the massive propaganda of violence and lechery. The same took place in the beginning of last century, when even such kind of "houses" were opened, that it's "shame to talk about". Even then mass media have launched an attack against the Church, against the legitimate government, at that using money of Russia's enemies, including belligerent with Russia Germany and Japan.
Now we don't know which money do they use, but mass media have the same methods nowadays. It's calumny upon the Church, priesthood and government. This analogies lead us to fearful forecasts - if the similar persecutions would repeat…
Drunkenness, smoking, playing cards and another gambling, different kinds of occultism, spiritism and theosophy were also disseminated in those times. And those times money became getting to the top of all values. The Church also was infringed upon by this dreadful occurrences of spiritual degradation. For example, when the church parting with Pushkin's body took place all day and all night long, the floor after the funeral was bestrewn with smoked cigarettes. In such conditions of struggle between revival and depravity, struggle between sanctity and temptation, our NewMartyrs presented an example of personal victory over this sins.
If not, if they were liable to this sins themselves, then God would not honor them by shedding their blood for Him, He wouldn't have crowned them with a martyr's crown. We make sure of it again and again while studying the lives of each of the NewMartyrs and the biographies of those people who was in enmity with them. Everyone who had a weak point has betrayed the Church, Tsar and Motherland, collaborated with Bolsheviks, left into different schisms and dissents.
The NewMartyrs presented us an example of great love, love for God and people. How did they love God? First of all it was displayed in their prayer, in divine service. We constantly call all of you upon offering up morning and evening prayers. But could you read all this prayers from the beginning to the end without book, by heart? And what if we would happen to be imprisoned in jail and we'd have no books? You answer - we would read the Jesus' Prayer. Yes, it's a way out. But our NewMartyrs knew from memory not only the everyday prayers, but also offered all church services by heart - evening service, morning service and even the Divine Liturgy.
You can see that we're holding the Liturgy on the Altar. And in the prison camps one of the sufferers used to lie down and the Liturgy was held on his chest like on the live martyr's relics.
Could you pray while knowing that tomorrow you'll be shot down? And they have prayed right at the moment they were shot. And a father with sons has said; "Shoot my sons before my eyes, for I could pray for them, and then me." (archpriest Philosoph Ornatsky). We should follow their example, and imbue our soul with prayers, so we could pray in any circumstances.
The NewMartyrs have given us a great example of love for people. Love your neighbor like yourself, the Lord says. And we use to ask "and who is my neighbor." For the NewMartyrs these neighbors were criminals, and thorough scoundrels among them. Prison's chiefs have deliberately placed the believers among the very scum of thievish society. The martyrs suffered not only from guards' tortures, but also from acute beating and malicious harassment of these people, who seemed to lose the image of God completely. But exactly in such circumstances they have prayed and offered the divine services by heart. And the greatest possible miracle has happened, the miracle of transformation of human souls. The recent torturer began to love imprisoned priests or bishops, care for them, feed them. The life of nuns, women, in such conditions was especially terrible. But when they were set free, the people who left missed them and cried. And we can't love even our friends, not to mention enemies, with a little part of such love!
Many thousands of NewMartyrs are canonized. Now they are about one thousand and a half, and their number constantly grows.
For their suffering would not be in vain, for their deed would not be futile, we, the small flock of the faithful Christians, though sinful, but trying to attend the church services, confess and receive the Sacrament, should necessarily make use of this example of love.
I'm calling you once more upon learning morning and evening prayers by heart. Sure, we hope that the Lord will deliver us from the persecution for faith as we are too weak, hope that we won't get imprisoned without a prayer book. But everyone of us has to die. Nobody will escape it. In the very moment, when our eyes won't see, and our legs won't walk, could we pray then or would we think only about our aches? Could we not be capricious and take our relative's concerns for us with gratitude? Could we offer up to the Lord not complains and reproaches, but constantly repeat only "Thank God for everything" even on the deathbed???
Let us pray to our NewMartyrs more diligent, and may they help us in the most crucial moment of going over to the Eternity! And may God grant us - like them!!! - a peaceful decease. Yes, it's a startling fact - the Martyrs had a peaceful decease!
We should not nave confidence in the peace - around us, we should have this peace inside, like our Saints have, even in the hour of martyr death!