On the 19th of June 2022, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia visited the Cathedral of the Savior in Penza. After serving Liturgy, he gave a sermon based on the Gospel Reading for the day; highlighting the words of Our Lord, “Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in Heaven” (Matthew 10:32).
The Patriarch explained that to understand this passage one might understand confession as another word for faithfulness; “Faithfulness to the Lord is what confession is all about.” He went on to point out that the Church even uses the word “Confessor” for those who have been faithful to Christ even through suffering and torment. Even “today these martyrs and confessors of our land are like bright stars in the divine firmament”.
Going on, the Patriarch tells his listeners this faithfulness to Christ is not just limited to those who were persecuted in the past, “But even today, even if we are not suffering, we are still required to be faithful to the Lord, which we must first and foremost demonstrate in our outlook on life”. By following Christ's Commandments as a matter of integrity, the Patriarch exhorted, we can be faithful and not just individually but as a consolidated community as well. Hearkening to the Roman Empire as an example, he points out that “With ease, the empire would have repelled all the barbarians if the life of the people had been consolidated, if the people had been consolidated. But without the inner integrity of the human person,
This consolidation is extremely important for Russia at this present time, as the Patriarch put it, “we need this consolidation today, this concentration of our entire nation in the face of great external dangers!”. However, it is impossible for the external integrity and consolidation of the community to be strong if internally it is weak. As the Patriarch explained, “That is probably why the Lord, bowing down to us in His mercy, has made it possible to build churches today”, in order to strengthen the internal integrity and consolidation of Russia.
This strengthening of internal integrity and consolidation founded on being faithful to Christ is absent in the West, which is why, according to the Patriarch, “Nowhere, neither in Europe nor in America, are new churches being built; people don't need them anymore.” But for those who have been faithful, those who have confessed Christ as God, those “who have gone through all this persecution, through all this godless ideology…; have risen up and [now] build churches.”
Everywhere in Russia there are “amazing examples of courage, self-sacrifice, the ability to lay down their lives for their friend. Where does this come from?”, the Patriarch asks, “Not from a high salary, not from the encouragement of superiors, not from the desire to advance in the service, but from an inner moral sense, brought up by the Orthodox faith” , which is only found in the Church.
In closing, the Patriarch exhorts his listeners “if we strengthen love for one another, and in public have solidarity… that is, mutual support and the ability to solve together the most important tasks that Russia faces today, then, indeed, our lives will change for the better. And if we do not forget God, God will be with us.”
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