Антоний, митрополит Су́рожский

Sermons

Sermon 152 Sermon 153 Sermon 154

Remembrance day

13 November 1988

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

In a few minutes we shall pray for the eternal repose of all those who have departed this life, and in particular for those who have died a cruel death full of anguish, on the field of battle, full of pain in illness, full of terror in civil stri (?) and also in the horror of prisons and camps and torture chambers: all monstrous things, as I have said before, from the fall of man, the result of the fact that we have lost God, and with God we have lost the love of our neighbour, the sense of reverence (of, for) life.

But what can we add through prayers to the silence which we have kept before? Why add words to the silence? In the silence we have stood face to face with what death is, with a sense of awe, of gratitude, of repentance and of brokenheartedness; now we will stand before God, all of us holding lit candles, in the same way in which we hold them in the night of the Resurrection: lit candles proclaiming that the light shines even in the darkness; even if the darkness doesn't receive it, it has no power to put it out; candles that proclaim that we believe that Christ is truly risen, and that He has promised that a day will come when a l l the departed will be risen, will raise from the tomb and enter in the fullness of life (will come – repeat). And again also, standing with our candles we will speak to God again, silently, of the fact that those whom we remember have been, and remain f o r e v e r a light in the world. They have told (taught (?) us what it means to love to the point of (laying?) down one's life for others; they have told (taught (?) us what it means to overcome fear and the horror of the possible death, overcome that power of separation from those whom they loved more than their lives because it is for them that they (are, were) giving their lives; and that we have understood (that, their) message.

And again, when we will pray for them with this understanding, we must remember the words of Saint John Chrysostom who says that it is in vain that we praise the great heroes of the spirit if we do not emulate them; what we have (seen in them) of greatness of heart, of sacrificial love, of generosity and comradeship, of endurance in patience in the face of pain, in the face of fear, in the face of all the horrors which the mankind has invented – if we have understood we must emulate them, learn to be like them; not wait until tragedy strikes to try to rise to the level, to the stature of greatness, but day in day out to be in small things what they were in great things, overcome in us all that is the power of evil, all that is the power of satan, all that is the power of our fallenness; fight, fight day in and day out. It is of this fight that Saint Paul speaks when he says that those who have fought the true, the real fight, (those people) will be crowned. Tragedy is around us; it is around us and within us in the dividedness, in the darkening of our hearts, in the dividedness that exists between us, between people, between (colour???), between nations – all that brings coldness, indifference, all that leads to hunger, and illness, and suffering, and death. These are (the) things which we can overcome day after day, and in our small way emulate those who gave their lives in the most tragic, at times the most terrifying situations.

And remember, remember that our lives and our freedom is made of t h e i r death and their suffering. And bring to God this testimony that they have not lived in vain, that their message has reached us, that our prayers are not words but an undertaking to be what they were: to grow to their measure, be worthy of Him, Who said, ‘No one has greater love than he who lays down his life for his friends’: He, God Himself Who became man in order to lay down (His life? – etogo net, ya po negramotnosty vstavila) for each of us, for all of us. It is not only our brothers in humanity, it is God Himself Whom we have got to emulate in His love.

But how can we? Ourselves we can do nothing; but if we only allow God, if we only allow His to (mould) us, to burn away in us all that is unworthy of ourselves and of Him – one day we will stand before God also as witnesses of love Divine, of human love, of crucified and victorious Love. Amen.


Sermon 152 Sermon 153 Sermon 154