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Sorrow and Joy: A Homily on the Day of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God

Thy Nativity, O Theotokos Virgin,
Has brought joy to all the inhabited earth:
For from Thee has sprung forth
the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God.

We solemnly celebrate, dear brothers and sisters, the Nativity of the Most Holy Virgin Mary from her barren parents, pious Joachim and Anna. The Holy Church established this feast during the first centuries of the Christian Faith. The event that we celebrate—the birth of the God-Chosen maiden—brought joy to all the world, for the God-man, Jesus Christ, Who shone forth from Her, destroyed God’s curse which weighed heavily upon the transgressing and accursed human race, and brought God’s blessing upon it; having trampled down inherent death, He gave people eternal life. Thus the Holy Church explains the cause of the present joy.

The parents of the Ever-Virgin sorrowed long over their barrenness; they prayed long and fervently to the Lord that He loose this barrenness, which was considered a punishment from God for sins. They gave much alms in order to incline the mercy of the All-Merciful, endured the reproach of their countrymen, and through this sorrow and ceaseless prayer and good works, they gradually purified their spirits, and burned ever greater with love and dedication to God, thus being prepared by God’s Providence to give blessed birth to the Most Blessed Daughter, chosen out of all people to be the Mother of the Incarnate Word.

The Lord leads His chosen ones to glory by a narrow and sorrowful path; for even She, the Mother of God according to the flesh, received the prophecy of Simeon that a sword shall pierce Her soul, and She will experience heavy sorrows in her soul during Her Son’s suffering life, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed (Lk. 2:34–35). The path of all God’s chosen is thus sorrowful and narrow, for the world and the prince of this world—that is, the enemy of God and people, extremely presses the people of God. The Lord Himself allows them to go by the narrow way, inasmuch as He enables them to strive for God and put all their hope in Him.

But let us turn our gaze from the sorrow to the joy. What joy does the Nativity of the Mother of God bring us? Let us explain in more detail the Church hymn which explains the meaning of this feast’s joy. Through the birth of the Ever-Virgin, through Her only-begotten Son and God, cursed and outcast mankind makes peace with God Who is immeasurably offended by man’s sins, for Christ became the mediator of this peace (cf. Rom. 5:10-11). Man is freed from the curse and eternal death, made worthy of the blessing of the Heavenly Father; he is united and co-mingled with the Divine nature; he is raised to his first inheritance by this co-mingling, according to the Church hymn. Mankind, once an outcast, has been made worthy of sonship to the Heavenly Father, received the promise of the glorious resurrection and eternal life in the heavens together with the angels.

This has all been and is being wrought by the Son of God incarnate from the Most Pure Virgin from the Holy Spirit, and by the intercession of His Most Pure Mother. How honored and magnified is mankind through the Holy Virgin Mother of God, for it has been made worthy of renewal and sonship by God; She Herself was made worthy by Her immeasurable humility and exceedingly great purity and holiness to be the Mother of the God-man! She is ever the most powerful Intercessor for the Christian race before Her Son and God! She is our Hope unashamed; She turns away from us the dark cloud of God’s righteous wrath, opens to us the ancient paradise by Her powerful intercessions; She upholds the thrones of kings, and preserves them unshakeable to the ages. She has saved Russia thousands of times and continues to save her; She has made her strong, glorified her, established her, and continues to do so; She is the Surety of Sinners for salvation. To Her do Christians direct their numberless prayers, requests, and praises, doxologies and thanksgiving; She has worked and continues to work miracles without number in the Church, to the ends of the world.

Let us brightly celebrate the feast of the Nativity of the Most Pure Virgin Mary, adorning ourselves with all the Christian virtues.

Epistle of the Right Reverend Bishop Matthew on the 50th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA and Canada

Bishop Matthew 2020

Beloved in Christ, dear fathers, brothers and sisters!

I extend my heartfelt congratulations to all of you on this significant date the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Patriarchal Parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church in the United States of America and Canada.

50 years ago, in 1970, special canonical subdivisions of the Russian Orthodox Church were formed, uniting the Patriarchal Parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church in the United States of America, Canada and Mexico, which are under the omophorion of the Most Holy Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia.

Commemorating this anniversary and reflecting on the past, we must thank the Lord for all of His many and ineffable blessings bestowed on the clergy and faithful children of the Russian Orthodox Church on the North American continent.

Today, we prayerfully remember the 42nd anniversary of the blessed passing of Metropolitan Nikodim (Rotov), the first Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA and Canada. The life of the Patriarchal Parishes is inspired by the archpastoral instruction and personal example of this outstanding hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, who stood at the origins of the organization of a new ecclesiastical life in North America. The apostolic word of Metropolitan Nikodim was addressed to everyone who seeks the truth, regardless of nationality, social status or religious views. Through the efforts of the ever-memorable Metropolitan Nikodim, Orthodox brotherhoods and sisterhoods were opened in North America, parochial schools were established, and new clergy were ordained. Many of the clergy, ordained by Vladyka Nikodim were Americans who converted to Orthodoxy, and later led generations of English-speaking parishioners to Christ.

For many years, the ecclesiastical and administrative centre of the Russian Orthodox Church in the United States has been and remains Saint Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral in New York City, which was given the status of the Representation of the Moscow Patriarchate within the canonical territory of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church in America. Saint Nicholas Cathedral, a symbol of the presence of Russian Orthodoxy in America, was built under the leadership of the future Hieromartyr Protopresbyter Alexander Hotovitsky and was consecrated in 1902 by Bishop Tikhon (Belavin) of North America, later the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. An example of the legacy of Saint Tikhon and his archpastoral labours is the Cathedral of the Holy Great Martyr Barbara in the city of Edmonton, the province of Alberta, which remains the centre of the spiritual and educational mission in Canada.

The Patriarchal Parishes in North America serve not only as a place of worship, but also carry out a large missionary and social ministry, uniting a large multicultural flock. Closely related to the activities of the Patriarchal Parishes is the work of the Representation of the World Russian People’s Council to the United Nations, which has been successfully carried out for many years.

We give thanks to the Lord and giver of all blessings for His mercies shown to us. With love and gratitude, we prayerfully honour the memory of all who have laboured for Holy Orthodoxy in the countries of North America: hierarchs, clergy of all ranks, presidents and members of parish committees and councils, choir directors and chanters, Sunday school teachers, members of brotherhoods and sisterhoods.

Today, celebrating the 50th anniversary in the difficult conditions of modern life and the trials facing all of mankind, following the example of our devout and pious predecessors, let us be courageous and strong so that in accordance with the words of the Apostles, we may have common joy to praise God and be in favour among all the people, so that the Lord may add daily those to the Church who are being saved (Acts 2:47).

May God’s blessings be with all of you through the intercession of Saint Tikhon and all the saints in the lands of North America and Canada.


Bishop of Sourozh,

Interim Administrator

of the Patriarchal Parishes

in the USA and Canada

4th September 2020

The Dormition of the Mother of God


“Magnify O my soul, the honourable Translation of the Mother of God from earth to heaven.” (Refrain for the 9th Ode of the Canon)

Let us be happy, beloved brothers and sisters that we belong to the Holy Orthodox Church, worthily and rightly glorifying the Most Holy Sovereign Theotokos on this eminent day out of all the days of the year with special solemnity. There exists on earth many societies and entire governments that do not consider the need nor the obligation to call upon and glorify the Queen of heaven and earth, the Mother of Our Divine Lord Jesus Christ, and other saints and angels; to submissively serve Her lovingly, as the true Mother of God. Sadly in Russia nowadays we have heretics (among us) who actively dishonor the Mother of God, the saints, their icons, their relics and their festivals. O, if only they also unanimously with us glorified the worthy Queen of heaven and earth!

Today the Holy Church solemnly glorifies the honorable Dormition or translation of the Mother of God from earth to heaven. A wonderful translation – she died without serious illness, peacefully. Her soul is taken up in the divine hands of Her Son and carried up into the heavenly abode, accompanied by the sweet singing of angels. And then, her most pure body is transferred by the apostles to Gethsemane where it is honorably buried, and on the third day it is resurrected and taken up to heaven. You see this on the icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos. On it is represented the life-bearing body of the Theotokos laying on a bier, surrounded by the apostles and hierarchs, and in the center of the icon the Lord holding in His hands the most pure soul of the Theotokos. The translation of the Mother of God is a paradigm of the translation in general of the souls of Christians to the other world.

We say that our dead have “fallen asleep” or “passed away.” What does this mean? This means that for the true Christian there is no death. Death was conquered by Christ on the cross. But there is a translation, i.e, a rearrangement of his condition, i.e. his soul is in another place, in another age, in another world beyond the grave, eternal, without end, that is what is meant by “falling asleep”. It is as if it were a temporary dream after which, by the voice of the Lord and the fearful yet wonderful trumpet of the Archangel, all the dead shall live and come forth each to his place: either to the resurrection of life or to the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:29). This is what the Christian means by translation. We should be ready for this translation, for the day of the general resurrection and judgment, for this indescribable world event, recorded in the Holy Scriptures.

This preparation for the meeting of the heavenly King before the dread judgment seat, after death, is essentially the person’s preparation throughout the whole of his life. This preparation means a change in all his thoughts, and the moral change of all his being, so that the whole man would be pure and white as snow, washing clean everything that defiles the body and spirit, so that he is adorned with every virtue: repentance, meekness, humility, gentleness, simplicity, chastity, mercifulness, abstention, spiritual contemplation, and burning love for God and neighbor.

Our preparation for meeting the heavenly King, and for the inheritance of eternal life in heaven, should consist of these things. The heavenly King desires souls adorned with immutable virtue, souls prepared so that the Very Lord Himself could abide in them. Do not marvel that the Very Lord wants to live in us. In fact the human soul is more spacious than the heavens and the earth, for it exists in the image of God. And if one removes sins from the soul, the Lord of all will settle in it and will fill it with Himself. “We will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (John 14:23), says the Lord about the souls who love Him.

And so, ye participants in the Christian feasts, and especially the present feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God, ye who are brightly adorned with every virtue and translated to the heavenly kingdom, to Her Son and God, proclaim to each and every one about preparing their souls to be the dwelling place of the Lord, about continual repentance, and about the incorruptible adornment of Christian virtue. Let your death also be unashamed and peaceful, serving as the pledge of a good answer at the dread judgment seat of Christ. Amen.

Sermon on the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos

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