Thursday, January 8, 2015

Metropolitan Agafangel’s Nativity Epistle

Nativity Message
of His Eminence Metropolitan Agafangel,
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad

Dear hierarchs and pastors, monastics and laity, brothers and sisters!

bishop-agafangel1.jpgIt has been a long time since we last had such a difficult year for our Church. This is because of the events which have shaken the world, which in turn resound very noticeably in our lives. Now, almost universally, the world has turned to war. “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matthew 24.7-8). Indeed, we see firsthand the beginning of these tribulations - not so much physical as spiritual ones. We have reached the time when even those who are called to keep and observe Truth have stopped accepting “sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears,” (2 Timothy 4:3). Everything is coming true - “Then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another” (Matthew 24.10). The ever-present apostasy is coming upon us like the approaching night, gradually and inevitably absorbing the souls of men. Less and less souls warm themselves around the spiritual beacons of intact faith. Even the visible, earthly Church is harder to find in the ruling chaos surrounding Her. As we enter the period of Passion Week of human history, we can only observe what is happening. In our weakness we are not able to prevent the end of time.

But we remember that the historical birth of Christ occurred in almost the same kind of impenetrable night, during a time of captivity, apostasy and national poverty, when prophecies were silent, and the priesthood and leaders of the people had degenerated into Pharisees and scribes. The Incarnation of God pierced the surrounding spiritual darkness as the saving beam of a lighthouse during a storm of complete destruction. Suddenly a guiding star was revealed to travelers astray. A highly anticipated door of freedom, was suddenly flung open, leading out from the crude and hateful prison!

If we are with God, then we have nothing to fear! I urge you, my dear ones, to spiritual renewal by the current Nativity of Christ! May it shine in every heart with the unwaning light of Divine wisdom! So that we, despite of the fallen and sinful world, together with the entire Holy Church, would exclaim in a single triumphant voice: O Life-Giver, Christ our God, glory to Thee!

+ Metropolitan Agafangel
Odessa, Nativity of Christ, 2014-2015.

Russian original

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

On sins of the tongue

On the conduct of a pure heart
tihon-zadonsky-3.jpgTreat every man not with flattery, but simply, just as you do yourself. As you appear to him outwardly, be so inwardly as well; and what you say to him and what you have on your lips must be in your heart also. For flattery and treachery are the works of pestilent people, and the devil lives in their heart teaching them flattery and treachery so as to deceive us.
Keep, then, from treating your neighbour craftily and treacherously, lest you give place to the devil in your heart, and lest he overcome you and take you captive.

By no means offend anyone
Be extremely careful not to offend anyone in word or deed, for it is a grave sin. When someone is offended, God, Who loves the man, is also offended, for there can be no offending man without offending God. Whoever sins against a man, also sins against God. This is a serious matter, as you can see for yourself. And when you offend your neighbour, straightway humble yourself before him and beg forgiveness of him with humility, lest you fall under God’s just condemnation.

Do not pry into other people’s affairs
Keep from prying into other people’s affairs, for such prying gives occasion for slander, judgement and other grevious sins. Why do you need to be concerned about others? Know and examine your own self.
Recall your own past sins and purge them with repentance and contrition of heart, and you will not look at what other people do. Look often into your own heart and examine that most ruinous evil hidden there, and you will have sufficient material for investigation. For we can never examine our heart without knowing precisely that every evil is contained in it.
This investigation is profitable to you, for it gives birth to humility and to fear and watching over one’s own self, and to sighing and prayer to God. But examination of the sins of others is the beginning of every iniquity and it is a curiosity hateful to God and man. Then guard yourself against it.
St Tikhon of Zadonsk (18th century)

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Metropolitan Agafangel
First Hierarch of the Russian
Orthodox Church Abroad

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Bishop John of Melbourne
Vicar bishop of Australia

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