Watch a sermon by Father Pimen Vlad in which he tells us about one of the greatest virtues, which today, however, is missing from most of us: hope in God.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen!
Beloved believers, as the father said, I did not plan in advance to get here. The Mother of God arranged for me to be here, next to you. We remember that 8 days ago it was the Transfiguration of the Savior. And we remember what the Holy Apostle Peter said: “It is good for us to be here!” Similarly, it is good for us to be in the Lord’s House, because nowhere is better than in the House of the Lord.
What happens in the House of the Lord, especially during the Holy Liturgy? Heaven descends to Earth. The Savior, the Mother of God, the Holy Archangels and Angels and all the Saints descend here in our midst. We are filled with grace when we participate in the Holy Liturgy, even if sometimes our mind is not always present in the church.
But our presence in the church is like…, to make a comparison, like a man who enters a perfume shop and, even though he doesn’t buy anything, when he gets out of there he smells like perfume. So is God’s grace, if sometimes we are more scatter-brained, more tired, more inattentive, yet God’s grace comes upon us, even if we don’t realize it. That is why we should try to attend the Holy Liturgy as often as possible because it has great meaning for us and we benefit greatly from it.
You see, during a week we run around with worries, with everything else, for the physical part, for the body, a body that in a few years, sooner or later, we’ll leave in the grave. But the soul, which is immortal, shall return to where it came from, to God. That’s why let’s also take care of it and let’s not lose it, because the soul is meant for eternity, not for a day or two.
And Father Cleopa said beautifully: “After we pass beyond, if we didn’t arrive where we should all end up, in Heaven, in the Kingdom of God, but we reach beyond to torments, the greatest torment is despondency, because we know this is for eternity. And if an angel came then and said: “Look, once a year I will come down to Earth to get a grain of sand, and when all the sand on Earth will be gone I’m going to get you out of here.” Then you have [a little] hope. But there is not even this hope.” That’s why it’s not worth losing eternity for a few years spent here on Earth.
You also heard today at the Holy Gospel [what happened] when the Apostles went by boat on the sea and it was a storm on the sea. That’s how we are in this world, in the storm of life. Sometimes [life] is calm and sometimes it is stormy. What did they do? They were troubled, they were frightened by the storm, but not one cried out to God. They were scared and looking around at the waves. And when the Savior showed his presence, at first [the Apostles] were afraid just like people who are far from God and at their first contact with God, when something intervenes in their life, they get afraid. But the Saviour said to them: “Fear not!” And then they calmed down. And the Holy Apostle Peter said: “Lord, command me, allow me to come to You!” And the Savior said to him: “Come!”. This is what He tells everyone: “Come, have faith, come to Me!” “Nothing bad will happen to you.”
But what did he do? He set out for the Savior. He walked on the water as on land. But seeing the storm, the winds, he got scared. So do we, we set out for God, we come to the Church, we try, maybe we confess, but if we hear something around us that this is not good, that maybe [we saw] at the news something about some priest, we immediately falter and back off, we begin to sink again into the mire of sins. And that is because we have little faith.
This also happened to the Holy Apostle Peter. He began to sink into the water. And what did he say when he was caught by despair? At the last moment, to put it like this as we also do many times… when you go to the doctor and he says [for example] that you have cancer and you have two months or three months left [to live]… what did he do? He cried out: “God, save me!” It was his last hope. And then the Savior reached out to him, caught him, lifted him up, and said: “You of little faith, why did you doubt? Why didn’t you have faith? Why didn’t you trust Me? Why because of a small temptation, you turned back, you doubted…?” And then the Savior took the Holy Apostle and got him on the boat. And the sea has calmed down. Look how beautiful, the sea calmed down. So, when the Savior enters our life, the sea calms down, that is this storm in our soul.
Our soul is like a boat that goes through storms, through waves, it is struck. But in the presence of the Savior it calms down, receives peace. Because without peace, the peace of the Savior, not human peace, we are in a constant state of fear, hopelessness, and unbelief. As we see nowadays, how through all these news on TV they try to create panic, to make people be scared all the time because the man who is panicked is gripped by fear, he no longer thinks properly, no longer prays, no longer has hope, and this brings him to the state of a vegetable, that is without will and without trust in God.
That’s why we need to have a lot of trust in God, because God never leaves us. And let’s not forget that He is at the helm, above everything, above all these temptations of the world. God is above the devil and above all and nothing happens in our life without God’s knowledge and permission.
And more than that, because it is also the fasting of the Mother of God, actually the last day; tomorrow is the Assumption of the Mother of God, let’s not forget that we have the Mother of God as our mother. She is our connection to heaven. As the Holy Fathers said: “no gift comes from God without the intercession of the Mother of God.” She is our connection. Always, when we ask for something from the Savior, He looks at His Mother: “Should I give it or not?” And she always, with her motherly love, even if we are unworthy, she always intercedes and cries for us so that God may forgive us and direct us to the right path. She is the most merciful Mother.
And because of this, in every Christian’s home should exist an icon of the Mother of God and a lighted candle in front of it. Let’s not leave the house without kissing the icon and saying: “Mother of God, help me where I am going, help me at work, help me in all this storm of life!” And when we return home, let’s thank the Mother of God that we arrived safely. You don’t know how much the Mother of God helps us!
And I remember now a little story about a family that had an icon of the Mother of God right on the outside wall of the house, painted like on a throne, in natural size. And every time they left the house they kissed the icon of the Mother of God and asked for her blessing for where they were going. This family had a little child, a little boy of about 7 years old. And seeing what his parents were doing, he did the same. He was kissing the icon of the Mother of God every time. He was calling her the Mistress of the House, thinking that if the parents respect her, it means that she is the mistress.
And he was kissing her too and then was going to play with the other children. And one of the days, they were playing on the bank of a nearby river. Because a few days before, it had rained, the water was high and it broke a bank of the river. And the child being right on the bank was swept away by the water. The other children came and called out to the parents and said: “Look, your child has been taken by the water.” And the child’s mother ran desperately to the bank of the river, the neighbors also ran, but the child was no longer there. And the mother, in her despair, started to run down, along the river. And a few hundred meters away she saw the child above the water, as if someone was holding him.
Then she called out to him: “My child, what are you doing there? How do you stay [above the water]?”
He says: “I’m fine, the Mistress of the House is holding me. ”
And the child he was brought to the shore, the mother took him in her arms, but she did not understand what the child was saying. And when she arrived home with him, crying, holding him in her arms, she asked: “My child, what did you say? How did you float above the water?” And then he pointed to the icon of the Mother of God that they had and said: “The Mistress of the house, the Lady held me in her arms and I was not afraid.”
So, you saw how the Mother of God took care of the little child? Because they had faith in her. That is why we should also have great faith in the Mother of God.
And you see that God gave us a wonderful thing: no matter how much we mistake here on Earth He gave us the chance to erase our mistakes, the sins we have committed, through the Holy Confession. You see how beautifully God has worked so that we do not walk with this weight of accumulated sins until the end of our lives, but to get rid of them, to relieve ourselves and become again “beautiful at heart”, to be able to move forward with love and strength through these waves of life. That’s why we should always try, not only during fasting, but whenever we need, to go to confession to relieve ourselves from all our mistakes.
And if we do this with faith, with repentance, God forgives everything. And all that the devil managed, maybe during many years, to gather to hinder us, in a moment, God, by what he gave to the priests, [the gift] to bind and loose, looses and erases all our sins. Do you see how good is God to us? That’s why we should try to improve ourselves a little every day. What we can, so little by little, all towards good: a good deed, a charity, a prayer for others and for us. And let’s try to do every good [deed] that we can.
And as it is written in Holy Scripture: “For I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” Let’s have mercy on everyone around us; that’s what God wants: that we have mercy. Because without mercy [for the others] we shall not receive mercy from God. That’s why let’s try to be better, with more love and with more hope in God and the Mother of God.
May the Mother of God help us and always keep us safe!
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May the Lord help us!
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