In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!

Esteemed Brother Archpastors, Reverend Fathers,

God-loving Brothers, Sisters and Children!

The Lord, in His great mercy, has enabled us to experience the joy of the reestablishment of prayerful and Eucharistic communion between the two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church, held in the city of Moscow, the heart of our Fatherland during the days when the Holy Church sings the praises of Christ our Savior Who ascended to the Heavens. St John Chrysostom, the 1600 th anniversary of whose repose is being celebrated this year, in explaining the meaning of the Ascension of the Lord, said: “Today God has reconciled with mankind, the long enmity has now ceased and the long war has ended, now a wondrous world has appeared.”

Our reconciliation with the Heavenly Father of which the universal saint spoke is a call to our reconciliation with each other as well. We are entrusted, in the words of the Apostle, with “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18), and we cannot fulfill our duty before the Christ Ascended into Heaven, Who reconciled us with God, if we ourselves do not sow the seeds of peace and love in our relationships, if we do not soothe human passions and thereby fail to curb the fateful consequences of conflict and hatred.

The forthcoming church celebrations in our dioceses marking the restoration of the fullness of brotherly communion within the one Russian Orthodox Church, are for us, Her servants, a joyous opportunity to increase our efforts to make the grace-filled Gifts of the Resurrected and Ascended Lord be received with worthiness. That is why, in preparing ourselves to these celebrations, we must turn our minds and hearts to our perpetual task of strengthening friendship and cooperation within our Church. This means that we must strive to love one another, we must live in peace, we must with all our souls praise the Lord, Who, becoming man, showed us the example of love, humility and longsuffering, in order to edify us with His life.

I am convinced that the visit to our dioceses of the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God on the significant 90 th anniversary of its appearance, escorted by an official delegation of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Sretensky Monastery Men's Choir has special meaning, for it will serve towards the firm foundation for our effective cooperation “in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). And now, Eminent Archpastors, dear fathers in the Lord, brothers and sisters, let our joint prayers before the Reigning Icon of the Mother of God and our communing of the Holy Mysteries of Christ create within us a great miracle: may we learn to live with God, let us learn to live with each other, let us learn to strengthen our unity, to perform and carry out God's work together. And I believe that the Lord, Who endured suffering and crucifixion for us and forgiving all our sins, will help us throughout our whole lives to bear Divine Truth, to be the kind of people who will also receive consolation and help in bearing our cross from the Most-blessed Mother of the Lord, Who strengthened the Russian people with the appearance of Her Reigning Icon during their days of strife.

I beseech you all to pray before this Icon together with the visiting pilgrims, to take the opportunity to speak with them about the Church in Russia, to visit churches where the solemn divine services will be held, to hear the prayerful singing of the monastery's choir, and I wish all of you great and abundant mercies of the Lord during these celebrations. Amen.

+ Metropolitan Laurus,
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia

August 15/28, 2007
The Dormition of the Most-Holy Mother of God


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