Moscow, April 11, 2017
On Lazarus Saturday, April 8, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, celebrated the rite of apostates returning to the holy Orthodox Church. On this day, sixty-three people renounced paganism, sectarian errors, and false schismatic beliefs, in Moscow’s Church of the “Joy of All Who Sorrow” Icon of the Mother of God, reports the press service of the Moscow Patriarchate.
As Lazarus was resurrected from bodily death, so have they been resurrected from spiritual death.
Met. Hilarion welcomed them all back into the saving enclosure of the Church, noting that, while many contemporary people doubt the existence of the devil and his machinations, those who fell away were “experiencing first-hand the work of the devil.” However, we should take courage because, “The holy Church was founded by the Lord Jesus Christ, and for two thousand years already the Church has faithfully preserved intact the teaching of Jesus Christ and His apostles, as the place of the living presence of the Lord, His Most Pure Mother, and all the saints.”
In the Church, His Eminence explained, we are united to the entire Body of Christ and all believers both past and present, and in the holy Eucharist we partake of the Lord Himself, which transforms and enlightens us.
He encouraged all those who had returned to immerse themselves in Orthodox spiritual literature, to be faithful in attending Divine Liturgy and receiving Holy Communion, and to trust in the Church to teach them rightly and guide them on the path to Heaven. He further exhorted them to “be obedient to the Church, read the Gospels every day which tell about the life and acts of our Lord Jesus Christ, and learn to build your life in accordance with Christ’s evangelical commandments.”
Work with people who have fallen away from Orthodoxy is carried out in the Moscow church of the Joy of All Who Sorrow Icon of the Mother of God by the Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Non-Traditional Religions in memory of A. S. Khomiakov. Currently the center is led by the church’s cleric priest Eugene Tremaskin. Preparatory talks are conducted for a few months before celebrating the rite of uniting to the Orthodox Church of sectarians and schismatics desiring to return to the true faith.