Source: St. Elisabeth Convent
Archpriest Andrew Lemeshonok: We may find it difficult to be agile but we can at least wake up. The Lord is near. He gives us even more strength than we need. We should not waste it on sins, on bad thoughts, bad words, or daydreams, but use it to do good instead. Doing good means that we should serve and help the people around us with good words and thoughts. This is what a God-pleasing life is about. I would like to wish all of us to lead a God-pleasing life like that. If we want to do it, we have to be on the lookout for the enemy’s tricks. The sin can be cunning. It may tell a person that “that’s the way to go, it would be the right thing to do.” Does God have anything to do with justice? God only has love. I would like this Bright Easter Week to last forever but we will have to die for the sin and come alive for God for this to come true. I believe we will be able to do it because Christ has gathered, purified, sanctified all of us and gave us his love that had trampled down death. It is this love that we should be carrying with us all year round but let us begin today by not uttering a bad word, not thinking a bad thought, and by thanking God for everything and for all.
*** The Resurrection of Christ is our hope. It is more than a mere distraction; this is something that will be with me for real. My life on this Earth won’t last forever. Sooner or later my last day will come. I am blessed to have the experience and the knowledge about the fact that there is no death but there is the true life which overcomes death. Easter is not just a holiday; this is really the joy that we have and that we should live with in spite of all problems that we might have in our lives. This is why I would like all of you to go to your homes rejoicing with your Easter cakes. I wish all of us to come home from church being filled with grace and love which is so hard to find in this world. The true love does not seek anything. It does not demand anything in response. This is the simple love of Christ that we all have now. It is for this reason that the Lord has established our Church and built our Convent, so that we could learn to love one another. Certainly, this is a very difficult subject. However, our mark for the final exam that each of us will have to take when she dies and her soul comes to God, depends on how we study today. The Lord will simply ask, "Do you love Me?" We have a lot to change in our lives in order to be able to say “I love you, I want to learn to love you,” like Peter who also sinned by betraying Jesus. In order to do that we have to struggle with egotism and all the sins that dwell in us and prevent us from loving each other. I would like to wish all of you to abide in love during these Easter days.
*** There’s no law against living a good life. We Orthodox have a good and enjoyable life. Have you ever seen such beauty and sweetness anywhere? Have you ever heard chants like these? We have reached the most important point where there is no more death and where we will live forever. How will we live? If we lead a bad life, can you imagine what our eternal life will be like? It will be eternal death. This is why we should lead a good life. In order to do so we must never offend anyone, always respect other people, not judge anyone, never make anyone unhappy, and see only good things. It would be nice if we had inner peace and stood our ground. When we are led by feelings, when we are worried, anxious, and go to extremes, we lose strength and start to live badly. We live as we deserve. Someone taught his children to love and respect him, and as a result, there is peace, love, and not a single rude word in his household. On the other hand, there are people who are rejected by everyone because no one can endure them. That is why, my dear friends, we mustn’t blame anyone else for our failures. Let’s correct our lives and change them. Christ accepts each one of us into his embrace, regardless of whether we fasted or not, whether we prayed or not, whether we are good or not. He loves everyone. How can we say anything against such love?
Do not lower the bar of love to a mere “justice”. Do not reduce the expectations to the point where we begin to say who owes whom. I owe everyone. Do not trust this world that tricks you into believing that everyone lives like that and that you should conform to them. Do not follow suit. You must seek Christ and follow him. This will be the surest and the most correct path.
We have thirty-nine days of Easter ahead of us. We must rejoice during all these thirty-nine days. You hurt all over, you are deceived, no one needs you — but you must rejoice because Christ is risen. This is where the power lies. I would like us to be very strong because our Lord is strong. He is strong in his love, which does not act like human love. Humans could say, “Who deserves communion? No one.” However, God allows everyone to take communion because He loves all of us very much. Where sin abounds, grace will much more abound (cf. Romans 5:20). Priest Valery Zakharov: The Great Lent and the Resurrection of Christ are a sequence of sorrow and joy. They are the real life, the road that we have to walk here on earth in order to get prepared for the eternal life. Of course, this road is not easy and smooth, and we are not as astute as we would like to, but each one has her own measure. The measure of God’s love is infinite. We lay our hopes on this love, and we hope that it will give us the chance to make our way, to stumble along, to crawl into the Kingdom, which we anticipate as the Promised Land and the source of eternal bliss, no matter what. It would be great if we learned to share this joy with those who are around us here. I think that learning to share is the key to success. We have already learned to receive, now we should try to share what we’ve got, but be prudent in doing so. The gifts that the Lord gives are priceless. You should not cast pearls before swine but if you see that a certain person can accept what we have to say, we should say the word that will awaken her. It doesn’t even have to be a word: you can support someone, raise their spirit, and help them to get better and look at God by simply looking into their eyes or thinking or praying about them. Priest Andrew Malakhovsky: Every person is called to the Kingdom of God. Every person must try to take off and get closer to the heaven – the Kingdom of God – as his spiritual practice. This is a difficult task because one must always be like a bird. A bird cannot fly with folded wings. A bird flies until it flaps its wings. As soon as it folds its wings, it goes down. Similarly, human beings have to toil in their spiritual life all the time. May the Lord help us to realise that we cannot just fold our wings because we will fall down immediately, and the earthly cares will swallow us up and cover us entirely. Let’s remember that we are destined for the Kingdom of Heaven.