Moscow, December 24, 2019
Several times a year, a special service is held at the Church of the “Joy of All Who Sorrow” Icon of the Mother of God in Moscow for apostates who are returning to Christ in the holy Orthodox Church.
On Sunday, December 22, 50 people who had fallen away from the Church into paganism, sects, or schisms, were reunited to Christ. The service was celebrated by Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk, the Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, reports the Department’s website.
The A. S. Khomiakov Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Non-Traditional Religions that operates at the church works with people who have fallen away from holy Orthodoxy. Preparatory talks are held for several months with those who wish to reject their errors and return to the true faith before they are sacramentally reunited to Christ.
Addressing the penitents, Met. Hilarion heartily congratulated them on their return to the Church, saying, “all false teachers have one thing in common: they teach not truth, but untruth, and lead people not to the Kingdom of God, but to eternal perdition.”
Having come into contact with false teachers, the Metropolitan expressed his hope that this experience would prevent them from being deceived again, noting that even if some of the Church’s teachings seem incomprehensible now, it doesn’t mean you won’t understand them later.
“But the most important thing is to have confidence in God and the Church and to listen with humility and obedience to what the Church commands us,” he added.
“I would like to wish you to always firmly keep the holy Orthodox faith,” Met. Hilarion said. “In order not to stumble again, daily read the Holy Gospel, the interpretation of the Gospel of the Holy Fathers and modern Orthodox theologians, read the works of the Holy fathers and other Orthodox literature, and reject all kinds of sectarian literature … so that your mind will not be clouded by false teaching again.”
He also exhorted the penitents to always approach the holy chalice with repentance, humility, and faith, “and the Lord Himself will lead you on the path to salvation.”
78 apostates were reunited to the Church in April.