As part of their commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of Metropolitan Laurus’s episcopal consecration, the Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese published these homilies delivered by the newly-consecrated Bishop Laurus, and by Metropolitan Philaret.
When I have occasion to speak about how the All-Pure Virgin covered the worshippers in the Blachernae Church with her omophorion, I always point out that there were, of course, different people in this church: the pious and godly; the not very pious; perhaps some who had grown cold; and perhaps even the very sinful. But did the Mother of God inquire into this?
At one time, even fairly recently, the date July 17 in the so-called “new style,” was marked as a day of sorrow, because on this day the Russian people and the Russian diaspora remembered the great evil act when the Royal Family was brutally killed in the basement of Ipatiev House.
When he was still a young man in Harbin, the equally-spiritual monastic, hieromonk Methodius (Yogl), noted perceptively that we all stand up for prayer, but Vladyka John does not need to stand, he is always in a prayerful mood…
Now, if the Christian, who is ascending upon this ladder of spiritual perfection by his struggles and ascetic labours, ceases from this work and ascetic toil, his soul will not remain in its former condition; but, like the stone, it will fall to the earth. More and more quickly will it drop until, finally, if the man does not come to his senses, it will cast him down into the very abyss of Hell.
The time has come when mankind has been consumed with activities which displease God, in which the Enemy of mankind reigns, and, as they said in old days, this Enemy makes everyone dance to his flute. This fuss and bother, which envelops our daily lives, is distasteful to God, and God is absent from it, and the Enemy of God is master and ruler of it. If we gave the promise to renounce Satan and all his works, then we must fulfill it, and try not to crush our souls with daily cares, remembering what the Church teaches: “there is one thing needful,” only one thing necessary—to remember that we must unite ourselves with Christ, that is, not only fulfill His commandments but to try to unite with Him.
The Holy Spirit is an immaterial fire: the light of faith, the warmth of love, the tongues of fire that speak in the heart of God’s Law. He awakens us from the world’s charms, leads us to hope in God, and encourages us toward repentance. If we do not prevent His action, He directs us along the narrow path of self-denial. Grace transforms everything it touches into a priceless treasure.
The Russians like to call Saint Nicholas “Nikola the Merciful” because his miracles are as numerous as the stars of heaven. I would like to remind you of one touching miracle that shows his mercy. This did not happen once upon a time, long ago; it happened in our time, in the city of Harbin [China], where I lived for over 40 years.
The Church, telling us today about this miracle of the Savior, at the same time chants in the person of each of us: “Blind with my spiritual eyes, I come to you, O Christ, like one born blind.” Not long ago we prayed to our Lord intensively: “Grant that I may see my own sins.” If we ask to see, to be able to see our sins it means we cannot see them as well as is needed. This is because our “spiritual eyes” are blind.
So it is also in the spiritual life. As a Christian gradually ascends, the force of spiritual and ascetical labours lifts him on high. Our Lord Jesus Christ said: "Strive to enter in through the narrow gate." That is, the Christian ought to be an ascetic. Not only the monastic, but every Christian. He must take pains for his soul and his life.