Archimandrite Tikhon (Agrikov; †2000) was a monk and well-known father confessor of the Holy Trinity St. Lavra, as well as a respected instructor at the Moscow Theological Academy and Seminary, who entered the Lavra after World War II. Because of renown among the faithful, Fr. Tikhon was persecuted by the Soviet authorities in the 1960s and forced to leave his beloved Lavra. After that he lived the eremitic life in the Caucasus Mountains and in Transcarpathia. At the end of his life he was the priest of a parish church outside of Moscow, in which he reposed during the All-Night Vigil service on November 15, 2000. His last words were: “Glory to Thee Who hast shown us the Light!”
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!
Beloved brothers and sisters! We greet this day of the commemoration of St. Sergius here, in his holy monastery. St. Sergius has brought us together here for this solemnity so that we would honor and glorify him… But he has also called us here to ask us, how do we live, how are we being saved, how do we bear our various difficulties in life?
When St. Sergius was laboring in asceticism on this land, all Rus’ came to him for counsel, for a blessing; all sought the opportunity to see him, to talk with him, and receive some instruction and fatherly affection from him. And we also have gathered from all different places, we have come for help and blessing; and there are so many of us that we can not all even approach him to venerate his holy relics. Do not sorrow over this, my dear ones. In former times on this day thousands of people gathered here, so that it was very crowded not only in the churches but outside them in the courtyard, and people stood on the monastery walls, filling everything around. Once, far from the Lavra, beyond its walls, an old man stopped. He had come from a distant place, wearing bast shoes, with a knapsack on his back, and he stood there praying. Someone said to him, “Grandpa, you’ve labored for nothing walking here… There are so many people that you won’t be able to approach the Saint for anything, you won’t see him.” “No, my little dove,” replied the old man with tears, “I haven’t walked here in vain. If I don’t see the Saint it is no disaster; the main thing is that he, St. Sergius, sees me,” and the old man again poured tears of joy and contrition.
Archimandrite Tikhon (Agrikov) Beloved brothers and sisters, I must say to our consolation that the Saint not only sees us, he even reads our minds. After all, in the depths of our souls, in each one of us there is so much hidden, so many problems, disappointments, and sorrows both personal and familial, at work and in society; and St. Sergius knows all of this, he sees it and he helps us. He is the Abbot of all Russia, and he hears us not only in the Lavra, but everywhere we might be—no matter how far away, be it Siberia or the Donbass—he is close to everyone, and his memory is alive in the people. And testimony to this is his holy reliquary with his incorrupt relics, left to us as a guarantee that he abides with us as an inexhaustible source of healing and consolation to which the constant flow of people cannot be stopped. If you ask us why we came here, since St. Sergius died long ago? How can this be that year after year, from generation to generation, thousands, millions of people come to a dead man? What for?
My dear ones! I must say to our consolation from this holy place that the Saint never died. When a great man dies people give him a pompous funeral, but a year goes by, ten years, and he is forgotten, his very name is erased from people’s memories, and no one comes to his grave anymore. But St. Sergius was a modest, humble monk. Six centuries have passed from the time of his repose; but the people keep coming to him like waves.
Scripture says that the righteous live forever (cf. Ps. 36:29). In this is our joy, that we have come to him not as a dead man, but to the living, and he receives us, hears us, and protects us in all our life’s hardships. And when you approach him, bow before his holy relics and whisper to him, whisper to him about the most important thing that pains your soul.
The Russian people have since long ago sought from the holy elders fortification, instruction, blessing, and the resolution of all our life’s problems. And you and I have come to our elder, to our father, St. Sergius, and he receives us and prays for us, lifting his arms to the throne of God. And no matter where we are, beloved brothers and sisters, call out to him for help in your sorrows and difficulties. The grace of this great God-pleaser will protect us in everything, everywhere. And with his help and blessing, we shall continue on along our life’s path.
O, forgive us, holy Lavra! We have come from distant lands to pray to you, father. Forgive us, St. Sergius, that we your sinful, disobedient spiritual children pester you with our sorrows and sicknesses. Forgive us, holy disciples of Sergius, because we give you no peace either with our troubles. But where can we go if not here, to the house of the Holy Trinity? Who will pity us defenseless ones in these days of sorrows and temptations?
O Father Sergius! You are our father. Taking refuge at your relics, “as if to one living, we fall down and pray... Strengthen our faintheartedness and confirm us in the faith, that we may undoubtingly hope to receive all blessings from the merciful Master... To Him be glory and dominion, unto the ages of ages.” Amen.