|Icon of St Philaret (work of Bishop Akakije)|
Sermon Given by His Grace Bishop Akakije at the Hierarchical Liturgy at New Stjenik Monastery on the Feast of Our Holy Father Philaret the New Confessor
December 1 (OS) / 14 (NS)
The 20th Century was, without a doubt, one of the most difficult periods in Christian history and the Orthodox world.
This was the century in which the mystery of iniquity won a great victory after which the Apostasy made apocalyptic progress.
He who restrained the mystery of iniquity was taken away, as the Holy Apostle Paul spoke of in his Epistle to the Thessalonians . The Orthodox Autocrat was taken away – the Anointed of God – the Russian Tsar!!! The dam was destroyed and against the Church of Christ dashed the relentless wave of apostasy: Renovationism, Sergianism, New-Calenderism, and in the end, the pan-heresy of Ecumenism. The vehemence of the persecution of Orthodox Christians who remained loyal to the Truth of Christ and the patristic traditions exceeded that of the Christians of the first centuries. The Russian Church was adorned by the assembly of new martyrs and confessors who witnessed for their Orthodox faith with their blood, suffering, and martyrdom. Their example inspired the Russian Catacomb Church, as well as the Russian Church Abroad. On the only cloudless patch of sky shone this beautiful star – Saint Philaret, the great champion and zealous confessor of Holy Orthodoxy. The saint of God Philaret was an ardent apostle of the Gospel of Christ, a wise teacher of Christian faith and life. Most importantly, he not only taught, but lived Holy Orthodoxy and uprightness. He is a true example of love, humility, forgiveness, chastity, and mercy. He was also great in his love for his fatherland, Russia, which was destroyed by fierce godlessness. He exposed god-haters and their servants, the false pastors of the Moscow Patriarchate.
He steered the church ship with a firm hand and a merciful heart, caring for her good order, purity, and stand in the Truth. Saint Philaret supported all the zealots of True Orthodoxy throughout the world. He supported and helped the martyric Catacomb Church in Russia, as well as the Greek Old Calendar Churches. He exposed the injustice of heretics when the pan-heresy of ecumenism penetrated deeply into the Local Orthodox Churches. He exhorted the representatives of the Local Churches to return to the confession of True Orthodoxy. Thanks to him, the Russian Church Abroad finally ceased communion with the apostates from Orthodoxy and Her Hierarchical Synod decreed the terrible anathema on the pan-heresy of ecumenism in 1983. The Russian Church Abroad, because of all these things, became a center of True Orthodoxy for the entire world, so that many of different nations fleeing apostasy and desiring patristic faith and True Orthodoxy found sure shelter in Her. God greatly glorified this spiritual giant with incorrupt relics and wonderworking.
Many miracles have been witnessed. We in Serbia have some witnessed some of them. Aside from many small miracles I would like to bring forward a few which especially stand out.
A small girl from Belgrade experienced kidney failure. The doctors were powerless, gave up, and were waiting for her death. At the prayers of the parents which they lifted up before the icon of the saint which hung above the bed of the sick girl, a miraculous healing took place. The physicians were astonished.
There was also the healing of a severe wound after the anointing of oil from an oil lamp which stood before the saint’s icon; then, the healing of a serious illness of the large intestine, the healing of a spine, and also, the most well-known, resurrection of the now-reposed Nun Ipomonija…
The sisters of this holy community, with Mati Efrosinia at its head, have experienced his near presence and grace-filled strengthening before, during, and since the expulsion from Old Stjenik.
Let us also remember the miracle of the icon of the saint which disappeared, which contains a piece from the St Philaret’s metropolitan klobuk. After the banishment , after no small period of time, when three sisters visited Stjenik to request some personal things which they had not succeeded in taking during the persecution… One of the new inhabitants of the monastery met them at the gate with the icon of St Philaret and the words that the icon belonged to the expelled sisters… It was a great surprise, because it was obvious that the saint inspired that monk to give over his icon to those who fervently venerate him.
Yes, we now respect and celebrate him with even greater devotion because his help is manifest in the re-establishment of a canonical Orthodox episcopate for the Serbian Church, and from the side of that part of the Russian Church Abroad which did not go into union with the Moscow Patriarchate, that part of the episcopacy who remained loyal to Saint Philaret! Indeed, this is a great miracle!
Saint Philaret is verily the glory of True Orthodoxy, the glory of God’s Church, and in the end, the glory of our New Stjenik Monastery. Today we have gathered in his name for this spiritual celebration so that we may, with a pure heart and delight, glorify God, Who is wondrous in His saints. May the Lord save us all through the prayers of St. Philaret!