Metropolitan Ilarion of Volokolamsk leds Divine Liturgy in Cathedral
On October 28, 2012, the 21st Sunday after   Pentecost, His Eminence Metropolitan Ilarion of Volokolamsk, President   of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate,   during a visit to the US blessed by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of   Moscow and All Russia, officiated at Divine Liturgy in Holy Virgin Protection   Cathedral in Chicago. The cathedral is the seat of the Diocese of Chicago   and Mid-America of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. 

Vladyka Ilarion was joined by His Eminence Archbishop   Justinian, Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA; His   Grace Bishop Peter of Cleveland, Administrator of the Diocese of Chicago   and Mid-America; Protopriest John Behr, Rector of St Vladimir Orthodox   Theological Seminary (Orthodox Church in America), and the cathedral’s   clergymen. Also praying at the service was His Eminence Archbishop Alypy   of Chicago and Mid-America.

After the ambo prayer, Metropolitan Ilarion addressed   the worshipers with the following archpastoral sermon:

“In today’s Gospel reading, we heard the parable   of the Lord Jesus Christ on the sower of seeds (Matthew 13:3-8). A man   went out to sow seeds, scattering them in various places: some seeds   fell by the wayside, where fowls came and devoured them; others fell   upon stony places, where they sprang up but was quickly scorched by   the sun; other seeds fell among thorns, which choked them; while others   fell into good ground, where they brought forth fruit, some thirtyfold,   some sixtyfold; some a hundredfold. This parable tells us how God’s   Word is spread throughout the world and how different people respond   to the news of the Gospel.

“Today, the Word of God is heard by all mankind,   and anyone who wishes can respond to its call. Not everyone does so,   because in some the devil steals that which he hears from the heart   of a person, for another, the cares of daily life and worldly matters   throttle the Word of God in his heart, and there are other reasons which   might hinder a person from responding to the Word of God. But always   and everywhere we can find people who thankfully accept the Gospel news,   striving not only to hear the words of the Lord, but to manifest them   in their daily lives, and to build their lives in accordance with the   commandments of Christ.

“Such are the people comprising the community of   the Church of which our Lord Jesus Christ said: “Ye are the salt of   the earth” (Matthew 5:13-14). There were not always many of them,   but these were always people ready to give up their lives to fulfill   Christ’s commandments; prepared to give up every day of their lives   for the work of God, so that the seeds of His Word continue to be disseminated   and be sown in the soil of men’s hearts. What fruit they will bear   is not for us to know, because our task is to sow the seeds, the results   will seen to by the Lord Himself.

“Here on American soil, many generations of believers   have sown the Word of God, and today the churches which have been built   in the towns and cities of the American continent are the fruits of   the saving efforts of the sowers who had even in our day followed the   footsteps of the Apostles and continue their work.

“This magnificent church is also the fruit of the   salvific work of sowing seeds by those who came here to disseminate   the Word of God and preached it not only in word, but in their very   way of life; thereby inspiring people to come here and establish church   communities.

“The American land is sown with the seeds of the   Word of God, and the ears of grain are the temples of God which now   draw thousands of people. But there are still many who are found outside   the gates of the Church, and we must do everything we can to convert   them to Christ.

“Let every one of us remember that the Lord brought   us to His Church not only so that we can save ourselves here, but so   that, in the words of St Seraphim of Sarov, thousands around us be    saved, so that not only will we turn towards the Divine Grace that comes   from the wellspring of salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ, but so that   our children and grandchildren would likewise partake of this grace-filled   spring, our friends and acquaintances, everyone we meet in our life’s   path. The Lord called us to Church in order for us to become sowers   of the Word of God, giving no thought to where these seeds may fall,   stony ground, by the wayside, among thorns or upon fertile soil.

“The American land has demonstrated that it is fertile,   that the Word of God can be sown here, and that it brings forth good   fruits. But a great deal of work must be done in order to illuminate   with the light of Christ’s truth the people of this land, so that   in preserving the Orthodox faith among our parishioners, including our   children, we pass it on to our descendants. What the harvest will bring   is known only by the Lord, for we are to sow, and He will gather. He   said: “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth”   (Luke 18:8). The answer will depend upon us, in part, upon how we labor   together, how we preach the faith in Christ, not only and not so much   by word, but by our deeds and our way of life. We are sowers and must   expect the Lord’s harvest, He Who will come and ask each one of us   why we lived, how we lived and what we left behind on this earth.

“Let us pray the Lord that He grant us strength   to sow the word of God, to be preachers of His blessed truth, let us   ask God to give us the power to be good Christians and to follow the   path which leads to the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen.”

After the end of service, Metropolitan Hilarion was   welcomed by Bishop Peter. Thanking him, the archpastor noted:

“Vladyka, your title, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk,   gives joy to our hearts, because it is a Russian title. We are pleased   with our bonds with the Mother Church, which we never denied. Sadly,   we were separated administratively and in daily life, but our hearts   never forgot Russia, nor the Russian Church. This is evidenced by the   fact that our children, thank God, speak Russian, and we hope to further   pass down our legacy in the American land.”

Bishop Peter asked the President of the DECR to relay   to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia his words   of greeting and good wishes, adding “We ask his Patriarchal prayers   and blessings for our labors and obedience.”

In memory of the divine service, Metropolitan Iliarion   gave Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral an icon of the Most-Holy Mother   of God.

After Divine Liturgy, its participants shared a trapeza   luncheon organized by the Cathedral Brotherhood and Sisterhood.

Press Service of the DECR.

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