On the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee 2013 His Grace Archbishop Vladimir visited the parish of the Royal Martyrs in Toronto where he ordained Subdeacon Dimitry Mercushev to the diaconate.
During his sermon Vladika tied the parable of Zaccheus to that of the Publican and Pharisee explaining that in these pre-Lenten days we must personalize these teachings of Gods’ forgiveness, given through humility.
Vladika spoke further of the absolute importance of prayer in our lives and the types of prayer, ranging from prayers of repentance to prayers glorifying God. Vladika reminded us of the teachings of the holy fathers; that our prayer cannot ascend to God while we are tied with the heavy chains of sin and the passions. For this reason prayer must begin from repentance as given us in the prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian "…. Oh Lord my God grant me to see my own sinfulness…).
Vladika concluded in congratulating Fr. Dimitry on behalf of the clergy and congregation. He wished him above all to hold to the truth - to hold to what we have been given by our forebears of ROCOR in the words of the Apocalypse, "Hold that fast which thou hast" (Rev 3:11) and St. Philaret the Confessor - to hold this treasure of the Orthodox faith without any blemish of Sergianism, Ecumenism or Modernism.
[Editor’s note : After St. Philaret’s repose, the following message was found in his typewriter. No date was indicated, but one must conclude that it was typed within a few days of his peaceful repose. For all us, his spiritual children, it is his spiritual legacy, a reminder for us to live as true Orthodox Christians. Let us all, good handmaidens and servants of our Holy Orthodox Church, never forget to pray for the memory of our most beloved blessed Metropolitan Philaret.
Metropolitan Philaret’s message:
"Hold that fast which thou hast"
These words from the Book of Revelation [Rev 3:11] have a particular significance in our time, our greatly sorrowful and wicked days which are full of temptation. They remind us of that priceless spiritual treasure that we possess, as children of the Orthodox Church. Yes, we are rich. This spiritual wealth is that which the Holy Church possesses. This is the wealth which belongs to all her faithful children... The teaching of the Faith! Our wonderful, salvific Orthodox Faith! The countless living examples of the lives of people who have lived according to the Faith and according to the lofty principles and laws which the Church sets before us. Those who have attained that spiritual purity and exalted state that is called sanctity, the beauty and magnificence of our Orthodox divine services, and a living participation in them through faith and prayer. The fullness of the spiritual life of grace which is accessible to each and every one. And, what is the crown of all, the unity of the children of the Church in that love Of which the savior said: "By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another" [John 13-35].
Vladika also reminded us of how the first Christians struggled for salvation through great effort through thousands of prostrations and bodily deprivation. If we then, living in the eschatology of Christian times cannot maintain our faith if nothing more; how then will we answer before God? For this reason Vladika wished the newly ordained Fr. Dimitry and us all to struggle zealously for the truth and for God.
Many years to Vladika and Fr. Dimitry!
(Submitted by a participant of the feast)