Christ is in our Midst!
In any time of crisis, regardless of the causes that gave rise to it, the true nature of each person is revealed. It is no coincidence that people say: you know your friends in times of trouble.
A Christian, especially a pastor of the Church, is known by three qualities that the Head of the Church, our Lord Jesus Christ, designated for His disciples:
- Dwell in His word, i.e. unequivocally and unconditionally accept everything commanded by Him (John, 8, 31);
- To have love among themselves,i.e. to not base relationships on subjective human sympathies, but on the objective redemption of each of us by the Blood of Christ (John 13:35);
- Be united,i.e. without any exception to this rule to remain together in all circumstances (Jn. 17, 11).
According to these three parameters, we recognize ourselves as His disciples and as the Church - but only when we simultaneously correspond to all these three qualities. One without the other, does not work.
That is why, since the time of the Apostles, the Church has been organized as a strictly hierarchical community. History shows that those who perished for the Kingdom of Heaven and inflicted wounds on the Church, were those who made exceptions to the rules for themselves, justifying themselves by some external circumstances. The Church carefully preserves the names of these unfortunate people in order to warn future generations of Christians against irreparable mistakes. In this sense, we are like a bomb squad. Just as they can make a mistake only once, so we too, if we depart from the church-ship once, we may never return and perish there.
I would like to appeal to you, dear brothers, not to succumb to the moods of this dark time and not follow in the footsteps of those who have decided to violate the principle of unity in the Church by ceasing commemorating the name of the Primate of our Church at divine services. We have no right to judge those who have been forced to do so.
I would like to remind all of us that the founding fathers of the parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate in the United States – our predecessors – remained faithful to the Mother Church and His Holiness the Patriarch during the most difficult & troubled times of the 20th Century. During the dissolution of the American Metropolia, during criticism from that part of the Russian Church with which we reunited in 2007, and during the so-called “cold war” between Western countries and the USSR. Let us remember that it was not the Hierarchy that imposed its omophorion on our parishes, but it was in the 1970s that our parishes in the USA and Canada appealed to His Holiness the Patriarch to remain part of the Moscow Patriarchate.
And so, what? Our fathers disregarded all the hardships of their time and were not afraid to remain faithful to the First Hierarch of Moscow, but today we are beginning to be ashamed of our position? Isn't this the very time when we should unite our prayers for our Patriarch, and unite our efforts, at his call, in helping our brothers and sisters in Ukraine? How much can we do if we separate now and betray our Church?
The Apostle Paul addresses his word to us: “Everyone should understand us as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. It is required of the stewards that everyone should PROVE FAITHFUL. It means very little to me how you judge me or how other people judge me; I do not judge myself either. For although I do not know anything behind me, I am not justified by this; my judge is the Lord. Therefore, do not judge in any way before the time, until the Lord comes, who both illuminates the hidden in darkness and reveals the intentions of the heart, and then there will be praise from God to everyone” (1 Cor., 4, 1-5).
Let us preserve unity, because only in this unity can we believe that Christ in our midst, and always will be.
With brotherly love, Abbot Nikodim (Balyasnikov)