+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Last weekend the headlines on Fox News proclaimed,
American mayhem: More rioting and lawlessness in cities across US.
More than half a dozen of our cities experienced another night of rioting and lawlessness as federal buildings, police precincts and private businesses were attacked. From the pictures in the news, some of our major cities looked like battlegrounds.
And at the same time that so many of our cities are being besieged by rioting and looting, our country is in a desperate struggle against the Covid Pandemic which currently has hit over 4 million Americans and caused over 146 thousand deaths.
The majority of businesses, schools, factories and even churches have been shut down to various degrees since March 13 in an effort to stop the spread of this virus. This unprecedented shut-down of our country has resulted in record breaking unemployment and just this week it was reported in the news that the United States economy shrank more that 32%, the greatest drop in our history! Our economy is in serious trouble.
Last month we thought perhaps the virus was easing up but recently there have been large spikes of new cases in several states causing them to revert back to lock-down status to try and control the second outbreak. Many of our medical experts say that we are facing the unknown, will the virus just fade away? — Many think not but rather it is here to stay and our lives will be forever changed to some degree, but no one can say for sure.
My dear brothers and sisters, we are indeed facing the unknown with this plague that has infected our entire country and we fear what it is going to do to our way of life and our country.
But we are also facing another unknown … where will all this political unrest lead us? Where will the cancel culture, politically correct speech, defund the police and violent intolerance of differing points of view lead us?
Fear of this plague, fear of the unknown, fear of the violence and unrest in our cities, fear for the future of our country and fear for our safety is not the only thing facing us today. It is actually just the expression of something much deeper and insidious.
Hatred has spread a darkness over our land that has penetrated almost every part of our society, every school, every business, every home, every heart!
hatred of blacks against whites and whites against blacks,
hatred of homosexuals for heterosexuals and heterosexuals for homosexuals,
hatred for the police, hatred for the protestors,
hatred for Christianity,
hatred for our system of government,
hatred for our founding fathers,
hatred for the very history of our country and hatred for those who hate our history,
hatred of Democrats for Republicans and hatred of Republicans for Democrats,
hatred for people who support our president and hatred for the people who hate our president,
lies masquerading as truth and truth being twisted into whatever serves our purpose.
The list could go on and on but we could sum it all up in just this, hatred has taken up it’s ugly home in the hearts of so many American people and infected our thinking, a hatred for anyone who disagrees with what we believe the truth to be!
This uncontrolled hatred could easily lead to the destruction of our country, in fact that’s exactly what the anarchists are actually hoping for. But they have no idea what to replace it with. Hatred is irrational, it just seeks to destroy.
We have become an intolerant people and for some, this hatred has manifested itself (as hatred always does) in destruction, violence and death.
And this is real hatred, a hatred mixed with the fear of the pandemic and the fear of the unknown. A hatred that seems to have it’s roots in much more than the unjust death of George Floyd.
A hatred that has led to violence, looting, burning and killing.
A hatred that has caused gun sales to sky rocket to a 95% increase in the past few months.
This hatred is indeed real, very real and we are in the midst of it. We can’t sweep this under the rug and expect it to go away.
It has become hard for me to believe that any of our politicians have the answer. Actually, I don’t think that any of them really have the spiritual awareness to recognize what’s going on.
The darkness of hatred and fear are all around us. We are in a very real sense in a state of war and being attacked on all sides, both personally and as a nation.
The enemy, the real enemy is not racism, or the leftist movement, or the alt-right, it is not the Democratic Party or the Republican Party … the real enemy is invisible … ………….
but we see the evidence of his presence everywhere.
It is unmistakable –
violence that is called peace,
lies that are called truth,
greed that is called success,
the desire for power which is called politics.
Our country has become a spiritual battlefield and the battle has reached a fever-pitch.
Poor America, once thought of as a “Christian Country”, while certainly not perfect, it was at least a land where most people (black and white) went to church on Sunday and almost everyone openly believed in God and saw some value in trying to live a moral life. This land which attempted to be Christian … has vanished!
Abandoning our faith in God, we have become a neo-pagan land that worships sports, entertainment, sensuality and comfort.
Not recognizing our real enemy who has lead us into this darkness of hate, we suppose our enemy to be white supremacists, or black militants or Russian infiltration or Jewish money. All the while amusing ourselves with our material possessions while our abandoned churches are turned into fashionable restaurants and concert halls and we think nothing of dining on fine food beneath a stain glass window of the crucifixion …
The Gospel is no longer preached or practiced. Christianity has become irrelevant to most of us. And we can no longer discern the spirits..
Our neo-pagan country has become an aggressive land that infects much of the world with our selfish values and entertainment culture. And now we face the overwhelming darkness of hatred and fear, that we have brought upon ourselves. We have turned our backs on God and now our land is on the verge of chaos.
My dear brothers and sisters, what are we to do? How can we respond? What defense can we make for all this darkness and evil that we have allowed to infect our hearts and our country?
The only answer is to begin to turn to Christ, sincerely, with all our hearts, abandon our fantasies of a perfect world, a perfect life, a world without any kind of injustice, a life without illness or sadness, a life of perfect joy and endless enjoyment. This utopian world that the Radical Left and Marxists promise us is not for this world and it never will be!
Ask any Russian Orthodox Christian if the Marxist revolution in Russia brought peace, justice and equality to the Russian Land.
It was a failure, an absolute failure that brought about the suffering and death of millions and millions of people.
This perfect world that the Marxists entice us with can only be found in heaven with Christ and His Holy Mother and His saints.
According to the teaching of The Church and all the Holy Fathers and Saints, this present world is a place of trial, a place of preparation for that world which has no end. At one time, most Americans, black and white believed this.
The eternal truth of the Gospel is that this world is not our eternal home but a temporary place to prepare us for our true home with Christ, His Holy Mother and all the saints.
When we try to make this world perfect … we are doomed to failure! This world is not paradise and it never will be! Of course we must strive for justice, peace and brotherhood of all people but we have to be aware that this will not be achieved in this fallen world. Perfect peace and unity can only be realized in heaven. Everything we do in this world, is a preparation for the next world … eternity.
But having said that, look at the life of the saint that we commemorate today, St. Seraphim of Sarov.
In spite of the fallen world that he lived in, he achieved perfect peace and union with God and all mankind. How could such peace and unity happen in this fallen world?
Because through a life of prayer and asceticism he achieved union with Christ in this life. He transcended this life. You might say that he connected heaven and earth in his own person. He brought the eternal world to come … into this present fallen world … within himself! He gave us a taste of the peace and harmony of the eternal world that has no end.
Because Christ dwelt within him, he brought heaven down to earth. He truly loved everyone that came to him. And hundreds of people came to see him every day, some came just to look at him! Here was a man who had bridged heaven and earth. Here was a man who truly loved everyone, everyone!
Here was a man who had so died to himself, that Christ could truly live in him. Here was a man who accepted absolutely everyone, without discrimination. Everyone was welcome in his cell, everyone was heard, everyone was healed.
He didn’t give speeches about justice and equality, he lived it! And the witness of his life affected thousands! His most famous saying that is so relevant for us today is, “acquire the Spirit of God in your heart and thousands around you will be saved”.
My dear brothers and sisters, If we dared to love the way Christ did, the way St Seraphim did, then our poor country could begin to heal.
We cannot legislate love and forgiveness. Our country will begin to change when we change! This has to come from within each man and woman, nourished and cultivated by prayer and repentance.
But what are the chances of this, given that so many Americans have abandoned true Christianity and replaced it with a watered down gospel of social justice or a contemporary “feel good” version of the gospel?
Oh that we had leaders of our country who could understand this!
St. Seraphim was not at all involved in politics, he didn’t comment on any of the injustices around him, even when he himself was treated unjustly by his monastic superiors or even when he was almost beaten to death by robbers. He remained at peace, the darkness of hatred never entered his heart. In fact he insisted that the robbers who almost beat him to death and left him crippled for the rest of his life, be released!! He would not allow any charges or punishment to be put on them.
Look at the simplicity of his life, nothing complicated. Most of his early life he lived as a hermit in the quiet woods, silently praying, reading scripture, growing vegetables. But all the while growing closer and closer to Our Saviour until a union was achieved, Christ and His servant St. Seraphim began to dwell together, Christ made His abode in St. Seraphim and transformed him.
My dear brothers and sisters, whether we realize it or not, our nation has become perhaps the most corrupted nation in the history of the world. Never has there been a people like us before. Even pagan Rome can’t hold a candle to us. They had to go to brothels to satisfy their passions. Through the internet we can have any kind of passion, as much as we want and as often as we want and never have to leave our home!
Never have the passions been so nourished and satisfied as in our nation. The resulting obsessions and addictions have infected our thinking and our souls, making us susceptible to the deceptive lies and half truths of the demons.
One major deception which plagues modern man is his passionate concern with the external cause of social injustice, rather than looking inside his own soul. For it is always easier to focus on everything else except our own purification. It is always easier to look outward instead of inside ourselves at the selfishness, greed, hatred and darkness that might dwell there.
Social justice is a noble and Christian truth that we must pursue, but if it is not accompanied with purifying our hearts then it is doomed to failure.
When we cultivate the love of Christ in our hearts,
when we take up our cross and follow Him,
then and only then does His love banish all hatred and injustice!
+ Through the prayers of our Holy Father Seraphim, O Lord Jesus Christ Our God, have mercy on us.