On the second Sunday after Easter the Christian Orthodox Church traditionally commemorates those fearless, faithful women who stood at the Cross of Christ, who were the first to behold the empty tomb and meet the Savior risen from the dead. Their example has ever been an inspiration for every Christian personally, as well as for the deep homage paid to the “weak half” of humankind.
Patriarch Kirill, upon celebrating Divine Liturgy in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in downtown Moscow, addressed the people with a sermon, recalling the bygone Communist years:
“...We turn our eyes to the relatively recent past of our nation. Of course, the young do not remember and do not know what happened at that time, but older generations remember and know everything very well: it was impossible for anyone with a more or less prominent position in society to openly practice religion... And at that time it was mostly women who filled the churches, just as at the cross of Christ there were only women.
Amazingly, the disciples who had seen His miracles, who had been so close to Him - all ran away. Only St.John the Evangelist remained – the youngest and the least experienced in life. But the women, those who we commemorate today, stood by Him!
The Patriarch spoke then about fear, that sort of feeling which has become so common these days, a ruthless commander of hearts and minds of millions of our contemporaries:
…Those women were not afraid of the hooting of the crowd, they were not trembling for their lives. Their husbands were afraid, but the wives were not, and they brought the energy of prayer into the Russian Orthodox Church, a Church of many millions, which in their person was not afraid of the persecutors.
Therefore we shall never forget, – just as the Church does not forget the women of the Gospel which brought the myrrh to the tomb of Christ – our Christian Orthodox women who in the difficult atheistic times did not turn away from the Holy Church… They confessed their faith and kept it alive for you and me. Today is also their feast day.
These women, both ancient and modern, help us to perceive that true faith casts out fear. Belief in Christ can make you fearless, and despite any reason for fear, you will follow Him all the way… So let me give thanks today to all our Orthodox Christian women who have kept their faith to the Lord, who are raising their children and grandchildren in the faith, who remain close to Christ even when many people do not understand their position in life.
Today our special prayer for Orthodox Russian women, for mothers, for wives, for sisters – for all those who in many ways define the face of modern Orthodox Russia. May the Lord give you all the strength, first of all, to remain faithful to Christ and ready to be with Christ to the end, even if it requires standing near the Cross of the Lord. And God grant that this strength, which helped to bear witness to the Savior through the most difficult periods of our national history, may be preserved in the hearts, in the souls, and in the minds of our myrrh-bearing women, the Orthodox women of the Russian Orthodox Church of the twenty-first century.
Below is the full video recording of the Patriarchal sermon in the Cathedraal of Christ the Savior on the Sunday of the Murrh-bearing women.