On the day of the memory of St. Sergius of Radonezh, October 8, 2023, at a fraternal meal at the end of the Divine Liturgy in the Holy Trinity Sergius Lavra, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia addressed the monastics:
"The example of the Holy Trinity Sergius Lavra should remind each of us how our pious predecessors understood their ministry. They fought for their country, for their people, for its unity, and if necessary, even fired guns. Fortunately, we don't need to shoot guns now, but how important it is today to work for the unification of our people, for the consolidation of our society!
Some go into the shadows, considering what is happening in the world is not their business: they say, I pray in a cell, and that's enough. But after all, the Monk Sergius prayed in his cell, however, remaining an elder, a prayer book, a hermit, took a courageous civil position and blessed the holy Prince Dimitri Donskoy for the battle. So today, addressing all the monastics, I will say: of course, your first and main task is to pray. But to pray for real! Not the way we sometimes pray: they scolded the rule, defended it in the service — and that's it. Today it is necessary to pray sincerely, heartily, trusting your soul. To pray for the Motherland, for our Church, which is going through very difficult life circumstances, because indeed many forces are rebelling against us, both internal and external.
Today we all need unity. But what is the unity of the Church? The unity of the Church is unity in prayer. Unity is when each of you prays for the Patriarch, who really needs your prayers today; when each of you prays for Russia, for the President, for the army; when each of you understands that he has his own place in this struggle for the freedom of our Fatherland.
Someone will say, "Well, I don't do politics." And can you imagine St. Sergius, who, in response to the call of Dmitry Donskoy, would say with a shrug of his shoulders: "I don't do politics, you deal with Mamai yourself there"? Impossible! Because true love for the Fatherland, for the people, cannot be separated from our faith, from our Christian responsibility, if you will, from our austerity. It is impossible, hiding in a quiet cozy cell, to say: "No, no, this is not for me — I pray." How would such hypocrites not be condemned by God!
Today we should not just pray. Today we need to pray very hard, because we are going through difficult historical trials. The Patriarch feels how cold winds burn both the Church, our people, and our Fatherland. That is why I am addressing you today with a special word. Pray for the Fatherland, because it is now resisting the evil of the world. The saints are with us, St. Sergius is with us, the greatest tradition of Holy Russia is with us — and we cannot do otherwise. And we must all pray, we must educate our people in the deep Orthodox faith, in love for the Fatherland, in devotion to the traditions of our holy predecessors, among whom is our reverend and God-bearing Father Sergius, Abbot of Radonezh, who was not afraid to bless Dmitry Donskoy. After all, he clearly understood that this was not only a spiritual, but also a political act, but the quiet elder was not afraid, blessed and then prayed. And as a result — victory.
That's how our Church should not be afraid today, should not step aside, should not be silent. What is our participation in this universal struggle if we don't really pray? We read the rule, we count the prayer beads, but we do not pray about the most important thing — about the salvation of Russia. About the support of those forces that are today at the forefront of the struggle for the freedom of our Fatherland, and therefore for our Church. After all, if there is no free Russia, then there will be no Russian Church. There will be those who will betray from the inside, and those who will absorb from the outside.
My word addressed to you is painted in such dramatic tones, but it cannot be otherwise, because calm, serene times have passed. The time has come for the Church to be solely responsible for our people and our country. And our responsibility is primarily in prayer and in helping those who defend our Fatherland, in helping those who have suffered defending the Fatherland. And it is necessary to find a place to apply not only your prayerful power, but also your attention, your love. So that it does not happen that patriarchal volunteers go to hospitals, but monks do not go. First of all, it is the monks who should visit our wounded! It has always been like this — remember pre-revolutionary Russia. When we enter such a difficult historical period, we all need to be mobilized. Our bishops, priests, monastics, nuns — everything! Everyone should ask themselves the question: what am I doing today for our people, for our Fatherland, for the freedom of our Church?
And we will observe how you responded to the words of the Patriarch, whether the monks appeared in hospitals, among the wounded soldiers. I appeal to all monastics — if not you, then who? Sisters of Mercy—who were they? First of all, the nuns. But I also appeal to the fathers: today real help should be provided in monasteries to those who suffer. Brothers, go to the hospitals, don't feel sorry for yourself! If you regret yourself, you will lose your homeland, you will lose the respect of the people. They will ask: "And you, with the long beards, where have you been?"
Here is my word to all of you, and I hope it will spread throughout Great Russia. And I call on all of you to stay awake, realizing the historical responsibility of the Church for the fate of our people and Fatherland. Amen."
Press Service of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
Photo – Oleg Varov