I sincerely thank all of you for praying for me. I know that this prayer is daily, the whole Church prays, and, probably, without this prayer it would be impossible to carry out the Patriarchal ministry. But when they pray for me on this day, a personal day, with which the very appearance of a person in life is connected, then, I think, this prayer is heard by the Lord, and help is poured out on the one for whom they pray. And through those present here, I thank all of you now, my dear bishops, fathers, brothers and sisters, who today, all over the face of our earth, in all the fullness of our Church, have been offering up prayers for the Patriarch.
The patriarchal ministry is very difficult, a lot has been said about it, and I spoke about it before I was Patriarch when I addressed my blissfully deceased predecessor with words of greeting. But you can fully realize the scale of this service and the difficulties associated with it only when you yourself go through these difficulties and these sorrows.
There is, of course, a lot of joy. First of all, our Church, having emerged from the period of persecution, alienation from society and the state, has been living in fairly favorable conditions for more than a dozen years, and these conditions do not remain unused. I would like to express my gratitude to all our episcopate, clergy, faithful people, especially parish activists, our church teachers, ministers who attend various services in the Church, for the fact that today we all do not lose the opportunities that the Lord has given us. And I rejoice when I see the multiplication of churches and monasteries, I rejoice at the achievements in the field of education of children and youth, in the field of relations between Church and state.
After all, if these relations develop unfavorably, all the forces of the Church go to struggle, to overcome sorrows, and there is not always time to do what is necessary to save the flock. But today the conditions are favorable, and I express my gratitude to the President of our country, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, the Government, and all representatives of the authorities at the national level, and in the regions and districts, because I have quite complete information about how many important and useful interactions between the secular authorities and the Church are carried out today. good deeds.
The thought does not leave me that a certain reserve is being created for the future, because no one knows how life will develop, it is hidden from us. But now the Lord has given us such an almost unprecedented opportunity. Because even in tsarist times, when the Church occupied a privileged position in society and the tsar was considered almost the head of the Church, there was not all that there is now. As Saint Filaret (Drozdov) said, he often felt the pain of the spurs of the lord chief prosecutor digging into his body - this is the image the saint drew for the edification of all subsequent generations. It would seem that the tsar is the patron saint of the Church, and there was an official, the chief prosecutor, who was charged with steering church affairs. And there were all sorts of chief prosecutors. When Alexander I invited Prince Golitsyn to his house and said, "I want you to become an ober-prosecutor," he smiled and said: "Sire, firstly, I am a Freemason; secondly, I am an atheist - well, how will I deal with the Church?"—"Nothing, go, you will cope." Can you imagine? The Orthodox Empire — and the main official, on whom the appointment of bishops, the creation and closure of monasteries and church schools depended, was a man who openly recognized himself as non-Orthodox. If you go through our entire history like that, then there was a lot in it. But, of course, the most severe trials befell the Church after the coup in our country and the establishment of the government, which declared itself godless and inscribed the struggle with God and the Church on its banners. But after all, by the grace of God, we have gone through this!
Today is a favorable time, and all of us — the clergy, the believing people — should use this favorable time to strengthen church life. The episcopate has a special responsibility. In no case can this time be missed! Everyone should ask themselves at the end of the day: have I done everything, have I done it this way, is there anything to stand before the Lord with, or has the day passed without any good deeds, without that which strengthens the cause of God.
The responsibility is great on the episcopate, on the clergy and, of course, on all our believing people. And on this day, when I gratefully accept congratulations addressed to me, I would like to express my great gratitude to our episcopate, the clergy, all the faithful people and, of course, the monastics who have always been at the forefront of our struggle for the cause of God.
May the Lord strengthen faith in the hearts of people. May the Lord protect our Fatherland from external and internal enemies, because there are enemies both there and there, and there is nothing to hide it, that's how the human race works. Of course, on this day I will also pray for our President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, an Orthodox man, with whom an extremely useful dialogue is being carried out, aimed at ensuring that spiritual life does not remain somewhere on the periphery of public life, but that the attention of those secular people, on whom conditions depend to a certain extent, is drawn to it the existence of the Church and the exercise of its ministry.
I would like to thank everyone — both distant and close, and everyone who is in dignity, in monasticism and laypeople. And I ask you not to leave me in your holy prayers. The Patriarch performs his ministry and can really carry it out only together with the Church. And to a large extent, this cooperation and this interaction is expressed in the sincere prayer that the believing people, the episcopate and the clergy offer for their Patriarch.
May the Lord preserve the Russian land, may the Lord preserve our Church, the authorities, the army and our pious people. Many and good summers to all!
From the Word after the prayer service at the Alexander Nevsky Skete, November 20, 2023