December 29, 2023

A Homily Delivered Nine Days After the Death of Saint John of Kronstadt

By Metropolitan Tryphon (Turkestanov)

(Delivered after the Liturgy, on Sunday December 28, 1908)

I greet you, dear brothers and sisters, on the Lord's Day and rejoice that the Lord led us all on this ninth day of the death of Father John to commemorate him and for all of us to pray for the repose of his soul. The ninth day, as I already told you, according to the rules of the Church, is especially important for the soul of the deceased: on this day the soul of the deceased stands before the Throne of the Lord to receive either justification or condemnation.

That is why the Church commands to pray on this day for the deceased. That is why today we all united in common prayer and prayed with all our hearts for the repose of the soul of dear Father John. We are all aware of this great loss, both the Church of Antioch in the person of its representatives Archimandrites Ignatius and Anthony, and many organizations dear to us in spirit in the person of their representative Archimandrite Macarius, and representatives of spiritual enlightenment in the person of Archimandrite Gabriel, and all the truly Orthodox people united here in prayer .

And not only to Russians, but also to foreigners - Father John was close and dear to everyone.

And I, contemplating this crowded gathering, seeing your prayerful disposition, especially remember how this priest prayed more than once in my krestovy house church. Isn’t it true that many of those present probably experienced some kind of bright joy, spiritual vigor? I'm sure we all experienced this when he prayed with us. There is no grief that he would not remove... There is no mental burden that he would not alleviate with one touch to the head.

We all felt some kind of spiritual cheerfulness, what a bright joy; and I will say, during our common prayer today, I also felt bright joy, rejoicing, seeing your zeal, rejoicing, seeing your prayer for the deceased; and then I will say: for Christians there is no death... and our dead - they are not dead, but alive - they constantly pray for us.

For a loving heart, death cannot be enclosed in a coffin and buried in a grave. The dead are alive in person. They express their love for the living in their prayers before the Throne of God, for both the living and the dead, and we sinners, all form one family, and we will all appear sooner or later before the Throne of God.

And we believe that we have found ourselves an intercessor at the Throne of God, who will take care of us, for from the heights of Heaven our sorrows, sufferings, temptations, wiles and snares of the devil, which the enemy of our salvation offers us on the path of life, have become even more visible to him. And now one of his conversations, found in his diary, came to mind. “When Jesus Christ was born, both earth and Heaven brought him gifts: Heaven - the praise of Angels; earth a cave; dumb animals - mangers; magi - gifts; shepherds worship Him... and us? What shall we bring to the newborn Savior?” - asks Father John. Father says: “If we love someone, if we want to give someone something, then we try first of all to find out what this person likes, what pleases him, what suits his taste. What will we bring to the newborn Lord? He Himself says: this is the commandment, the most beloved of all others: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength... and thy neighbor as thyself” (Luke 10:27). It is this love for God and neighbor that we will bring to our Creator," says Father John.

Isn’t it true that he brought complete, selfless, self-sacrificing love for God and neighbors! And it seems to me, and I am sure, that if we try to bring the same love to the Lord God and our neighbors, it will be very pleasing to our dear priest.

Then the priest said: “What does it mean to love the Lord? For the love of God, a person must give himself entirely to God, all his feelings; in the depths of my soul I must carry the Lord and exclaim to Him: 'You are my strength, Lord! You are my glory! You are my joy! Eternal peace! My life is in You... After death, You are my hope! You are my help at the judgment!'” So exclaims Father John.

Father John really had such feelings. For him, the Lord God was everything: he worshiped Him all his life; he always felt Him; for him this love was not just an empty phrase. He loved the Lord with all his heart. And we, the clergy, who were more than once present at divine services with him, can confirm that, indeed, no one, like him, felt the presence of the Lord God so clearly; it was clear how he prayed to Him, he seemed to be talking with Him: he poured out his whole soul before Him... and not only his own, but he prayed to Him for all the mourning, the sick, the unbelievers.

Further: “Love the Lord God,” says Father John. "This means: in the name of this love for the Lord God, it is necessary to challenge all unclean thoughts, try to cleanse the heart from all evil and vices. God Himself said this in the words: 'Son, give me Your heart.' It is necessary that our heart be pure and bright, that it shine with spiritual light.” Father John truly had such a heart, filled with spiritual purity. I will not be mistaken if I say that he was not only pure in heart, but even more so - he was a child who loved everyone and believed in everyone. Good people bowed before him, but false people - what to do? - they used him for their own benefit and denigrated him in every possible way.

Further, the priest says: “A person who loves God must try, with God’s help, to assimilate through prayer all that is good, to affirm in himself humility, purity of heart, love, meekness." And the priest fulfilled all this in his life, and, in particular, the crown of all virtues - love - he always had in his heart. As for prayer, he was in prayer from early morning. He did not refuse it to anyone, he laid down his soul in prayer both for himself and for others. He can say, together with the holy apostle: “Lord, if I have found grace, then tell my children to enjoy spiritual joys with me, otherwise it’s hard for me.” This prayer is not a simple ritual, but a life that connects the living with the dead.

Further, the priest says: “You must have love for your neighbors, and love for your neighbors is expressed in spiritual and material gifts. For example: to give alms, to ease someone’s grief, to help with something, to look after the sick, to comfort the grieving.”

And here the priest always showed an example of such love. In fact, how many thousands of people he has relieved, saved them from all kinds of torment. How much love he showed to the suffering, how many he healed, how many he directed to the true path, how many he gave the opportunity to alleviate their situation, how many workers he came to the aid of, how many people thanks to him began to benefit their neighbors and themselves.

These are the gifts that the late Father John brought to the newborn Christ the Savior. He commands us to fulfill His commandments.

Let us try to fulfill them: we will love God and our neighbors, we will try to do good to everyone, follow his virtues and prayers. And we believe, and we pray, and we hope that dear father will pray for us and will always be with us all in spirit.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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