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Metropolitans Hilarion of Volokolamsk and John of Dubna celebrate Divine Liturgy at the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Paris

Metropolitans Hilarion of Volokolamsk and John of Dubna celebrate Divine Liturgy at the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Paris
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15 February 2022 year 11:05

On February 13, 2022, the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, and Metropolitan John of Dubna, head of the Archdiocese of Western European Parishes of Russian Tradition, celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of the Archdiocese in rue Daru in Paris.

Vicar Bishops Simeon of Domodedovo and Elisey of Reutov, as well as the clergy of the Archdiocese of the Western European Parishes of Russian Tradition concelebrated.

The liturgy was celebrated in Church Slavonic and French.

After the service, Metropolitan Hilarion addressed the congregation with a homily:

“Today we have heard the Parable of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Publican and the Pharisee. Every time when we hear it at the liturgy, we understand that Great Lent will come soon because it is through this Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee and then the Parable of the Lost Son that we will hear the following Sunday, the Lord reminds us of repentance, of what our prayer should be and how we should come to stand before God.

“The Pharisee, who came to the temple to pray, did nothing wrong. On the contrary, he was an exemplary man according to the standards of that time. He fasted two days a week unlike we do, for a on those two day he did not eat, nor drink fr om down to sunset. He paid a tenth not only from what he should according by Judaic law, but also from all his property. In short, he was a very proper and pious man. And he came to God to give an account and say: I am doing everything properly, not like others - robbers or publicans, like the one standing here. I am not like him. And the publican did not enumerate his merits, he uttered only one short phrase, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Lk. 18:13).

We can see two men who came to God to pray. None of them proved to be justified more than the other was. In His parable, Christ does not assert that God condemned the Pharisee and justified the Publican - He says that the Publican was more justified than the Pharisee was. It means that the Lord accepts every prayer even if it is accompanied with conceit or pride, like the Pharisee’s was. Even if it is a prayer of a person who condemns others, the Lord still hears it.

In order to be fully justified and healed from our sins, we should pray and feel ourselves as the Publican from the Parable did. We are called not to look at the other, not to compare ourselves with the other, as the Pharisee did, not to say, I am better than that one in something, I am better than the other one in something else. We should take a good look into the depth of our hearts and see wh ere our sins and passions are rooted, what weak points we should rectify; we should continuously test our conscience. The Sacrament of Confession is there for it.

Coming for confession, many of us ask ourselves, and sometimes the confessor: Is it worthwhile for me to make a confession if every time I say the same thing at the confession? We should say one and the same thing because we repeat the same sins. It takes years and sometimes decades to get rid of a sin, and sometimes one exerts every effort but fails to get rid of a certain sin at all.

Sins are like diseases: one disease goes off quickly, while another one lasts long. One disease is healed easily, while the other one persists for years making one to live with it. Overcoming the pain, one does what is necessary, engages in professional or other activity with the disease continuing living in him or her. Just as sins: they live in us, we are battling with them and sometimes we manage to combat and overcome them.

“The example of the Publican shows to us how we should treat ourselves, those around us and God. Our attitude to ourselves should lie in taking no notice of our own virtues, and if we have something good in ourselves, we should ascribe it to God Who has given us the conditions in which we could do something good. The Lord calls us to eradicate evil designs, evil deeds, evil actions from our soul, from our heart, without looking at others and compare ourselves with them.

“Every time when we come to God to stand before Him in prayer, we are called to feel ourselves as St. Paul did. He wrote, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst” (I Tim. 1:15). This is not a pious rhetoric, as St. Paul really felt being the first of sinners despite the fact that he spent all his days in prayers, feats and missionary efforts. He travelled, wrote letters, preached, exhorted while considering himself to be the first among sinners because he did see his sins and did not compare himself with others.

“The Lord calls us to self-analysis. He has given us a special time of the year - the days of Great Lent, when we can scrutinize the depths of our own soul, hear the voice of our conscience, clean ourselves spiritually and physically in our preparation for the feast of holy Pascha - the Bright Resurrection of Christ”.

The DECR Chairman cordially greeted Metropolitan John of Dubna and his concelebrants, expressing joy over the opportunity to celebrate with him in the historic Cathedral of the Holy Prince Alexander Nevsky with a blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

In his response, Metropolitan John stressed the importance of the DECR Chairman’s visit to the center of the Archdiocese of Western European Parishes of Russian Tradition in consequence of its restored unity with the Mother Church. In the acknowledgement of the ecclesial-diplomatic and theological work of His Eminence Hilarion, he presented him with the Archdiocese’s award - the Order of the Holy Prince Alexander Nevsky.

DECR Communication Service/

Version: Russian