While, in the following piece, Metropolitan Vitalii is addressing primarily
Russians, what he has to say is yet spiritually beneficial to those who are
not Russians, but who are nevertheless striving to live genuinely Orthodox
lives.... -- Trans.
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METROPOLITAN VITALII'S EPISTLE TO THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX PEOPLE
I address this sermon to you Russian folk. Especially to those of you who
are forced to live in some country or other of this world, which is located
at a far distance from our Russian Orthodox churches. Yet, even in such a
situation, we nevertheless should keep and preserve our traditions -- in
particular, our Faith and our language -- in our daily lives.
Let your home become your house-church. In the "beauteous" corner of your
room -- facing east, if at all possible, ([ for ] "Orient is His -- the
Lord's -- name") -- there should always shine the light of an unquenchable
_lampada_ [ = votive-lamp ] before your chief hallow -: the ikon of the
Saviour, or of the Mother of God, and of the other Saints that you
venerate. This ikon should not be tiny, but of such a size that the face
of the one depicted thereupon gazes at you, and you at it. Each and every
ikon is wonder-working in its essence, and miraculous in its activity, if
one prays before it with all one's heart.
One should always wear a cross upon one's person, and even a tiny ikon of
the Mother of God and of St. Nicholas. Upon entering your own house -- or
that of someone else who is Orthodox -- seek out the ikon with your gaze;
make the sign of the cross upon yourself, and only thereafter greet the
host and everyone else. Do all these things simply, without excessive
pains, ostentation, or full prostrations. There is always great power in
simplicity and sincerity!
At all such moments, it becomes clear to us ourselves, as well as to
others, that our Orthodox Faith and Church are always with us and in us.
Travelling along city-streets or roadways, do not waste precious time, but
pray silently to yourself -: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, be merciful to
me, a sinner." And if, through God's merciful kindness, you should chance
to receive the gift of prayer of the heart, then that heart of yours --
which, to some degree, is mysteriously independent of your mind -- will
pray this prayer incessantly, even if you happen to be doing something
else, or speaking with someone at the time.
Each person, created in the image and likeness of God, is always a mystery.
Our great writer Dostoyevskii said as much, declaring that all his works
are merely a weak attempt to understand man, who remains a mystery, even
unto this day.
Our Russian literary language is sanctified by the Church-Slavonic tongue
of the Divine Services, from which it stems. Pushkin was capable of
preserving this goodly principle, inserting into his speech, sometimes, but
a single Church-Slavonic word, much as a good jeweler inserts a diamond
into a golden setting. Our entire Russian culture, expressed through the
Russian tongue, holds to the Orthodox Faith by its roots. Without the
Orthodox Faith the inhabitants of Russia are turning into a
Russian-speaking nation, and the individual Russian is becoming a Russian
pagan. May the Lord help us to avoid this sorry lot.
-- Metropolitan Vitalii [ the First-Hierarch Of the Russian Orthodox Church
2/15 June 1999
Translated into English by G. Spruksts from the Russian text appearing in
_"Pravoslavnaya Rus'"_ ("Orthodox Rus'"), No. 15 (1636), 1/14 August 1999,
p. 1. English-language translation copyright (c) 1999 by The St. Stefan Of
Perm' Guild; The Russian Cultural Heritage Society; and the Translator.
All rights reserved.
(The Russian title of this sermon was added by the Editors of