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Homily for 7/17/11 - P5 - The Royal Family

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  • Fr David Moser
    The Royal Martyrs stand as examples of the Christian life in many ways. Their devotion to God and to the flock (the Russian people) which He had given into
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 17, 2011
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      The Royal Martyrs stand as examples of the Christian life in many ways.
      Their devotion to God and to the flock (the Russian people) which He had
      given into their care shows us the truth of the words of the Gospel
      “Greater love hath no man than this, than he lay down his life for
      another”. In itself this lesson would be sufficient food for the soul,
      however, there is much more that we can draw from the lives of the Royal
      Martyrs as an example to follow. Today let us look not at the martyrs as
      rulers but simply as a family. From their family life alone there is
      much that will be of benefit. Like many families in this parish and
      elsewhere, the Royal family was a “mixed” marriage – the TsarMartyr
      Nicholas II being born into the Orthodox faith (a “cradle” Orthodox)
      while the Tsaritsa Martyr Alexandra was a convert to the Orthodox faith
      from the protestant Lutheran faith of her childhood. Neither of these
      two held their faith lightly, but for each it was a deep and firm
      anchor, a spiritual spring which watered the whole of their lives.
      Despite their great attraction to one another as youths, their courtship
      seemed doomed from the start for this very reason. As the heir to the
      throne of Russia, it was necessary that the bride of Nicholas would be
      an Orthodox Christian. However, Alexandra’s own belief was deep and
      firmly held. Initially she refused Nicholas’ proposal not because she
      did not love him, but because she loved God more and could not renounce
      her own confession of faith. It took a great deal of soul searching for
      her to come to the place where she was able to recognize Orthodoxy not
      as a repudiation of her faith in Christ, but rather as an extension of
      it. And having embraced the Orthodox Faith, she did not do so lightly
      but with her whole heart transferred her love and pursuit of God into
      the way of the Orthodox Church. She did not look back but embraced the
      Orthodox faith without reservation. In their family they successfully
      combined the rootedness of the cradle Orthodox with the zeal of the
      convert. Together they created in their family life a true “little
      Church” which could never be taken from them.

      The private life of the royal family was indeed remarkable and centered
      on their love of God. The reading of the Gospel and Epistle was a part
      of every day and the rhythm of the Church set the tone for the rest of
      their lives. They kept the fasts and the feasts strictly – even when
      doing so proved inconvenient. As the center not only of the life of the
      nation, but also the center of the social life of the aristocracy, they
      were expected to fulfill various social obligations. When those
      obligations, such as parties and public galas, fell during the fast, the
      Tsar and Tsaritsa were either absent or their presence was muted in
      keeping with the life of the Church. This withdrawal from the world did
      not always sit well with the members of their social circles and brought
      criticism from those who did not attend so closely to the life of the
      Church.

      For us, this is an example of how we should strive to order our own
      lives. Rather than take on the rhythm and expectations of the world, we
      should set as our pattern the rhythm and expectations of the Church. Let
      our homes become “little churches” filled with prayer, with the reading
      of the scriptures and other spiritual works, and with the contemplation
      of the love and compassion of God. We should strive to implement the
      fasts and feasts of the Church in our own lives, keeping the fasting
      seasons as best as we are able and even the daily Wednesday and Friday
      fasts. Remembering the feast or saint of the day, we make that
      remembrance the focus of all our thoughts and actions during the day. I
      recall meeting a man once who was traveling and who had grown up in a
      very simple, even primitive, place. But he grew up in a very pious
      household. He did not know the date but he knew the saints and ordered
      his life according to their remembrance. Therefore he would identify
      significant events (births, deaths, baptisms, marriages and so on as
      well as national and international events) by saying that these occurred
      on the feast of this saint or that saint – but he had no idea of what
      the calendar date might have been. For him the calendar of the Church
      was his only calendar. The rhythm of the Church was in fact the rhythm
      of his own life. So also should it be for us that our lives are shaped
      and ruled by the life of the Church.

      Although the royal family was the most wealthy, most powerful family in
      all the world at that time, they did not indulge in the excessive
      comforts and ease that could have easily been theirs. At home, they
      lived simply in accordance with the Gospel and strove to give charitably
      to those who were impoverished. This is something that we, in our
      society today, should take to heart. In our society, we have access to
      comforts far beyond those even dreamed of by the Tsar and his family. We
      take for granted a measure of ease and comfort that would have been
      extreme indulgence. Like the Tsar Martyr and his family we should also
      strive to set aside this measure of ease and comfort that comes so
      easily to us and instead choose to live simply, with fewer possessions
      and indulging our wants to a lesser degree. This is the daily practice
      of self denial which is the first step on the path of salvation. In this
      manner the many passions by which the world and the evil one seek to
      enslave us are weakened for we become used to simply setting them aside
      so that they do not keep up from following Christ.

      From the Royal family, we can learn about how to order our own
      families. Their personal life is an example that we can follow. We can
      learn from them that it is necessary to create in our homes a “little
      church” that mirrors the rhythm of the life of the Church and brings
      that sacred way of life in to our homes and daily lives. From their
      simplicity we too can begin to let go of the things of this life, our
      possessions, our comforts, our indulgences, our rights and privileges,
      and instead adopt a habit of self denial so that we might more easily
      follow Christ on the path of salvation. The Royal Martyrs aren’t perfect
      – none of us are – but we see that God had entrusted them with much and
      they answered well before the throne of God for that which they had been
      given. They did indeed hear the words of God, “Well done thou good and
      faithful servant, enter thou into the rest of your master.”

      --
      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Website: http://stseraphimboise.org
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