Primate: Not everyone should be a monk, but everyone should seek holiness
The Venerable Fathers of the Kyiv Caves are an example of the level of holiness any person can achieve, noted His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry.
Not everyone should be a monk, but everyone should love God, be humble, pray, fast, forgive, and endure one another. The Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kyiv and All Ukraine, said in his sermon on October 11, 2020, on the day of the Feast of Synaxis of the Venerable Fathers of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, who rest in the Near Caves, reports the Information and Education Department of the UOC.
Referring to the Gospel parable of the miraculous fishing (Luke 5: 1-11), His Beatitude recalled the humility of the Apostle Peter, which the Kyiv-Pechersk Fathers teach us too, according to the UOC Primate.
“Once a saint said that monks are dry stakes that support a grapevine,” Met. Onuphry said. “Whoever has a vineyard knows that a special construction is needed to prevent grapes from falling onto the ground: if they fall, they will not bear fruit. In the Church, monks appear as such dry stakes; they seem to mean nothing, but without them a vineyard will not bear fruit. Why is that? Because monks are keepers of the purity of the faith. They show an example of the perfection that people can achieve, an example of the kind of life that a person should pursue on earth. <...> Dry stakes support the grapevines of the Holy Church of Christ and help to bear fruit pleasing to God."
According to the Primate, not all people should be monks, but "everyone should be humble, should love God, their neighbor, pray, fast, forgive each other, endure each other, and hence work for holiness."
An example of the level of holiness a person can achieve is shown to us by the Venerable Fathers of the Kyiv Lavra, added the Archpastor.
“We often find excuses for ourselves by saying that something hurts us and ‘that's why I cannot fast and pray’, but this is a hollow excuse,” he stressed. “Perhaps, we cannot pray like the Monk Anthony, but each in their own measure must get oneself to pray, even if something hurts or there is some inconvenience. Because prayer is the soul for a spiritual person. If there is no prayer, then the soul dies. Prayer nourishes our soul."
The Primate offered some guidance on what to start with in order to accustom oneself to continual prayer.
“Let the prayer be small at first, but it should be,” he noted. “Once we wake up in the morning, we should cross ourselves, come up and stand in front of the icons, read ‘Our Father’ prayer three times, ‘Theotokos Virgin, Rejoice’ three times, the Creed once – and this is already a small prayer. With time a person should read morning and evening prayers in the Prayer Book and then grow further to start reading the Gospel and the Psalter. Subsequently, we get used to constant prayer. Wherever we go, we should read the Jesus Prayer: 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!' By doing so a person gradually gets used to prayer, which is spiritually rewarding."
His Beatitude Onuphry reminded that through prayer God gives a person grace, which helps to overcome difficulties of our earthly life and achieve salvation.
“May the Lord help us, dear brothers and sisters, to be at least a little like Saint Anthony and all the saints we honor today, to develop an ability to pray and fast, to do good deeds, to forgive each other and humble ourselves before God and before people. Because humility takes away power from dark forces. <...> This is the only virtue that makes a person free, even if one is entangled in the devil’s net. If we keep good work, we will be dignified to become partakers of eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven,” concluded the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
As the UOJ reported, on October 11, 2020, the Synaxis of the Venerable Fathers of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, who rest in the Near Caves, was celebrated at the Kyiv Lavra.