May 30, 2024

True Orthodox Diocese of Western Europe

Russian True Orthodox Church (RTOC)

A Sermon of Bishop Philaretos at the Consecration of the Temple of the Monastery of St. Nectarius in Cetateni, Arges County, Romania

6 min read

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!

In the book of Revelation, in the 21st chapter, we read:
“I, John, saw the holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a Bride adorned for her Husband. And I heard a great voice out of Heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them.”
Today, starting with a procession with which we circled this holy temple three times, we separated this building from other places and we offered it unto God so that He may make this place we stand in now His holy tabernacle.
If the holy Patriarch of the Old Testament Jacob, as we see in the book of Genesis, was afraid because he found that God was in that place where he had rested, and he knew it not; and exclaimed “how awesome” was the spot which was “none other than the house of God,” “and the gate of Heaven;” Is it possible for us to approach an Orthodox temple dedicated to God with less feelings of veneration and awe? Is this not “the House of God?” Is it not worthy to be called the “gate of Heaven?”
And are we not being made worthy to behold with our spiritual eyes the Heavens opened, and “the Angels of God ascending and descending,”—and “the tabernacle of God” come to be “with men.”
If Moses “exceedingly feared and quaked” at the ark of the covenant which was holy, but yet an image or figure of more sacred things to come: shall we not feel something of the same awe when we live and are brought near while still in the flesh, as the Apostle states, “to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” These mysteries experienced by the Old Testament Forefathers in shadows and types are now revealed to us in their fullness – truly lived and experienced by us in Christ’s Holy Church.
In the book of Ezekiel in chapter 37 we read, “But I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their God.”  
God tells His people that he will take them out of dwelling places in which they have sinned and thus place them elsewhere. These ones will become the cleansed people of God and He will then be their God. The truth is we must worship as God wants, not as we want.  We must be taken out of dwelling places in “which they have sinned” by not preserving the teachings of the Holy Church.
Why is this holy house that we consecrated today needed? Certainly to serve the Lord as the Lord Himself desires.  The book of Leviticus tells us, “These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons” (Leviticus 23:4).  Today, though, it is not enough to only keep the feasts of the Lord in their seasons, to simply keep the Orthodox calendar, to be simply the “Church of the Old Style”.  Today, we must have an Orthodox ecclesiology and a Holy Synod of right-believing bishops with a truly Orthodox faith.
Our times have changed.  There is much deception even in supposed “Church” circles. We have seen in most places where there were once pillars of True Orthodoxy that only lies have remained.
So we must let go of everything that is perishing or has perished and reach out to that which still imparts life.  In the time of Christ, the Judaeans and the Samaritans had a  dispute concerning where God was to be worshiped.  In the Gospel according to St. John, chapter 4, our Lord, God, and Saviour Jesus Christ says to the Samaritan woman, “Believe Me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain (Mount Gerizim) nor in Jerusalem. …But a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such as these to worship Him. God is Spirit, and His worshipers must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”  This TRUTH is the beliefs that the Church has always believed.  As Christ says, the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church.  So the Church which is only and always in the Truth shall always exist somewhere.
What will this Holy House be for us?  We can find the answer in 2 Chronicles chapter 7:
“Then the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice.  When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place.  For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually….Then I will establish the throne of your kingdom, as I covenanted with David your father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man as ruler in Israel.’ “
We pray that what we read in 3 Kingdoms chapter 8 shall be applicable to this temple we just consecrated:
“When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, and when they turn back to you and give praise to your name, praying and making supplication to you in this temple, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to their ancestors.”
Will all accept to be corrected?  Of course not.  In the 9th chapter of the Book of Proverbs, we read: 
“Forsake foolishness and live,
And go in the way of understanding.
He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself,
And he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself
Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;
Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning”
So we await those who are wise and seeking to be wiser.
At the vespers of the Feast of the Consecration of the Temple of the Holy Sepulchre, we sing “Consecrate and make new, brethren, setting aside the old man, existing in newness of life, putting aside every binding from which death comes, controlling our parts, and hating every evil eating of the tree, let us consecrate the new man just as we celebrate the consecration today.” This is what we also seek today.  Not just in words, but in actions leaving behind every denial of the Faith and standing in all truth.
Be consecrated, be consecrated, O New Jerusalem, for thy light is come and the glory of the Lord hath risen upon thee. This house hath the Father built, this house hath the Son made steadfast, this house hath the Holy Spirit inaugurated, who enlightens and establishes and sanctifies our souls. This holy house has become a consecrated beacon of the Kingdom of God on earth. And we are all called today in this place which is now separated from the foolishness of this world, to re-consecrate ourselves and with an enlightened face chant hymns to our Master from the bottom of our hearts.

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