The saints as our guides

Dear Friends

The saints form for us a continuous tradition throughout the centuries—they are people, like you and me, who have let the image of God they bear within them shine out: by seeing them we see God their Creator and Saviour.

Such a saint was given to us by the Lord of whom a respected theologian of our Church once said, “if he is not a saint then there are no saints.” Born in 1896 in Moscow he later found himself in France from where he journeyed to the Holy Mountain where he experienced one of the greatest blessings of his life, meeting St Silouan. His health prevented him from staying on the Holy Mountain so he later settled in a small Essex village called Tolleshunt Knights near Maldon. Here he founded his monastery, dedicated to the Holy Forerunner and Baptist John, here he repented, here he prayed for the world, here he was glorified by God.

Thou hast shewn thyself a light among divines,
full of grace and truth,
and art become a prophet of our times,
for thou hast beheld Christ the Word
and made known to us the ways of salvation.
Wherefore, O Father Sophrony,
ever pray unto the Saviour of all
that he may grant our souls great mercy.

Apolytikion of St Sophrony, 3rd mode

And his dying, a mere thirty years ago, did not mark a separation from us—for, although he died he lives. Death cannot hold him because Christ has defeated Death’s power.

And I look and I consider, and I think that I cannot be holy as our beloved St Sophrony was holy, I cannot be like the saints we read about. But the blessing of the Gospel is not that God wants me to be another St Sophrony, he wants me to be me; not as I am—in my sinful state—but as I have the potential to be. God wants saints, you and me, who have set aside sin and turn to him, desire him, want him.

And the Church gives me the tools to do that. The Church offers me the opportunity to come to know the Lord, be united with him, so that even though I must face dying, Death will not defeat me.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, come close to the Lord through his Church that we may, each one of us supporting each other, become the saints we were created to be—each unique, each holy, each shining out with the light of the image of God.

May the prayers of our sacred Father whom God inspired, Sophrony of Essex, guard and protect us all.

The feast of St Sophrony falls on the anniversary of his falling asleep, 11th July. We shall commemorate him this coming Sunday.

Burning in the Spirit, after whom thou didst yearn with longing, thou art become all fire through communion in being, O Father inspired by God, forasmuch as thou hast beheld the Light of Christ, as far as man is able to bear it, and thou wast filled with a wealth of virtues, whereby thou dost illumine the whole Church, O most blessed Sophrony.

Kontakion of St Sophrony, 3rd mode

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In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, one God, Amen.

Our society is surrounding itself with distractions: phones, televisions, computers, consoles, music, sporting events, books, newspapers, gossip, intrigues. These are making us numb—and we choose them precisely because they make us numb—to the one fact which faces each and every one of us, believer and non-believer alike, rich and poor together, we are going to die. Distractions around us will not change it, we may live for a hundred or more years or we may be nearing the end of our lives, but not one of us can prevent our dying.

What does the world have to offer us as we face this reality? Money and luxury, and this is alluring. But in the face of death money can only delay the inevitable, a luxurious path to death is still a path to death. Yet I am so easily entranced by Mammon’s appeal, I desire the comfort that it may bring me.

And into this world Christ comes. He does not come offering a new system—how you can extend your life—but comes asking each of us to place our hope and our trust in him. He comes offering not comforts but a cross, not life according to the terms of this world but death, neither riches nor possessions but eternal life.

Read last Sunday’s Sermon, The Path to Life.
Archive of Past Sermons.

Services this week

Friday 8th July
Discussion on the book of Exodus, 8 pm
Online only

Saturday 9th July
Vespers, 6.30 pm
At St Francis’ Hall, Eastleigh

Sunday 10th July
Divine Liturgy, 9.30 am
At St Francis’ Hall, Eastleigh

Online session is via Google Meet: please get in contact for the details.

Please join us: all are welcome, come and see.

Attending Church

We will be meeting at St Francis’ Hall, Nightingale Avenue, Eastleigh, SO50 9JA. Come and See.

Can I help you?

I am here for you, you need only ask. Is there a way I can support your life of faith? Get in touch.

Can you help the mission?

Yes, absolutely. Offer yourselves to the Lord: pray! Make available to him all your talents and ask him how he would like you to use them — listen for his reply.

Your prayers!

With love in Christ

Fr Alexander