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Patriarch Kirill: We must realize the fragility of our civilization

Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church speaks on the coronavirus pandemic and explains what the problem really is.

Our faith has not been in God, but in ourselves and our supposedly mighty civilization. But now, COVID-19 is showing us how mighty that civilization really is. Patriarch Kirill spoke on this topic today in his sermon in Moscow.

This is translated from patriarchia.ru for our English-speaking readers.

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On March 22, 2020, on the 3rd Holy Lent Week, The Sunday of the Holy Cross, His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, celebrated the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great in the church of Prince Igor Chernigovsky in Peredelkino, Moscow. At the end of the service, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church addressed the faithful with a sermon.

Your Eminences and Graces! Dear masters, fathers, brothers and sisters!

I am glad that the Lord brought me to this temple today to share the Sunday prayer with you on the day when we remember the sufferings of the Lord and Savior and worship His Life-giving Cross. In today’s reading of the book of Hebrews (4: 14-5: 6), the apostle calls on us to draw near to the Throne of God in order to receive mercy and gain grace for timely help.

This call seems to be specifically addressed to us today. Naturally, in a difficult time, when an epidemic has begun in the country and in the world, a person first of all thinks about his own salvation. This is inherent in the nature of man, and, of course, everything must be done in order to protect yourself, family, friends, your environment from the spread of infection.

But we know: when a common danger arises, human connections are often destroyed and everyone begins to think only about themselves. Sometimes this leads to the loss of a human face, to internecine warfare, to clashes, to public collapses. Today’s apostolic reading calls us to maintain our ability to do good deeds and to do good deeds. Despite the infection, which provokes the alienation of one person from another, we must not forget our neighbors and to the best of our ability and ability to help them – of course, following all the necessary instructions so as not to be carriers of infection. Today, our support is especially needed by elderly people, lonely people, deprived of the opportunity to even go for groceries – there are probably such people among our neighbors, relatives and friends. Therefore, in order to protect ourselves and our neighbors from the spread of infection, we must remember that no one canceled the performance of good deeds, and it is no coincidence that the words of the Apostle from Hebrews were read for all of us today.

May the Lord strengthen us all. Let us pray for our country, for our people, for the whole world. Unlike secular specialists who have their own explanations for the causes of this almost global epidemic, we must look at the situation through the prism of our spiritual knowledge and think: what does all this mean? Why does the Lord let an ulcer infect many people? And the opportunity arises to think not only about the wrath of God, as happened in history, but rather about the mercy of God. The Lord calls on our self-confident technological civilization, which believes that everything is available to it and everything is possible, to assess the limits of its capabilities and realize its fragility.

Indeed, we have amazing scientific research and its results that are being realized. But the Lord seems to tell us: “with all your might, you are very fragile, you are really weak, you must rely – not only in times of cataclysm, but also in every day of your life – on My help, on a force that exceeds all human force.”

Yes, we are obliged to observe all necessary sanitary rules, in no case ignoring them, as malicious people do, but calling themselves believers who declare: “where is our faith if we are afraid of infection?” Some wise man, responding to this absurdity, said: “But you cross yourself and jump from the fifth floor! But you won’t do it, trusting in your faith! Then why are you pushing people to break the rules that must be followed by faith?”

Faith must give us strength in order to overcome ailments, to support our loved ones, so that, despite the restriction of movement and other restrictions that are introduced today in human society, we should in no case lose the ability to do good, as this is taught by us today’s apostolic reading. We must remain people who are able to love and help others, and at the same time conscious and disciplined enough to carry out everything that needs to be done from a medical point of view, subject to certain sanitary rules.

I want to say once again: the appearance of this disease should help us understand the crisis of self-confidence and pride that human civilization is today. The Lord admonishes us in different ways. He shows today the limitations of our capabilities not for us to give up, not for us to fall into confusion, not for us to lose our ability to resist, but for us to realize our own fragility and fragility of modern human civilization. And so that while we continue to work, and in no case lose spiritual optimism, we nonetheless understand that God is above everything and His omnipotent right hand is above everything.

The current circumstances should further strengthen our faith. And those who doubt will, perhaps, go through these trials and, with the right attitude towards them, from those who doubt, will become believers. Let us hope that one of the unbelievers will see the hand of God and His mercy in trials, and the hearts of people who were stone yesterday will open, and they will become children of Abraham, as the Word of God tells us about this.

Therefore, with faith and hope in the Lord, we must go through these test days. Once again I want to say: not neglecting any sanitary rules and medical instructions, but at the same time maintaining a strong faith. May these trials help us look at ourselves from a critical point of view, ask ourselves the questions of our own life: are we all right? are we all good? or are we too used to at least relative, (but still very different from former times) to well-being?

May the Lord help us to maintain health. May the Lord keep our people, our Fatherland and the whole world in health and prosperity, and may the Lord strengthen through this test our faith and hope in His almighty right hand. Amen.

Press Service of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

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T W Huning
T W Huning
March 23, 2020

For the sake of others wear a mask as the Chinese are doing.

Paul Martin
Paul Martin
Reply to  T W Huning
March 24, 2020

The usual problem with cynics: they think bile tastes better than shit.

lynette cracknell chaplin
lynette cracknell chaplin
March 24, 2020

Wise words and food for thought, thank you.

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