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AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FOR THE TIME WE ARE LIVING NOW

By: His Grace Bishop Siluan, Primate of the Serbian Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand

ARCHPASTORAL EPISTLE TO MY SPIRITUAL CHILDREN

Dear fathers, venerable monastics and faithful people entrusted to us by Christ our Lord...

By observing the crisis that has gripped the entire world, especially the continent on which we live, I want to address you as your Bishop and spiritual father with words of consolation, in order to share with you the burdens that you carry.

It has never been easy to follow Christ! The Savior Himself indicated to us that we would have many tribulations in the world, but He also encouraged us with the words "Fear not, for I have overcome the world!" (John 16:33).

Christ's victory is certain, indisputable and infinite, and the power of this victory is offered to us by Christ through life in Him, in the Holy Church, whose Head He is, and we are the members of His Body. This should be our greatest consolation, as believers, because we know that God has not left us and will not leave us alone, no matter what temptations befall us. The temptations themselves do not have the final say, especially when we understand and look at the temptations through the spirit of the Gospel. When we lay all our cares and all our burdens on our Lord Jesus Christ. He said, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matt. 11: 29,30).

Today, Christ calls us, us Orthodox Christians, His Church, to be witnesses of His presence in this wounded and burdened world. To witness to His victory and the freedom with which He set us free; the victory that does not know about restraints and chains of any restrictions; He calls us to witness to His light, which dispels all darkness and all fears; to bear witness to His joy, which is able to remove all our sorrows.

In the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, this world that has been left without consolation, without hope, without joy, without God, and thus without its direction, needs to regain its eschatological and eternal meaning from which eternal consolation, eternal joy and eternal peace are born.

We are the members of Christ, His Body.

Yes, great darkness has come upon the world. The path to our Holy churches, to our neighbours, has been amputated. We are burdened with various contradictory statements that confuse our hearts. In all this foolishness, saint Justin Popovic, would say even more precisely - in this madness, which direction should we look at? Who to contact? Who to trust? In whom to find a way out of the gridlock that surrounds us? Only in Christ, brothers and sisters! No one and nothing else can help us.

From purely human solutions we have suffered mentally, spiritually and physically.

Therefore, in the midst of this crisis, with fatherly love, I am advising you and calling you to use this time to return to God, to cry out to him as King David once did: "Listen to the cry of my king and my God! For I pray to you, Lord! (Psalm 5,2)

Without prayer, without sincere and contrite repentance, we will not defeat the demons that are attacking humanity.

In the sea of vast information and vile misinformation, let us not lose the sight of our Lord Christ, because He is our Passover, our way out of every crisis and downfall, our consolation and salvation.

God sees everything! He knows that it is difficult for us, and it is our duty to cry out to Him day and night for mercy from the depths of our souls.

There is no crisis that humanity has not brought upon itself by deviating from God's laws, which means deviating from the Godly order in creation.

Today, we Orthodox Christians need most of all the gift of discerning the spirits, the gift of discernment, so that we can walk without stumbling.

If we want to be properly zealous, to be like the Holy Prophet Elijah, to testify before the modern 'Ahab’s' of today's world the faith in the truth of Christ, we must first of all, put the full armor of God, of which the Holy Apostle Paul speaks about in his Epistles. With the Lord’s help we all need to be internally and spiritually renewed, (create in me a new heart o Lord and renew a right spirit within me, Ps 50). Only then can we be true witnesses of God, because zeal without the Grace of the Holy Spirit, will not bear fruit. Saint Elijah was an example of living faith among people, because he was all in God, always sober like the Cherubim, and thus he was precise in stating and discerning the spiritual state of his time.

Let us manifest and proclaim the life of Christ in our body through patience and longsuffering, mercy and love!

Behold, now is the best time, here is the day of salvation! (2 Cor. 6: 2).

Let's help everyone who is in need, who is in any kind of trouble!

Let the Church communities be organized, led by the clergy, to provide the necessary support, be it in spiritual consolation, a package with essential items and food or in a monetary gift. Those who are wealthier should now help the needs of others. Brothers and sisters, "buy" Heaven with deeds of mercy!

May our love be revealed now!

Let us not allow fear and discouragement to settle in us. Let us dispel it with prayer and hope in God!

There is no true worship without suffering, says our folk wisdom. The Lord has now given us the opportunity to be His witnesses, His apostles amongst people frightened and confused.

Priests, my co-apostles in the Harvest on the Fifth Continent, be brave, do the most you can so that the believers can be taken care of, so that they do not lack in anything.

From the beginning, our position was, as a sacred brotherhood in Christ, that it is unacceptable for us to close our places of worship, to classify the Church among non-essential organizations. We, as the Church of Christ, as His Body in such circumstances, need to manage, to find avenues, to continue to minister... We are never to reject any soul in need. Let's recognize the time in which we live. The times of the early Christians are here again… We need to use the wisdom and experience of the early Church, its work and its guidelines...

I commend your zeal and service.

Dear monastics, multiply your prayers! May your prayer be a deep cry to the Lord for the mercy and salvation of the world!

My dear people, let us overcome all tribulations with Christ! Pray for the priesthood, support them because the Cross of their ministry is not easy.

We condemn any blackmail or any coercion, including that of vaccination. Without freedom of choice there is no humanity. It is an ontological category.

At the same time, it should be known that there are certain vaccines that are morally problematic for Christians, such as those developed from the cells of aborted fetuses that I personally, as a Bishop, cannot accept.

Let us remain in the freedom in which Christ has set us free!

I am with you in prayer and thought.

I greet you all from the Lelic Monastery, in prayerful anticipation of seeing you soon.

With the Lord's blessing,

+ Bishop Siluan

Posted on August 15th, 2021

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