Readings forSergius Abbot of Holy Trinity (25 September 1392)
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.” (1 John 2:15 – 17)
To the people of Russia, Sergius is a national hero and an example of Russian spiritual life at its best.
Sergius was born around 1314, the son of a farmer. When he was twenty, he and his brother began to live as hermits in a forest near Moscow. Others joined them in what became the Monastery of the Holy Trinity, a center for the renewal of Russian Christianity. Pilgrims came from all Russia to worship and to receive spiritual instruction, advice, and encouragement. The Russians were at the time largely subservient to the neighboring (non-Christian) Tatar (or Tartar) people. Sergius rallied the people behind Prince Dimitri Donskoi, who defeated the Tatars in 1380 and established an independent Russia. (From James Kiefer and the Great Cloud of Witnesses for September 25)
It seems that Sergius followed the instructions of 1st John about not loving the world. He retreated into the forest and began a monastic order. This kind of retreat happens from time to time in Christian history. I am reminded of the Desert Fathers, of Benedict and others who got fed up with the deprived state of government.
“Sergius was simple and gentle in nature, mystical in temperament, and eager to ensure that his monks should serve the needs of their neighbors. He was able to inspire intense devotion to the Orthodox faith. He died in 1392, and pilgrims still visit his shrine at the monastery of Sergiyev Posad (known as Zagorsk in the Soviet era), which he founded in 1340.” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for September 25)
We ourselves are a part of God’s creation. We are placed among more of God’s Creation. We should enjoy it but not worship it. All glory and worship goes to God. Sergius is yet another monastic who influenced local political powers to recognize and return to the liturgy of the Church as foundational to good order and in so doing grounded them in the hope of God’s hand in all their doings. He was simple, gentle and mystical. Sounds like he patterned himself after Jesus to me.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through God’s people and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John+