May 13, 2021

Homily in Thanks to the Lord for the End of the Epidemic of Cholera in Rybinsk in 1848

By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin (1807-1869)

The Holy Church confesses You throughout the whole universe.

We had a terrible summer! For almost four months, each of us had to constantly fear not to die from an epidemic disease, because everyone got sick from it: both old and young, weak and strong, and few of those who fell ill did not die. We had a terrible summer! Our city was a hospital, and the Rybinsk pier was a haven for patients from different parts of Russia.

But do you remember, listeners, where we then ran away from fear? Of course you remember - to the church of God. And how calm we were here! Here we were not afraid to die, here we forgot to think that we had a disease in the city, here we looked at the dead calmly, because we looked at them as if they were alive. In the temple of the Living God, everything is alive - both the dead are alive, and the absent are inherent here; here are all those in Christ with us, for whom we pray, whom we remember. And that is why here we were not afraid for ourselves or for others. Here, after all, we are all under the special protection and patronage of Almighty God, because we are in His house.

Do you remember who then appeared everywhere with consolation to the sick, with parting words to the dying? Of course you remember this too: the Holy Orthodox Church in the person of her servants. And how much comfort her divine consolations gave to everyone! The sick forgot their unbearable pain, the dying calmly looked at their inevitable death with these consolations. “How glad I am that you came, that you hurried to me! The Lord Himself sent you to me! Oh, I will never forget you! I will pray for you forever!" So often the sick rejoiced, to whom the ministers of the Church came with parting words; so often we had the joy to hear and see how those we instructed to depart into eternity to pray for us, unworthy servants of the Church!

Do you remember who then readily resorted to the sick, from whom even those close to them ran away with fear? Do you remember who, with motherly love, talked face to face with those in need, whom others did not dare to look at without fear and from afar? Do not think that, reminding you of this, I want to boast to you of our activities and fearlessness. After all, we did not do this ourselves, but our Holy Church acted in us and through us; she sent us to the sick, she inspired us, reinforced, preserved, saved us. If it were not for her, we, it seems, would be the first to run away from fear somewhere or die from incessant labors. After all, we, in the proper sense, did not know rest from continuous demands day or night, especially in the first two months. Yes, now we ourselves are amazed how we then had the strength and spirit to appear before all the sick, at all times and in all places - we marvel and bless the Holy Church, which blessed and strengthened, sent and kept us. Out of the feeling of love for life, we were also afraid of dying of illness, but in the spirit of our Church, we were even more afraid that some of the sick would die without a holy parting word; and the fear of our own death passed by itself from our fear for the salvation of others.

Now the disease has passed, we are still alive. Who rejoices with us, who thanks God with us for keeping us from death, who confesses Him, our Benefactor throughout the entire universe? All the same, our mother is the Holy Church, constantly praying for an end to the disease.

This is the true Church: in need she helps everyone, prays for everyone; in joy she rejoices with everyone, gives thanks with everyone. She is always loving, as her God is loving. She would not be overflowing with grace if she were not overflowing with love. Yes, in that church there is no grace of God that does not have love for everyone. Where there is no fire of Christian love, there is no warmth of the Holy Spirit.

Do not forget, listeners, that our Holy Church was there for everyone this summer, and remember that she, as a grace-filled Church, always cares about this: how to comfort everyone, calm everyone, save everyone, make everyone happy. And it really comforts and soothes, saves and pleases everyone who comes and turns to her, for such is the property and such is the power of the grace of Christ, which always abides in her.