August 7, 2021

A Homily of Thanksgiving Delivered by the Abbot of the Monastery of the Venerable David After It Was Delivered from a Devastating Fire on August 4, 2021

The following sermon I translated was delivered by Elder Gabriel, Abbot of the Monastery of the Venerable David in Evia, during the Great Vespers for the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Savior, on the 5th of August 2021, the day after the great miracle of the deliverance of the Monastery, in a wondrous way, from the fiery flame which engulfed it, on the 4th of August. Not even its surrounding chapels were harmed by the fire. As one pious woman in Evia commented after her own home was consumed by the flames of the fire, "It doesn't bother me, as long as our Monastery doesn't burn." After the flames passed around the Monastery, the Abbot and Fathers returned with joy with the relics of their beloved Saints.

It should be added that on August 7th, after a litany with the icon of Saint John the Russian in Prokopi of Evia, where the Church of Saint John the Russian is located, to deliver it from the devastating fire, it began to rain so much that it extinguished the flames, which the people also view as a miracle, and were moved to tears by.

Flames continue to burn throughout Greece and its surroundings.

It is a miracle that we are here today, in the katholikon of the Holy Monastery and we celebrate the Solemn Vespers of the Feast of the Transfiguration of our Savior Jesus Christ.

On the day of the Transfiguration the katholikon of this Monastery was founded by the founder, Saint David the Elder, the Wonderworker, in 1535 during the intermittent years of Ottoman rule.

He labored all over Greece and up to Russia to acquire the resources to build this Holy and Sacred and Reverend Monastery, which our Holy Fathers, Saint Iakovos, the contemporary Saint of our Church, and his successor who walked in his footsteps, the Holy Elder Kyrillos, about whom there are many testimonies, and that is why we have this boldness and we speak, because they established this place as a world center of Orthodoxy.

I also said in the morning that the devil wanted to make a holocaust of this Monastery as well.

But the living presence of her Saints, her founder Saint David, Saint Iakovos, Holy Elder Kyrillos and all the Fathers, who live here virtuously in asceticism, especially through the intercessions of the Lady Theotokos, acted so that now we are here in the Holy Monastery and the katholikon to celebrate the Transfiguration of the Savior Christ.

"Shine on us sinners also with Your radiant Light", so let us ask the All-Good God to shine in our hearts the Light of the Knowledge of God.

But in order to know God, my dear brothers, we must also be transfigured, to transform our mind, our soul.

And this happens, as Saint Seraphim of Sarov says, when we repent.

What does repentance mean?

The transfiguration of our mind and soul.

And when, by the Grace of God, we achieve this, then…

But in order to achieve this, my brothers, what must we do first? To hear the Voice of God that said on this feast "This is My Beloved Son, listen to Him." That is, to listen to the Messenger of God, the Judge, Christ, who taught us the word of God and which is contained in Holy Scripture, in the New Testament.

So if we listen to what God tells us, then we will have repentance, we will also have a Transfiguration.

This was brilliantly achieved by the Saints of our Monastery and all the Saints of our Church.

But they gave blood and received the Spirit.

They went through trials, hardships, afflictions, temptations, demonic attacks, but they kept, by the Grace of God, a defense. Maybe they - and it is natural - had falls, as many of us have. 

But, they did not stay in them!

They begged God to forgive them, they told Him that "out of human weakness we sin and not because we want to consciously go against Your will. We have sinned, we have committed iniquities before You, We have not kept Your commandments," and they asked for forgiveness, confessing their sins. And the Love of God always opens His arms and accepts us as before and better.

Let us praise God for this miracle, the great one, that on this gloomy and smoky mountain, from the smoke of the fires, God found us worthy with hymns and spiritual odes to honor Him, to glorify His Name and give thanks for this great miracle. 

Through the flame of fire we saw the Monastery from the opposite side, from Drymonas, in obedience to our Bishop to leave for a while. We saw it engulfed in flames of fire, flames that were 40-50 meters high and more and we thought that when we returned, as is natural and human, we would find it in ashes.

But, of course, despite our sinfulness, in our soul we had placed everything on our Saints and we said: WHATEVER GOD WILLS!

And it pleased God for all of us to meet again here where we are and online with the friends of the Holy Monastery and those who revere the Saints of our Monastery and to glorify, as we said, God.

May we have a good and blessed dawn, may the Grace of the Saints overshadow us, may they lead us to the path that the Love of God wills and find us worthy of His Heavenly Kingdom. Amen!