— About the Book —
O my God and Creator… do Thou Thyself teach me to speak what I ought, both for myself and for the people here present, unto salvation of soul.
The Russian village priest, Fr. Ilarion, used this prayer of the twelfth century Greek saint, Symeon the New Theologian as he preached over a forty-year period from 1966 until his death in 2008. Here we are offered a selection of these sermons given on Sundays and other days throughout the Christian year. They are startling in their clarity and universal in their appeal. The theme of hope is persistent whilst always rooted in the necessity of repentance. Fr. Ilarion tells us that:
Repentance is the first step on the path to turning to Christ, on the path to Christian life. Without repentance, Christianity is impossible and unthinkable. Whoever wishes to follow Christ must begin with repentance. Repentance is God’s call to men to come out of the kingdom of sin and slavery and into the kingdom of virtue and freedom… The spiritual Sun, Jesus Christ, appears, and the sinner, illumined by His presence and pervaded by His desired voice, receives His summons: “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest (Mt. 11:28).”
This book is the ideal companion to the previously published Champion of Good: The Life of Father Ilarion (Holy Trinity Publications, Jordanville, 2011). All who have already encountered Father Ilarion through his life will be equally engaged by his words. Those who meet him first through his preaching will want to go on to read his life. Together, they convey a potent message of the possibilities that open to the human soul that turns to God with singleness of mind and humility.
The sermons are grouped by subjects. One index lists the sermons in church calendar order and the other index lists the sermons in chronological order for those who wish to see what was preached in an historical context.